Notes to reader: a) this is a long post; get comfortable b) I forgot to mention the cowboy-up incident c) I couldn't work in the key-lime pie and d) ditto the fried chicken. d) blasphemy quotient is inexcusably high; proceed with caution. Thank you.
To begin, my relationship with the Almighty has been - to put it plainly - quite limited in recent years. Among my standard prayers have been memos like,
'I enjoyed that apple picking trip and the sunset on the orchard. Thanks for that.
Sometimes I go with the standard thy will be done prayer that has never ceased to be a favorite among believers. Others, I am aware, pray for things, like freedom from sin, good health for their families and friends, winning lottery tickets and better hair.
I do not make these prayers. Or at any rate, I never will again.
You see, a few years ago, I went through a phase. This phase was marked by a poor decision on my part to be like others and file requests. I thought about what I wanted, and I filed. I opened with proper salutations and closed with proper expressions of gratitude for the request not yet granted.
Here is a short list of the things I prayed for:
1) That my brother not leave New York City because we were neighbors and it was great.
2) That my career become stable, if not lucrative and fulfilling.
3) That I somehow, someway, end up with a husband and a child. Methods unimportant. (Go ahead and notice that's a BIG request).
4) That my family all remain well.
5) That I not get so worn out that I can't finish my PhD.
These requests are significant, but I think also comprehensible. Notice that aside from item number three, there is nothing all that difficult or strictly unreasonable on the list. I did not ask for a pony or a tennis bracelet. No unicorns, either.
Here is how Jesus handled my requests:*
That's right. Not only did Jesus NOT grant a single request, but in the next frame, he stepped out of a crack in the firmament and smashed garden peas into my face until I was nearly suffocated with grainy bits of semi-frozen (and universally agreed to be un-delicious) vegetable matter.
Then he said,
You, Nina-swears-a-lot, doth NOT ever fileth a request conmigo. Ever! Are we all clear, slattern?
Then he shook his fist at me and returned to heaven to drink martinis and play bridge with my mother and her parents.
Well, perhaps it didn't go down exactly like that.
Here are the facts concerning my requests and the results:
1) Brother decided to move to New Jersey, where I would be able to see him maybe once a month rather than three times a week.
2) I lost one of my two jobs, found out my contract would be forever tied to unstable enrollment such that my pay, benefits could be cut severely - or disappear entirely - without any advance notice to me, whatsoever. Three times a year, I have to watch enrollment all the way up to the day before classes start to see if I still have a job. (The cutting actually happened one semester, too).
3) FB led me by the nose for two years without promising to marry me. Every time I tried to end it, he cried and said I was ruining his life BUT that he could not let me go. But would he marry me? No. But I was not to leave him! Never! So I left him anyway and find myself even now, two years later, unable to think of men as anything other then larger versions of humans who like football and porn and in actual fact are not really of my species at all. In short, I am so fucked up I can't even think about dating without bursting into tears and screamin:g WHY WHY WHY? For extra confirmation that I would be lonely and childless forever, Jesus gave me early menopause. Thanks for that, too, JC.
4) My dad not only got cancer, but he got two kinds. The big one, leukemia, gave him a staff infection that landed him in multiple organ failure three weeks after diagnosis - he spent a month in CCU. Then "it" went into remission for eight months before coming back with such a vengeance that his oncologist didn't want to bother to treat him anymore. My dad, who is the person I love most in the entire world, was told he had two weeks to live. Then he told me that he never wanted to see me again because he didn't want me to see him suffer. Our relationship was not only to be ended by inky black death, but also by his desire to spare me his suffering. Holy (no pun intended) shit.
5) Due to the above, particularly items 2, 3, and 4, who the fuck cares whether I finish my PhD? I am lucky if I finish this can of peas.
