Be Good and Kind and Drink A Beer

We had dinner with two friends last week. They are married and I work with the wife. We are both teachers. We have many things in common with this couple including a love of food, beer, England, travel, good music, and corgis. This is nothing to write a blog post about of course, except one thing keeps striking me about our friendship with them. Neither my husband nor I are religious (I’m actually more on the atheist end of the spectrum with a good dash of humanism on top but that’s for yet another post) and our friends are you could say, very religious. In fact, the husband is a pastor at one of the largest churches in

Eat food and be merry!

Eat food and be merry!

the area.

Again, nothing to write a whole blog post about. After all, I have many friends who believe in something and take part in organized religion. They are all good and kind to everyone, even me, the godless atheist. This is true of our pastor friends as well.

But what really strikes me about our two friends is how simple and honest their view of god and religion is. “We just want to love people,” my teacher friend said to me once in passing. And do you know what, faceless internet readers? They actually mean it. No judgement. No dogma. No shame over enjoying a beer or cursing or asking hard questions. You’re not a bad person if you’re gay. You still deserve to have people who love you.

I try really hard not to be an angry non-believer. Speaking only of my personal experiences, it can be difficult when you see a consistent pattern of people behaving poorly and using god and religion as an excuse. Because of my experiences, especially those in the last several years, I have so much more respect for our two friends. Though I am not a Christian, or at all religious, these two people are probably the best example of what a good Christian should be. That, I think is what life should be about and if you ascribe to a religion or a set of beliefs then, yes, that’s what your god should be about: Being good to people. Having dinner. Laughing. Loving people.

Ultimately, I think our friends and my husband and I  believe in the same fundamental ideals. We just approach these ideals from two different ends of a spectrum. Our friends ask the same questions and even see the same issues with religion and church that we do– and man is that refreshing.God and Beer. Two things that go pretty ok together if handled correctly.

I guess I keep thinking about this because neither my husband nor I talk much to anyone about what we don’t believe. It tends to start fistfights and make people uncomfortable. And, it’s deeply personal. In the right and respectful circumstances, I love talking about what people believe and why. But rarely is there a right and safe circumstance. I just keep thinking, how awesome is it that four people –two, for all intents and purposes, atheists, and a pastor and his wife– can sit down at dinner and have the same views of the big picture.

You don’t have to believe in each other’s religion. You don’t even have to have one. But if you do, be good and kind and eat bread and drink a beer. As just one atheist with a sprinkling or humanism, I will appreciate and respect you for it.

I feel kind of silly saying this because I already knew it, but we aren’t, all of us, so different after all. I guess it’s nice to be reminded that people can be good. And that, we can all agree on, is worth a raised glass of beer.

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Machine Gun Nancy Go!

It’s my first official day of summer.

 Summer!

For the last 6 or so summers I have had a part time job. I worked retail for 5 years and had a fabulous closet to show for it. Last summer, tired of spending most of my money on my wardrobe and dealing with people who treated me like an idiot instead of the fashion fabulous educated gal that I am, I took a job coaching a summer swim team.

Now THAT was a terrible idea. It was horribly stressful, too much work for the pay, and you know what? As much as I love kids (hello, teacher!), I really needed a break from them. We’re getting ready to buy a house this fall and I tossed around the idea of working that retail job again to get us an extra grand or two, but the husband said give yourself a break, you crazy, lady. (Actually, he said much nicer things, but I think the crazy part can be inferred.)

So, I’m giving myself a break but I have a whole list of things that I want to accomplish over these next two months.

  • Packing the nonessentials for the Big House Buy 2014
  • Walking the dog every morning and evening
  • Working out a money-saving, waist reducing meal plan
  • Cleaning/maintaining the house
  • Doing a few DIY projects… maybe
  • Reading, reading, reading (and going to the public library for the first time in 2 years to fuel my book habit)
  • Working out at least 6 times a week

I got up this morning at my normal time, made coffee, tooled around the internet, took the dog for an hour long walk, had more coffee, made a healthy breakfast, started laundry, and it’s not even 9:30 yet. I’m feeling pretty good so far and more like myself than I have in awhile. I kind of forgot what it was like to take a breath and not really have anything going on. I really want to take time this summer to be productive and unstressed.

A huge part of that will be eating right and exercising. I love working out. I love it because it makes me feel

After Machine Gun Nancy Go! Mode -- in which I work out like a crazy lady for 90 minutes 5-6 days a week.

