theworldofdale

i’ll be home for christmas (almost)

In Home, News and Politics, Religion on December 28, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I bought a house today. My agent was my friend Laurie. I met Laurie ten years ago at a long-defunct bar called The Lab. It was a bar in Over the Rhine and being just a few years out from the riots, having four people there on a weeknight meant the place was poppin’. I was recently out of a poorly-considered reunion with an ex and Laurie was annoyed enough with men in general to lend a sympathetic ear to my story of mid-20s love gone wrong (or rather, was never love in the first place).

Over the years, that barstool friendship evolved across husbands and boyfriends, jobs and different jobs, debauchery of youth and the circle back to good conversation over a few beers. After referring a few friends to her real estate agent services, I got serious about buying my own place. And when I finally found The House of Dale, I wrote the following heartfelt letter in hopes of swaying the sellers with my earnest declaration of emotions (it turns out all I had to do was want to buy it rather than rent it, but who knew?):

Dear Brad and Angelina*,

Attached is my purchase offer for the home on Pennsylvania Avenue*. I also wanted to share what has led me to this place.

I never thought I’d be able to own my own home. After unemployment left our family leaving Detroit unexpectedly when I was 14 years old, we moved to a small town in Ohio, renting a house from my sister and brother-in-law. My parents still rent that tiny house, 22 years later. After three years of dorm living, I started 18 years of renting. Mostly apartments, a couple houses, usually alone, sometimes with roommates. I thought my “property” ownership would be limited to my car and a square foot of an island off the coast of Maine (life is weird).

A year ago, I got a new job. Previous obstacles to my gainful employment, mostly health-related, had diminished to a point where I could consider what had seemed impossible: home ownership. This not merely a purchase for me; even the mortgage pales in comparison to the true meaning of this contract: security and a willing responsibility to the commitment of providing my life’s sanctuary.

I love this house. It’s a place where I can feel at the home for the first time since we drove away from our house in Detroit 22 years ago. Any dollars and cents in this contract is eclipsed by the heart I offer for my American Dream come true.

Thank you for considering my offer in its entirety.

Sincerely,

Snarkler*

Brad and Angelina didn’t give a shit about my heartfelt letter. They are business people who flip houses for a living. If they gave a shit about my heartfelt letter, they wouldn’t be good at their jobs. It’s okay. I still got the house.

But those words are still true. This hasn’t been so much a financial transaction as the fulfillment of a dream deferred. A home is security. A home is safety. A home is where you have the liberty to wear robes all the time and eat cookies and pizza for breakfast and enjoy privacy for multi-flush poops. You can play music loud and take long showers (but please be responsible in your water use). A place to lay your head is what keeps you going when you’re out in the world, with its unpredictability and disapproval of robe-only ensembles.

When weather is bad, we want to be at home. When we’re sick, we want to be at home. When we’re tired, or scared, or stuck in traffic – especially when we’re stuck in traffic – we want to be at home.

The refugees of Syria, of Sudan, of Afghanistan, of dozens of countries where unspeakable abuse – trafficking, child soldiers, pirating, blatant violence – has driven its people to flee with only the clothes on their backs, risking their lives and the lives of their children, are looking for homes. They are looking for the most basic of necessities – shelter. They are looking for the most essential of liberties – safety. They are looking for the most sacred of blessings – serenity in the comfort of a home.

Any refugee seeking asylum could have written that heartfelt letter. The refugees who are being turned away, who are dying – quite literally – in their efforts to find a home, are being turned back to nothing. Their home is gone. When refugees are turned away, we – the countries that are homes by the very nature our liberty – not only deny them the dignity of acceptance but we shirk our responsibility to care for our neighbor. Their blood is on our hands because we refuse to shield them from the sword.

When we turn away refugees, we. are. Assholes. As my mom said about the sellers after reading my heartfelt letter, “If that doesn’t make them want you to have the home, they are heartless awful people, and I’m sure that isn’t the case.”

