Monday, April 21, 2014

Joyous Pascha

I know, I'm totally not sticking to my conviction that I was going to be increasingly absent here. Whatever.

This year I decided to take the kids to the midnight Pascha (Easter) service at church. I tossed around a few ideas on how to work it out. My mom was willing to let me leave the Princess at home to sleep, but I didn't want her up at her usual 4-5:30. I also knew that we couldn't sleep in here, as a family, even if she did. And I just got a credit limit raise on my card. So I decided to rent a hotel room near the church. Did I mention our church is a 45 minute drive? Well, now you know.

It went well, and I think I'll make a habit out of that if we don't end up moving closer to the church in future. However, if I ever again find out the day before that I'm getting my feminine curse, I'll know to stay home. Plus Whiz Kid was coming down with a nasty sinus infection that got progressively worse overnight. He now has an ear infection. So although I'm very glad we went (especially after seeing how many parish members showed up, including all the parents of young children), I think I'll be wiser in future. The kids all said they were glad to have been there, even Whiz Kid. Little Bear slept through the entire 3-hour service, and the Princess through most of it. It was a beautiful ceremony and I hope I can enjoy it better the next time, without the splitting headache.

In the morning we stayed until checkout time and the plan was to attend the reading of the Gospels at 1PM, then have an early dinner with the boys' godfather and his family. But I was in so much pain by about 12:30 that I had to go home and lay down. Little Bear was terribly disappointed, since he just began serving in the altar and was bent on being part of the Gospel service. I felt so bad. We were able to meet for dinner later (lots of Advil later), and it was good. But I do hope next year we are in good health.

More and more these days I feel like the people of our parish are my family. I feel more at home there than I ever did here, and more comfortable with them than with most of my kin. My mom made a comment recently about the economic trouble in our country, implying that she's concerned for what will happen "when the check stops" and all the welfare recipients come out of the cities to loot our homes. I could hardly bite my tongue enough to hide my disgust. She has her good points, but understanding people - as individuals or en masse - has never been one of them. Apparently understanding government strategy isn't either. The "checks" aren't going to stop until nearly everything else has, because the powers that be aren't about to risk mass rioting by starving people for whom there is no work. Nobody can really predict what crises we will be faced with during our lifetimes, but one thing I know for sure: in the event of some kind of upheaval, my mom is NOT the person I would want at my shoulder. She still trusts all the wrong people, and looks for enemies in the wrong places. None of her friends - the people she views as "us" - are people I would want as allies. I don't believe any of them are capable of laying aside their egos long enough to actually identify and combat a common enemy somewhere other than the radio and internet. The pen is mightier than the sword, until your enemy is standing over you with one. Besides, it isn't their pens I would worry about since half of them can't form a cohesive argument OR a properly structured sentence!!! Bad grammar and poor logic aside, I doubt a single one of them would sacrifice anything dear to them for the sake of principles. On the other hand, I think many of the people she views as "them" are the people we would find at our shoulders in a crisis, provided my mom didn't chase them off with religious and political invective first. Ugh.

The people I'd want to be with are the people of my parish. They're intelligent AND perceptive (it takes both). They know how to lay aside differences for a common cause; they do it at every service. Multiple languages can be heard in the fellowship hall, and some of them hardly speak English at all, but they meet every week or more to worship. Most of them have not been swallowed by the American culture of entertainment, so they still know how to reason. They also know how to sacrifice; it's no small thing to emigrate from your homeland and start over. These are the people I'd want to be "in the trenches" with. I'd trust them with my life.    

Friday, April 11, 2014


I recently signed up for Amazon Prime. I really like it. I've discovered that it is counter-productive for me to attempt sleep before my parents go to bed, and I can't study with the lights out. So I've been reading or watching video on my Kindle (another awesome deal brought to you by Craigslist) for the two hours or so in between putting the kiddos down and being able to go to bed myself. It acts as a sort of night-light for the boys, and I can make better use of that time than laying there fuming about all the sleep I'm losing.

I watched the first season of Under the Dome, and had mixed reactions. Then I watched Seasons 1 & 2 of Grimm. It took a while for me to get into it; I kept watching because I was fascinated by the ways the rewrote the fairy tales for modern times, since that relates to the English course I'm taking this semester. It really grew on me, and I can't wait for Season 3 to go Prime.

Movies are something I have a hard time watching many of. I'm pretty picky. So it didn't take me long to exhaust what few movies actually interested me from the listings. And this was all after I'd already gotten tired of reading for a while and decided I should probably not buy any more books until my next installment of student loans. SO I tried a few different TV shows, most of which I didn't get through the pilots on, let alone go beyond.

Then I started watching Jericho.

I cannot imagine what the producers were thinking to let this show end. I was hooked from the beginning. For one thing, I'm madly in love with Jake Green. *blush* Skeet Ulrich is by far my favorite actor ever (he reminds me a lot of Mark, and I'm sure a counselor could have a heyday with that lol), plus I love the character; it's one that resonates deeply with me. On top of that, the story is one that I think is very relevant to our current political climate. I suspect one of the reasons it ended prematurely was the fact that it hits a little too close to home. I'm watching it for the second time now and loving every minute of it. I'll buy it on DVD when I can't get in on Prime any more.

I've been thinking a lot about the reasons why I love this particular show and this particular actor so much. After all, my personality scores show that synthesizing and analyzing are what I do best. For one thing, I think this show more than any I've seen before demonstrates the ways in which people change unexpectedly under extreme pressure. It doesn't try to pretend that the good guys always step up to the challenge, or conversely that the bad guys suddenly find a conscience when the chips are down. I feel it does an excellent job of showing the diversity of human nature and of human reactions, both on an individual and a social level. And although Jake Green is my favorite character, the one I respect the most is Major Beck from Season 2. Not many people can be Jake Green. He possesses a combination of instinct, perception, endurance and experience that is rarely to be found in one person. Anyone, however, can be Major Beck. His commitment to doing right is single-minded, but not close-minded. As long as he believes that following orders is the right thing to do, he does it and allows nothing to steer him aside, not even personal feelings. But he also pays attention, and when too many things don't add up he investigates. When his investigation turns up evidence that his side is not in the right, he doesn't close off his mind and go blindly forward. Instead he takes a stand, knowing that to do so puts him at serious personal risk, and consistently does what he is convinced is morally right regardless of what his superiors say.

This country needs a lot more Major Becks. I can think of a couple: Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden. Probably others. But nowhere nearly enough.

As for Jake Green's character, I had a less-than-flattering epiphany about my obsession with him. Not only does the actor remind me somewhat of Mark, and of one of my brothers (for different reasons), but the character is very much the sort of person I always perceived Mark to be. I think it's why I didn't mind him having secrets for a long time. I took for granted that there were things he wouldn't tell me; I thought that was mysterious and that if I didn't want him to lie, I just needed to not ask questions. Eventually I realized that there was no mystery, only bullshit, and that he lied about everything whether I questioned him or not. If he was talking, he was lying. It's rather upsetting to see how much I could misjudge someone. I cried a few times while watching the show because it was so hard to think about how I'd seen him 15 years ago vs. how I see him now.

Anyway, it's a fantastic show. I hope they bring it back. If you haven't seen it yet, you should.