What Happens When You Pray?

So many people ask what happens when we die. Very few ask what happens when we pray. I do not have all of the answers, but I was thinking about my prayer life and I had some thoughts that needed to be verbalized to make them real. I have done it all of my life- before Argo and I ever had our probably million words between us I wrote Diane notes in the back of the class, my first blog entries before I could type. I need all the words I say to be real, or at least as many of them as possible. I don’t keep track of them for you. I go back and read them daily to see if I’m progressing or not.

I mean, I’m glad you enjoy this web site, but the real deal about it is that this blog is my prayer life. I made that connection when Dana and I were talking one day and I said, “one of the reasons that Argo is so sacred to me is that it feels like she gets into my God space. She listens to my thoughts so that when I’m weak and don’t know if God is listening, I know for sure that she is.” Dana looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “go tell her.” I did, and I’ll never forget that moment her reply landed in my inbox. I literally stared at it for an hour, filled with so much love I could barely stand it.

A compliment with so few words and enormous consequences for who I am and will become…….. “I don’t believe in God. But I do believe in you.”

What happens when you pray? Depends on what you’re asking for. If God answers prayers through human interaction, it doesn’t help you in life to isolate in pain. God is in telling people what is causing you to suffer and giving thanks for those who respond to it. I think Jesus would agree with me on this- I don’t think he would ever lessen a chance to widen the net (because the Disciples were fishers of men, GET IT???). The more you open up about your problems, the more access you have to solutions. The more access you have to options. The more right you feel you have not to live in shame.

I was asking God to change my heart by hoping that I could change before I went out into the world. Using this web site to communicate instead of through speaking allowed me to change while still locked in my office. As the responses came in from my posts, I would sit in amazement as the numbers solidly went up at an enormous rate. People’s responses were and continue to be huge, because when I’m willing to lay out what I need, PEOPLE can hear my voice. It is not me that moves them, but a higher calling to be benevolent of themselves.

As my self-worth has increased, so have the things I pray for. I used to pray for strength. Now I pray for humility. I used to run when people asked me what I thought…… now they run because I tell them. ;) When I allowed the people of earth to replace the classic “grandfather-in-the-sky” image of God, it changed the archetype for me so that God is literally one body, and there is no way you aren’t a part of it. You can see it with your eyes. God is the struggle of getting different people to believe different things and yet still achieve a common goal. That common goal, the good that came out of all that struggle, is every resurrection story ever told.

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

-Hymn of Promise, Natalie Sleeth

All My Troubles Seem So Far Away

Yesterday was the greatest day of the year (so far). The one I have waited for returned with kindness, love, grace, and mercy. We are not the same shitty people we used to be, and we are trying to trust each other not to fuck each other up in the future. Trust is a big issue in our relationship, because obviously, I require it. I am about to go into a huge profession. I need someone who can be brutal in their honesty to me, which is why I trust three people, and the rest fight to get in.

She is also an agnostic/atheist, the kind of boundary I need to question my own in terms of faith and how strong it can become against a true friend who has no official tie to theism or church politics in the slightest. It is a marriage of ideas in my mind, and gives me so much food for thought that this is why she is THE friend I’ve waited for my whole life. Someone that holds me accountable to my words and actions in all things, not just the ones that go in the chord that runs between us.

I have a friend in Portland who is a healer. When she looks at people, she can literally SEE the chords as auras and not just sense them. The one that runs between Dana and me is brighter than anything I ever imagined, as is the one to Diane. The one to Argo started as a string and is now a mooring rope, tensile strength enough to hold an oil tanker.

Because as I mentioned in the entry about L-train, it takes scar tissue to create better, stronger healthy tissue in its place. Our scar ripped me open to let Argo in…. to create healthy dynamics where they were once damaged. To, in a sense, marry her in the way that all long-term friends do, and like I’ve been reading about in the books I bought about long-term female friendship. I had to. I don’t have a very strong sense of what it means to be a straight girl’s friend.

I had to look it up.

Making an Agreement with the Universe

My friend L-train (or L-money, or The L____anator, or any number of endearing things I’m thinking that day) has a friend that worked as an editor for one of my favorite magazines of all time. I will not mention which one, but if you know that David Sedaris is in the stable, you’ll get there quickly. He’s a spirit writer/reviewer, so I was talking on L-train’s thread about whiskey and ran across him myself and got to have a bit of a conversation. Whether or not it goes anywhere, I introduced myself to a working writer/editor and felt like we each had something to offer each other. I am comfortable enough in myself to say that I will enjoy his writing and he will enjoy mine, which is a far cry from hoping that someone notices you. It’s not a feeling of dreaming up, but knowing I have the skills to climb there on my own and hope that the world agrees with me.

