The White Whale

I am not the type to blog about a dream, but here I am, doing just that. I hope I don’t bore you!

As is standard for me with dreams, I have forgotten much of it. When I awoke, details were already slipping away and I chose a mad dash for the bathroom rather than fumbling around for a pen and pissing myself. (Seemed like the right choice, at the time.) And might I also add that dreaming about whales is fairly common for me, although I have always in the past dreamed of orcas. (I dream more about killer whales than any other animal by a long shot, and that’s saying quite a bit; given I love and obsess over animals – all animals – to such an extent you may as well call me a junkie.)

Last night’s dream was more about symbolism than getting every little detail right. It involved a perplexing body of water that at times seemed vast and wild and then shrank to a swimming pool size – even walled in like a pool. In this water was a pod of beluga whales. It was clear both that I knew each whale in the pod individually, and that I had once frequently went to this place regularly, but hadn’t been there in some time.

There was a group of other people in this dream, but I can’t remember them all. Most definitely, my overcontrolling mother and the last man I loved whom for whatever reason continues to show up in my dreams despite me no longer loving him and not seeing in almost two years were there. A couple of good friends I feel at times I’ve neglected since I moved back home were there. There were maybe an additional couple of people. It seemed like they were driving me crazy.

For some reason, I agreed to take them to this place that was my sacred hideout. We had to go by a small boat. The water was very much like the ocean on a boat traditionally is: Silent, seemingly eternal, and tranquil in a way the modern world could afford to take lesson from. And all these people in the boat were complaining nonstop. I’m not sure about what, but they were just constantly talking and it was an extremely annoying cacophony that was hard to hear or think over. It seemed to me to at least partially represent the control, criticism, and judgement I at times feel are so suffocating in my life.

But as we got closer and closer to where I sensed the whales would be, the human voices began to fall away. I was no longer hearing them, but the call of the water. Finally, I told them we should stop. Still immune to the din, I dove into the water while the boat was still moving.

That sensation was as real as it gets, for a dream. The water hit my chest like a weight and was so cold that every last remaining urge to listen to the people around me was instantly forgotten. I took on a new, graceful form as I glided below the surface through the water. Occasionally, I would break the surface for a breath and briefly hear the muffle of their talking, and then it disappeared again as I went back under.

I haven’t been for a proper ocean swim in longer than I care to admit, and it’s a frustrating amount of time, given that I live close enough to the ocean that my excuses for not doing so should be limited. For much of my life, I have been able to do so and have considered the ocean therapeutic. I usually swam far out until I could barely see anyone on land. Beyond the waves and surfers, and in my own private little paradise. Here, I was free to be alone in the fullest sense of the word. I would finally give up the strong swimming it took to get out there and lie on my back in the water. All my troubles melted away with every lap of water over me, as I slowly sunk beneath the surface. It was always as if I had been renewed and some part of me was set free. And then, as soon as nirvana had been reached and I began to return, the problems of the world slowly came back – but at a far more muted, manageable pace. The at times violent trip back to shore were at the very least reminders of what was to come in a world that so often feels out of my control.

The rest of this dream was spent, swimming with the whales in the pod. It was as peaceful as if I had been swimming in the ocean, itself, and yet left me wishing I could do just that, again. But as much as I’d love to go swimming, I have things to do at home! I feel as energized by this dream as if I had actually taken that much-needed swim. Maybe I will get some things accomplished this week and reward myself with an ocean trip, later.

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Pray the Gay Away!

I wonder why some church leaders have a “pray the gay away” approach. Being gay is not a mental illness or disease that creates victims like pedophilia. According to a paranoid schizophrenic stalking my friend, she is no longer mentally ill because god “cured” her.

In wondering why then god doesn’t cure pedophiles (and, believe me, I’m sure most of them have prayed for him to do so!), I came to the disturbing conclusion that god must be pro-pedophile.

