June 20, 2007

Blah Blah Blah

There is apparently some furfural in Europe about my gerbil, Cozy Mole Mouse…If you can read SWEDISH (I think Swedish???) Please take a moment and go here and tell me WTH is GOING ON??? Tell us ALL in comments. Inquiring rodent owners want to know.


Please note the POLL...Does WTF in SWEDISH meanwhat it means in English? Because it is winning. I may vote for it myself.

ALSO! I keep getting concerned e-mails from people who think I am in danger of buying some toe bells and spending my days chanting at crystals so I can be a little more all-seeing. Actually, I am learning tarot because I THINK I am going to have a rather important character who reads the cards. I think she is sincere and good at it, and I think this bugs the crap out of my devoutly Catholic narrator. It’s an interesting tension that may or may not end up mattering in the final draft, plus I always like games/cards and suchlike in books, both as a reader and a writer. BUT.

I did not spend a week in Cali and return believing even remotely that I have so much as a SPECK of psychic ability. I WISHED I did in middle school – wanted desperately to be KNOWINGLIKE and MYSERIOUS. So my friends and I spent a weeks on the bus home leaning over the seats to take that CARD TEST with the squiggles that Venkman gives to hapless volunteers hooked up to electrodes in Ghostbusters. Our results showed over and over that the entire pack of us combined were less psychic than a box of rocks.

While I DO emphatically believe there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of in MY philosophy, Oh Beloved Horatios, I approach people who claim to have psychic ability with a healthy dollop of skepticism, and that skepticism rises along with the amount they wish to charge me. In this PARTICULAR case, Jill is correct about “next steps” in the comments:

My NEXT STEP was to go get a feminine cleansing. Even though it was free, I skipped it and went to lunch instead as it sounded slightly more gynecological than I was strictly comfortable with. Then I was purportedly needing to go to the same RAWTHER expensive workshop Jill’s aura indicated she was ‘sposed to attend. A small amount of loitering about aimlessly allowed me to overhear two more ladies get the exact same NEXT STEP. Let’s just say that my opinion of these events is currently filed under, “Things that make you go hmm.”

My experience (and interest level, quite frankly) in Tarot is limited. It’s research. I mucked about in much the same way with Ouija for a scene in THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, and once I got the scene right, my interest dissipated. BUT! As you know if you are a reg, I am a devout Christian, so I will get serious for a moment if you will indulge me, and tell you, at this aura reading, I recognized the VIBE in a QUITE personal way, and became so uncomfortable that I cut the reading short by claiming I had to go to the bathroom.

I have smelled these same AGENDA vapors emitting before -- I whiffed them first in a church. A friend invited me to go to her services – this was years ago –and at that time they had a preacher so slick he seemed OILED. He claimed to have the gift of healing and many other spiritual gifts, and the service was very much ABOUT him and his gifts, if you follow me. BAD JUJU, thought I to myself, and so I took a little wander around the building.

The guy was using a GEL LIGHTBOARD more sophisticated than the one at the theatre where I was employed, and if you have studied lighting design at all, you know how deeply it can change mood. OH, but he was working that crowd! He was charismatic and the lights and music were carefully choreographed to boost his appeal. HOW the money flowed in. I never went back, and not 18 months later that church collapsed when it was learned this guy was both systematically looting the collection dish and sleeping with a great many of the more nubile female parishioners.

You see this subversion wherever people seek meaning, because the search itself is powerful and has influence. There are always those who are waiting for a chance to USE that influence. I suspect that people who attempt to use the faith of others for their own material gain are going to the special hell. Just saying. Oddly enough, I resent the psychic “guiding” me toward a pricey workshop LESS than I resented that preacher, because the psychic wasn’t tapping into my faith. I was pretty much immune.

Pragmatic as I am, I DO think there is more to the universe than what I can see and smell and taste and touch and hear. Faith is a force in my life. It changes my behavior. I believe, for example, that prayer is powerful. I pray for people. I appreciate it when people pray for me. I appreciate it less, however, if they want to charge me five bucks a prayer and are set up to take VISA.