I told him to read “Home in a Single Sip,” because it weaves wine tasting into communion. I also told him that I didn’t know if he believed in God or not, but it didn’t matter because good writers know good writing regardless. Maybe something will happen with my agreement with myself to contact him personally; maybe not, but you don’t hope for that, because it puts your hope in other people fulfilling your expectations instead of fulfilling them on your own.

I originally asked L-money to pass on the article TO him, but then I realized that was kind of sixth grade of me and messaged him privately with a link to my blog (forgot you could do that without being friends), then messaged L-train to say she didn’t have to be the middle man anymore.

If something is going to happen, it begins with my agreement, not L-train’s or anyone else’s. I put my writing into rareified air. I hope it sticks. It has so far. Why should I be worried from here on out?

I already have a lawyer in my family (wink, wink- nudge, nudge- Know what I mean?)

;-)

Board of Directors

As I have mentioned before, I have a board of directors that help keep me sane. One of them I’ve known since high school, one of them I’ve never physically met, and one of them was on the board in Portland without even knowing it and now watches over me from Alaska. It’s a rolling hierarchy for me, because I have mental health issues and my life goes better when I realize that there is nothing I can do but manage it, and sometimes other people are better judges than I am of my behavior, because I simply cannot see it from the outside like they can. The older I get, having people to which I am accountable is important, because it helps me from falling through the safety net of society by saying and doing things that are so beyond the pale that it alienates people instead of heals them, which is always going to be my intent; being human and fallible prevents me from healing everyone, every time. Sometimes, I’m angry, and even if it’s not your fault, you’re going to think that. I do not have the ability to be objective with the board. They are not my patients or parishioners, and never will be. They are the ones I feel safe in having normal human reactions- in front of people objectively, I cannot let my emotions be a part of “things.” It’s kind of a good attitude to have at any job, because it will stop you from ruminating about petty shit and start to define yourself by what you do for passion instead of money. It’s a Portland attitude that I wear proudly in Houston. When people ask what I do, I rarely if ever tell them what I do for a living, even when I worked at huge corporations. I am a writer, and that’s all you ever need to know about me, because it is not my job but my definition.

It is the board of directors to which I allow surrender in order to make me capable of these ideals, and in my life, I struggle with the pride that comes before the fall. I do not mean that I am weaker than they are. I mean that they are the people that get to see the entire range of who leslie is when it is not appropriate to show it to the whole world, because it affects your confidentiality and not mine alone. Ministering is not blogging, and parishioners aren’t friends. It is a distinct disconnect I will have all my life to ensure clinical separation between my problems and yours. I don’t want to project what I think based on what I’d do if I were you, and I don’t want to ruminate on your problems while I’m trying to have a conversation with my wife and can’t bring myself into the present. I’m sorry. Your problems just cannot be important enough to me that it screws up my marriage, and I think everyone in this profession would agree with that boundary. No one wants to sleep on the sofa.

However, I will take on the problems of the board, because they take on mine. I will comfort them as they comfort me, and with this I hope to live in harmony, but can’t help causing waves occasionally and they can’t, either. We all continue to let our hearts get bigger with acceptance of each other, the wholeness of that person’s being, because it is ice and fire and everything in between, hopefully settling in front of a roaring fire that is constrained only by it’s hearth so that we do not burn.

Fire tempers and makes us stronger. We fight, we have make-up text, we move on, and the scar tissue from that fight heals so that the relationship is stronger and more flexible, not less. Our range of motion has increased, and we are capable of handling dischord [sic].

I didn’t become the full range of humanness until I realized what a gift I’d been given in people who were willing to fight it out with me and come through on the other side stronger than we ever were before. I have a massive disrespect for friends who hear things they don’t like and release their inner eight-year-old and stomp off mad, never to return.

Thanks are necessary for the woman in the story I just linked; she was the one that called me on my bullshit, I apologized, and we moved on to laugh and joke another day. It was taking scar tissue and making a metaphorically elite athlete out of it. L-money, thanks for tempering me. You cannot imagine how much I needed it.

See? Board of directors. They save me when I can’t save myself. Let me know if you create your own. It’s a miracle to me in and of itself.

