Friday, December 25, 2009

Being Alone on Christmas: Merry Christmas!

My mother is worried that I'm spending another holiday alone. 

I am nearly delirious with happiness to be spending a holiday alone. You have no idea how wonderful this is for me and people like me who love solitude.

I do not have to talk to anyone.  I don't have to fake-smile at anyone.  I don't have to pretend to be interested in them just in case they are a secret shopper who could cost me my job.  I don't have to be polite to rude or drunk folks.  No one will touch my arm or any other part of my body without permission.  No one will get mad at me for not having the product they waited too long to try to find and won't have in time for the holidays.

If I smile, it's because I want to, because I am joyful, because I read something great or heard a beautiful song, because I'm figuring out how to use the camera on my phone, or because I am writing a Christmas card to someone I love.

I am alone; I can relax.  I am not on display, not on stage, not desperately trying to act coherent.

Because I don't have to talk, I don't have to hear myself slur words because of exhaustion.  I don't have to be embarrassed.  I don't have to drive anywhere.  I don't have to worry about hurting anyone if I flake out at the wheel.  I don't have to listen to the Chipmunks singing Christmas carols (that Alvin, he is such a little rascal).  I only have to listen to what I choose to hear.

I don't have to be making my arms hurt worse, and I don't have to hide the pain when they throb.  No one will see me drop anything or trip or fall over or run into things.

It's exhilarating, this being alone.  Being able to be alone, just me and God, on Christmas Day makes me think maybe I really can keep going once the madness starts up again.  Alone time is where/when/how I recharge my energy, and it has been this way for years, but my mom can't help but worry.

At least she doesn't seem concerned specifically about the fact that I'm not with a boyfriend or husband.  She really just wants us all somewhere she can see us and watch over us during the holidays.  At least, she's getting good at making it seem that way. :) 

I wish my solitude didn't cause her such worry as it causes me such joy.  I'm a little too tired to be concerned for her right now, though.  Now is a time for me to bask in the present solitude God has given me.  It's the best present anyone could give me right now.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


"Be aware that celibacy is a state totally opposed to all biological, social and emotional needs built into men and women by God."


The opportunities this gift bring make me think of another quote I read recently.

"And I realized that I have always felt like an outsider, even within my own family.  As long as you can hold on to that feeling without it eating you alive, it can open the door to the world of misfits and rejects.  Most people, though, waste no time slamming that door shut and locking every bolt."

- Russell Banks
in "Pariahs in America: A Conversation with Russell Banks"
in Salmagundi Spring-Summer 2009

It seems true.  Most people think what they really want is to be normal, and they pursue that goal of fitting in to the detriment of their natural gifts, closing down many opportunities they might otherwise have.  Why sacrifice the great things only you can do, the things God longs to do through you, merely to be perceived as normal?

Am I merely showing how gleefully abnormal I am by thinking this way?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Homosexual clergy

I admit that I do not know much about this debate, just that it is huge and in the news enough that I, with no newspaper subscription or TV, am a bit tired of hearing about it.  I'm far from fully informed of the intricacies, but I don't really get why this is such a big debate.  I mean, it shouldn't even be a debate at all, but it still is, and I wonder why.

I think it has something to do with how all the coverage never seems to cover the issue as a moral one.  The papers make it seem like anyone who opposes homosexual clergy does so for the same reason they would discriminate against clergy who don't like golf or who like to read mystery novels or who prefer chocolate almond ice cream.  But that's not at all what this is about.

I think most people who oppose homosexual clergy do so for the same reason that they oppose adulterous clergy or unmarried clergy having sex outside of biblical marriage or clergy molesting altar boys: this is a moral issue, and these things are immoral. 

In organizations based on morality, why is there such outrage over a moral issue being a determining factor in leadership?

Maybe I'm just missing something?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

a quote about love and choice

"When love is not a choice, it is a sickness."

from "A Brief History of My Heart" by Rochard Katrovas
on page 22 of Mid-American Review v. XXIX, No. 2

This essay is powerful and simple.  Check it out if you're near a library.