At the same time, I tithe faithfully and give to Christian charities that do things like run an AIDS hospice, operate a halfway house for the mentally disabled, and give homeless families in our community shelter and food til they can get back on their feet. I think these are good things to do, but I know there are charities out there that spend 80% of the money get on “operations” and 20% on the actual work, so I never give money spontaneously, or over the phone, or to a charity I have not researched. I try to give without getting taken. It’s a fine line. We all have to draw it for ourselves.

Living by faith makes tons of these fine lines, and some days I feel they are spread in a web all around me so that I can't take a baby step without breaking my mother’s back. I try to respect other belief systems and yet remain faithful to my own. I try to live by faith and at the same time not let savvy, manipulative, dishonest people use it as a tool to control my actions. I try to be a good person, but I fail, and let pettiness rule my minutes and sour my hours, and I am never as kind or open minded or openhearted as I want to be. I tend to be gullible and yet am often so cynical I make myself angry. I navigate these lines every hour, but they are not things I talk about much here.

I break that habit now to say, please don’t think that because in this blog I speak lightly about, well, everything on earth, that I am insensate to the larger issues. I am not, but this is not the place for them. This place is MEANT to be off the cuff and fun to write, fun to read. I am not interested in discussing The Meaning of Life here, unless you mean the Monty Python movie. If I experience spiritual growth or despair, I probably won’t yarp about it here. I talk about it with Scott and God, and of course it ends up infesting my fiction.

I am endlessly interested in grace, in the imperfect human modeling of unconditional love, identity, the effects of violence, in poverty and privilege, how sex works in and out of marriage, what it means to be a parent, and of course I like blowing stuff up. There’s ROOM for that and a big scoop of plot, too, in a novel. Not here.

I think of KUDZU as a playground. SO! If I, for example, have a spiritual crisis and find myself unable to remember how to forgive, I write THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, and if I DO talk about it here, it is a single entry that comes in the guise of owls, hidden between naughty pet stories. BUT! If I get told my relationship rose kicks SCOTT’s rose’s buttocks, I ABSOLUTELY have to immediately blog it. AND call everyone I ever met and say so. I MEAN COME ON. You would, too.

INTERESTING AND COMPLETELY UNRELATED AND TOTALLY KUDZU APPROPRIATE FACTOID: Before I left for San Fran, I had plans to go see a TAROT READING CHICK here but um – I drove by and it was on this STRIP CLUB INFESTED street. And not shiny yuppie lets do a naked boobie chicken wing good ol' perverted boys club lunch upscale strip club either – more like the one in THE SOPRANOS. I could absolutely imagine a person getting beaten to death in the back room. So I kept driving. Later I learned that here in Atlanta (and maybe elsewhere, I cannot say) a great many “tarot card readers” with the electric palm signs up in their windows are ACKSHULLY hookers. (!!!!) Glad I chose to ix-nay THAT an-play.

To answer another question in the comments – Heather wanted to know why an indoor technophile such as myself who routinely says things like, “I do not like nature. Nature is where they keep the roaches…” should have a relationship ROSE. It seems more likely that I would have, say, a relationship SPARK PLUG.

I dunno. Maybe this is common lingo. You would have to ask someone more prone to AURA SEEING than me, which would be, um – just about anyone ever born. Box of rocks, remember? Apparently this particular aura-see-er saw I had a relationship rose lurking amid my aura’s barbed wire and cigarette butts... I think we need to focus on what REALLY matters here, which is NOT that I had a rose, but that it is WAY TALLER than Scott's. LA LA LA.

Really though. I think my aura is a big fat liar.. Anyone who has been in a ROOM with the two of us greets the revelation that Scott has a long way to go to reach my dizzying spiritual heights by laughing until they choke on their own tongues.

Scott is very centered and balanced and steadily progresses via reading C S Lewis for FUNSIES while I thrash around and shriek and fuss and argue with God and myself and take ten baby steps forward toward grace and then I holler OH MOTHER MAY I? And back I go in two giant steps. I am venal and vain and dreadful and my path toward goodness is marked by willingness and weakness in such equal measures that it makes loop-de-loops.

