Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…

A friend of mine put this meme up on Facebook today…
(WARNING – Angry ex-husband trigger – don’t read on if this will upset you)

cooking lava.jpg

This reminded me of something my ex did…
In this story “DH” does NOT stand for “Dear Husband”, it stands for “Dick Head”
So, the story goes like this…

I went shopping and while I was out, he decided to cook some dim sims…

He put them in the top of a steamer, and went to play on his computer while he was waiting for them to boil…

I was doing the shopping, and I saw a friend while I was out, as we had nothing on that afternoon and I was under no time pressure, we had a cuppa and a chat, and then I went home…

When I got home, I walked in the front door to be greeted with smoke and the smoke-detector going insane in the kitchen.

I dropped the shopping and ran into the kitchen (yelling ‘WHAT’S BURNING” while I ran). I turned the stove off, and just looked at it, aghast.

Then I took the broom and turned the din of the smoke detector off.

Once that was done, i just stood there, staring at the stove.

At that stage, DH ambled in from the spare room where the computer lived. He said ‘Wow, what happened?’.

I just slowly turned around, utterly gobsmacked!!!

I said “Well, I don’t really know, as I just got home… but I assume you tried to cook something.”

He said “Where were you? I thought you only went shopping.”

I said “Yeah, but I saw <friend> and we had a cuppa, but I got all the shopping done.”

As I said that, I tried to move the saucepan off the hot hotplate. The saucepan moved, but the base-plate of the saucepan didn’t. It had got SO HOT that the base-plate of the saucepan had delaminated from the saucepan.

I’ll explain that… The saucepans were a really good set with the aluminium sandwich base (that my Mum had given me for my 21st) – and the saucepan had got so hot that the base had literally come off, and the aluminium had actually melted and flowed into the bottom of the stovetop (It was one of those stoves  with the spiral electric element. Thankfully I had the little drip-trays in the bottom caught the aluminium flow so it didn’t ruin the stove, but we did have to replace the element).

So…

I turned to him and said “What happened?”  (OK, I knew what happened, he put the stove on and went to play on the computer and forgot about it… but I wanted to hear him say it)
He said “Well, if you hadn’t taken so long with the shopping, and stopped to have coffee, you would have got home in time to turn it off”.

I just looked at him.  Like – WTF?

OK, I admit, I was cross. I probably didn’t handle it as well as I should have, but I turned and said “Really???  You don’t think it maybe had something to do with the fact that you put the stove on high, then went and totally ignored it to the point where you’ve nearly set the house on fire?”

So, I should have known by that point not to get him angry, but hey, sometimes ya just can’t help it…

He just breathed in and looked at the floor, then slowly looked up at me (at that point I knew he was mad) – so he just said “Oh, OK, so it’s MY FAULT, is it?”
I said “Well – who’s fault do YOU think it is?!?!   Let’s see – who turned the stove on full then went and totally ignored it while it burned the dim-sims into tiny little coal nuggets and got hot enough to MELT ALUMINIUM???”

He said “So you’re really saying it was MY FAULT”.

I just raised my eyes and gave him a rather incredulous look…  Like saying ‘What do you think?’.

He said “Great, EVERYTHING around here is my fault – just great…”

He turned around and just punched the door behind him. His fist went through the front piece of wood on the laundry door… (It was one of those internal doors which had the thin timber laminate on either side and cardboard wafer between them).

I said “Oh great, there are only TWO doors left in this place that you haven’t destroyed, and you’re going to ruin one that I need to keep the cats out of the laundry…”
(yea, that was probably the wrong thing to say… I know… I couldn’t help it…)

So, red rag to a bull – He said “See how you like THIS” and the bull put his head down and charged straight THROUGH the laundry door, ripping the door off its hinges in the process…

Now, picture this…  A tall, strong guy, who’s put his head down and run through the middle of a door, but – the door got stuck across his body while he did it. So he’s stuck in the laundry, with a door right across him, pinning his arms down by his sides, looking like a giant plus sign.  (The door was right across his chest and biceps)

He started thrashing around in there, yelling ‘GET THIS THING OFF ME’.

I said ‘If you think I’m coming in to that tiny room with you thrashing that door around you’re insane. Calm down and I’ll come in and help you’.

It took him a minute of seething, but he did calm down and I went in to help him. I had to put my hand down in-between the door and his body and literally tear bits of the door away. He was pretty badly scratched and the shirt was a write-off.