What do you think?  How much of love is an act of the will?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What if I don't want to?

According to the marketing copy on an extremely popular Christian self-help book, all women have a God-given longing to be loved, taken care of, and treated like princesses; they want a man to provide these things for them, and that's good and natural, so they get married. 

But what if it's not like that?  What if it's not absolute?  How does such an absolute statement affect people for whom it's not true?

Mostly, it just irritates me, to be honest.  I have no idea how it affects anyone else who it shuts out for whatever reasons. 

I suppose that since I love words and meanings, I just get a bit hot under the collar about absolutes that aren't true, especially when they're flung around by people who are invested in absolute truth.

I'm sure it's true that many women have these innate desires.  I guess I'm just not sure why we can't say it that way instead of insisting that something is true of all women.  Am I splitting hairs?  Just being surly and rebellious because I like defying absolutes?  I don't know.  Maybe.

Or maybe I'm just being honest about the power words have to hurt even (especially) if they're not true.  What this book seems to be telling me is that there is something wrong with me if this absolute does not apply to me.  I've been wondering if there was something wrong with me for years; I don't really need any encouragement to feel left out. 

I'm just glad I had already figured out what's "wrong" with me before I saw this book.  I guess those with the gift of celibacy will always be outside, in a way, and that is a blessing that sometimes feels like a curse.  I wonder what I can do to help the next generation of kids growing up feeling ostracized by the spiritual gift of celibacy to help them not overcompensate like I think a lot of them do.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let's fight!

Sometimes I want to argue.  It's stated somewhat in the title of this blog and the verse behind it, but it's been frustrating me lately that no one will help me out by having a good, sensible argument. 

I need friends who will discuss, talk, and argue with me, especially about controversial issues or things I want to hear different opinions about.  I think most of my friends are too nice to do this, even if it's just in writing, even when I'm pretty obvious about it.  So here's hoping a more anonymous forum might result in some good points of view from whoever it is that actually reads this blog.

The books that raised the questions are the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks.  These books are really, really dark and deal with a lot of filth, sin, grace, death, and redemption.  There are a lot of 'scenes' that contain content that would be offensive to many Christians.

One of my friends about the book: "I don't think I could bring myself to produce that many swear words and 'scenes' in a book and still claim to be a Christian . . ."

Some questions about art in general and books in particular:

a. Is it okay for Christians to read such books?
b. Should we limit ourselves to only reading what does not offend any of our brothers and sisters? 
c. Should we limit ourselves to only reading what does not offend any of our brothers and sisters in front of them?
d. Is this the same as hiding it from them/lying to them?
e. Is depiction the same as endorsement?

I ask these questions sincerely as a reader, a writer, and a believer.   I am truly interested in your answers, whatever they are.  Please fight among yourselves. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

The joys of being hit on in retail

I'm having a bit of a hard time at work.  I used to be the only female at the store that didn't get hit on.  I was allowed to use my natural reserve as a barrier.  I could help people without being ridiculously, fake-y chipper.  Recently, my RetailEstablishment instituted new policies, and I was basically told I had to harass customers in a specific, scripted fake-cheerful way, or I would get fired.

Since then, I've been hit on 2.5 times this week.  Once by a possibly senile man in his eighties, once by a semi-regular customer, and once by a new customer who asked another employee what my name was, so he could hit on me but was then overcome with shyness and only asked me if I was active on any internet sites or forums (should've given him this one, eh?).  I heard about that last one later.  Apparently, when I pointed out a not-well-posted sale I thought he might've been interested in, he thought I was kind of cute.

I wonder if I'm the only one not-at-all flattered when people hit on me, no matter who they are.

Why do you suppose so many people can't tell the difference between fake retail/sales friendliness and actual, genuine interest (possibly of the relationship variety)?