If I do indeed have a relationship rose? I betcha it has aphids.

Posted by joshilyn at June 20, 2007 1:56 PM

About that psychic....she wasn't tapping into your faith because you've already found yours. But for someone who is searching...I bet they signed right up for that feminine cleansing and the expensive workshop. I agree with you about that special level of hell. That psychic will be right there next to that preacher, if you ask me!

On to lighter notes...feminine cleansing does sound awfully gynecological!! I hope it's not done in a group setting. :)

Posted by: Leandra at June 20, 2007 2:27 PM

I think this is my favorite entry of yours, ever, and I love that its title is "blah blah blah."

Also, I just (finally) bought Between and can't wait to read it next week on my va-ca-tion (*sing-song voice*)! Tra-LA!

Posted by: el-e-e at June 20, 2007 2:27 PM

Joshilyn, you might want to do an internet yellow pages search for Wiccan shops in your area. Hopefully, you'll get a "legitimate" shop that isn't a front for the mob or sex professionals. Usually, a Wiccan can either give you a good overview of Tarot or guide you to someone who can. (I know this because, many moons ago, I researched it for my world religion course. Very peaceful and earthy and woo-woo. My Southern Baptist mother about DIED when she found out.) Good luck on the search and I'll be praying for your immortal soul. With my mother. ;)

Posted by: Jennilynn at June 20, 2007 2:50 PM

Let's not overlook the possibility that your Much Greater Rose Aura might be the COLOR rose, in which case of COURSE it's better on you! Especially with matching strappy sandals! And I'll bet you look better in rose than Scott!

I have no idea what the gerbil thing means, and I'm going to be checking back periodically to see if someone else does! All I could see was it had something to do with gerbil hair.

And regarding your faith, I figure you've accepted me, a non-Christian lesbian, joyfully into your pack, and that's gonna get you extra stars on the Other Side of life. Bright blessings on you, now and always, Peach!

Posted by: Fran at June 20, 2007 3:11 PM

You know... that's the thing. Yes, I know you said you didn't want to talk about it but...

I started reading cards when I was shit... 12, 13... and I've been reading them on and off for the years between. Once learned, it's ingrained.

However, once or twice it was suggested to me that I ought to charge and read for others. My response has always been, and I pray, will always be - NO. At this point the cards I use (the same deck all these years) are more about the pictures and the internal mental landscape of archetypes then about what the seven of cups means. The best readings I do are for friends - because I know them and what they want, or don't want to hear, and sometimes it's easier to blame it on the cards.

Personally I think anyone who takes to much stock in what a board or a deck of cards or what someone else says god told them about you - well.... they're no being responsible for their own life and faith. Which, yeah... lots of weird stuff going on there.

Which basically is my disclaimer that because I read cards, and yes, my mother was Wiccan, and probably would have worn bells on her toes if she could - I do not. It's just not for me. Heck, I even go to a real church on Sundays - not that most of the people in the pews believe in GOD - but it makes me a little bit more normal... maybe.

Ah, who knows... my momma was a witch. What do I know?

Posted by: Autumn at June 20, 2007 3:38 PM

OMG- they all have gerbil pictures with their comments. I'm creeped out and don't even know what they all say, though my basic german helped some. WTF indeed.
(Oh, and not to ignore all the other stuff, but I think you made your point nicely and the rose is not as infested as you claim. Just sayin')

Posted by: Chris at June 20, 2007 3:39 PM

Oo, oo! Charles Baxter's [wonderful] The Feast of Love! Mrs. Manoogian! You've read everything, so you've probably read it, but if not, it's not just a terrific novel -- it's a terrific novel with a transvestite tarot reader in a terrible neighborhood who gives, accurately, "the magical mystery train-wreck of all readings." It's probably your DUTY to read it so as not to overlap, but it's the most pleasurable duty on the block. (And soap gets rid of aphids, so you don't have them. Not saying anything about blackspot, though.)

Posted by: rams at June 20, 2007 3:48 PM

Well according to this site: http://www.translation-guide.com/free_online_translators.php?from=Swedish&to=English

the Swedish gerbil thing says "thus Remember gerbiler had demonstrated that them nots able genetics. Any more than self as gotten that colour on eye?"