Prone on the floor after Machine Gun Nancy Go! Mode — in which I work out like a crazy lady for 90 minutes 5-6 days a week.

strong, good about myself, and because I work out like I’ll never see gym equipment again, it lets me eat what I want. The problem with that mentality is when I am tired and stressed from a bitch ass year and I don’t want to work out AND I want to eat all of the cupcakes to bury my feelings in deep inside sugar and sprinkles. When I’m in my Machine Gun Nancy Go! Mode– or you know, my really intense work out mode– or, you know, how I imagine myself as I’m working out, which is a heroine of a Japanese Manga in which I definitely have a  machine gun/sword and an attitude and will definitely save the world from the evil ninjas/ robots/demons/ whatever–  I work out like clockwork and I can eat whatever the hell I want. But when I’m in this mode, I don’t want all of the cupcakes because I feel good, want to work out, want to maintain, and thus: healthy. Stressed out Nancy eats all the cupcakes, thinks, “well, I work out hard… most daysish… I can have cupcakes for breakfast” and then feels like a mass of sad flesh later. I don’t like feeling like that and I refuse to 1) let myself feel that way again 2) sit around when I can get back into my routine.

We’re in a wedding at the end of the month and there is a dress that I need to comfortably fit in all day long. I will not be sad, sorry, sack of flesh bridesmatron. I will also not focus on my health just to look good for that day. My goal is to maintain my skinny shorts circumference through the summer and fall, and winter, and right back into shorts season.

So, my real goal this summer is to find constants and reboot myself. Life is good and I am lucky to have the one that I do.  I’m grateful that I have a job that allows me time to take a breath every year and a spouse who tells me that if I want to, I should just go and workout and read a book already. I’m hoping that by writing all this down, I’m solidifying what I do and do not want my summer to be. I won’t always have the luxury of two months of free time and since I need it so badly right now, I want to make sure I don’t waste it.

Happy June 2nd, I’m gong to go jump on the elliptical.

 

 

Part 3: My Brain is a Sniper Rifle

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Half of my other half.

When I first met him, I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days re-arranging my mind so there’d be room for him to stay. – Brian Andreas

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When I was thirteen I suddenly realized that there were no absolutes in life. I remember the distinct feeling of, wow, I’ve had some sort of real, live adult revelation here and okay, this could potentially suck. At 13, I already knew that the majority of people expected to get married and have families someday. But what happens, I wondered, if you never meet anyone? Or you meet people, but they aren’t at all what you want? What happens then?

I don’t know what happened to other people, but what happened to me was this: I decided that I would find ways to be happy and content without the expectation that someone else could and would make me happy. Because, realistically,  I might never meet that smart musician who could make me laugh like nobody else and understood that I personified my own personality in my head. Maybe it was because I decided this that I was never really interested in anyone who came my way. I might as well, I thought, fully buy into that revelation I’d had at 13. But life is funny and has a way of working out not at all like you plan. In fact, I’ve found, that if you make a desk declaration that you will remain single and devote your life to other things that make you happy like friends and family and teaching, or maybe creating a corgi farm where all the great fatties can frolick (it’s a lifelong dream, ok?), life will, in 7 seconds flat, render that declaration null and void. Just because it can.

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Which brings me back to Other Guitarist and an innocuous October evening. There was never anyone, until right then, that exact moment when Other Guitarist walked in and brain said ‘yep‘. That loud and suddenly distinct part of my brain, sitting in a wingback chair, already had it all figured out.

IF my brain were an inanimate object it would be a sniper rifle with who else but Smoking Jacket Nancy at the trigger. The best way I can describe the sudden shift in my life was this way: Smoking Jacket Nancy (who is an incredibly good shot due to the years she spent in Africa hunting Poachers. That sounds like a C list movie. I should immediately abandon all plans of doing laundry and write that script.) trained her sights on Other Guitarist and those crosshairs were never going to come untrained from that mark.

I’m going to date him, I thought, in very assured way, as if it had a sneak peek into the future and already knew what were to happen. Damn, Smoking Jacket Nancy is good. I’m going to flirt with him all night and I’m going to date him. 

But first, I had to ask him his name again, because it was definitely not Matt, but that’s what my brain heard in the smash up of a moment of our first (real) meet. His name was actually Chris (Chris, Matt. Preeeetty close, brain) and about three seconds after he tried my infamous guacamole and gave me the Fonzi thumbs for a job well done,  Bushwhacking, gun toting, Smoking Jacket Nancy raised her glass in triumph. 

Part 4: Jazz and Broken Glasses

Part 2

Part 1