Class itself was a bit of a downer, unfortunately. I'd forgotten that we were still gonna spend some time on "The Dead," so I hadn't even brought The Dubliners with me. (Not that I was excited about A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man either.)
That afternoon, Cailin was talking about how Eric spends a lot of time at my desk and doesn't do that with, for example, Alyssa. She is correct about that, but it's one of those things that sounds like flirting when the story gets told but doesn't feel to me at all like flirting while it's happening.
I feel like I should create a tag for this whole "should we hook up?" issue, 'cause really the main purpose of tagging is to be able to easily pull up all the entries relating to a particular topic.
I thought of her this morning when Eric came up to my area because he had this tedious task to do and if he did it at his computer he would just keep distracting himself and never get it done, whereas if he came up to my area he could talk to me while he worked so it would get done and he wouldn't go crazy. See, again with the stories where I know when I'm telling them that listeners are getting knowing looks on their faces, but it just isn't like that. I'll grant Cailin's assertion of his denseness in that it has probably never occurred to him that these interactions could be read that way, but I less buy that it has just never occurred to him to think about dating me -- unless he is, as I suspect, entirely uninterested in me That Way. (I suppose in part I'm projecting my sexualization of everything onto everyone else, but the male stereotype validates me there.)
At CAUMC that night I met Amy and Sue. Sue said that her Eric is a nice guy but hangs out with Neanderthals. He wasn't present; this was part of her Affirmation of Trelawney's Eric, whom her Eric had really hit it off with. One thing I've found really strange about being around these married people is how difficult their marriages seem to be. I was realizing that while I have a lot more faith in the possibility of long-lasting marital-type partnerships than many people I do because I've grown up with them (my parents in particular) I don't actually have models per se in terms of making difficult partnerships work* -- and given how much stuff is and should be worked out in private, I'm not really sure there's any way around that, though of course I keep thinking about media portrayals of relationships and what kinds of ideals/expectations we are enculturated with. I was also thinking about how one of my resistances around potentially entering into a romantic-sexual relationship is that I don't want to settle, but I also know I overanalyze.
*Though my parents certainly disagreed etc. in front of my brother and I -- and I think it's hugely important to model for your children that people can disagree and even fight and still love each other and make it work.
I went with a bunch of people to The Red House (overpriced, btw; and their potato gnocchi isn't available sans bacon) for lunch today for Cailin and Claire's birthdays, and there was much talk about coffee, and of course I so don't drink coffee and I talked about being a stubborn Yankee (independent, self-reliant, etc.) and about being contrary, and we also got to talking about other stuff and quoted Sharon on my 'zen-like resistance to the consumerist loop' and said I wasn't normatively socialized (and also talked about how my family's economic situation affected how I was raised).
On the way back to the office, Cailin broached the Eric thing (she really has been good about not wanting to push/make me uncomfortable, and she says she won't say anything to him herself -- which I appreciate immensely) and I continue to just have difficulty wrapping my head around the idea that if a male spends lots of time with a female he has to like her That Way. (I mean, I get it, I really do, but I always have to consciously shift my thinking because it's just not how I experience life.) I know for a fact that Eric has numerous female friends, and while my other examples of male friends are mostly gay (and therefore probably don't count for this data set), thinking back to high school there was definitely friendly mixing between the males and females in our Accelerated track peer group. Admittedly it was often very sexually charged and people's close friends were almost exclusively of their own gender, but I still think it validly supports my position.
I rehashed some of it with Alyssa, and later that afternoon she e-mailed me:
I think you have a very healthy attitude about things. I guess lack of “normal” socialization leads to objective decision-making and rational thought in adulthood. And all of us “normally socialized” turn into overly emotional, neurotic adults – aka – normal. :)
At CAUMC we're starting Living The Questions.
We watched a half-hour DVD, and I was a bit disappointed that all the people who talked seemed to agree with each other (Trelawney had commented that they won't all agree with each other and certainly we may not all agree with them/each other, so if you're gonna crit one of the speakers do it lovingly allowing other people space to agree with them).