And as I'm SURE that's a totally 100% ACCURATE translation, I'm definitely voting for "WTF."

I had a feeling the Tarot thing was for book research! :-) So ok, for what it's worth from someone who collects Tarot cards, and sometimes reads them (and I've been told I give some pretty good readings, FWIW), and creates Tarot-inspired collages and art quilts...I think the cards a tool - a way to focus and force yourself to look at situations and think of things in (perhaps) a different way than you might otherwise.

I don't think the cards themselves are good, or evil, or have any inherent power whatsoever. I think they're little pieces of cardboard with pictures printed on them. I also don't think a person needs psychic ability to work with them - even to give readings to others (although a healthy dose of intuition and some understanding of psychology certainly helps).

Damn, I wish you lived closer! I'd love to talk with you about this, but this is turning into a book again and I don't want to keep doing that in your comments. Anyway...I don't think someone who uses tarot cards and even is good at it is necessarily all WooWoo Psychic Hotline Chick. Some are. But a lot of times they're simply someone you'd see wandering the aisles at Kroger's or dropping their kids off at school and they'd look like they work at an insurance office or a book store....and maybe they do.

Also, I was nodding about what you said about what you share here vs. what you go through in life. I'm also one to keep things very light-hearted on my blog and get the feeling sometimes that people think that's absolutely all there is and I'm just a fluffy little pink bunny of a person. And that's not the case (although I can be!!) but I just don't fee like a public blog - searchable and readable by anyone, anytime - is the place to share my deepest secrets and soul-searchings. So...yeah...I hear ya!

Shutting up now... :-)

Posted by: DebR at June 20, 2007 4:23 PM

I'm not sure about the relationship rose, but they (BPI) do use the rose as a symbol of protection in the meditation classes. Protection in the sense that you visualize the rose between you and the stressors of life. Their meditation classes aren't cheap, but they teach good techniques, and they do not take themselves seriously. At least at the BPI I went to in Mountain View.

Also, I started one feminine cleansing class and was so freaked that, after about 20 minutes, I told them I had to leave to go shopping. Eeeek. It was the first thing that popped into my head. ;+))))

But I still use the meditation techniques, and they work really well for me.

Posted by: ZaZa at June 20, 2007 7:42 PM

Fascinating post. You sure said a lot, for saying you don't talk about "it." Thank you for the glimpse.

Oh, and can I do the requisite:

We're not all woowoo in the Bay Area!

(oh, the years I heard all about the fruits and nuts of California)

But, oh the woowoo we have is deep and determined.

Posted by: Gwen at June 20, 2007 9:05 PM

Geez I love it when you go all BlahBlahBlah.
I would hope that most of your FTK regs know that the Joss you show us here is but a very small glimpse of the entire "you".
You are an incredible person, and it's such a blast to get this small little peek into your world. I totally agree with so much that you've said, and you've managed to say it so much better than I ever could.

Posted by: dee at June 20, 2007 9:30 PM

I learned to read tarot in New Orleans while I was in college, by going every week to the same reader, in a fairly reliable shop. Then I bought a deck and worked on it and used books and read for myself for a really long time.

I've lost the habit now, but I use tarot.com occasionally, and I think it would help you, because it has the classic layouts and good enough interpretations of the cards. It will certainly give you a working vocab of tarot reading.

For me, tarot and astrology are a way to identify patterns in our lives and give a vocabulary to personality traits--like psychology, only older and better-established.

Posted by: dynagirl at June 20, 2007 9:55 PM

Okay, well I kind of suck at Tarot but I've been reading palms for years and years and I do not charge for my services EVER. And this really, really weirds people out. They, like, INSIST on giving me something, quite often. Which in turn weirds ME out.

The thing is, the more palms I read, the better I get at it. I learn something new with every reading. It would be like if you were a teacher and I were your student and I insisted on you PAYING ME for the privilege of giving me a TEST. You know? So I don't charge, because it feels weird and wrong, and some of the people I read for think that me not charging them is weird and wrong, and that's why I would be a TERRIBLE hooker.

