From Eden to Heathen

Hi. My name is Shari and I’m a heathen.

After approximately 25 years “in the church” I threw in the towel.

Called it quits.

Shouted “hasta la vista, baby!” while making the devil horn sign as I walked down the pews mid-sermon on a Sabbath morning.

Ok, the last part isn’t true, but maybe I should’ve done it for the heck of it. Because my quiet departure has yielded more or less the same response.

Ok, maybe that’s not altogether true either.

See, I’m a liar: heathen to the core.

Honestly though, my departure hasn’t really been met with any extreme or adverse reactions from my former congregants. And I think this is simply because they just don’t know that I’m gone. Like, gone gone. To the dark side. They know that I’ve moved across the island and probably that I’m separated from my husband. But, I don’t think they really know.

A few of my close friends are aware, my mother (who is hiding her devastation remarkably well), and maybe the odd church friend who noticed my tattoos when I visited church a while back. Yeah, tattoos are explicit heathen marks. I think my closest friends, who are happy in their walk with The Lord, probably took it the hardest. I guess it’s hard to understand how after 25 years in the faith and all that God has brought me through, I could just turn my back on him and leave. Well, let me tell you how/why I did it.

I don’t know when it started, (it being the decline of my faith) but it definitely was during a period of depression, when I began to question everything in my life. I felt like a stranger to myself and I just wasn’t happy. Nothing had meaning or purpose and church was high on the list of pointlessly rote functions. White Jesus just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. He wasn’t making me happy; he wasn’t bringing me the fulfillment I longed for; he wasn’t saving my marriage; he wasn’t making me a multimillionaire by sitting on the couch every day.

So, unintentionally, the quitting of my marriage coincided with my quitting of the church. And I have NEVER felt happier in my life!!! I don’t ask anyone to keep me through the night or wake me up in the mornings, and unbelievably I’ve made it through the last two years. I haven’t asked anyone to bless my meal before eating it and I can’t say I’ve experienced any supernatural food poisoning thus far. I must admit though that I’ve had to beseech somebody on occasion (God, I guess) when taking public transportation. But it’s Jamaica. Supernatural powers are needed on the roads.

I go to work on Saturdays and I don’t feel guilty about “breaking the Sabbath”. I eat the dreaded PORK, much to my mother’s dismay. I have tattoos and piercings to come. I haven’t intentionally been to church or “fellowshipped with the brethren” in two years. I have fully embraced the hedonistic life. Heck, I even accept that LGBTQ persons are actual persons who deserve respect and love!**  But most importantly, at the end of each day, I am happy. I don’t feel the need to believe in anything or anyone, or try to make it to some distant land in the clouds. I believe that my choices, and not my faith, are responsible for the outcome of my life. I am certain of this life and will live it to the fullest. YOLO.

So, do I still believe in God? Religion?

No, and no. This is Westworld and none of us are real.

Really though. My view on God and Religion is simple: if it makes you happy, by all means go ahead with it. Just don’t be killing folks. That’s not cool. I could, but I’d rather not get into the whole diatribe against organized Religion and Christianity and what it meant for my slave ancestors, and all the evils that were done in it’s name. That’s for another time and another post.

I will admit though, sometimes I can’t help but believe in a Creator when I look into the eyes of a beautiful innocent child, or see the majesty of a sunset from above the clouds. Or eat pizza. Because some higher power obviously created man with the capacity to create pizza and that Great Being deserves recognition!

All the other times, I simply don’t care.

I don’t know if we are here on this Earth for a purpose or just as an experiment.

I do know that we (humans) are downright terrible but equally as great, Religion or nah.

And I am OK with that.

 

 

** This is not to say that Christians in general don’t share this view, but I know A LOT of them who don’t!**

 

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Healing

I have good news, bad news and news that need not be labelled.

This is how you want need it, so this is how I’ll break it to you:

The Bad News

Love sucks. Love hurts. Love will reduce you to shreds of your former self.