Monday, September 21, 2009

"I Want to Love Like Breathing"

This song is on Out of the Gray's album Diamond Days.  You should go read the lyrics now.  They're a sort of prayer for me right now especially because one of the questions I've been wrestling with lately is as follows:

"Can I love?"

By this I mean, "Am I capable of loving?" 

I am wired quite oddly.  If you want to understand some of my quirks, I recommend the entertaining and interesting book Party of One: A Loner's Manifesto by Rufus.  Some people are created to enjoy their own company way more than the company of others, and I'm one of them.  I like being one of them.

But there is a part of me that is so very cold and detached that it scares me spitless sometimes.  If I let that part take over, well, bad things could happen quite easily.  This icy numbness leaks through when I don't hide it.  I don't really have the energy any more to hide it.  It is much easier to be a stone than to drag one around with you.

Since the "emotions" I deal with don't seem to conform to those of the people around me, I wonder if I am capable of loving them in ways that they recognize or that are meaningful to God (and me). 

Some day, I will pull together a fabulous essay about this topic, full of epic realizations and smooth transitions.  But for now, I will keep praying and writing one sentence questions as they occur to me.  I look forward to the day when I can be me and still "love like breathing."

Are you, too, sometimes so distracted by trying to do things right that you freeze up?  Do you think too hard about the meaning of things like love because you can't seem to grasp what it feels like?  Do you know what I mean when I talk about that cold observer part of myself?  Any other comments?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Potentially Injurious Trips Down Memory Lane (Part 3)

I met up with an old acquaintance from an anime club I have belonged to for years (he was a member about four years ago). We were both volunteering in the choir for a September 11 memorial event, and we chatted a couple of times during 10 minute breaks at two rehearsals.

Back when I knew him, he had no interest in music, so I was surprised to reunite with him unexpectedly in a church basement.  He explained that there was a bad breakup, and he was lonely, and he believed in God and someone asked him to be in a church choir, and he just fell in love with the energy of making something spectacular with a group that couldn't be made alone.

Before the concert tonight, he said something true and hilarious.  "I was thinking back to when I knew you in anime club, and the way I remembered it, you were . . .  Well, the few times I decided to talk to you because, well, because you looked kinda cute, you . . . didn't seem very interested in talking much.  But this time, you don't seem like that at all."  Very diplomatic for such a straightforward person.

I suppose I could have said
  • that it was a normal reaction to being thrown into a situation where I expected to know no one and unexpectedly finding someone that I knew, mostly from conversations overheard in anime club years ago. 
  • that I knew I shared music with all of the other volunteers, but it was a pleasant surprise to find someone with whom I had another shared interest.
  • that I act standoffish for a lot of reasons, including a desire to prevent any boys from being attracted to me), but am a shameless eavesdropper who likes to know about but not interact with (probably causally related to my being a writer and my ability to sort of naturally tamp down my presence so tight that I'm constantly scaring people who don't realize I am there and accuse me of having ninja powers). 
  • that my mentor recently suggested that I consider writing some sort of article about why being in choirs was so important to me and starting by asking friends with various levels and years of commitment to music why they love it, and finding a casual acquaintance who had suddenly developed a love of choral music could lead to some great research and maybe even a nice interview.

I just told him that in larger group contexts where I will be spending a lot of time, I don't have the energy to interact with people (true), and he nodded and said that he knew people like that, but he loved talking to people (obviously).

I'm afraid in my happiness at finding myself not alone among strangers, I have introduced him to that softer, excited side that seems to make men want to date me, and this is unfortunate because I don't have any interest in dating, just in friendship, but that's not enough for most men.

This is especially unfortunate in retrospect because apparently there has since been another breakup.  I learned this after I gave him my card because I shamelessly hoped he would contact me, so I could interview him for my choral music essay.  After I gave him the card, he said something like, "Ah, well, this certainly eliminates the need for me to come up with a cunning plan to ask if it would be all right for us to stay in touch after this."  Ha, ha, I laughed at the time because I didn't know about the more recent breakup and thus did not suspect any ulterior motives.