While this conclusion may seem shocking, there’s supporting evidence. For one, as some religious people point out, god addressed homosexuality specifically in the Bible (most of those people ignore literally every other aspect of Leviticus, be it by wearing mixed knits, eating shellfish, taking on the hipster not-perfectly-trimmed beard trend, not making an animal sacrifice every time they see a woman while she’s on her period or jerk off and cum on the floor) – but note, god doesn’t mention pedophilia. As a matter of fact, god is at the very least pro-rape, according to several passages.

Furthermore, a lot of pedophiles seem to work at churches. This actually makes sense, since the churches often go above and beyond to not only legally protect them, but to provide a fresh supply of victims. The catholic church even goes so far as rotating them to a new crop of victims, once word of mouth gets a tad louder than what makes them comfortable.

If we could pray the pedophile away, why would we? Religious leaders may note both god’s seeming approval and the giant dip of number of people working at the church, once they are cured and free to work normal jobs. Nope, as it stands, churches will continue to protect child molesters while decrying homosexuality as an unnatural perversion.

I think our best approach to this problem is to ignore them and stop giving them our money.

Oh, wait! I’m an atheist. I haven’t paid for a child rapists’ free ride, today.

Have you?

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A Different Female Atheist Opinion on the Skepchick/Dawkins Debacle

Here’s the way I see this Dawkins incident… If you want to call him out for basically saying women have it easy in America when it comes to misogyny, that’s fine. This isn’t the Middle East, and torturing and enslaving women isn’t a culturally accepted norm. (No, that is in no way a means to discount the suffering of women in the Middle East, either!)

While womens’ rights certainly have a way to go in America, I feel confident that I won’t have to deal with any of the experiences of Middle Eastern women in Dawkins’ analogy. And I don’t perceive every man’s interest in me as sexual interest or get panicky when someone asks me for coffee – even in the briefly confined space of an elevator, alone.

But the truth is, that’s not what we’re talking about. Rebecca Watson has partially divided the online atheist community by demanding support against Dawkins for implying her incident on the elevator isn’t quite the ordeal she thinks it is. And then she speaks of people siding with her as “bravely battling both him and the hoards of clueless people who don’t get it” and says, “you made me realize that Dawkins is not the present. He is the past.”

Wow. I sure as fuck hope not. I sincerely do not want to be part of a future where a man has to be afraid to ask me for a cup of coffee and that after I turn him down, I will go make a youtube video partially about how creeped out that made me. If anyone is a sexist here, it is Rebecca. She has no clue of this man’s intentions, but assumes because he is a man, those intentions are sexual. She wants him to remember her talking about threatening emails from people who disagree with her and mention rape and realize that that means someone who is agreeable and would like to talk more is also a creep. And she bases this on the fact that he is a man!

Yet, the man not only listened to her speech, he talked with her and others following up after the speech in a bar. He clearly knew what her point of view was and at least somewhat or partially agreed and probably wasn’t thinking of how much like someone sending her death threats with a casual rape mention he was, by basically asking (with the preface, “don’t take this the wrong way”) if she’d like to continue the conversation. I would guess both the coffee and room invite were based on the fact that it was 4am, not his sinister intention to get her alone in a hotel room that isn’t locked from the inside after a busy conference that was probably full enough that someone would hear her screams. And even if his intentions were to impress her into sleeping with him – why would it be evident to him, that that attitude was unacceptable? Do feminists never sleep with people they just met recently? Was it implied somewhere in Rebecca’s speech that she wished no one would ask her out or show interest in her, ever?

No. This poor man has probably since been witness to this trash online, and his attitude toward women may be forever changed, thanks to Rebecca and her supportive followers.

I am absolutely appalled at the amount of support this has gotten Rebecca – and troubled by what it means. I can’t help to think that Dawkins took it over the line by making a blog post, but at the same time, I’d never expect such an irrational response in return, and I’m not willing to think of him as some misogynist fossil who no longer is allowed to speak for atheists.

Rebecca continues: “So many of you voiced what I had already been thinking: that this person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experiences as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same.”

Well, I am an atheist woman, and I feel you have blown this “experience” way out of proportion and am disturbed that you seem to have a supportive following on the subject. Not to mention that frankly, none of this is even related to atheism.

“Despite the fact that I’ve seen hundreds of comments from those of you who plan to do the same, I’m sure Dawkins will continue to be stinking rich until the end of his days.”

