Keeping Things Interesting

The main thing on my mind this week, personally, is that Team Dawn won the 4thewords tournament this November. Every November, we have a major writing event to celebrate NaNoWriMo. This year, we had a tournament – and the other side won. Twice. I lost. Twice. And it was glorious.

…pretty much

Of course, the other thing on my mind this week: Thanksgiving. It’s Wednesday before work, and I have time to write and make yummy food, because I agreed to go in late today and close so people with families don’t have to. Now I’m writing and wishing that my fellow U.S. citizens would be as relieved, I mean as sad, as I am to be able to avoid Thanksgiving family drama – I mean family get togethers.

One of the things that continues to bother me about organized religion and “normal” people in general is the part where people talk (maybe aspirationally? maybe honestly?) about how much they love their biological families. I prefer to avoid holiday dinners in much the same way that I prefer to avoid – for example – dentist visits.

One of my favorite people in the multiverse, Jesus Christ (you may have heard of him, died on a cross and rose on the third day) genuinely seems to love his mom. I have so many questions about this. Like, how does this work? It’s one of those deep questions for me. Is God good because God is God or is God God because God is good?

Don’t even get me started on the guilt feelings and the fact that the “good” people who might read this might think – okay, Anne, but you owe your family some loyalty, right? Okay, so … no. I didn’t ask to be born with a cleft lip and palate and a mom who spent much of my childhood expressing her personal sense of failing by calling me a freak and saying it was a shame I’d never have any friends due to being a freak. Yes, my parents fed and clothed me. So do actual torturers.

And that’s just a for example of why I don’t think cuddly thoughts about my mom.

I literally can’t and won’t accept that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. Rebelling against my parents was a matter of survival. I tried to kill myself when I was teenager, a step a later therapist would describe as a cry for help that probably saved my life down the road. I had No Other Way to get help, other than self-harm – because then and only then the government got involved. That’s how messed up this world is.

To this day, life occasionally feels so unbearable I’d like to walk into a train – a thought process that often weaves its tangled way through not wanting to make other people miserable just because I am. If you have never once tried to think of a suicide method that would cause minimal suffering to the people around you, I feel honestly happy for you. That must be nice.

Now, I’m wondering if – apart from global pandemics – I could come up with some other reason why I won’t be able to do holidays in the future. Because, there isn’t always a soul-searing meltdown at family dinners, but there’s usually a soul-searing meltdown at family dinners. You know?

Because that’s not my “real family” anyway. My family of choice is my real family – all the misfits and renegades and creative souls. ❤ No, but really. Not just saying that.

That’s why, to be honest, the main thing on MY mind this past week has been NaNoWriMo. Things I want to do. People I’d like to be around. Maybe my team will win next time. It kind of doesn’t matter – but at the same time it really does. This is so much more fun than competitive sports, where I in no way affect the outcome.

Whatever drama may be going on in the world, yeah, I’m thinking about writing a book. Literally, my favorite thing. I am thinking about the content of the book, too, but its content is secondary to the fact that I’m not the only one writing. Because writing is the most and least solitary activity ever.

That’s because language is the most social thing we do – while creativity is the most independent thing you can do.

I feel like there is some profound lesson here.

Keep life interesting. Stay occupied. It almost doesn’t matter what you do – as long as it is not destructive. Boredom leads us to do stupid things. The need for drama leads us to do stupid things. As a child of dysfunctional/alcoholic parent/guardians, we have our own twelve-step program (but who doesn’t these days.) One of those things we learn to accept reads like this “We became addicted to excitement.”

Doing things just to do things is like a drug – because that’s how addiction works. When you do things just to stay busy, it isn’t going to satisfy you, and you are going to keep wanting more.

Break the cycle. Go for a walk. Paint. Discuss religion in a way where you are sharing hearts and not trying to colonize someone else’s thought world. Have fun with it.

We get addicted to excitement, to drama for drama’s sake. Then we’re shocked when we have nothing to show for it but a not-fun roller coaster ride of “joy” and despair. That’s nothing against REAL roller coasters – which are awesome and fun.

storm runner roller coaster at hersheypark
My favorite local coaster, currently closed. Not happy about this.

I’m talking about the kind where you leave a trail of destruction in your wake because you just don’t care – because no one else seems to. That kind.

Maybe you’re right that no one else in the world cares about you. (Well, I know at least three people who do – whoever you are. And, we mean it, says the Spirit in me.)

Even if you are all alone, then fine.

Be different. Break the cycle. Care. About something. About anything. What have you got to lose that’s worth keeping?

Seriously, if anyone is struggling with holiday blues this year or any year, if you or someone you know cannot stand to be away from the people you love on some random day of the year then – seriously?

Consider finding a group of misfits like us who know we are misfits and want to “get better” “one day at a time.” Consider meeting those people online, which is where I meet most of my peeps because we are literally All Over the World. Many of them don’t even speak English all that well. It is crazy, and it is awesome.

My ultimate, big picture family is the one I plan to spend forever with. We have a King who looks at each of us and says things like, oh, well if you think everything is fine then carry on. I’m here to help the people who (are ready to admit they) need help. See you all later.

Yep, I’m talking about my church family. My family of choice. Jesus said things like “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50.)

Biggest, craziest family ever. No wonder, when we have a vast and endlessly simple Father in heaven. From what I can gather, from the 40-odd years I’ve had with you all so far, it only gets crazier from here. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Because, okay, one more thing and then I will stop. Behold the miracle of the calm family dinner where a lot of near-strangers come together and we eat consecrated bread and not a whole lot happens. I mean Mass.

A lot of people say church is boring. Why can’t it be more interesting? I think – oh my gosh this is a miracle – church is … predictable and calm and no one is running around disrupting the service even though maybe they should be because the world is messed up.

There is nothing wrong with predictable, with simple and beautiful – just as long as you never forget how hard it can be to get there, to hold that line. If you can see that, you really can see Everything. All at the same time. No joke. Seriously people. You all nuts if you don’t see that. But then, I have been around the human race long enough to know – you all nuts.

Stay safe this holiday season. Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and all manner of things will be well. That will be all this week.

Die Hard advent calendar. Handmade and not for sale. Alas.

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