Do I set myself up for this stuff or what?!  I swear I don't do it on purpose!  I only notice later, too late.

It makes me angry.  It's like I can't let out any of the aspects of my personality and my self that are full of passion and enthusiasm because if I do so around boys, they end up liking me.  How ridiculous is it that this is a problem for me when so many others so desperately want people to like them like that? 

I get a little surly with my situation sometimes.  What, I demand, so I can't like people, have interests, and want to be friends at all, or this will keep happening?  That's just stupid.  But it keeps happening.  It's making me afraid to be me, afraid to make real friends.  It feels wrong that I should have to be so cold around half the population of the earth just in case.  Grrrr.  This is messing with my attempts to more actively love and care about the people around me and pry myself out of my beloved solitude.  Rawr.

So my thought--after he talked about calling me sometime soon (and after I then told him I respond to email better than cell phones, partially because this is true and partially because cell phone conversations caused my downfall with another male friend and partially because email seems less able to communicate whatever it is that makes people want to date me)--was that if he gets in contact with me, the first thing I should do is casually point him towards all my blogs with the hope that he will read the introductory essay to this one, thus saving me the need to
  1. break his heart in the future or 
  2. start our next conversation with "I'm celibate and happy about it and have no interest in dating, marriage, sex, or anything other than great friendship."  

I hope it saves us both some angst.

It just feels so wrong . . .

Any suggestions, points, comments?

Friday, September 4, 2009

What Happens to Real Nice Guys

There's this anime trope my sister and I were talking about recently: the nice guy who wins.  It may not necessarily seem like he's winning because there are scads of annoying girls around either beating him up or forcing their affections upon him with various degrees of enthusiasm and success, but that in itself is supposed to be winning.  He is desirable, and girls choose him.

In real life, this doesn't usually happen. The nice guys we know (especially Christian guys), the ones who deserve to get the girl because they will love and cherish the girl and will remain faithful in sickness and in health as long as they both shall live usually get dumped by the girl because she is looking for "something else," though she claims to be looking for a (God-fearing) man who will love and cherish her and stay with her as long as they both shall live.

When this kind of thing happens, it makes me a little angry, especially as a woman who is happy being gifted with contented celibacy. At times like those, I wish I weren't celibate because someone needs to love and appreciate these men in the way that they deserve, and I am out of the game forever.  Love is at least partially a choice, an act of the will, and it seems like too many single women seeking mates are too busy wishing to look at and really see the Prince Charmings around them.

I cannot understand why so many bright women desperately looking for mates overlook all of the wonderful men around them because they're "too nice" (i.e., won't make out in public) or are geeks or nerds. Liking video games or anime (a lot) doesn't cancel out a nice guy's other qualities.  Being a fan of dating sims or being a little bit socially awkward shouldn't automatically disqualify a really nice person as a potential love interest.  But it does.  All the time.

What do you think about why nice guys seem not only to finish last but to finish lonely or at least wait lonely for longer than they should have to for someone to discover how great they really are?  Ladies (if this applies to you), why is it that you'll pine for a boyfriend or husband but won't really make the effort to look for someone who has the necessary qualities if they don't make you feel all sparkly?  I really am curious.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

how to talk about celibacy

I wonder how one generates discussion about celibacy. It's really not the stuff of casual conversation. But everyone I've talked to about it has seemed interested and a little guilty. This guilt I don't quite understand. It's the same sort of sneaky look the boys got when one of them brought in one of his sister's tampons to giggle about with his friends. It's that same, "this is dirty" look so many people get when they talk about sex, like celibacy is just as dirty of a secret as sex. How old are we?

Anyway, people have stories to tell about being celibate by nature or by choice or both, but there isn't really any chance or place to discuss it where we don't have to feel guilty. In some ways, I guess that's another reason I started this particular blog. The faceless nature of the inner space created on the 'net can let us have some discussions that otherwise wouldn't happen. I hope.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)

Sometimes I feel like one dull iron waiting.