The Good News

You. Will. Get. Over. It

Eventually.

The News (that need not be labelled)

It is a long and painful process. But it is worthwhile. The heart will mend itself, if you allow it.

Healing…can never be sped up…can never be rushed. It’s a ‘PROCESS’ that has to be allowed to continue on its own, with no impatient interruptions. At the beginning time seems to stand still, fueled by thoughts of avoidance and denial, but recovery gradually increases as soon as we learn one thing: ‘ACCEPTANCE’. Just as the hand holds the needle and sews the heart, we should also learn to Trust the process, accept things for the way they are, and Believe that soon, those loose ends, will all come together.                                                   IG @leo_cor84

 

 

 

Musings: On the treachery and torture of music

I love music.

I hate how it captures the totality of a moment (forever)

the depth, the smell, the feel.

More so the terrible than the great.

Four minutes become a deceptively ruinous echo

Prying open old chests

Blowing the dust of times past into your nostrils

Suffocating you on a phantom pain that you can only recall

not relive.

It hurts to remember how much a time hurt,

And that the burden of the pain has already passed.

So you are left with an unbearable lightness

of being.

Tortured to tearlessness.

I love music.

How to Build a Tree House

Step 1: Find a reason

15 years ago, I had an awesome reason to build a tree house. My best friends and I had recently created a Best Friends Club and we thought it befitting of our elite group to have a place of our own. When our first two club house options proved to be too great a construction task, we defaulted to a tree house. Because come on, how hard could it possibly be to build a tree house?

Step 2: Find a tree

A tree house requires a good tree for a base. A good tree will have a wide and sturdy trunk, strong and low enough branches, and will be located at a central spot on good, flat terrain. Our tree was none of the above. We chose a skinny lime tree with a thorny trunk and branches, on a rocky slope in my best friend’s backyard.

Step 3: Gather building material

Lumber is ideal. However, when the University woodshop has a scrap pile, the pieces found there will make do. Lots of nails will be necessary, or handy at the very least, especially when found in an office undergoing construction at the University. Depending on your location and the scope of your project, zinc could also come in handy. If said zinc is already being used as a shack for a farmer down the street, simply run at full speed and kick down said shack. If the pieces of zinc are much bigger than you anticipated, grab the farmer’s crate and run away from the scene.

Step 4: Be flexible where building plans are concerned

It could prove quite difficult to actually get up into the tree, so be prepared to build the tree house beneath the tree. The trunk can be used as a central column, and the space between the trunk and the lowest branch makes for an ideal kitchen window.

Step 5: Build!

On the off chance that your building plans change and the foundation of your tree house is a gravelly slope, a paved floor is the first order of the day. In the absence of actual cement, marl and stones will substitute poorly. In any case, mix marl, stones, dirt, sticks (and anything the shovel picks up) in an old wheelbarrow with a gaping hole in the center. Pave floor as best as possible and leave to dry. Next is the wall. Nail one single piece of board to the trunk. If there is additional lumber, another wall (or 3) would be strongly recommended.

Step 6: Decorate and add finishing touches

Take a single pane of glass from your own kitchen window, without your Mother’s permission. Also take one kitchen towel to use as a curtain. Wedge the pane of glass between the trunk and the lowest branch and nail the kitchen curtain across. Step back and admire the handiwork, then go home because it’s been a long day and your parents will not appreciate you getting home after dark.

Step 7: Treasure the memories

About a week after we built our tree house, it was destroyed in a hurricane. It could also have been a very strong thunderstorm that completely unhinged our wall. In any case, our window stood firm. We didn’t have much time with our tree house, but it was a magnificently fun adventure and we will forever treasure the memories.