Bitter, much? Frankly, what does this have to do with anything?

“But those of us who are humanists and feminists”

I am not allowed to be those things because I disagree with you?

“will find new, better voices to promote and inspire, and Dawkins will be left alone to fight the terrible injustice of standing in elevators with gum-chewers.”

Oh, Jaysus. Get over yourself.

Posted in antitheism, atheism, Dawkins, feminism, humanism, Rebecca Watson, Richard Dawkins, Skepchick | 43 Comments


Several months ago, I was at a park near my house with my dog when a woman approached to hand out a flier about coyotes in the area who had been seen at the park and to tell her personal tale of one trying to take her small dog – still on a leash – in broad daylight.

I suppose this is the type of thing that would lead most dog owners to live in fear, but the logical question I asked myself was how starving that poor animal must have been.

Coyotes have been a way of life in Southern California for all of my life, and I can only hope that trend stays the same. While urban sprawl and poison and other extermination programs have struggled to decimate these beautiful creatures off of the face of almost every bit of their natural territory, the coyote has shown a tenacity unlike that of almost any other wild creature and certainly unlike that of any other large predator.

For most predators, when the food sources go, they go. Sure, Southern California will always have mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, opossums, and raccoons, but their numbers in a lot of places have dwindled quite a bit. Controlled extermination and the relentless drive of the bulldozer keeps their numbers in check after the almost complete annihilation of the fox. (Who, I am told, once ran in large numbers at the senior community Leisure World in Seal Beach – and, logically, other areas – until completely eradicated; causing an enormous boom in rabbits. And, although the elderly citizens there petitioned against and succeeded in stopping an extermination program for those rabbits, their numbers have somehow dropped dramatically in the past few years from where you could see five or six lounging on one lawn to barely being able to see one scurry into the bushes on a good day.)

I regularly see opossums and raccoons on evening walks with my dog, who has a tendency to stand on his hind legs and whine up at a tree to “out” them – I’ve no doubt his intentions are good, as I have a cat and kitten and he was raised with ferrets, as well (not to mention the overly friendly squirrel that came up to him, only to be picked up by the neck and immediately dropped without chase), but he gets so excited to see them.

I share my dog’s enthusiasm. I enjoy watching wildlife – everything from crayfish, turtles, snowy egrets, and herons at the lake our condo is built around to opossums and raccoons we sometimes stumble across, at night. And wildlife seems to respect this attitude, for the most part. I remember my dog’s exuberance scaring a mother raccoon and her babies up into a tree. After backing off a fair distance and talking in a soft, soothing voice, she came down and had her babies come down, one by one – the fourth and last, quite slowly, as apparently he didn’t realize going down where you could see the ground from far up was a lot more difficult than going up!

Coyotes, to me, have often been a symbol of undestructable nature. In such an unnatural setting, I find a kind of comfort in this. True, one ate one of my grandpa’s daughter’s cats and the other was found on the roof with his claws shredded and tufts of coyote fur between its paws – but, guess what? Domesticated cats don’t belong outside! They are an enormous threat to wild songbird populations throughout the United States. Almost everyone who has an outdoor cat seems to have a “they can take care of themself” mentality – a mentality, no doubt shared by most people who find their pets run over or eternally missing. But few cats are any contest to a coyote, and we know there are coyotes, here… So all I can conclude is that owners who still let their cats out aren’t that bright or just don’t care.

Lately, my life feels like it just needs some major changes. I procrastinate on these changes. I told myself, this new year, I would get things together. It was a slow start, with a betrayal of a friend online that left me reeling and, more recently, getting sick. This time, I told myself I wouldn’t have a cold for over a month, again. After about a week, it seemed to have cleared up, but then there was a major stabbing pain in my right ear and my throat and head were back to aching as if it had started up again, anew. I found the best way to start again was to force myself to be active, even if it made me cough and that made me tired. No more lying around for hours!

