Thursday, August 14, 2008

The church and me.

I was born to a mother who comes from a sprawling Italian brood and a father who comes from a now nearly extinct Irish/Scotch bunch. The mother's side of the family, although it never occurred to me until recently, must have initiated some sort of pressure to have me raised Catholic, because in retrospect, it seems unlikely that sort of thing would've been my mother's idea. While I have no memory or idea what the determining factors were, although I suspect it likely drove a further wedge between my father and my mother's family, I began taking classes in middle school to prepare me for confirmation into the church. The program was called CCD, but I never thought to ask what that stood for, outside of my knowledge that Catholic must've been one of the Cs. 

The classes were precisely the sort of thing I had trained myself to blithely accept at that age. I didn't (nor do I now) bear any particular grudge against the Catholic church, nor did I think very much about the implications of shooing a child towards a particular faith. I guess I understand it now insofar as absolute faith is concerned; if a parent believes deeply that the unrepentant soul will go to hell, they're going to go the whole nine yards to make sure their child is on the holy path. 

The puzzling thing was that my mother never seemed particularly religious, which was the fact that began my questioning of the entire process. While I didn't care all that much that my Tuesday afternoons were being spent in a conference room next to St. Patrick's (being taught religion by the younger brother of former NFL QB Bernie Kosar, no less), I did care about the familial implications of my presence there. My grandmother was in her heyday a somewhat abusive figure in my mother's life, so I naturally began to wonder if the studies were somehow being organized under her influence. At this point, I don't think that was the case, but it made me increasingly resentful of the position I was in.

In the eighth grade, I was slated to be confirmed into the church. The morning of the event I mentioned to my dad that I didn't feel quite right committing to something at twelve that I didn't really have any interest in. My dad reacted somewhat strongly, insisting to me that I shouldn't go through with something like that if I didn't want to. I didn't know at the time that my father had an innate disdain for most religions, as he felt his grandmother's death was the church's doing. Her husband was in the military, and she worried so much for his safety that she went on some sort of blessing pilgrimage that culminated in climbing a hill and kissing the priest's ring. It was, according to my father, a terribly stormy night in which she did this, and she fell deathly ill from the toil and passed away soon after.

While I appreciated that he supported my right to back out, we both knew on some level that it wasn't an option. Family members had gathered for the ceremony. There were people who had cleared their schedules to attend. I was, in a sense, obligated to feign this vow of faith. It wasn't that I flatly denied the faith I'd been taught, but rather that I had no concrete opinion and definitely didn't want to be tied down in that capacity.

I've been pleased to see that my younger brother, who is now eleven, hasn't been run through this system as I was. In a sense I'm envious (which will land me in some hot water if what they taught me was correct), but I also know that the experience was centrally involved in shaping me, so I wouldn't change it, certainly. I think the biggest regret and biggest anger I have is the fear. Namely, the fear of going to hell and suffering for all eternity.

It's not a fear that I really have on a conscious level, because at this point I'm all but openly atheistic, but it is something that by virtue of society I don't think you can really shake. There's an entire line of thinking devoted to the idea that when I die, because I haven't gone to church, been a diligent Christian, and dedicated myself to god and the bible, I'm gonna be set ablaze and eviscerated for all time. That's eternal. Neverending. No human being deserves unending hell. Adolph Hitler does not deserve to be subject to unimaginable pain that will never, ever end. The maximum amount of suffering that a human being can cause with his or her mortal body upon other mortal bodies cannot possibly be fairly countered with an infinity of torture. The entire reason the idea is effective and lingers is because the punishment is so out of sync with the crime.

The fact that, in my most private moments, I still have an inkling of worry that when I die I'll retire to an unending hell is the biggest reason I turned away from religion and have never really looked back. One of my biggest dreads is that at some point in my life, somebody will dupe me into thinking I have to turn to god by scaring me into it. When I'm about to die, I want to appreciate the rest I'm about to receive. Nobody should die worrying.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Manifest destiny.