Hind-sight being 20/20, I should have taken that opportunity to pack and leave (you know, while he was stuck in the laundry, impaling the door), but, hey, youth and stupid decisions seem to go hand-in-hand, I guess…  Stupidity is enhanced when I admit that this was about two years before we were even married…

Needless to say – after this he cried and promised never to get angry and break things in the house again.

Also, I guess, needless to say – he did. He really did.

My point is, don’t you think it’s funny how sometimes an innocent picture can remind you of something that happened almost 25 years ago? And, it’s still as clear as a picture. I’m glad that now I can just laugh about it, but it wasn’t quite as funny then…

 

“Mixed marriages” – How exactly does THAT work?!?!

No, I’m not talking about different races, cultures or nationalities, unless different religions are involved.

Even with different cultures people can make mish-mashes that work for them, and that’s great. I know growing up in a Russian/Polish household we were extremely european based, the food, the language, the mentality, were all eastern-european, which I loved. And yes, it was a bit of a learning curve when I started going out with my very Aussie boyfriend. We were brought up SO differently! I believe different cultures can be accommodated if you try.

What I’m really talking about is mixed religion marriages.

I watched ‘The Birdcage’ this morning, which is one of my favourite movies (and I saw “La Cage au Folles” on Broadway a couple of years ago, with David Hodge and Kelsey Grammar – which was AMAZING), but, the movie got to the end and [SPOILER ALERT!] the young couple got married with two celebrants, a Christian Preacher and a Jewish Rabbi. And I thought, well, that’s nice for them, it’s inclusive for the audience and families, but, how exactly is that going to work when they have kids?

I read an article, recently, about Hanukkah tree toppers, written by Dr Mayim Bialik, who I think is fantastic (OK, we differ greatly in our ‘religious’ views, but, other than that, she’s superb). Mayim wrote about families who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas and the new Christmas tree topper, shaped like a Star of David.  (Read her article HERE) She really discussed the confusion of the children.

Since I read the article a couple of months ago, I’ve been thinking about this issue.

Now, anyone who hasn’t read any of my previous writing needs to know at this point that I’m an atheist. I believe all religions are outdated and should be disbanded. People should, and can, manage their own lives, we can be good without a god, and religions really do more harm than good. In addition to that I believe brainwashing children and telling them that if they’re bad they’re going to burn in hell forever (yes, I remember being told that when I was a kid, so don’t tell me it doesn’t happen) is good for children. Ok, now that the disclaimer is finished, I’ll get on with what I was saying…

I’ve been thinking about how we bring our children up and how we impose our ideas on them, and, yes, I’m guilty of that, too, I’ve brought my children up atheists, which means they don’t believe in any gods, they do believe in scientifically proven principles though, I’ve taught them to only believe those things which can be rationally explained. They have no faith in deities, or faeries, or magic (sadly, magic isn’t real…), or Santa, or the Easter Bunny, nor do they believe the earth is flat, the universe revolves around the earth or that there are dragons (again, unfortunately, I’d be thrilled if there were!). I do understand that some people take solace in ‘something bigger than themselves’, or like having someone/something to ‘answer to’, or, a really good one is that they need someone over them to make them be good, because apparently Atheists are terribly unable to be good people without some fear of smiting hanging over their head…

And yes, recently I’ve been thinking about that with regard to my kids, didn’t I do just that? Didn’t I, in my fervour of ensuring my kids aren’t brought up having religious ideas imposed on them, just impose my atheist ideas on them instead? But then, I think, firstly, I never discussed religion with my kids when they were little (other than as described below). They weren’t brought up in fear of any monsters (other than me, if they didn’t go to bed when told), they weren’t told untruths about the earth or about humans (we really did evolve, promise), they were taught sound, tested, ratified, scientific principles, so I’m confident I did the right thing.

OK, so, back to the topic, sorry for the huge aside…

I’m wondering how children whose parents have different religious beliefs manage to reconcile those beliefs, particularly when those beliefs are so different as in different gods. I can see how children whose parents are Catholic and Anglican manage, you know, to say that extra bit at the end of the Lord’s Prayer or not to say it. hmmm…  But… When one parent believes in Mohammed and the other one believes in Christ, what then? Or for example the parents in Mayim’s blog who are Jewish/Christian and have Hanukkah as well as Christmas. So, what do they tell the children? At least with both parents in the Abrahamic quarter they may be able to resolve it with the “one of us believes Jesus is the son of God, and the other one believes he isn’t… See HERE for more explanation…

I believe having one parent Muslim and one of the Abrahamic vein would be even more confusing. I know the Muslims see Jesus as a messenger from God (not the son thereof), that he’s the son of Mary (Maryam) via a virgin birth, after God said “Be” and it was. But, they don’t believe in the crucifixion, or the divinity of Jesus. They do “love and revere” Jesus, but don’t believe he’s the son of God. I’m not quite sure how you reconcile telling a child both those beliefs as ‘Truths’.