I pushed myself to walk my dog further than I had been since being sick. I knew it was time to turn around at a certain point, not far from the point I would normally walk him – good progress, considering the week before, I could barely bring myself to walk him, at all! I noted this as progress rather than giving up… I began to think about how I needed to rise above whatever pain and excuses I had made up in my life and to stop hoping others could change. The only way I could progress was on my own. I can’t hope someone else will motivate or inspire me. I need to forget about what I left behind and focus on what I deserve. On what others who have supported me deserve. On what my animals that I chose to give a home with me deserve.

I was feeling good about this change, about making myself accomplish things I have needed to accomplish for years, and about understanding that others would try to drag me down, to make themselves feel better or less alone. I was ready to just enjoy the walk part of my walk. My mp3 player randomly selected Bon Iver’s Re:Stacks, and I was briefly transported to the excellent episode of House that had played that particular song: Wilson’s Heart.

And then I saw it.

The coyote pup ran right past us, from a shopping center into a residential cul de sac. It was by no means a tiny, fluffy, bearcub-like baby, but a one and a half foot long, ultralean prototype of its parents; probably about four months old. A rugged little thing, beautiful in its wild and raw simplicity amongst a backdrop of manufactured false beauty, non-native ornamental plants, and personal tanks loitering on driveways of cement no doubt poured over its ancestors’ bodies.

A stubborn little wild stain that no amount of consumerism could quite wipe clean from its yuppie paradise facade. Skimming past near identical homes with trimmed and perfectly manicured lawns – a visual reminder of both what humanity is capable of creating and incapable of entirely destroying.

What a perfect sight! My dog was a bit excited, as if he might get permission to run alongside the little pup, if he just played his cards right.

My sweet dog, who remained so well-behaved and patient as I was sick; sometimes barely being able to even walk as far as the mailbox. If I could make his life better, it stood to reason that I could make my own better, as well.

The coyote will always be wild. You cannot take that from him. He is what he was meant to be. He isn’t ashamed or reserved about his talents or what his presence means for the rest of the world. He is loyal to those who love him and he works for what he needs without complaining. If he doesn’t succeed, he starves. Even if you kill him, he dies, free.

A lot of my life was spent, telling myself I’d be alone. Perhaps someday, I’d be fortunate enough to be stranded on a deserted island or buy a small parcel of land I could essentially disappear in. But I began to realize that some friendships change you in such a way that you will never truly be alone. Now my path through wilderness – whatever its form – will be shared. And I am ready for the responsibility that those relationships brings.

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Hi, everyone… Just a quick warning. A mentally ill (schizophrenic erotomaniac) woman named Dawn Gordon/Chessman has latched onto one of my friends and as such, is stalking me. She claims I am an ex lover of his that lives in New Zealand. (Pffft… I wish I lived there!) This woman says she is a prophet of god and uses it as “proof” she is right about me faking my identity. I didn’t want to have to take it to my blog, but as she is now posting comments under my username and picture, linked to this blog, I thought I’d put out a quick warning.

Here are the fake comments she has posted, so far:

Yes. She made a comment as someone else (me!), claiming they were someone else. And then responded to it.


I’ll be working with her blog server to put an end to this, but in the meantime, please be wary of any unusual comments and email me if you have questions on their validity. And don’t try to interact with her – she’s extremely ill and has gone to means of contacting victims’ workplaces, family members, and lovers.

Thanks for your support!

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Love Heals Scars Love Left

The date was May 25, 2009.

It was approximately five months since I had met the man I loved. (He certainly wasn’t the first, although I hesitate on whether or not I hope he’ll be the last.)

When we met on Christmas, I quite liked him, right away. Nonetheless, I didn’t go home from the bar with him to “watch South Park” as he insisted – I like relationships, not one night stands. Somewhere in January, we got together again. We kept colliding. Finally, I fell quite fantastically hard for him one night as he played chess and talked to my friend (also named David) for six hours. We had quite a bit in common – and what we didn’t have in common, I wagered, were traits I wish I had the strength to have. Or so I thought.