[We read the Foreword and Disclaimer before watching the video. Afterward I read the actual chapter. It did a better job than the video did of conveying to me what this section was actually focusing on. And it contains some v. good stuff like quoting Marcus Borg from his Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: "The Christian life is not primarily about believing the right things or even being good. The Christian life is about being in relationship with God which transforms us into more and more compassionate beings, 'into the likeness of Christ.'" However, it jars me right out because it quotes Mark Twain "believe twelve unbelievable things before breakfast." Do there exist people who don't know it's Lewis Carroll -- specifically the Red Queen -- "six impossible things before breakfast"?
Moving back to what I like from the chapter: "Well, if the Bible is just the product of humans, then what sets it apart from all the other ancient texts and holy books?" In short, two thousand years of people's experiencing its contents as a means of grace and as a life-changing window into the divine. And from their paraphrase of Frederick Buechner's window metaphor: "We learn to distinguish between what is part of the window and what is beyond." Though I have problems with both these passages.]
I think all these bits that stuck out for me are from Spong, but I wasn't actually taking notes, so I might be wrong.
Someone was asking him about the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel/God, and he really embraced that metaphor. He also talked about being on a journey (into the mystery of God). He said that the periods of certainty in the Church's history led to persecution. He also talked about how the Biblical metaphors of Christians are minority images -- salt in the soup, yeast in the bread, light in the darkness.
After the video, people were basically, "Yeah, yay non-literalism." I broke the ice by talking about how I'm uncomfortable not having something authoritative to go to (I don't trust community, tradition, or my prayer relationship with God) and I worry about everything any given person dislikes being interpreted away (Michelle pointed out that people do this anyway -- ignoring/disregarding what they don't like -- even if they claim to be literalists). I admitted that the Bible is full of problematic stuff -- that it would make my life so much easier if I could just dismiss it all -- and the non-literalist approach makes them far easier to deal with but I also have serious difficulties with it.
Andrew brought that up in his Affirmation of me, saying that the fact that I keep wrestling with it is the definition of faith. I hadn't really thought of it like that before -- for a number of reasons -- but it does make sense now that I've heard it articulated like that.
During discussion, Mike talked about how uncertainty is not compelling -- as in, it's hard to motivate most people if you can't give them something definitive. He at one point admitted that he was playing devil's advocate, though I don't think that was the entirety of his motivation (i.e., I think he was wrestling with some of these things as well) and at one point, Meredith said, somewhat frustrated: "Enough of playing Devil's Advocate; what do YOU believe?" which actually upset me a little because I so prize devil's advocating (plus am well aware of its value as a safe way to voice unpopular opinions) though I can understand her frustration.
Much reference was made to my apartment-warming during Affirmations, of course. (Both for and from me.)
Meredith said I have good friends, which speaks well of me as a person. I forget when she and Mike arrived exactly, but they were mostly around for the post-4pm shift when it was just my HBS girls. We talked about politics, Libertarians and Objectivists, the intolerance of "tolerance" on the Left, etc., and I didn't have to kill anyone, which pleased me. They are good people, but it was interesting thinking about them being used as a representative sample of my friends, because in so many ways they aren't.
Michelle affirmed how clearly welcoming my apartment was to LGBT folk. "That's 'cause we're all queer," I piped up. [I also really don't think of our apartment as that obvious. OriginalRoomie has a Safe Space card up on her door, and I have the "My mother made me a homosexual, and if you give her some yarn she'll make you one too (Quentin Crisp)" daily quote page up on my door, and that's it.]
Afterward, Trelawney said to me, "Had you told me you were queer? I don't remember that." I just kinda shrugged and said I didn't remember if it had ever come up before. She said she loves when people feel comfortable enough to share that with the group. For all my dithering about explicitly Coming Out to people (even people I know are queer-friendly), I very rarely have discomfort around it being known that I am in fact queer.
Eric's affirmations for a variety of people were that they stepped up into leadership roles during his and Trelawney's absence, which was funny in that I (and I suspect many others) hadn't really thought of it as such but just as what one does (i.e., stepping up to make sure everything gets done and runs smoothly).
Prompted by a discussion...
"I could care less."