And therein lies the rub. If you aren’t teaching things as ‘truths’ why bother?*

I know that teaching your children the same beliefs that you hold dear is not only religious, but cultural. I can appreciate that to a certain point, I’m sure it takes someone with great convictions to eschew teaching to their children those things they were taught when young. Whether those convictions are atheism or a different religious belief to your parents, either way it takes guts to firstly change your beliefs, but secondly to risk separation from your family.

So, how do the children fare? Aren’t they confused? How do they resolve Mummy and Daddy believing different things? Do Mummy and Daddy, who may well be trying to be totally equal and fair about the religion question really think that when the Grandparents are looking after the kids they aren’t trying to sway the needle? I know when my Mum looked after my kids she read them the children’s bible, she told them about God and Jesus etc. (I countered by telling my kids that Babushka (grandma in Russian) believed that these stories were real, but Mummy and Daddy didn’t). I told them that they should just listen to the stories and treat them as stories. But what about children who’s parent’s don’t know the grandparents are doing that? What if both sets of grandparents are pulling the children this way and that? What if one set is saying “But if you don’t believe init means you don’t love us and aren’t really part of the family?

Don’t we screw with their heads enough when all parties agree on what religion to indoctrinate the children into? Isn’t it exponentially worse to duplicate the confusion?

aToM

*yes, I know, we don’t necessarily teach science as ‘truths’ sometimes we teach theories which may, or may not, be proven, however, in these cases, aside from the children being quite a bit older than when they’re usually taught religion, we tell them that these are theories and why they are, or are not yet, known as truths.

Does blogging make you see the world differently?

Writing is an interesting phenomenon.

No, not the actual practice of putting written squiggles in a particular form and order to make sense to others, whilst that’s interesting on its own, it’s not what I’m talking about. I mean the actual undertaking of writing a memoir or commentary of some sort.

It used to be that, when we travelled, people (usually those older and wiser than us) said ‘Keep a journal while you travel so you remember what you did each day’. That, in itself, is good advice. Advice I never really took, but, as I take photos every day when I travel it’s easy enough for me to go through the photos day by day to see exactly what I did, when.

But… What I am really talking about is blogging. If you keep a blog, does it make you see the world differently?

I believe it does.

Even just in the last few days, since I re-started blogging, I’ve been analysing things that happen with a critical eye. “Is this something that would make an interesting topic for me to blog about?”.

I have limited my blog consciously by not personalising it. I know that. I have reasons for maintaining anonymity (can anyone say ‘insane ex-husband’) and for that reason I have not linked my blog to my Facebook account, nor have I posted my personal details here. Yeah, OK, if you’re intrepid I’m sure you could find out who I am, but, that’s beside the point of this post.

Back to the comment about the travel journal, I know that when I’ve kept a journal, either written or photographic, it’s made me look around more, thinking “Is there something to write about here” or “Is there anything interesting to photograph here”. I think it makes you LOOK more, notice more, even sometimes talk to people more. You’re on the lookout for a story. I finally (about 35 years too late) understand why the teachers in primary school wanted us to keep a ‘holiday diary’ over the break.

Blogging is like that, but, not only blogging, owning a forum, a Facebook page, or whatever, once you have made that commitment to personal journalism you are always looking for things to say.

Are you a blogger? Tell me what you think. Has blogging changed the way you view the world?

aToM…

 

PS: Have spent much of the day on PhotoShop creating a new logo. Please let me know what you think of it.

What will my grandchildren think of me? Am I leaving a good digital legacy?

I knew my grandparents, on one side. I grew up with my Mum’s parents living next door, so I knew them and was close to them, particularly my Dedushka (Grandfather, in Russian, although he was Danish, we spoke Russian because my Grandmother was Russian and didn’t speak much English). We had ‘that something special’, it was a mutual admiration society and I was utterly devastated when he died.  I was sixteen.