My efforts to take over the internet continue. From here on out, all my poetry will be posted on this page's new sister blog. This way anybody who doesn't want to read my poetry won't have to worry about finding it here, while those who don't want to hear about me loitering around can visit the new page to see if my creative work is a little more interesting. Whether or not it will be is yet to be decided, personally, I advise caution in taking anything I say with any sort of seriousness or certainty. Without further ado, I hereby present creak creek.

Monday, August 11, 2008

As you go, I can never not follow.

It's been a fairly busy little while this week, at least by my standards. I am what is commonly known as a deadbeat. You could also call me a wastrel, an ne'er-do-well, a slacker (I don't like this one, because Hollywood has managed to romanticize it), and an unshaven, jobless tool. These are titles that haven't been hurled at me, but I accept them now in the event that they one day are, not unlike a toothless man waking up each morning and slurring "tym tah goh, yoo toofless bahtard!"

So, understand that when I say my week was busy, it was certainly not by conventional standards. I only worked one day the whole week. It was a day for which I earned approximately $275 for eight hours of work. A handsome wage for a handsome man, they (me) told me!

I also attended two separate east bay (pig latin for beast) events, both of which were highly enjoyable but taxed my emotions in a immeasurable grab-bag of ways. I ran an impressive gauntlet of feelings this week, from happiness and optimism to sadness and heartache, with the ever popular tinglings of lust, which at points ranged from casual and harmless to uncomfortable intensity.

I wrote this a few minutes ago. I have more on my mind, but slumber beckons. I'll continue these thoughts tomorrow.

disembodied franchise voices
spill cups en masse
streaming down the floor
and puddling up in front of a
movie screen
down by the waterfront
a popup moon with tassels and lace
where some were but others shall not be
lions leap from branches hanging
towards a child pinned under an an errant log
on his way home one sunday evening
through a forest patched with cloth

Monday, August 04, 2008

Matrimony, familial smug.

I had a busy weekend for the first time in a while. On Saturday I arose bright and early to film a wedding with my buddy Kevin- a service for which we were forced to drive to Windsor (Windsor Water Works, you're gonna get wet!). Once there, it seemed to be an ideal and incredibly simple shoot. It was only scheduled for eight hours, and it was an early ceremony; arrive at noon, hitched by two, drunk by five, danced out by eight and we leave.

Unfortunately for me (and Kevin, as it would turn out), I had a rather nasty flare up of a long standing physical malady. When I was younger, around nine or ten, my mom enrolled me in tennis classes to get me some exercise, concerned that I spent too much time laying around. The tennis class quickly became my least favorite thing on earth as the exertion under the summer sn would feel like it was scorching my brain and turning my stomach. It was a debilitating pain that called to mind what I imagined one must feel right before spontaneous combustion. The truth of the matter was that I had anemia, the iron-deficiency kind, not the sickle cell kind, so all that I needed was a small amount of supplementation and I was good to go.

As time wore on, though, I forgot about the unpleasant feeling, as it happened so infrequently as to never be on my mind. So it came as quite a surprise to me when, not halfway through the wedding shoot, my legs began to get shaky. Kevin asked me quietly which of the waitresses I'd sleep with, and to stomp my foot when she passed. Not more than twenty seconds later, the compact, auburn haired waitress with the deceptively large breasts strolled by carrying an empty platter that was shortly before full of mini-pizza. I stomped my foot, despite it sending a slight chil up into the pit of my stomach. I told Kevin I needed to stretch out behind the house out of sight of the wedding party. He told me to go ahead. 

I did indeed stretch my back initially, as an earlier stint on the handheld had done a number on my back, leaving me with an unpleasant feeling of compression in my spine. After only a dozen seconds or so, I simply laid out on the deck and tried to sleep, my heartbeat pulsing in my head and crippling my breathing. I knew the nature of the pain, but also knew that in that heat I was powerless but to ride it out. I managed to doze off halway for a couple of minutes before a woman from the wedding arty stepped behind the house near me to talk on the phone.