 

 

 

 

 

Living with Catapedaphobia

My name is Shari Kelly and I’m a catapedaphobe. In other words, I cannot and will not jump from any height that I think could result in me harming or killing myself. I am a legit black person. This tremendous self-discovery … Continue reading

Diary of a Chikungunya Patient

Day 1

I am woozy and light-headed. My left foot hurts and my chest has a weird ache. Thank God it’s not my ankle because that would definitely mean chik-v. I am now so cold. My pajamas, hoodie, sheet, and blanket are not making this any better. Is this headache for real, though? Crap. I should have blended those now dry and wilted papaya leaves like my husband had suggested.

Mother of God, I am at Death’s door. Or maybe his verandah. Who cares, I’m in his neighbourhood. There are fireworks behind my eyes and lava where my brain should be. My entire body is sprained.  Warm tears now run down my cheek and I am having the opposite of a full body massage.

Day 2

I am constantly being transported between a live volcano and Antarctica. Mortals call it the chills. I am so hot, Frodo would take the ring to be destroyed on my forehead. More papaya leaf juice. Or extract. It’s so bitter it would make Hitler cringe. At this point I would swallow a snail if it would make me better. Painkillers are as effective as Sweetarts.

My geriatric limbs cannot take me to the bathroom in less than a minute. My bladder has forgotten how to bladder. Everything tastes weird. Is this soup or thick water? Surely I will feel better tomorrow.

Day 3

Headache has receded to the back of my skull and the rest of the pains follow suit. I can shower on my own. I can walk to the kitchen. Too bad I’m out of water; my lip is cracked and chapped. Thank God I don’t have ebola. This is the worst lettuce I’ve ever tasted.

Day 4

I feel good. I will sweep and clean up this messy place. Right after I make some pineapple-cherry juice and go buy some sugar. Wait, where the heck is this headache coming from again? Didn’t I just get 5 minutes of valuable sunshine and fresh air? Am I not cured of this pestilence?

Ugh, the little beans behind my ears, in my pits, and you know, there, now hurt. Why do I feel so itchy? Ugh.

Day 5

Mother of God. My beans are killing me! I am 95 again and tastefully dotted with red splotches everywhere. My face is shedding disgracefully and itching forcefully. What. The. Actual. Heck. Welcome back fever, you were missed. Truly.

James Vincent McMorrow is transporting me to another world. I see Chinese ladies playing banjos in a field. I need him to sing the soundtrack to my life. And sing it live at my funeral. Because surely I am laying in Death’s own soft, spongy, double bed.

Day 6

I am still here. And James is still with me. My beans are smaller but still very tender. My taste buds are working now and I have a reservoir of water. My lips are still extremely chapped.

Surely this virus was created by the US as a means of biological warfare. I am itching to scratch myself. Maybe I should create a human grater? No. Better I make bed angels. Think snow angels. Ah, it works.

Crazy thought: aren’t bodies just so weird? It’s like, it’s a person but when the person dies, it’s just a thing because the person is so much more: a personality, a host of special memories and moments. But what is one without the other? I don’t know. I’m probably high on Histal right now. My baby is gonna be so cute.

Country Chronicles : Miss Vi’s House

Indeed, it’s been a minute since I last posted. What with all the driving, eating, sleeping and nothing I’ve been doing lately, I’m sure you all can understand. Anyhow, I’ve always considered writing a memoir, because let’s face it, my life is pretty awesome. Ok, maybe not that awesome, but it ain’t half bad and I think my childhood was pretty fun. This post, which is actually the first thing I’ve written, will be an excerpt from it. The memoir will be entitled Country Girl and it will serve to highlight the irony of me growing up in “country” and not actually being a “country girl”. Or something like that. Can’t wait to actually get beyond the Table of Contents. Haha.

I spent a summer holiday at Miss Vi’s house when I was about six or seven years old. Actually, I think I spent two separate holidays there, but the memories are all jumbled together, so let’s just put them into one account. Miss Vi (short for Violet) was Fay’s mother. Fay was one of my favourite boarders. I suppose one summer Fay proposed to my mother that Mel and I come spend a few weeks at her mother’s house in Porus. Though I can’t actually remember, I’m sure I made a great case for the vacation as my summers (and holidays in general) in Mandeville were pretty hum drum. And so my Mother agreed, and even sewed matching nighties for Mel and I. We were beyond excited.