I didn’t know my dad’s parents at all. His father had died when he was three, his mother when he was about twelve. He lived with his grandmother until he was taken by the Nazis when he was thirteen (he was Polish). He never saw her again. All I know of them is small snippets, and anecdotal ones at that. No photos exist. No other relatives are known of to fill in the picture. I know I had a grandfather, he was Polish, he died in about 1933 and he fixed bicycles (or at least that’s what dad remembered). That’s it. That’s all I know.

Earlier generations probably knew about as much, or less than I did about either side. Grandparents were lucky to know their grandchildren, and great-grandparents were largely mythical. If you met your great-grandparents you were truly lucky, or almost definitely upper-class (or royalty) where hard living didn’t take you in your 40’s or 50’s.

All that makes me wonder. What will MY grandchildren, great-grandchildren or further generations think of me.

I’m assuming, here, that I’ll get to meet my grandchildren (but not too soon, thank you!) and *may* meet my grandchildren (because I intend to live a long life, at LEAST long enough to annoy my kids). But, let’s look, say, three or four generations into the future…

If I was born a hundred years earlier, future generations may get one or two photos of me, there may be a notation in the ‘family bible’, there would be civil records of birth, death, marriage, children, possible war service, etc… and that’s it.  Now, however, I’m a member of the Internet Society.

Assuming here that the internet maintains its current data and builds on it. Future generations will get to look their old granny up. They’ll be able to read my FaceBook site, my Twitter feed, my blog, my emails, my letters (saved on hard drive), my saved phone contacts, and my calendar. They’ll know that, on a certain day, in 2009, I was having a pissy morning, spilled my coffee, had lunch with a friend, and spent the afternoon reading a book.

And that’s great! It’s going to make genealogy in the Third Millenium easy as pie!

When I was about twenty I considered getting a tattoo. (Bear with me, this IS relevant!) I thought about it, and thought I’d get a nice rosebud along the side of my left boob. It’d be visible when I wanted it, and I could cover it up if I needed to. This was BEFORE the big tattoo explosion, so, it would have still had that ‘oooh!’ factor, and was still cutting edge. I decided against it because I had visions of saggy boobs with some long-faded stretched out rose-thing on it, and wow, am I glad I did. (FWIW I never did get a tattoo and now think they’re just a little overrated and have really lost their impressiveness).

I decided, when I was about twenty-one, that a good ‘rule of life’ was to ‘Never do something you will be embarrassed to explain to your grandchildren’. Of course, there are things in my past I’ll have to wait till my grandchildren are well and truly adults to tell them, but, nothing too bad (assuming they have open minds! lol).

My point is, some of the stuff I see people put onto their blogs, FaceBook pages, and other online media, is scary. Is this really the legacy you want your future generations to see of you?

I have seen, recently, a number of news stories about employers demanding to be given either an employee’s or applicant’s FaceBook login and password. Now, I believe that to be, not only ridiculous, but, if not illegal, it should be. Any employer who asked me for my FaceBook password as a pre-requisite for employment would be discounted as a possible employer so fast it’s not funny. No, I don’t have any thing illegal, immoral or fattening on my FB page, but, it’s the principal of it, can you imagine if we start handing that level of investigative power to our employers – aah no.

But…  Our GGCAB’s (Great Grandchildren – and beyond) will, theoretically, have access to it, either through our password, which will have passed on when we died, or, in my case, by the ‘FaceBook downloads’ I keep (I download a full copy of my FaceBook account every couple of months). I don’t think my GGCAB’s will find too much excitement in mine, however, I worry about some of the stuff I see teenagers post.

“I got so plastered on the weekend”, “I think I slept with x last night”, “I got done for drunk driving again”, etc. There’s a whole litany of stupidity there to choose from as examples.

What will YOUR legacy be for your GGCAB’s?  Is it something you think about when you post?

I think mine will be interested to know that, when I was a teenager, we HAD no internet. I’m the first generation of internetees in my family. I did the whole of high school using actual books, with no internet, no ability to ‘look things up’, no ability to ’email my teacher for help’, and no online tutoring. I bought my first computer when I was about twenty-one. It was an Amstrad, and took both large AND small floppy disks! It had no inbuilt memory, and a LCD screen. I thought it was amazing. I kept my whole database (I was a sales rep) of clients on one small floppy drive. I was enthralled when colour screens became available, and then, onboard memory! OMG! I remember when megabytes were big memory (not the terabytes I have now).