"They're not talkin' to me cause Im the ex-wife," she complained. Under my breath, I found myself cursing her. "Stupid goddamn bitch," I thought, "shut the fuck up, I can't deal with this."
Her conversation continued as my mind slipped into some sort of state that has made it impossible for me to remember anything else before Kevin roused me. He told me that I had to go to the car, that it looked bad for me to be lying prone on a yard deck during a wedding I was supposed to be a videographer for. Despite my state, and my knowledge that the car would be even more arduous from the heat, I couldn't argue with Kevin's logic; at likely around $3000 for eight hours, they deserved not to have one of the shooters passed out like a drunk, village idiot.

I ended up falling asleep in the car after half an hour of obsessed, seething fidgeting. I woke up an hour and a half later when Kevin phoned me, saying he needed to call his wife and asking me to film while he did. My absence from a practical standpoint wasn't a huge tactical issue; the only B camera coverage they paid for was for the ceremony, and I accomplished that before falling apart. Generally the B operator wouldn't shoot anything else anyways, except when the lead shooter has to use the bathroom or eat a snack. I took over briefly, but I lacked the strength to hoist the camera very far, so my shots were mostly from the same angle, with the zoom level changed to create the illusion of motion. I was truly useless from a functionality standpoint.

Slowly but surely following my awakening, however, my body began to regulate itself back to normal. My headache faded into a warm numbness, my limbs stopped aching, and my stomach, which had at the worst moment felt prone to regurgitation, settled quickly. It reminded me of a similar incident that happen to me on the beach in Guernville, where I stewed in the sand trying to sleep while Annie read David Sedaris aloud. Like the scorned ex-wife at the wedding, I found myself mutters words of intense dislike towards Mr. Sedaris as I slowly wilted in the sun. But also like that day, a brief sleep somehow turned the incredible pain into little more than a warm, drowsy feeling.

I recovered so fully at such a rate (one that truthfully confounded me) that I seriously doubted whether I could objectively convince Kevin it wasn't some kind of laziness induced hoax I had pulled at his expense. I knew he would believe me by virtue of our friendship, but if we hadn't known each other, he likely would've though me terrible. I felt so good by the end of the night that I found myself rooting for overtime; if they wanted to keep us an extra hour it would've netted us around forty bucks extra apiece. It was a rather humbling experience, because despite needing to film for only a mere half hour, and really only having to stand around for the rest of the gig, I essentially flunked. It's a flunk I still get paid for, but objectively speaking, I wouldn't say I earned it. Actually, I guess it wasn't humbling. It's only humbling if I don't get the cash. But, the month is still young. Maybe I'll get taken to small claims court.

I followed yesterday's effort with a more personally taxing event today; my grandmother's birthday. Those of you who know me well know that I'm not crazy about my grandmother for certain reasons, so the celebration in and of itself wasn't very gratifying for me, but also my recent turn to veganism became an issue. My mother's family is a sprawling, boisterous (predominantly) Italian clan that prides itself in eating nothing but greasy meat, cheese, and pasta sauce every chance they get. As I knew would happen, everybody began asking why I wasn't eating, and apparently "I'm not that hungry, but thank you" is not a sufficient reply these days. Somebody finally ventured the guess that I didn't eat meat, and I admitted it, opening the floodgates to a solid twenty to thirty minutes of discussion (including the million dollar queston; so, like, what can you eat?), culminating in one cousin taking "my side" by expressively discussing how bad conditions are for animals for either livestock or productions. 

She essentially, albeit unknowingly, exuded the exact sort of attitude towards my meat guzzling family that I wanted to avoid during the stay, and it ended up costing me much more conversation that I would have liked. I don't quite understand why people seem to take it as a personal threat when I make a choice about my dietary habits; I encountered this skepticism during my semi-vegetarian spree in high school, and it's been worse with the veganism. There's an odd amount of resentment that some people have seemed to brandish upon learning of my choice.

For the record, though, I would eat meat if it meant a night of passion with that waitress. Seriously, that was some fiiiiiiiine looking woman.