top ten things to build a bridge and get over

getoverit1. Nobody knows why anybody does anything. Imagine the time this one will free up. You don’t need to figure out what happened to Aunt Bertha as a child to make her so mean and crabby; why your S.O. dumped you; why your neighbor ignores you. We humans are a product of our upbringing; environment, genetics and hormones. We do what we do when we do it. Let it go. Don’t take it personally.
2. Nobody owes you a thing. When you think about all the time, love and attention it took to get where you are today you’ll see that you can never repay the debt. Your mother and father who raised you; your teachers who pushed and believed in you; your friends who supported you; your community which nurtures you. Question is – what have you given back in return?
3. You’ll be balanced when you’re dead. Not a moment sooner. Balance schmalanace. We chase it like the Holy Grail. What’s the big deal if you work too hard some weeks and goof off others? If you’re passionate about something maybe you’d rather have more of it in your life. Your kids won’t knock over a bank if you miss a few softball practices. Exercise is overrated and TV’s not evil incarnate.
4. Multi-tasking is an oxymoron. Don’t be intimidated by colleagues who do five things at once. Studies on “Attentional Blink” show that we don’t actually do more than one thing at a time. We switch our attention rapidly between projects. A one man band plays many instruments passably but none well. Better to be a maestro than a journeyman.
5. You don’t deserve anything you have. See #2. Entitlement is a very unattractive quality. No matter how hard you worked or how much you planned you were never in control of the outcome of your efforts. God and luck and the support of others, along with your own hard work, played big parts.
6. You’re ordinary. Relax, it’s a compliment. Ordinary people are reliable, industrious and consistent. Superstars are a pain in the rear, especially when they read their own press. Who would you rather call at 2 AM when your car breaks down, Tony Robbins or your brother-in-law Al? Imagine the ride home.
7. You’re not a victim, you’re a volunteer. (Unless we’re talking about a trainwreck or a typhoid epidemic.) The old saw about nobody being able to take advantage of you without your permission is true. If you don’t want something to happen in your life don’t set it up in the first place.
8. You’re right. Life isn’t fair. But it’s always interesting and instructive if you keep an open mind.
9. There is no meantime. No place where time stands still and standards are lowered and second best is good enough. There’s only now. What are you going to do now?
10. Gratefulness is second to Godliness. Cleanliness is waaay down the list. Get down on your knees and look at your life. Oh, the places you’ll go!

The original source of this list seems to have disappeared, so many thanks to John Sanidopoulos for preserving it on Mystagogy.

the book of life

My little brother unexpectedly developed an obsession with Day of the Dead aesthetics. Halloween was over, so he didn’t need to be told that no, he couldn’t have sugar skull face paint, but he had to go through the disappointment of not finding edible sugar skulls anywhere (if he believed us grown-ups and our talk of culture-specific accessorising, we’d have been spared a lot of grumbling).

At least, he dug out his DVD of The Book of Life to soothe his frustration, and none of us complained about watching it yesterday and today. Ron Perlman’s voice is not something to complain about, even in small quantities.

Fun times.

Something else that no one will complain about is if this song encourages him to apologise when things go wrong instead of blaming it on others.

This is the ‘official’ theme song of the film. The original version by Us The Duo is here; I prefer the in-film version by Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana

ten things i won’t do on halloween

Full article I’m riffing off here.

1. I will not wear an unseemly costume.

I don’t dress up much any more, at least for Halloween, but I miss the days (and especially nights!) of full goth get-up. I suppose a fair bit of my goth wardrobe would fall under ‘inappropriate’ of the too-revealing variety. Corsets, however modestly laced, do not exactly go unnoticed! Still, all that ‘sexy this-and-that’ dreck that swamps the adult female costume industry leaves me cold. I’d sooner dress up as Darth Vader, canons or no canons.

While I struggle with the prohibition against cross-dressing, I’m completely in agreement with the suggestion to avoid deities and saints, at least if there’s any respect for such figures left. Heck, I’m uncomfortable even with people using icons of saints as their avatars on forums (something that seems to trend a lot on Orthodox and Catholic boards). I don’t want to make light of them, I don’t feel remotely able to do them justice, so I leave well alone.

2. I will not participate in Occult activity.

I’ve had my share of truck with divination in my Pagan years. I’ve never been much good in fortune-telling myself, but I have enjoyed having others do readings for me, even if they were not accurate (they usually were not). I still have a few oracle card sets, some because I love the artwork and others because I find them helpful in meditation and setting intentions. Sometimes I still itch to ask for an answer, and it can be hard to remind myself that, if I am to know, I will have it handed to me when it is right to. Take it from me: God’s time is a great deal harder to get used to than either the hour-ahead or hour-back jumps everyone complains about.