Once we had slept together, his true colors began to show. He wasn’t interested in a relationship and no longer had an interest in either spending time with my friends or answering most of my texts or calls. If he did answer, it was because he wanted one thing. I found myself catering to that want, but at the same time in an odd way, I walled him off from my life. I didn’t want him to get to know me, potentially love me, then blame me for “trapping” him somewhere down the road. I didn’t let him in my apartment (which was covered in personality and housed close to 500 books that would easily give me away), I always went to his house. When we were together, we might watch a movie or show, read to each other, laugh, have fun… But I wasn’t as intimate with him as I could be. I often not only spent the night but was there well into the next afternoon… But then came the dreadful waiting game, again. I asked him if he’d just text me once a week: “we’re cool.” I could be so much happier, then, but of course he didn’t oblige. After thinking I’d never seen him again and a decidedly cathartic night with friends at an Avett Brothers concert, I’d kicked myself for seeing David again.

I had slid into an obscure place in life. I was living on my own in Tennessee, in a gorgeous 1,200 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment with my 2 cats and 2 ferrets. I had many friends, but I missed California. My heart had been run through the mill with David, and I knew that things would never really work out, between us. As was a typical Monday night with such things heavy in the air, I was drinking.

And it was an epic night for drinking, at that! I had not only had wine and beer to the point of near delerium, but my bartender gave me a free shot of Crown. I was in a positive stupor, and my dear friend Red was acting as a proper leaning post. Not even I know why the next two events happened, but had they not, the night’s conclusion would be decidedly different, and five tiny lives would have been snuffed out of existence.

For one, I refused a ride home from Red. I only lived about a mile from him, but for whatever reason, despite being insanely drunk, I decided to walk. (Now, this in and of itself isn’t as strange as it may sound – I’ve refused to drive all my life and began drinking when I was 23, so walking home drunk on seven years’ practice was hardly a feat.) Then, as I was walking, I decided not to put on headphones. I pretty much never walk without listening to music, so your guess is as good as mine, as to why that night was the exception.

Chattanooga, Tennessee is remarkably sidewalk and crosswalk free unless you live downtown, which I most certainly did not. I walked along a gravel road with perhaps a foot of space between road and divider. To the right of the divider was a hill covered in various scrub brush that led down to the freeway. As I was stumbling along, I heard a sound in the bushes off to the side that was decidedly like kittens crying.

If you don’t know anything about me, you should know that I am an animal lover. Any kind of animal will do. And I am certified in their care and science – I’m that big of an animal nerd. I’ve even raised a wild baby bunny a friend’s cat brought her and a few wild birds – most notably a sassy little sparrow named Suzume who refused to go free and lived with me her entire life.

I figured the situation I was in was dire – if I was hearing kittens in the brush, they were likely feral and their insistent cries meant their mom was probably dead somewhere, struck by a car, and they wouldn’t likely let me close enough to catch them, despite starvation – but, hey, it was worth a shot! So before you know it, my drunk ass had climbed the divide and I’m wandering through brush, wondering why the cries sounded all together and weren’t moving away from me.

Finally, I was at what seemed the source of the cries. They were fiercely loud and yet, even with my BlackBerry shining surprising little light, I was just staring at a black mass. My alcohol addled brain seemed unable to wrap around this concept, so my hand reached out and grabbed… Plastic. Sobriety hit me like a freight train with the realization that what I was holding was a large garbage bag, tied near the top.

As I headed back toward the main road (and, thus, better lighting) and ripped the bag open, my thoughts were only on hoping I wasn’t going to be pulling out any dead bodies. And then I pulled out the first animal and held up what was not a kitten at all, but a newborn puppy. There were 5 of them, total, and I was tearily on the phone in seconds.

The first person I called was David. He was one of the few people I knew who’d be awake at 3:30 a.m., and I knew Red was going to be continuing drinking with friends. But I also knew David was an asshole who wouldn’t answer his phone or respond to a call that required even the tiniest amount of some commitment to anything but him getting laid, so almost as soon as I hung up, I dialed Red, anyway.

Somehow he managed to calm me down and get to the point: I needed him to go to the store. The pups were already starving, and nothing I had would help. As much as I hated Wal-Mart, they were open 24 hours, and they’d have formula for newborn pups. So at 4 in the morning, Red and his friend Tim were loudly and drunkenly wandering the store and I cleaned the pee and feces-covered pups up and bundled them in a small basket with warm bedding.

tiny baby pups!

