Music Monday: The Holiday Edition

The only thing I dislike more than Christmas is Christmas music.

I hold a special, dark place in my heart for the disdain that I hold towards everything Christmas has come to represent; guilt, obligation, consumption, greed, shopping, waste and gluttony.

And the music….well, I can see the appeal to some of traditional songs, but I detest more than anything when the latest pop star has released their holiday album with ruined versions of previous favorites.

I worked my way through college in a retail setting and was subjected to long shifts filled with certain CDs of torture set to repeat. It only increased my distaste.

But, there is one, and only one song, that I love.

The small, dark place in my heart that hates Christmas is eclipsed by a day glow bright place saved just for George Michael.

I have always loved Georgics Panayiotou. His music is simultaneously silly and brilliant. I have tried to sing “Careless Whisper” at karaoke and it only increased my respect for his talent. I completely ruined the song, in case you were wondering.

I worried about him through all the falling asleep behind the wheel and ensuing arrest madness. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he entered rehab. I hope he emerges healthy and refreshed and will tour again. I must see him live one day.

Wham!’s “Last Christmas” depicts a holiday I could stand behind. If the holiday was truly about feathered hair mullets, laughing sweatered friends, snowball fights, sparklers on cakes and sparkling flower broaches, then maybe I would like it.

I love all the drama packed into this song. The stolen awkward glances and forlorn longing make it even better. The best part is probably seeing a man who is clearly not interested in women, pretend to be upset about losing one.

There is nothing not to love about this song, except the shameful covers by pop princess Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. When I heard those versions, I wanted to pat them on the forehead and say, that was cute, but STOP!

Please enjoy the one true version of this song and do yourself a favor by watching the whole video!

Hair In A Bun Friday: Allowing Someone Else to Tie My Hair In A Bun

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. Mother Teresa

I took a nasty, nasty fall about two weeks ago. As I was rinsing myself off in the shower, I slipped backwards falling out of the shower door, slipped again on the wet tile and landed on my left arm. As I was falling, I heard two cracks near my shoulder as I came to a rest on the cold wet floor.

I had my whole Christmas vacation planned out: I wanted this time to be quiet, with lots of spiritual renewal that included reading, meditation and morning mass. All those plans were scrapped after I fractured my left shoulder in two places. I’ve been in bed ever since. I’ve attempted to go out but can only sustain about an hour before the pain starts to return.

One of the things I wanted to focus on during this time of renewal was to set the intention of becoming more present. I’ve learned how to be many things but haven’t taken the time to learn how to be human. I guess I was in line with what I needed to learn, but the way I had planned on learning it wasn’t in line with the Spirit.

Instead of praying about it in a dark chapel, with only myself and God, the Spirit had other methods instead.

While in bed, I thanked the Lord for all he had blessed me with during the first days of my injury; especially for the surprise blessings. My landlady drove me immediatly to the hospital and made sure to ask all the right questions I couldn’t think of due to the shock of the fall. I thanked the Spirit for Angelina as she was the first sister I text while I was on my way to the emergency room. Her first response was, “what can I do to help you out?” I thanked the Lord for my warm bed and a job that allowed me to take an extra week off without hesitation.

On one occasion, I was tired of being cooped up in the house and needed to get out for some air. I decided to get pancakes at my new favorite restaurant – The Pancake House. The manager who is very hands on, saw that I was injured and offered to butter my pancakes for me as well as pour the syrup. My usual response would have been, “no, that’s ok, I can do it.” This time, instead of thinking about what others would think, or the awkwardness of allowing someone to do something for me, I said “yes” without hesitation and welcomed the help.

Over the last several weeks, due to the injury, I’ve learned something about the human body. My arm needed to swell two times its normal size in order to hold the fractured parts of the bone in place so that it could heal. It was painful as hell, but at the same time, it was a reminder that the body already knows how to take care of itself.

Yesterday, when I went to service, all I could muster was a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt and my hair (imaginatively) tied up in a sloppy bun. As I sat in the pew with other worshippers who were dressed to the nines smelling of expensive perfumes and colognes, I clutched my broken arm tight as I felt the pangs of vulnerability take over my body. As much as I’ve been blessed, the human experience of being vulnerable can sometimes be a little too much.

As I type this blog, it’s becoming a lot more clearer that I have learned something of what it means to be human. It may not have been the way I wanted to learn it, but I’m thankful for the experience.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Ed

The Grinch And The Island of Misfit Toys

I have not celebrated Christmas (or Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.) for the past four years.