But if you ever want/need to learn about palmistry, I can HOOK YOU UP. In fact, I have family in Fairhope (my BIL the biker psychologist, his lovely wife, and my adorable niece) so we could even do a roadtrip meetup at Julwins and talk palmistry and gorge ourselves on yummy fried things with GRAVY! Which is the only way to learn it, really.

Posted by: Badger at June 20, 2007 11:10 PM

I marvel. At it all. And I SO want my first comment on this blawg to be all funny and witty and wonderful, but it won't. I loved all you had to say about faith(s) and the existential reason for 'Kudzu', etc. I must be such an amateur blogger/ writer -- very little that I think, about forgiveness OR why people don't use turn signals, doesn't end up on my blog. But now that you've given us just this little splash of your faith insights, I'm dying to have coffee -- or tofu nuggets or whatever you have -- with you and visit with you more.

Posted by: Sarah S. at June 20, 2007 11:12 PM

Oh and hey, David Skibbins has a great little series about a bi-polar Tarot reader who gets caught up in mysteries that's really worth your while to read.

Posted by: Fran at June 21, 2007 12:15 AM

As always you are just of center of sane entertaining, and I mean that in the nicest way. If you weren't younger than me, I'd say I'd like to be you when I grow up. Oh, wtf, I want to be just like Joss when I grow up.

Aphids...too funny.

Posted by: Cele at June 21, 2007 1:50 AM

I read Swedish and would be glad to give you the gist of it, but that link doesn't take me to a specific thread. Do you remember what the title of the thread was so that I can find it?

Posted by: lizardek at June 21, 2007 2:26 AM

Great post. I think the fact that you are "endlessly interested in grace" is what comes through in your fiction, and makes your books so powerful for me.

Posted by: TrudyJ at June 21, 2007 4:50 AM

Whew! Yes - me too! But, truly, what is so wrong with toe bells? Everything in moderation :)

BTW the site you linked to is definitely in Swedish. I am Swedish and would be glad to translate. That online translator is a joke - many laughs! - although I do respect DebR's resourcefulness!

But just like lizardek, the link isn't taking me to a specific thread...

Posted by: Stephanie at June 21, 2007 11:51 AM

See, as someone who has a very odd collection of books that have been purchased specifically for research for screenplays, I immediately *assumed* that the tarot card interest was for that purpose. I have books on boxing, Southern belles, women in the mafia, football stadium architecture, terrorism, and puritanism, none of which I ever would have purchased were it not for research.

Posted by: Aimee at June 21, 2007 5:46 PM

Well...I THOUGHT I read Swedish. But, apparently my Swedish vocabularly does not extend to all matters rodent. Since I learned it in High School, my vocabulary is more in tune with FOOD, SEX, FOOD, MOVIES, CLOTHES, FOOD. No gerbils.

Loved the post.

Posted by: Patricia Kuhn at June 21, 2007 6:00 PM

I've been on vacation for five days, so I left laughing at the fact that "YOU ARE HAPPY" about/by eating/ordering hummus and returned to a wonderful explanation of why you are as incredibly, hilariously cool as I have known you were since I first read about you ending up in the pokey. . .which was about a year ago was it not? Maybe your ROSE is so tall and fanciful because you did not write a nasty comment about your arrestors, but rather chose to encourage others to cleanliness while in the can. Which is pretty similar to what you've done in all of your blah-blah-blahing. . .

I think you're wonderful--and your rose is probably not a rose at all but one of your lovely Gerbera daisies without the wasp--or the aphids.

Posted by: Roxanne at June 22, 2007 12:35 AM


This was one of my most favorite posts evah.

I have gotten that vibe as well... I have told my husband... if I don't like someone right away, I'm not going back. I've been proven right so many times that I have a direct line to my own guy and when the warning buzzers go off... I get out.

Of course as a teenager this only managed to save my hide a few times and make it easier to dance along that line, sure that I'd know when to get out....

Posted by: Heather Cook at June 22, 2007 1:36 PM