Over the next six weeks, puppies consumed most of my life. I switched to a homemade formula of goat’s milk, plain yogurt, vegetable oil, egg yolks, water, and karo syrup (at certain points, I also added beneficial bacteria that they were deprived of; having not had their mother’s first milk) and fed them almost constantly – they took so long to eat that I’d often have to reheat formula mid-feeding for four of them. (I called the fifth Powerhouse, because he always plowed through his bottle in record speed.)

feeding time!

By the time I was done feeding and burping them, it was pretty much time to feed them, again! And, despite stimulating them to go to the bathroom afterward with a wet wash cloth, someone would always end up going in their container and they’d all be covered in poop or pee in a manner of seconds, so sink baths were a daily occurrence. (They’d get one bath and a couple of cleanings with bath wipes a day, as well as their container cleaned out a few times, so they moved from their normal storage container to a laundry hamper.) I got hardly any sleep. Sleeping in my bed proved impossible because I slept too comfortably to wake to their cries, even with their large container close to bedside. Instead, I slept on the couch, uncomfortably and not often. Despite buying tons of hand towels and wash cloths and having 6 throw blankets, I couldn’t even go two days without having to do laundry, again.

I also went through major trials. Despite being the only pup to open both eyes at once (the others were permanently “winking” for a day or two) and eating the same amount, the runt never really grew. One day she only ate about a half ounce of formula when all the others were eating an ounce and a half. I planned immediately to get her to the vet. My friend Phil drove me to the 24 hour emergency clinic because the other places were closed. They assured me she’d survive the night, but that the panel of tests they’d do on her to see what was wrong alone would cost $500 and that price would be cut to only about a third if I just waited out the night and went to my vet. I overrode my instinct that she wouldn’t survive the night. I bundled her up at home and, after feeding the pups (and trying unsuccessfully to get her to eat), held her in my arms. I wanted to stay up, but I fell asleep briefly and when I woke up, she was dead.

Despite the fact that it’d only been a few weeks, losing one of the pups was devastating. I had poured so much work and so many hours into their survival! All of the emotion caught up with me and threatened to destroy me. When I put the remaining pups down for the night, I went out for a drink. Despite Red trying to cheer me up (and yes, he was right, it was better that she died, having known love than the way she would have died, had I never found her), I needed something else. I called David, despite not hearing from him for three weeks, which was the second longest amount of time I’d not heard from him since we met. Surprisingly, he answered his phone. He said he’d moved and I could come over to the new place. I was almost home and checked on the puppies, first. His new place was closer than the last. I don’t think I ever even told him the runt had died, but perhaps because he hadn’t seen me in a while, he was surprisingly gentle and sweet that night. He was what I needed, without even knowing it. I loved David, after all, whether he loved me back or not!

But, back at home, the largest pup was now was refusing to eat, and I wasn’t about to lose another one. I walked him over to the vet. They gave him sub-q fluids and prepped some additional syringes to send home with me, in case any of the others seemed sick. The treatment seemed to work wonders; he started gobbling from his bottle as soon as I got back!

the largest of the pups

At this point, the pups resembled Labrador Retrievers more than anything else, but I knew better. The runt had been an orange and black brindle, and so was one other. (The other three were black; and all had white chests and some white on their feet. One female and the brindle male also had white stripes on their face.) Very few breeds carry brindle coloration, so I knew I was looking at a possible mix of Great Dane or a bully breed.

my little terror!

Whatever they were, they were cute, but no longer content to stay put. The four pups followed me all around the house; to the sheer outrage of the cats and curious delight to the ferrets, who happily trailed behind them. Powerhouse (the brindle) was making it quite clear that he was my pup. The others were content to sleep together, but he sat apart and cried until I held him. He hammed it up when my friends Michael and Carlie came over; sucking his thumb and otherwise proving to them that he was the one I should keep. (They would have taken one, but they already had seven dogs!)

biggest male

smaller male (my dog)
bigger female (back)
small female

In fact, I had homes lined up for all of the other pups, and every one of them flaked out, when it came time to give them homes. I put an ad on craigslist and a woman and her husband came to look at them. She was looking for her sister who was still at work and when she confirmed on the phone that they were, indeed, adorable, her sister said to get her the biggest one. But while looking, the woman managed to talk her husband into letting her get a pup, too. He was a trucker for a living and she spent quite a bit of time, alone. So that day, she left with two pups.

