Why Atheists Should Care About the Pope

Like many other atheists, I’m sure, I emitted a distinct air of indifference about all this pope selection business. I did think it was wise of the old guy to step down. Popin’ aint easy, ya know. And it is not like I could have had any influence whatsoever over the outcome of that conclave thing. Though I did think the @SistineSeagull thing was hilarious.

But in hindsight I find myself actually caring who becomes the next pope. Not because he is a spiritual leader. Not because he is the first non-European pope in eons. I care about who becomes pope because the man who assumes this position is given a very lofty soapbox. And what he uses that soapbox for can be really scary.

Will he use his soapbox to spread a message of love an tolerance? Will he use his soapbox to spread a message of respect and equality for women? When he dons that big white tiara, will he advocate for the freedom of homosexuals to live their lives as they see fit and experience love without persecution or violence? 

Atheists should care about these things. The pope has a billion faithful (to some degree or other) hanging on his every word. And these Catholic people run our schools, sit in our government (though, thank goodness we got rid of that Santorum craziness), and work on our police forces. A pope that uses his pulpit to bully and demean atheists as confused, contemptuous children who have been duped by Satan is a detriment to us all.

Here’s hoping he uses that soapbox for something constructive.

The Scourge

It wasn’t a good day. Or a good week.

It started with a flu shot.

Waiting in line, I realize my nose is congested. But I think, “Oh, it’s nothing. I don’t get sick.” Then, post inappropriately public strip tease – to remove the pullover sweater and long-sleeve, button-down shirt I wore that day – I start to cough just a little.

Then I start coughing a bit more.

Then, uncontrollably.

And then, I puke. By 3:30 pm: I’ve gotta go home, hurry get the keys, no time to power down, no time to forward the phone, no goodbyes, coughing while driving, I need a doggie bag!, hurry up and unlock the door, pass out on the bed with a fever, delirious, freezing my ass off in my blouse and pullover because I’m a cheap-ass and hadn’t resorted to turning the heat on yet, brrrrr. It wasn’t a good day.

Or a good week. Two days later, I return to work with a head “thing.” I obstinately try to ignore it for weeks. I try drowning it in Dihydrogen monoxide. I try drowning it in beer. I even try downward dogging it away in a steamy, sweaty, hot room. But the perseverant little microbes have me by the proverbial balls. And everyone knows, balls are not good for grabbing.

I lose.

Hard.

On the fourth lost workday, I make the walk of shame into the doctor’s office. I haven’t seen the doctor in over a year. The last time I saw him, he looked like he’d lost at least fifty pounds. His belt cinched up his hanging pants and his shirt hung loose like he was a 1990s street kid who just wasn’t quite getting it right. This time, he is still svelte; but his clothes fit. A crap load of questions for the truant face. Deep breath. Ear poke. Germs. Sinus infection. Antibiotics.

Two days after the obligatory stint of pill popping – reenter the cough. The next day, not a cough; but UNMERCIFUL ATTEMPTS BY MY INDIGNANT LUNGS TO EMANCIPATE THEMSELVES OF THEIR SQUISHY, BROWN PRISON AND STRIKE OUT ON THEIR OWN so violent I pull a muscle in my chest.

A call to the Teladoc. Post-infection syndrome. Lame.

My body is punishing me. She is wicked pissed off about the neglect, mad about the flu shot, about the H2O, about the beer, about the vinyasa. It’s a full on revolt up in this bitch. I hope I win.

African-American Metal Head

I dunno if you know it by now, but I’m Black.

***!!!*** [That is my husband reading this and gasping. And then saying (or texting) to me, “But I thought you were Brazilian!” (Our little inside joke.)]

Yep. Black girl – pretty awesome. What’s even more awesome is the reactions I get when I tell people that my whole freaking body hurts because I spent all day Saturday wading through crowds of thronging metal heads at the Mayhem Festival. Seriously, my legs hurt. My stomach hurts. My arms hurt. I have a massive bruise on my ass and another on my left arm. My voice is so squeaky hoarse it sounds like I’ve been sucking helium for the past two days. And I literally cannot remember the last time I was so dirty. It took two days to get the mud from under my nails. (Wait, there’s still some in there.)

AND IT WAS AWESOME!!!

I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard Slipknot was getting back in the game and even more elated when they where announced as the headliner of Mayhem Fest. (I’ve waited nine years FOR THIS!) When I met my friends at the car, my husband asked what happened to me during the show. I just said, “I don’t know. Slipknot came on. And I just started rocking out.”

The reactions I get from people who aren’t my husband:

  • My friend Mike, as I dragged him to the front of the stage to see Whitechapel: “I love you dude.”
  • Angela as I limped into work today: “I never would have thought you would be into kind of music.”
  • Two guys at work: “[Head shaking.] You young people,” and, “Whoa! REALLY?”