6) In case I didn't quite get the point that my happiness is a condition most assuredly despised by the Almighty, I also got the Great Larry Debacle of 2007 thrown in to keep me good and hysterical while I was having all my other problems -such as the one where my step mother went psycho and the one where the rumors that my dad has disinherited us surfaced and the one where I ended up with a $2000 cell phone bill for a single month. I also broke my arm mountain biking, got audited by the IRS (score: me $0; IRS, $15,000), oh and by the way, Lola no longer speaks to me anymore because her boyfriend doesn't like me. Can I borrow that box of nails so I can shove them into my eyes? The end.
At the beginning of 2007, which is what I now refer to as the "middle" of the end of all hope and joy in my life, I ceased all intercessory pray and resorted to missives like,
I see that you have taken my requests into full consideration and not only declined to fulfill even one of them, but that you also wish to destroy me. I enjoyed the apple picking trip and the sunset on the orchard except for the inky black psychotic depressive mania that prevents me from enjoying anything. So thanks for that.
Best wishes, Nina.
PS. If this is how you treat your friends... never mind. Thank also for the newly diagnosed migraine headaches. I mean if that was meant to be a "good" thing... never mind. Apples, thanks. Talk later.
In the middle of 2007, around the Larry Debacle season, I ceased all witty banter surrounding the mentions of thanks and just went with
I notice I am not dead today. I really wish I were. Here's hoping I fake you out this time and I really do die.
And finally when my Dad was sent home to die, I stopped talking to God altogether and commenced to simply stare at him as if to say,
You got something to say to me? Any more peas up your sleeve? HEY! I am LOOKING AT YOU.
He, who STILL spends most all day every day getting drunk with my mother and her parents, simply stared back between hands of bridge. Occasionally, he spit in my eye. Hey, it's Jesus spit, so it's not really that gross, right?
(HERE IS THE PART OF THE POST WHERE NIGHTFLY GASPS AUDIBLY AND SAYS, "OH, NINA, NO.. YOU DID NOT SAY THAT." SORRY, 'FLY. I CANNOT PRETEND I HAVE RESPONDED WELL TO ALL THIS MATERIAL FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH.)
This has been my default position regarding heavenly beings, bodies, and matters for quite a while now. Many, many people have come to me and confessed that they were praying for my dad and many have asked me to pray with them and to enter him into novenas and send his name in an envelope to the Pope and who knows what all else. People all over the world, strangers and friends alike, have prayed for my dad. And you know what?
The entire time my dad has been home and polishing up his spiritual perfection for an early, painful, and unmerited demise, I have flatly refused to say a single prayer on his behalf. I am convinced that if I did, he would not only die, but die in a painful and humiliating way and at the same time manage apply a curse to me for the rest of my life for being such an ungrateful and thoughtless daughter. If I prayed for my dad - even two words - that is precisely how it would go down. I know it for a scientific fact, and if you have read this far, so do you.
So me? Pray for my dad's recovery? Cold. Day. In. Hell.
But stare at Jesus as if to say,
You wanna piece-a-me? Eh?
Why, yes. I have stared in unrelenting, stone cold unflinching silent disbelief and horror for six solid months.
I am pleased to announce that in the staring contest between me and Jesus, I am the victor.
My dad's blook work came back last week normal. He is that 1 in 23,332,343,473,234,206,122,662,329 people in recorded history to go into spontaneous remission from recurrent leukemia.
Since prayers of gratitude have always been more natural for me, I write here the very first words I have said to Jesus in six months:
I enjoyed the apple picking trip and the sunset on the orchard, inky black psychotic depression notwithstanding. Regarding recent events, I like your style - even if I don't always care for your choice of frozen vegetables. So thank you for giving me my dad back, even if it's just for a little while. I appreciate the enormity of it. Also thank you. I needed a break that didn't involved a protruding... never mind.
Love always, Nina.
P.S. Showed you, didn't I?
P.P.S. a pony would be nice.
P.P.P.S. Totally kidding about the pony. (Unicorn)?
*Image courtesy of Mr. Fabulous, who said it was ok if I used his clay sculpey of Jesus and canned peas.