Many years before I finally decided to officially stop celebrating, I only did so begrudgingly. I  have not liked holidays for years and when I met my husband, he confessed he also hated them and we decided together we would stop doing something we despised and we cancelled all holidays in our house. Except for halloween, because we love any excuse to dress up.

My hatred of holidays started many years ago, when I was a teenager. Like most children of divorce, I felt torn on the holidays, like I should be with both sides of my family and feeling guilty about wherever I was. My mom was supportive and understanding, but I still felt bad when I left her and was not celebrating the entire day with her. I remember thinking, “I really don’t want to do any of this.” I wished I could stay home with my mom and not have to be faced with guilt ridden decisions.

As an adult, I relish the independence and try to be mindful not to re-create painful childhood patterns. I felt I could put those guilt ridden feelings associated with holidays in my past, however they manifested themselves in other ways.

I started to feel there was so much obligation associated with holidays. I felt obliged to buy more and more for people. I begin to see how much of the holidays were driven by consumption, greed and waste. I felt overwhelmed by whatever the newest trends where and what I had to get people. I now realize how much of this is fueled by capitalistic greed driven by corporations and the push to buy more and more things that are not necessary and harmful to our planet in their creation.

I also begin to see how bad the holidays could make people feel about their situations. I work as a high school counselor, and I begin to hear from some of my students how difficult this time is for them. I think the expectation of the season can make others who are not able to meet those expectations feel bad about themselves and their families. I remember thinking after talking to some kids “why do we even do this?!” Many families do not have the means to buy extravagant presents or have a gathering, I feel awful that the expectation of what you are supposed to do has made them feel bad.

Being a vegan has also made the holidays less enjoyable. I will spare you all a rant, but will say amount of animals raised and killed to be served on a platter this season makes so incredibly sad. I hate that Thanksgiving, an alleged day of gratitude, is based around the slaughter of thousands of turkeys per year. There was a time when I would I would make all my own vegan food and bring it with me to each function, but it was still difficult to be celebrating a day that was based on the meaningless murder of animals.

With all my grinchiness laid in front of you, I will admit that I know the holidays are not defined this way for everyone. I know some people do an incredible job to frame those days in gratitude, giving and love. However, I have found it hard to do for myself and have found so much relief in not taking part in any of the madness.

I am fortunate enough to have time off for the holidays (one week at Thanksgiving, two weeks for Christmas) and I use it to the fullest advantage. I generally travel during this time. In the past four years, I have spent Christmas week in New York, hiking up and down The Grand Canyon, exploring Mexico and soaking in the beauty of Colorado.

I think the picture below sums it up well. My sister is the one on Santa’s lap crying and I am the one in the pink, mad about being forced to participate in the nonsense.

4242549134_8fb1f7b52a_o Happy Holidays to you, if you celebrate and cheers to you if you don’t!

In love and grinchiness,

~Ang

“I want to be a dentist!” Herbie the Elf

Since I can remember, I’ve always loved Christmas. As a young gay, it was everything my heart desired real life to be: tinsel, sparkling lights, ginger bread houses and Rudolf. As a child I never understood – and sometimes I still don’t get – real life. When I was in school it was always more of a burden rather than a delight; whether I was in elementary, junior high, or high school, I never really felt that I fit in.

When Christmas vacation came around, I fully lost myself in the holiday; relishing in the extra time off, the pretty decorations, relatives and toys.

One of my favorite Christmas cartoons of all time was and still is: Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. When I was younger, there was something about that show which spoke to my subconscious. I always related to Herbie and Rudolf’s journey into self discovery; a journey which ultimitly leads them to the Island of Misfit Toys.

rudolph-still

When they arrive on the island and we find out its inhabitants are a bunch of irregular toys, something inside of me wished I could go there, stay and never leave. On those cold January mornings, on the first day back to school after the Christmas holiday, I’d often dream about the island as I sat in back of the bus waiting for the inevitable to begin.

When I watch the cartoon today, I realize things really haven’t changed much. One of the main reasons for starting Spiritual Bahana was to exercise the creative spirit; when real life becomes too much and I’ve exhausted the Lord’s ear in prayer, I need another form of escape. That’s why I still relate to it some thirty years later. This time around, I find that my spiritual sister Angelina has joined me as well.

This is Angelina - hiiiiii!

This is Angelina – hiiiiii!

I dedicate this next song to all our sisters this Christmas who are struggling this holiday just to “fit in.”