I had purposely left Powerhouse upstairs. He was my pup and there was no point in letting them see him. He has been barking indignantly away, but imagine his reaction to me coming back with just one pup! His frustration that only one sibling returned led to her sleeping with us and I began to wonder if she’d ever find a home or I’d end up with two dogs! I kept running ads on craigslist and ignoring some of the flakier people that responded. Finally a home that seemed almost too good to be true came up – a newlywed couple with a few acres of land and a duck pond. The wife was a nurse, and the couple both came to look at the pup and quickly fell in love with her.

This time when I came back empty-handed, Powerhouse seemed to understand.

And so did I.

Over the course of three years, I’d spent my life, far from home. I was fueled to leave California by a broken heart but now, a broken heart was calling me back. I loved a man who didn’t love me. He was the only unmarried atheist in Chattanooga I knew. Other men close to my age that were single there seemed geared toward finding a partner for marriage – which I wasn’t particularly interested in. I’d recently met a really interesting guy, but he was steadfastly in love with a friend, despite the fact that she’d never love him back. (Hey. I could relate!) I knew that, as long as David was calling me whenever the hell he felt like it and not often enough, I’d keep answering. And in between, my life would be a living hell, feeling worthless and not knowing if that next call would ever come or if I’d finally been replaced. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to just refuse to answer, even if it was what I wanted. (The one time I said no to coming over, he said he’d been hit by a car and I came running – only to be more hurt by the realization he’d got hit on his bike almost a week earlier and hadn’t felt a need to notify me, sooner!) I needed the age old fixall: I needed distance. I didn’t really like Tennessee, and some of my closest friends there would be leaving soon, to the west coast, anyway.

Moving would mean enormous sacrifices. I’d have to give up living on my own in my giant apartment to live with my mom, who is borderline psychotic. I’d have to give up my ferrets because it’s illegal to keep them in California and risking their death because I wanted them around would be more selfish than I was capable of. And, of course, I would probably never see the man I loved there, again.

I found comfort in my decision in a place where one might not expect it. A friend of mine online had recommended the book Solipsist by Henry Rollins to me, months before. He knew me well and found the book very “me”. I hadn’t been able to backorder it at the bookstore I worked at, but one day some friends took me to the used bookstore as part of an outing, and I came across it quite on accident! The book (from which this entry is titled) was dark and full of loneliness and heartache – but it was indeed, me. I enjoy loneliness on many levels, I walk the streets at night, and I will always carry feelings for my big love in life, Eddie. (Our story is epic and may be told, someday… I’m not sure if this is the place, though!) Most importantly, the words gave me strength in recognizing that these things about myself gave me a kind of comfort and resiliency. I would be okay.

Walking my puppy in the crisp morning hours of October, I’d made up my mind. Before he ever experienced the freezing cold of a Tennessee winter or the brutal humidity of a Tennessee summer, I would take my new love home to California with me and start my life over again.


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Happy Holidays

When I was living in Tennessee I worked at Barnes & Noble. I had worked at one for four years in California as my first job and, although I didn’t want to return to retail, no one else seemed to be willing to hire me. There was no recession at the time, and I honestly began to think that people were biased because I was from California. I needed a job, and Barnes & Noble was hiring. The managers were impressed, and offered me an open fiction lead position right away.

As you might imagine, the holiday season is a retail worker’s nightmare, and bookstores are no exception. I was on registers almost all day and frequently had to miss breaks. After counting the tills at the end of the night, I helped maintain the ruins of the trashed store so the opening crew came into a brand new-looking store every morning and could focus on restocking bookshelves and new product placement.