I’m used to think, at the time, my kids would, one day, be interested in the emails and data that transpired around the time of my divorce. Now, I’m not sure they’ll care, but, hey, maybe my GGCAB’s will. Who knows? I can only hope they look upon me kindly and don’t think I went too nutty around that time…

They’ll be able to see my whole relationship with my partner blossom from initial online chats (which I have on a hard drive, somewhere…) through our emails and online communication.  There’s over ten years of communication there for them to follow, if they are so inclined. I know the internet will see my children partnered and married, if they so choose, it will see my grandchildren born, and see me die (hopefully in that order). It will go on without me, as will my online presence.  There has been some discussion recently online about the future being able to bring a robotic presence of ourselves to life through all of our online information. The conjecture is that there will be enough online information to, not only piece together our history, but our personality, the tenor of our speech, and our likes and dislikes at any point in time. The robot will, theoretically, be able to simulate our lives. Why? I don’t know, but it’s cool nonetheless…

Apparently I joined FB on the fifteenth of February, 2008, so, for the last four years, I’ve made almost daily updates and written on countless walls, including my own. My kids have been on FB for the same length of time (roughly). My son pretty much only uses it to play games, very little personal content there. My daughter uses it normally. The usual updates, friends, likes, dislikes, shares and other stuff. I’m a ‘friend’ of hers, so I see most of her stuff. I know, as she gets older (she’s just turned sixteen), there will be relationships played out online, friends will come and friends will go, but, will she be careful of what she says online? I don’t know. I hope so, as we’ve had the discussion about leaving a digital legacy, so I’m relatively confident she’ll do OK. But I worry about some of her friends.

I see status updates like those described above. Which, when you’re fifteen, sixteen or seventeen, might seem funny, or even an attempt at looking smart, but, how smart are they really?

What will THEIR GGCAB’s think of them?

The Psychology of Family, and the limits of Love…

It’s a funny thing, being adopted, I’m not sure if it’s the unusualness of it, the genetics of it or the nature v’s nurture argument, but, it’s funny. That’s funny-odd, not funny-ha ha, in case you’re wondering.

I was adopted when I was about 6 weeks old. My Mum and Dad are the only parents I knew (other than the nuns in the adoption home), and, I must say, I was extremely lucky in my choice of parents. They are quite the parents you’d choose if you could choose your parents.  Yes, Ok, as I’ve already blogged, I was brought up Catholic, which I found annoying, but, as religions go, it’s not as bad as some, and, hey, I got out with little or no annoyance, so let’s put that aside.

My Mum is simply the best Mum on earth (myself included, Mum’s better, she cooks more!). I’ll post about Dad another time (he died a while ago, which is another story).

And, still, even with having the best family, and extended family, I still had a yearning to find my genetic family. I don’t know why, it was just always there.

I do, however, often wonder, what is it that makes us seek those we are genetically related to? Is this the same thing that makes us research our genealogy (which I do, too)?

I found my mother (C) and sister (M) when I was about twenty-two. It was just after I was married. I was overjoyed, my Mum was distraught. She just couldn’t understand why I wanted to meet them. Wasn’t she enough? Was I now, after everything, to abandon her and dad to a family which had abandoned me at birth? She was fine after I’d met them and she realised I still loved her, and, she did meet C a few times and they got along fine. They were both smart, strong, amazing women, so no wonder!

I had asked about my birth mother when I was young, I found out I was adopted when I was about seven. I remember thinking ‘well, that’s interesting’ and that was about it. Mum made a lot more of a big deal about it than I felt.

I remember thinking ‘am I supposed to feel different now?’, I have, often, thought ‘I wonder whether I feel the same as everyone else feels?’.

That’s the funny thing about feelings, whether they’re feelings of happiness, wonder, pain or delight, they’re all yours. You can’t compare them with someone else, even pain. If you created exactly the same injury to two people, even if they both said it hurt, how can you measure whether it hurt the same amount?  It’s the same with love. How do I know that I love my Mum the same as if she’d borne me? I do know that I don’t feel I could love her any MORE than I do, same with my children, I love them. With all my heart. But what is love? It’s a feeling of nearness, comfortableness, familiarity and sharing. Is that feeling deeper with people we’re genetically related to rather than familiarly related to? I don’t know, it can’t be measured. I do know that I don’t feel I could love my Mum any more than I do.

C, my birth mother, died fifteen years ago. It was very sad, we didn’t have nearly enough time together, but, she did get to see her two grandchildren. Her death left my sister devastated as M had been brought up by C. I did, however, meet my brother P at C’s funeral. I had known of him but hadn’t met him prior to that. As soon as I met him I felt a kinship, just as I had with C and M. Now, fifteen years later, P and I are very close. I can’t imagine us being closer even if we had been brought up together.