Many Americans just celebrated Christmas (and/or the War on Christmas). We are told There is a Reason for the Season. That reason started with a young couple looking, if only for the night, a home. Somewhere safe to bring their child into the world. Somewhere that if say, a deranged king was trying to hunt down and kill their child, they would be secure against the danger. The really Christian thing to do is to help people who are looking for home – a safe place to birth their child, a land where their lives are no longer in daily danger, an urban bungalow for robe-wearing. The Christians would want those refugees to have a home. Because they aren’t heartless awful people. Mom is sure that isn’t the case.

 

*Names have been changed

Jesus, take the wheel. And the windshield.

In Communication, News and Politics, Religion on October 25, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Today, I went to Mass. I had fallen off a bit in my attendance during a low couple of months but my priest (I refer to him as “my” priest, although I’m pretty sure he’s seeing other people*) gave me the push I needed to get back in the groove.

*Father PLSJ, please forgive me for that joke.

As usual, the homily seemed to be written specifically for me, because that’s how they work. As usual, I left feeling better. Happier, lighter, more at peace. I was ready to enjoy my afternoon with a little laundry, a little dancing, and probably a nap. As not usual, there was a note waiting for me when I returned to my car.

After the nanosecond of fear that I received a ticket (much like when a police car is behind you on the highway and you start going through your driver’s test handbook in your head, trying to find a law that you are breaking), I got out and grabbed what turned out to be a note.

I can’t tell you exactly what it said. I went back into the church and gave it to my priest (he presided over the Mass). I wasn’t sure what emotion I was filled with – maybe anger, maybe panic, maybe sorrow – but whatever it was, I knew keeping that note would intensify and prolong it.

The gist, however, was that this person was very disappointed that I voted for President Obama (yeah, the sticker is still on my car. Whatevs). S/he wrote how saddened they were by my support for the most pro-choice, something, something, Muslim president ever to be elected. There were a few other sentences about how misguided I was and how they hoped I’d make a better decision in the next election. It was addressed to “Sister in Christ” and signed with a similar vaguely religious but anonymous title.

Putting aside the creepiness of someone who watched me arrive to Mass and then left an anonymous note on my car (the “Sister in Christ” confirmed they knew I was female), I was shaken. I had often joked that someday, the Democratic stickers would result in my car being vandalized when I visited the considerably more conservative town where my parents reside or parked in the parking lot of a church whose parishioners had very strong political leanings. It hadn’t really occurred to me that while parked at a downtown meter outside my (fairly progressive) parish, I would receive a personalized condemnation by someone who considered themselves an authority on WJWD (What Jesus Would Do). It was the first time someone of the same faith had expressed judgment of me. Really – I know that may surprise some who think my wildly liberal views would send lightning surging through my body once the holy water hit my forehead, but this was my first encounter with overt disapproval.

The initial surge of adrenaline that was fueling my anger, panic, or fear has subsided, if not disappeared entirely. I will pray for this person. S/he feels a hollowness in their own faith that must be filled with the damnation of others. S/he is too cowardly to bring their petitions to me face-to-face and have to support their electoral argument. His or her concept of grace is restricted to a box-checking idea of religious merit – that if one votes a certain way or pastes these particular bumper stickers to one’s bumper must be stressful and joyless – rather than the knowledge that grace is extended to all. S/he didn’t hear today’s homily, where Father P’s interpretation of the scripture was that it wasn’t the blind and likely unsavory Bartimaeus who served as the lesson, but the crowd – the followers of Jesus who rebuked Bart and his pleas for help.

Rebuke means to express sharp and stern disapproval because of someone’s behavior or actions. The note of rebuke left on my windshield was probably written in the spirit of good faith. This person thinks they did the right thing. S/he thinks they helped me today. And they did, because I learned that the anger or panic or sorrow that my brain initially signaled to my body’s endocrine system was an extension of the lesson from scripture. While the crowd rebuked Bartimaeus, Jesus called him over and gave him sight, and without the condition of following his teaching. But Bart did follow Jesus. And hopefully, the crowd, and the Note Writer, learns that love, not judgment, is the key to grace.