But the holiday season in Tennessee brought with it a new kind of torture, for the non-believer: Christians, adamant that they alone be acknowledged in customary greeting.

I never thought that people would get pissed off at the phrase “happy holidays”, but, believe me, many christians do. (I’ve yet to have complaints from anyone else, so spare me the lecture on being biased toward christians, only.) We were required to say this at the end of our transactions, just as we were required to ask if they had or were interested in buying a membership card. It was our job.

I personally wasn’t opposed to saying, “happy holidays”. Like most Americans (and even – gasp! – most atheists), I celebrate holiday get togethers with friends and family and give gifts. Although the name “Christ” has been tacked on, these are rituals that existed long before his supposed existence. I do not say “merry Christmas” because I don’t believe that Christ died for my sins and I am not celebrating his Birthday; it really is as simple as that. And I also don’t like it when people in stores say it to me – they know nothing of my beliefs (or lack thereof) and have no right to assume that I am celebrating their holiday. In this way, I feel somewhat like it is being shoved in my face but, hey, I’m not going to be a snippy asshole about it.

I noticed that a couple christian cashiers in our store opted to say, “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays”, anyway. This grated my nerves quite a bit, but most customers seemed excited that they went that route. (We are talking the bible belt, here!) I didn’t understand why they couldn’t say, “happy holidays” – would it be insulting to Christ? It just seemed an unnecessary act to prove some point, as far as I was concerned.

But much more importantly than that was the fact that some people literally got quite angry that I didn’t say it. Time and time again I heard, “why can’t you say, “merry Christmas”?!” or the even more insulting “they don’t allow you to say “merry Christmas”?!” which seemed to automatically assume I was a christian, oppressed by the stranglehold of my employer’s contribution to the fictional “war on Christmas”.

At first I met these demands with a calm, “it may be insulting to non-christians”. But some people continued their hostility at such a statement or the inference that non-christians even existed anywhere on planet earth, so I began to politely add, “like me – I am an atheist.”

Most people’s reaction to this was sheer terror, as if the person they were just happy to banter and chuckle with had become some sort of ghoul. Some would run to their car and return with crap from their church or tracts. Some offered to pray for me. Very few of them reacted by just letting me be. They all assumed something was terribly wrong with me that needed fixing.

I did not interact with most of these people. I accepted their tracts and added them to a pile (literally) in my drawer. (Later they would bring some unintentional joy – I’d read them, write my more realistic and comedic interpretations between the lines of text or in the borders, and leave them in the break room, where coworkers, tired of the same antagonistic customers could enjoy and laugh at the rewrites — often saying it made their day.) When they offered to pray for me, I simply said thanks. Prayer doesn’t work, and part of retail is biting your tongue, anyway, so I left off adding that them assuming I wasn’t “whole” was insulting and just went about my day.

What I found interesting about interaction with these and some other (typically fundamentalist) christians, however, was a notion that, if I just read a certain bible verse or a tract or even the bible itself, I would magically be changed. As a kid, one of my favorite books was a children’s book of bible stories, put out by jehovah’s witnesses. How I ever got this book in the first place is beyond me (although, I’d enjoy another copy, to read again, today!), but I enjoyed it and found the illustrations lovely. I read it as I would read any bedtime stories and, although they didn’t hold a candle to the Hindu god and traditional Japanese bedtime stories my grandpa told me or even Greek mythology, I nonetheless appreciated them.

I have read every single chick tract – I went to their website once and downloaded each one. I have read the bible in entirety. I am accosted on a regular basis by religious people who share bible verses that nonetheless do not affect me, and am more than willing to share a few with them that should rightly repulse any truly moral person. I do not need christians’ help, I need their acceptance. I need them to accept that I will be what I am, and that what I am is despite embracing their challenge to read their texts, and that there is nothing wrong with me because I do not share their faith or worldview.

So this holiday season, my challenge for christians is to humble themselves with the reality that the winter solstice is the reason for the season and that the best response to “happy holidays” is just a “thank you” or “you, too” – it is not a moral quest sent from god challenging you to assert your faith but merely, a message that all people can benefit from, rather than just a third of them.

Happy holidays!

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