Miss Vi’s house was one of the smaller, more traditional old-time Jamaican country homes. I can’t remember much about the actual structure, but I sure do remember the red veranda that was forbidden territory after it was polished. The yard was huge, open and dusty. There was an enormous guinep tree in the driveway heading toward the house. I once climbed that tree and remained in it for a much longer time than I’d anticipated, simply because a huge stray cow came to sit beneath it. At that age I had already accepted cows to be my mortal enemies because of one encounter I’d had one morning on my way to Kindergarten. That’s another story though. Eventually, after shouting, crying  (probably moo-ing as well) and throwing several green guineps at its huge black back, the cow left, probably annoyed or just moving on to its destination. To the right side of the house (directly outside of the bedroom window) there were about 3 graves beneath a grapefruit tree. In the daytime those graves were prime play area, but at night, my extremely active imagination fabricated such an immense fear of the duppies that dwelled within them, that I’m sure I never slept for the entire holiday.

As fun as the front of the yard was, nothing could compare to the back. There were chickens and roosters everywhere. It was at this house that I realized what shady creatures chickens (and birds in general) really are. One day, after a lighthearted game of chase the chicks, the mother chicken apparently thought I was going to kill her babies or something and swiftly proceeded with a traumatizing affair of chase the kid. I was not amused. Since then, I have learned to avoid chickens and all other similar clucking/quacking/squawking birds. In addition to the chickens, there were goats (who were pretty chill) and pigs. Actually, they were more like hogs; those things were huge! As stinky and dirty as they were, I took a liking to the pink and gray-patched swine. Mostly because I was amazed that they ate everything. And at such a great speed. It’s like they were just never satisfied! I was always happy to volunteer to feed them each morning after breakfast. In addition to their huge bucket of leftovers and random stuff, I would stay a bit longer to feed them anything I could find because they would grunt so hungrily and look at me with their tiny piggy eyes.  They seemed to especially like the little red, bean-looking things that grew in abundance at the back of the house and I would pick as many as I could, sometimes the entire stalk at a time, and happily watch them chomp it down. It was only after Miss Vi confronted me one afternoon saying “I have a bone to pick with you” that I realized that those red, bean-looking things were actually coffee. I also thought that she actually had a bone that she wanted me to help her “pick”.

The fun at Miss Vi’s house was made even more awesome because of her neighbour’s two children. And by neighbor I mean someone who lived on the same property, just farther back. Let’s say the children were called Raymond and Trina, because in all honesty, I have no idea what their names really were. For a week, Mel and I went to Vacation Bible School with Raymond and Trina. That was my first time experiencing VBS and also my first time at a church of a different denomination: a Sunday church. Those five or six days were some of the best days of my life. I made friends with everyone; all twenty of them. I quickly became recognized as the “brains” of the VBS, which was evident in my ability to quickly and correctly memorize all the memory verses. I was however, not as great when it came on to the games department. I had never before witnessed such agility and acrobatics in the game of “sightings”. This is a game where everybody stands in the middle and two others will throw a ball (made of squished juice boxes, stones, and anything else we felt like stuffing it with) and try to hit those in the middle. To avoid getting hit and being out of the game, we’d have to “sight” the ball. I guess it’s the Jamaican version of Dodgeball. (Wow, that connection never actually occurred to me before!) Now, I was used to my little Prep. School version of the game, where nobody really intended to hurt you and where we just didn’t really take it seriously. But not these kids. This was as serious a sport as “stuck-an-freeze” (tag) or marbles. Fortunately for me, Trina showed me the ropes, because she was like the Serena Williams of sightings, and in a few days I was jumping, splitting and ducking like the best of them. I also learned some new ring games that blew my little mind and changed my childhood forever. Of course, I took this wealth of experience back to school with me and play time was never the same again.