I am happily celibate. Please pick your jaws up off the floor and examine the evidence.
  • I don't struggle with lust.
  • I don't seem to NEED other people to feel whole.
  • I like being alone; I don't feel lonely.
(ASIDE: Keep reading, at least until the end of this post, please, I beg you. Don't stop with this paragraph. Jesus knows me better and loves me more perfectly than any man ever could; He is the only person I NEED, but He uses people as His hands and feet and arms to hug and absorb tears in His current bodily absence. I don't mean this in a cheesy, pious way; it's just a fact.)
  • I am naturally detached, emotionally distant.
  • I don't worry about (or have) sexual desires.
  • My highest form of love is friendship.
  • I like being this way.
  • I really do.
As one of the minority who is grateful to have been given the gift of celibacy, I feel out of phase with pretty much everyone else on the planet. Their motives, actions, and reactions often baffle me, like I'm watching a film projected on swirling smoke: mind the gaps. I am mystified with the urges that result directly in romantic heartbreak and drama (and bliss and giddiness).

In her essay, "Why I Will Never Write My Memoirs," Louise Brooks said, "[T]he reader cannot understand the character and deeds of the subject unless he is given a basic understanding of that person's sexual loves and hates and conflicts. It is the only way the reader can make sense out of innumerable apparently senseless actions." Preach it, Lulu.

It's like I'm immune to the tides. I've compared it to being like a marble dropped in a box of bar magnets: there are forces of repulsion and attraction all around, and then there's me, rolling and bumping into people's edges.

My mother worries about me even more now that I understand myself a little better. She's already got a grandchild; what's her problem? (She is afraid I am guaranteeing myself a lonely, empty life, and she doesn't want that for me. She doesn't understand, but she loves me.)

I seem to have problems forming bonds of lasting friendship with women (aside from my sister). I used to think that was because I was a tomboy uninterested in pretty much anything normal girls care about. I think that's part of it, but I have had very good, amazing, quirky female friends, and they have left me behind. I suspect they sense my mental distance and know that I will survive on my own. They feel safe leaving me.

It's true I don't need them to function the way some people NEED people, but that doesn't mean I don't want an amazing, steadfast, through thick-and-thin (and impossible and hilarious and brutal life) friend I can invest in and live my life next to and with. I want a David, or a Jonathan, one whose soul is knit with mine.

Since I don't really click with girls, I tried that kind of friendship with boys. I should've saved myself the trouble and given up on that in first grade when my best friend "dumped" me for the new girl in class. (He was barely literate, as most six-year-olds are, but somehow he still knew about boyfriends and girlfriends and had the gall to think that was what our friendship was. I guess we were only proximal friends since we were the same age, and his mom was our babysitter, but there was no one I'd enjoyed playing GI Joes with more.)

I've known some smart and wonderful men, but when I let myself get close to them as friends, they want more than that, so I've started distancing myself from men, too, for all sorts of logical reasons.
  • I don't want to have to reject anyone else, especially really amazing and wonderful people who've forgotten that I told them I am neither willing nor able to enter that kind of relationship.
  • I can't very well start every conversation with, "And remember, I'm celibate."
  • I can't restrict myself to married ("safe") men because that's not fair to their wives (and I'd hate for them to get wrong ideas).
  • It's easier to let the distance stand than to bridge it and have the friendship annihilated by those beautiful words (spoken or unspoken) "I'm in love with you."
Nothing should be ruined by those words.

Since men make up about half the population in the world and the church and women make up the other half, I've painted myself into a corner, and I'm allergic to paint fumes. God didn't design us to be alone, not even introverts, but I'm lost in this morass of detachment. If I can't love the people He put around me, how can I love God right? Why can't I wrestle with the easy questions?

So there you have it: this blog will be about friendship, love, faith, community, beauty, truth, pain, relationships, and family. I invite thoughtful comments, questions, and debate.