To the person who left me this note: Next time, speak to me. Put your beliefs in the light and assign yourself to them. If you truly are a follower of Christ, there would be no need to hide behind the anonymity of an unsigned note. You should have the strength of heart to be a true messenger. My prayer for you is that your faith begins to sprout from love instead of the kind of anger only 4-year-old bumper sticker can arouse.

But don’t worry. I won’t vote for Obama again.

P.S. It really is creepy to watch me and leave a note on my car, so let’s just also keep that in mind when evangelizing, ‘kay?

can’t tell me nothing

In Communication, Relationships, Technology on July 21, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I have no idea who reads this blog. I don’t know how many people read it. I know there are analytics and metrics and they are easy to understand, but I just don’t care. I like having people read my writing, but I would still do this if no one read it but me (and my mom, who is contractually obligated to love everything I do). I don’t care how many people follow me on Twitter or Instagram. The threat to cancel subscriptions that would shake the boots of newspaper editorial staffs have lost their power in the age of free information (and free misinformation). I don’t get dollars for followers, so unfollowing, following back, all the status of social media is lost on me.

BUT (I like big buts and I cannot lie – sorry, couldn’t help myself): I am always bemused by the fact that the men I date have one thing in common (and truly only one thing). None of them read (past or present tense) my blog.

It used to bother me – look at this perfectly simple way to internet-stalk/gather counter-intelligence/bask in my brilliance! Men complain they don’t know what women want or what they are thinking, and here I am putting it on this easy-to-read design template. Granted, there are no pictures, but there are at least a couple dick/poop/tampon jokes (that is the grossest collection of slashes ever). And really – if he likes me as much as he says he does, why wouldn’t he support my completely non-profitable venture?

Until a couple nights ago, when I was reminded of the observation that if, for example, you get a rash every time you eat shellfish, maybe it’s not just a bunch of bad shellfish. Maybe it’s you. If you have a lot of friends who take advantage of your time and energy, maybe it’s not that you’ve happened upon horrible friends but because you are attracting them to you. It was time to contemplate why this single similarity tied together the (number redacted because it’s none of your business) men I’ve dated.

My theory about readers developing crushes on my words was confirmed when I wrote a sports blog for cincinnati.com. All of a sudden, emails and Twitter DMs (google it, mom) were pouring in with phone numbers and requests for “just a chat about sports over beers.” If my ego wasn’t already so inflated, I would have been flattered. But I suspected that a crush on my words did not translate to a crush on me. There is a distinct voice to my writing but it’s not necessarily my voice – or at least it’s only a portion of it. This voice is cultivated and uses thesaurus.com regularly and is expressed with an indistinct audience of me (writers write what they want to read) and a nebulous population of at least semi-anonymous readers in mind. My words are an orderly collection of sentiments meant to entertain.

But me? I’m not orderly at all. I’m chaotic and messy and mercurial, not just by diagnosis but by temperament as well. It’s not just my moods that ebb and flow and rise and fall. My house is usually a mess; my playlist goes from Kanye West to Conway Twitty; I’m alternately sentimental and emotion-phobic. In the words of Walt Whitman,”Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes).” There is a dialectic of complicated simplicity to my nature that results in great frustration but, ironically, comfort, since all of those Jenga pieces still fit back together even after they splay over the game table.

I can’t be sure, but I’d like to think that the men I date like me, the person, and my writing doesn’t have the reckless quality of my human form. There’s something to like – something he has to like – about my agitated life that wouldn’t be sated by a few hundred words every few weeks or months. And even if he was a faithful follower, there would be a discomfiture between the woman he knows and the words he reads… an uncertainty that sometimes confuses even me.

Then again, maybe dating me is more than enough exposure to theworldofdale. In any case, it means I get to write about them and they’ll never know.

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