Then, only a month or two ago, P found C’s half-siblings, from whom she’d been estranged. They are our Aunt’s and Uncle. I had long been thinking about the immediate familiarity and connection of family, and, I admit, my thoughts had been totally confirmed by this recent meeting. I find that I feel they are family. Just as I feel my Mum’s brother is family (Dad was an only child), I also feel that these new aunts and uncle are family, even though I haven’t yet met them. I know that I KNOW Mum’s brother better, because I grew up with him as my Uncle (even though, through distance, we didn’t see him or his family very often), I grew up with lots of family friends whom I CALLED Uncles and Aunts, and I always called their children my cousins, even though, genetically, they weren’t, I still loved them as if they were, and still consider them my extended family.

I do find it somewhat odd that I feel closeness to people I’ve not met. I find it odd that I can have conversations (admittedly via chat) with my Aunty, who I’ve never met, but, I know I can tell her anything and she’ll accept me because we’re family. I know I can discuss anything and go to her for advice if I need to, because I know, in my heart, that she loves me and we’re family. You can’t say that’s not odd. It’s fantastic, but odd.

This, in no way, diminishes my utter and absolute adoration of my Mum and Dad.  I don’t believe love has a limit. You can love many people in your life, because you add one, two, or even a dozen, more, doesn’t mean you diminish the love you feel for those who were there first.

Don’t you think that’s a magnificent and magical thing about the psychology of loving?

You can keep adding more people and still have enough love for them all.

OUT! You heathen demon!

I’m an atheist.

There, I said it.

It’s not actually scary to say anymore, I’ve always been an atheist, even when I was theoretically a Catholic, I was an atheist.

I was brought up a Catholic. I went to a Catholic primary school, then a Catholic secondary school. I was a good little Catholic. I did my first holy confession in grade three, my confirmation in grade six, about the same time I started playing recorder in the church ‘band’ (which existed of Sister Chanel on guitar and a few of us kids who could actually play recorder. We also acted as church choir). When I was thirteen I was inducted as a Lector of the Catholic Church, which means I did a short course and was allowed to read the readings in church, which I did, on roster in the parish for about four years.

I remember when I was about twelve, about two years after pope John Paul II came into power, he sent a huge framed photo of himself to every church (can you say ‘self aggrandising’?), and the priest had the portrait hung on the wall, in the entrance alcove, and, at the end of the mass, he said “On your way out of the church, I’d like you to take notice of the portrait of our Holy Father, and say a prayer to him”. I thought “huh?”. I went out of the church (without saying any prayers to anyone) and went up to the priest, who was, as usual, holding court within a merry band of sycophants, and said to him “Father, I don’t understand something, could you explain it to me?”. He turned toward me with great condescension, and said “What can I help you with, child?”. I said (in my best voice, so as to gain the notice of those still standing around), “I wanted to ask you about the comment you made at the end of mass, regarding saying a prayer to our Holy Father on the way out of church”. He said “Yes? What’s your question?”. I said, well, as I understand it, the first commandment says ‘I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no gods before me’, doesn’t it?”, He said “Yes. So?”.

I said “Well, If we are supposed to put no-one before God, why did you tell us to pray to the pope? Isn’t he just a man? Why would we want to pray to a man, wouldn’t that put us in defiance of the first commandment?”

He said “Don’t be ridiculous”, and turned to my Mum and said “Take her home”. Then he stormed off. I remember everyone else turning away from me and muttering amongst themselves. Mum took me home and said “Why did you make a scene, couldn’t you have just accepted what he said?” I said “Mum, it seems to me that we just accept whatever the priest says and aren’t supposed to question it, but, what if he’s wrong?”. Mum said “He isn’t wrong, he’s the priest!”.

Ok, now, there you see the problem. ‘Do what this guy says because he’s been daubed ‘priest’. Don’t question it, don’t vary from it, just do it.

Yeah, not this little black duck.