 

My Shoulder

I had to call in sick to work last night, which should never happen, ever, but these were extenuating circumstances. Both the bursitis and the myofascial tissue in my shoulder/back were inflamed to the point that it hurt to inhale and I was stuck in my office for quite a long time, literally unable to move. I called the doc and she said “all I can really do for it is shoot it.” So off Dana and I went to get me a sub-ac and some trigger point injections. I feel better today, and can inhale without my shoulder spasming. I have the day off today, so I’ll be ready for the weekend. I just need to do some appropriate stretches because when I favor the injury, it pinches off even more. I am in so much pain that tears have come several times…. but it’s welcoming, cooling. I’m not crying because anything is emotionally wrong, it just is what it is. Crying is not a sign of weakness, just an acceptance that I’m in pain and after the injections and Advil, I’m still in pain.

I have taken something, which has restored my ability to complain.

In my family, this conversation has happened approximately 14,0000 times:

McLanemy Kid: My ____ hurts.
Doc: Have you taken anything for it?
McLK: No
Doc: Has it kicked in yet? Well, I guess you can’t get tachyphylaxis from nothing.

Tachyphylaxis is a medical term describing an acute decrease in the response to a drug after its administration, therefore it is like a joke, except jokes are funny. We’ve got a million of ‘em. Welcome to the McLanemy Family, where our motto is “take a dumb joke and run it into the ground. If it’s funny once, it is funny a thousand times.”

First Blood

I cut myself at work on Tuesday, not bad, but enough to get that first cut out of the way. It’s a badge of honor on your own chef’s knife…. with one that the kitchen owns, you’re just a dumbass who cuts themselves. What do you do? Wash it, stick some SuperGlue on it, and keep moving. There is no crying or hurting yourself in cooking. I once burned myself so bad that a plastic spoon fused onto my skin. What did I do? I ripped it off, put some silver sulfidine on my hand, and kept going.

You can learn a lot about life by cooking in a professional kitchen. With mine, sure, but especially on a huge brigade where you’re just one part of the machine. You don’t let people down even when your own house is in flames. Just looking at that sentence makes me sweat, because if you’ve been reading my blog lately, it is trying to learn how not to let people down emotionally when my own house is on fire.

Cooking is life if you pay attention long enough.

You’ll have to get past all our tattoos and piercings, but then you’ll find that we cooks are some of the sweetest, most damaged people on earth…… and by that, I mean that you’ll find people at ages where their life experiences seem impossible. We are all “night people” for a reason, and a lot of it is that we know we don’t work well with others, so we work with each other.

I may have to put up with a few fake dick jokes now and again, but say it one more time, Larry…. one more time. Your sister thinks I’m hot. So does your mom. My MO in the kitchen is to get at least one cook a night to say, “DAMN, man……” And then, my work here is done and I can start breaking down. Bring me those cups, would you?

My Brilliant Mind

Truth time. Thomas Lauderdale once bought fizzy water from me at Laurelwood pub. He was running for a flight, and so he just paid at the register. I said, “Does anyone ever tell you that you look like Thomas Lauderdale?” He just gave me this kind of pained expression and I said quietly, “oh my God! It’s you!” He winked and left.

FB post re: Thomas Lauderdale and possible run for mayor of Portland, Oregon

For this tweet, I was favorited and retweeted (because FB posts can do that now) by both “Best of Portland” and “Today in Portland.” Let’s not tell them I’m not there, shall we? It did not happen today. I worked at Laurelwood E Terminal what seemed like a million years ago. In some ways, I wish I was still there. Both Dana and I got to meet a crapload of famous people and hear about the others….. there being two Laurelwoods and two terminals, we competed. All in all, let’s see… there was Silas Weir Mitchell (Monroe from Grimm), Lauren Potter (Becky from Glee), Garth Brooks, and Silas Weir Mitchell again, because I made Dana go up to him and say, “my wife hits me every time she sees your car.” In the show, he drives a yellow bug (yes, I also punch her during Once Upon a Time). I got a laugh from Monroe. Beat that with a stick.

I am sure that Dana can remember more than I can. I was the prep cook, so most of my work entailed standing in the back of the kitchen and making grab-n-go sandwiches for the cold case out front. I had my own little niche back there, complete with radio. I was known for being the only one in the kitchen that listened to NPR, especially on Saturday mornings. About a month after that, I had my first Christ moment in a restaurant.

We had a mother and daughter team that worked brunch/lunch with us, totally enmeshed like besties and very cute to be near. One day, the daughter came up to me and said that her mother was lamenting on some far away earthquake. The daughter exclaimed “where did you hear THAT?” The mother said, “oh, Leslie has NPR on in the back all day.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “thank you for educating my mother.” I had to excuse myself to the restroom as my allergies were acting up terribly. Tears all over the place. Damn redness.

Pretty sure I walked into a wall on the way out, but that’s how my mind works. Power, grace, and style.