3. I will not attend a party that invites temptations.

All parties have built-in temptations. It comes with the presence of other people. Sex and intoxicating substances are always there; only paranormal games are particular to Halloween. As things have developed, even in the six years since the article was published, rape under influence is the number one risk in parties, all year round. I don’t know about date rape drug-detecting nail polish, but bottled water is the party girl’s best friend. Much better for dancefloor time. (And if you choose to have sex anyway, during or after a party, don’t do it wasted. Don’t set yourselves up for disappointment.)

4. I will not subscribe to common Secular or Neo-Pagan beliefs promoted on Halloween.

Ah, superstition, how do I love thee? The Orthodox world, especially the ‘old countries’, is teeming with it. (The Carpathian horseshoe apparently has enough room for all the crazy beliefs you might, or not, conceive of.) What is puny New Age woo-woo compared to the elaborate death rituals of Eastern Europe?

Facetiousness aside, the Church has been dealing with odd beliefs, especially about death, for centuries, and they’re not going away anytime soon. I personally never quite believed in ghosts. Even as a devotee of Hecate, I had trouble swallowing the idea that the dead can rise and contact the living, let alone that souls can get stuck halfway between this life and the next. The Church’s teaching, that the prayers of the living can benefit the dead, but nothing that the dead can do can affect the living in any way, makes more sense to me. I love a good ghost story as much as the next (goth) girl, but I have no problem accepting that real-life hauntings are really a lot more sinister than dead people.

5. I will not participate in pranks, vandalism or wild behavior.

Goody-two-shoes I’m not, but pranks were never my thing. I was, even as a child, the one people left alone on April Fools’ Day (and the one they could count on leaving them alone). I just don’t see the appeal. Vandalism disgusts me. What’s the fricking point? Making people’s lives harder, even temporarily – what’s in it for you? Not sure I want to associate with you at all, if that’s how you get your jollies. Sure, I’ve done the midnight cemetery gathering, I’m sure to do it again – and I’m making bloody sure that no cup, cork or candle stub will be left behind to betray my presence there.

6. I will not become fascinated with the dark side.

I find your lack of faith disturbing… No, wait, wrong dark side.

We goths are often accused of being obsessed with the macabre – morbidly so, even (ha, ha). While some of us can certainly go over, most of us simply find beauty where others only see decay or ugliness. It’s not a coincidence that autumn is largely our favourite season. It’s a two-, sometimes three-month reminder that letting go can be lovely. We read a lot of poetry, but not only Lord Byron and French decadents. We watch scary movies, but dislike torture porn like Saw. (You have a standing invitation to come watch The Nightmare Before Christmas with me any time during November or December. Don’t be alarmed if I join in with Oogie Boogie. He’s a favourite.) Generally, because we’re into the scene year-round, we tend to keep our heads around Halloween. Those who binge on the occasion, those are in real danger of overdosing and going over to the Sith.

7. I will not paganize Halloween.

Halloween is not Samhain. It is a folk festival, and ideas to celebrate without involving discarnate entities are available all over the internet, just beyond the Jack Chick-a-like Evangelical pages. Most of them involve food and friendly gatherings, which can never be anything but good news.

8. I will not Christianize the holiday.

This is where the peculiarities of being an Eastern Christian come in, and I can’t quite agree with the author. Catholics (and liturgical Protestants) can easily wiggle out of the celebration bind and make Halloween really All Hallows Even. We Orthodox can’t, since our All Saints Day is the Sunday after Pentecost, half a year away. Still, I believe that we Orthodox who live in the west and come from western stock (converts, yo) should not strip the ‘day for the dead’ aspect entirely away from Halloween. There are two Saturdays over the year dedicated to prayers for the dead, one of them precisely the Saturday after Pentecost, and probably more, depending on local custom. I would love to see Halloween join them. It is already culturally dedicated to those who have gone before us, after all.

9. I will not participate in any blasphemy on Halloween.

Or any other day, for that matter. I don’t want to go into the issue of blasphemy laws, only to observe that mocking what another holds sacred is in very poor taste. Yes, that does apply to other religions too, not just mine.

10. I will not judge those who participate in Halloween to either a greater or lesser extent than I do.

That should go without saying, really, even if it’s just the obvious meaning of ‘don’t mock those who dislike Halloween and don’t hector those who love it’. Setting all judgement aside, though, even unspoken… that’s something that not everyone is cut out for.