Generally it’s a lot of raised eyebrows and surprised expressions. But if you think about it, what kind of person only likes one kind of music? (A boring one, I say.) So next time one of your Black friends says she is going to a concert, don’t assume you know what kind of music she likes. You just might see her on the other side of a mosh pit.

And seriously, if you missed Mayhem. You are so lame.

Cast Iron Joe Stands No More

Some people aren’t so happy in the Happy Valley today. The statue of Joe Paterno that stood outside Beaver Stadium as a tribute to the  longest serving football coach in history has been removed. Though the statue has been stowed away, the Paterno name still hangs on the school’s central library.

When the light first shown on the crimes of Jerry Sandusky, I was one of the first to accuse Paterno and fellow Penn State management of orchestrating  a cover up. I am not some big name, influential journalist of public official. So my opinion didn’t carry much weight. But I live in a place in Pennsylvania where the fact that I am a Buckeye makes me the sporting enemy of most of my neighbors and friends. Love for the Nittany Lions runs deep where I live. So you can imagine that my open defense of the Penn State administration’s decision to fire Paterno as the right decision was met with intense disagreement. (But no bar fights, I swear!)

Though I knew this was a grand cover up from the beginning (it seems Judge Freeh agrees with me), I was indecisive about whether the statue of Paterno should have remained standing. This could be partially attributed to the fact that I don’t believe I have standing to make that kind of decision – I have no love for the school or the man, though I did enjoy seeing that old guy down on the field when the Buckeyes played them and lamented when he was relegated to the box for health reasons. Even knowing the depth of Paterno’s crimes – and he DID commit a crime, mind you – I was surprised that the decision to remove his likeness came so swiftly.

Paterno did many good things for Penn State University. But it appears those good things are overshadowed by the unconscionable disservice Joe did to all the children Jerry Sandusky went on to abuse after Joe and his coworkers brushed that abuse under the Lion rug. Paterno’s shadow will not stretch across the hallowed grounds of Beaver Stadium anymore.

Be Like a Hawk

I miss the red-tailed hawk that lived in the wooded area behind the building I work in last summer. It was an awesome, inspiring animal. Sometimes I would see it cutting through the air diving into and through the other birds desperately trying to fend this perfect predator away from their precious nests. No amount of panicked squawking could scare that bird away. Other times, it would just soar agains the sky in wide circles bragging of its dominance.

I need hawk’s sense – to see three times better, to hunt three times better. I’d spy with my little eye all those things lurking in the woods below me and go in for the kill at 120 miles per hour. No trick would be safe. Top of the food chain – yes, that’s where I belong.

Friggin’ AWESOMENESS!
I want to be THAT kind of badass.

Succumbing to Modern Advertising

Hook, line and sinker. My husband fell hard for a brilliant spot of in-program advertising today. It’s the new rage in advertising – ads inside the show. Carefully crafted, it sends thirsty gentiles running to the market for tasty drinks to whet their whistle. Crassly done, it is annoying and chintzy – immediately provoking the ominous eye roll.

I’ve seen both the subtle product placement and the cumbersome commercial exchange. It’s (apparently) utterly irresistible when that main character cracks that ice cold Red Bull Cola – no words necessary. But then there was the car ad in a soap opera I saw once – how friggin’ annoying – that neither flowed with the conversation nor provoked in me any desire to shop. Advertisers should capitalize on chances to promote inside the story; but not like that.

Advertising in the modern era must be hard. (Besides trolling social networks for privacy loopholes with which to exploit internet user navigation.) There’s a certain level of finesse to successful ad making that takes creative and artistic skills beyond the reach of most mortals. (Like the Old Spice ads featuring President Camacho (Terry Crews) – HILARIOUSNESS!!!) But somewhere, someone is getting it so right, it’s sending people running round the corner for a pop like a sucker.

Monza sure can fight!

Monza don’t take no shit.

My cat Monza is crazy. We play really rough with her all the time. My husband has an arm full of scars from their rambunctious “play” sessions. If you come over here and play with her, you better be careful. She growls. She hisses. She bites. She scratches with her front legs and back. She is one mean mama.

There is another cat that roams around here. He is extremely large (probably twice her size) and very aggressive. And Monza LOATHES him. He tried to attack her twice early on through the storm door glass. (Idiot.) And Monza nearly put a hole through the window screen trying to attack him one day. (My landlord takes care of that beast, so that went on their tab.)

Monza was outside today, taking in the evening sun. Mean cat came.

Monza yelling.

Monza growling.

Monza scratch, bite, kick.

Monza don’t take no shit.

I don’t know who attacked who. But I found them in the neighbor’s yard, wrestling in the grass. The other cat darted away when I came outside and yelled. Monza hasn’t got any bites or scratches. But she is still pissed and growling so hard she’s snorting. And all she got was a tiny scuff on her toe.

It sucks to break a nail, doesn’t it?