In about year nine (for those in the USA, that would equate to a freshman in high school), I must have been about fourteen, we were trudged to church about once a term to go to confession. We’d all sit, quietly, in church and wait for our turn to go into the little booth to make up shit to tell the bored priest so that he could ‘absolve’ us of sins we didn’t really think we had, so that we were ‘cleansed’ and could go forth and sin no more. I went into the booth and said “I have no sins”. He said “of course you have, everyone has”. I said “well, then, tell me yours”. He said “that’s not how this works”. I said “why not? What gives YOU the right to hear MY sins, but not me the right to hear yours?”. He said “Stop being silly and get on with it or I’ll call your teacher over”. I said “Fine, do that, I’m not telling you a damned thing, you need to get a life, not try living vicariously through other people’s fun”.  At that point he called the teacher over, told her what I’d said. I got detention and was told I wouldn’t be allowed to go to confession with the school anymore. Yup, that was my punishment. I wasn’t allowed to do something I really hated anymore. OK. I can live with that. Took ALL my skill to try to look sad at the thought.

When I was seventeen, and in year twelve (Senior in high school), I begged off going to church because ‘I had too much homework’, and I resigned from the reading roster (Yes, I was still reading, it would have upset Mum too much to have stopped, so I did it for her). At seventeen, however, I’d got to a point where I was absolutely convinced there was no god and this was all ridiculous. I knew I couldn’t go on reading anymore, when, EVERY TIME I got up onto the lectern I just wanted to shout “Don’t you all know you’re being CONNED, this is RUBBISH, go HOME”.

A few years later, when I wanted to get married, my Mum and Dad said they would not come to my wedding if I didn’t get married in a Catholic Church. And, as I’m a sucker for Gothic Architecture, and the church my parents got married in was, conveniently, a Gothic Church, I agreed to marry there. My fiancée didn’t care, he was an atheist too, and said he couldn’t care less where we got married. So, off to church we went. Yes, they made us promise to bring our children up catholics, it was a condition of being allowed to use the church, and yes, they actually made us sign a ‘statement of intent’ to that effect, but, hey, even the priest at the time knew that was never going to happen. He said ‘just sign it or they won’t let us use the church’. (The priest was a family friend, who knew I was an atheist, and was doing the wedding thing for my Mum.

Then my son came along. Again, Mum literally cried when I told her I wasn’t christening him. Mum told me if I didn’t get him christened, she was going to take him to church while she was babysitting him (she looked after him while I worked) and have it done. She was NOT risking her grandson going to hell because his mother was a heathen. So, after discussion with my husband, and a lot of thought, I decided to get the deed done, but, on MY terms. My Mum was born in Russia, so, as a child I went to Russian School, which was attached to the Russian Orthodox Church. During the Saturday School, we had four ‘classes’. Two of language, one of history and one of religion. For the last three years I was at the school, the priest was our religion teacher, but, he knew I was an atheist (one of the VERY few people I ‘came out’ to at the time).  So, during the ‘religion’ classes, we did interesting things. We discussed all sorts of social, societal and philosophical questions. I remember we did a whole term on “subliminal suggestion in advertising”, where we discussed it, got ads and tried to find the subliminal messages in them, including finding little skulls in ice cubes in vodka ads, etc. But I digress. This priest knew I was an atheist. He’d allowed me to be ‘godmother’ to my beautiful god-daughter knowing I was an atheist (I will go into this more in another post, soon). So, I thought, I’ll ring him and discuss this whole child-christening thing with him.

He agreed with my idea, and, my son was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church. My mum was thrilled, I got to have the fantastic Godfather I wanted for my son, and Pascal’s Wager was satisfied. (Not for me, I don’t care about a wager I know is moot, but for Mum). He was happy to, again, baptise my daughter when she came along.

There were two reasons I got my children baptised. Firstly to appease my family, and, secondly, in case I ever wanted to send them to a private school, in Australia most private schools are of one religious denomination or another, and, being Russian Orthodox, you’re classed as a ‘Christian minority’ and accepted into all private schools. Yes, I know, they’re selfish reasons, the first is not only selfish, but, cowardly, but, sometimes we do things for our family that we don’t necessarily want to. I have brought my kids up atheist (quite vociferously so), and I’m happy, and so are they.

Yes, Mum now knows I’m an Atheist. Yes, it definitely disappoints her that my children are Atheists. Yes, she prays for us. But, she’s also said, in the last few years, that she doesn’t like the Catholic Church either, but, says ‘I believe in God, and it doesn’t matter which church I go to, it’s all the same God’. But then, she only goes a few times a year now.

Maybe there’s hope, yet.

My Atheist vision is to imagine a society that:
is predominantly scientifically literate
exemplifies tolerance, social justice and the protection of human rights.
promotes happy, purposeful and ethical lives.
is entirely secular and free of any undue influence from beliefs, customs or traditions of superstitions, god/s and other supernatural claims.
*If you’re in the same boat I was, where you are in a church, but want to get out, please have a look at these sites:
The OUT campaign: CLICK HERE FOR SITE.
The RECOVERING FROM RELIGION site.
And, please have a look at my ‘links’ section for other useful sites.

A Blog by any other name…

I originally had a blog on ‘another blog site’, but, having seen a few other blogs on WordPress over the last few weeks I’ve paid attention to how they look and their functionality, so, I decided to switch over. Aldo, it needed a new name, so I’ve spent a few hours trying to rename the blog.
I started it about four years ago, but, never really wrote anything much, hopefully this attempt will be more fruitful. The old name for the blog was ‘Read ’em and weep’, and the blog url had my name in it, both of which I wanted to change, which I knew would change going over to WP, however, I wanted the RIGHT name.

So, I’ve spent hours wandering through the quotes websites looking for something interesting, unusual and which sums up my idea for this blog.
Quite a few ‘spoke’ to me, one by Christopher Hitchens, which was Litera scripta manet, or, ‘The written word will remain’. I thought that would be nice, and honour the great Hitch, but, it wasn’t quite right.
I found a cute Audrey Hepburn quote, and I love Audrey Hepburn, the quote wasNothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!  But again, not quite there…
The third one I considered was ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it’. Again Aristotle, but too long. Great quote, though!
Fourthly, one by Alexander Fleming ‘One sometimes finds what one is not looking for’. Hmm, good, but, I’m sorta hoping, maybe one day, people WILL be looking for this blog, so, again, nope.

Then, I stumbled across another Aristotle quote, There was never a genius without a tincture of madness. And, yup, sums me up nicely.

So, here you have it, I present to you my new blog name ‘A Tincture of Madness’.  

The Autism Epidemic – Is there one?

This last week I read an excellent article on the enimitable James Randi’s blog. It was written by Dr Steven Novella, a clinical Neurologist at Yale’s Medical School (who has his own blog HERE). It’s about this perception of an ‘autism epidemic’ that different groups are trying to co-opt to use as ‘excuses’ for all sorts of things, none the least of which is the anti-vaccination nutjobs who are trying to tell people that childhood vaccination causes autism…

One of the comments on James Randi’s blog really resonated with me… I know that when we were young, you never heard of someone having Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), It’s all recent, I mean the whole “Aspergers Syndrome” wasn’t even named as a ‘thing’ until the mid ’40’s, but wasn’t really being widely diagnosed until the ’90’s.
So, of course, NOW we have lots of kids with Aspergers, but, before it was being diagnosed, before the doctors, teachers, psychologists etc, knew about it, they were just ‘naughty’ or ‘troubled’ kids.
I remember one kid in school, Steven, who had trouble with everything except engines. Couldn’t spell, couldn’t write, couldn’t do sums, etc. Teachers just thought he was stupid (and one or two told him that). I recall one day a teacher called him up to the front of the class and, as part of yelling at him for not doing his work, told him he needed to ‘pull his socks up’, so he bent over and started pulling his socks up. The teacher got the ruler out and belted him with it. I remember feeling really sorry for him because you could TELL he didn’t understand, he honestly thought the teacher was telling him to pull up his socks…
Also, there’s my ex. He’s has Aspergers, as does his father. So, the condition certainly WAS around 70 years ago, just not diagnosed.
As Dr Novella says, if you cast a bigger net, you’ll catch more fish, doesn’t mean there were more fish there in the first place…
I thought about it, and, I guess it’s like in the middle ages people didn’t die of a ‘stroke’ or a ‘heart attack’, and they didn’t get sick from ‘hyperthyroidism’ or ‘diabetes’, they just dropped dead, or got gangrenous feet, because they were ‘smited’ by God, or whatever other excuse the people of the day thought of to explain the inexplicable. Now, however, there’s no need for the superstition behind it, we know, through diagnosis, testing or autopsy, that the person died of this, or that…
So, yes, now we have lots of ‘Autistic spectrum’ kids. It’s fantastic that the syndrome has a name, it has a means of diagnosis and it has a means of assisting these kids make the best of their lives.They CAN do well, they CAN be happy and they CAN be fantastically fun to have around. I know, I have one. And he was showing signs of being ‘unusual’ before he was vaccinated, and his father, and grandfather have it, so, I am fairly certain it’s not because I vaccinated him.

For more information on Aspergers, see the Wikipedia page: HERE
Exceptional information on Aspergers and the Psychology thereof available on Tony Attwood’s Website.

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