Browsing Archives for Journey to Atheism

 

I went to see David Sedaris with my other best friend – Martha.


This is Martha.

Martha is the person who won the extra ticket that I had because my husband decided to take all four of my kids camping instead of going with me to see David Sedaris.  This little mis-step of his turned out to be extra awesome as I not only got to punish him ruthlessly for abandoning me when we clearly had a date, but he also took all the kids and I had three glorious days of peace!

I didn’t really punish him ruthlessly.  That is a joke.  A joke!  A JOKE!!!!  You know jokey? Me go ha, ha, you go hee, hee, hee?  Jokey, Jokey, ha, ha, ha. Rechelle does jokey jokey and you go laughy laughy? You know this?  This jokey thing?  Lois?  Elena? Ree?  Ree’s fiercely protective readers who think a joke is the picture of a basset hound with a sausage on it’s nose?  

Anyway!  

Martha won the ticket and Martha and I had a fabulous time getting to know each other at the David Sedaris reading.

During which David told this one story that involved a dog biting off the face of a little girl and neither me nor Martha thought it was very funny. We no jokey, jokey. We no go laughy, laughy. We no ha ha. We sit and stare while people all around us laugh their jokey noses off. Me and Martha stare.  Everyone else ha ha. Me and Martha wonder what is wrong with us? Why we no go jokey jokey ha ha when David tells his dog biting little girl’s face off story? But he told a lot of other stories that did make me laugh.  Especially when he read from his journal.  

And then I waited in line for an hour to get an autograph from David.

 

And that is when I took the illicit photos that the signs forbade.  

Because I am a bad ass rule breaker when it comes to some things.

Like books

And authors.

Come walk on the wild side with me.

And Martha – even though she had been forced to swing from a tree that day

On a farm with a scary dog

She was still willing to stand in that line with me.  

For an hour.  

So we stood.  And we talked.  And I got to know Martha better in that hour than I know my own brother.  And I don’t even have a brother. But Martha does!  And she lived in Europe for two years.  And she teaches English as a second language to college students.  And she lives in a great old neighborhood.  And she went to college in Denver.  And one time she went to a show with her dad and when Liza Minnelli began to sing – he stood up and forced her whole family to walk out of the theater.  And Martha told me this because when she was younger, people often said that she looked like Liza Minnelli.  And you know what?  Martha does look like Liza Minnelli.  She also likes clouds in her coffee.  And she was willing to pretend that two of my David Sedaris books were hers so that I would appear less obnoxious, asking David to only sign three books instead of five.  

That is why one of the books reads like this…

 

Because when Martha and I were doing our sneaky, sneaky, jokey, jokey, ha, ha pretend like Rechelle only has three books instead of five – we forgot to ask him to sign them to me!   So he started out by signing it to Martha.  Then after we tried to explain that even though Martha was giving him the books -they were actually mine because we were worried that handing him five books would somehow be breaking the rules because there were clearly camera rules so were there not also possibly book limit rules?  And that’s when David said  the most dear words that one best friend has ever said to another best friend.

“I don’t care how many books you ask me to sign.  I will sign all of them.  It doesn’t matter to me!”

And that is when I knew that even though I didn’t really like the dog biting a little girl’s face story very much – I still loved David.

He drew pictures for all of the books that he signed. That’s Jesus in the above drawing. Yes. David drew a picture of Jesus for me.  David is a very devout… Jesus… drawing… guy.

He asked me what animal I wanted him to draw on the next book and I said, “An elephant.”

Then I remembered that David hates republicans!  I wished I had said something that was the opposite of an elephant.  Like a leprechaun!  Or a titmouse!  Or a unicorn!  Why didn’t I say a UNICORN for Chrissake! 

Then David asked me if I was married.

And I said, ” Yes David….Yes… I will marry you.”

But that is not what David meant.  He meant if I was ALREADY married.  I told him I was and he asked me if I missed my husband when he was gone.

I said, “No David, I don’t”.

This goes back to David not missing Hugh when he is on book tours.

I can’t really explain it to you.

Because it is an inside joke between us two best friends.

Then I pointed at David’s book Me Talk Pretty One Day and I told him that there was a scene in that book that might just be the funniest scene in all of literature.

David said, “Oh?  What’s that?”

I said, “The scene where you explain Christianity to the Muslim woman in broken French… that scene… was so funny.  I laughed so hard…”

David said, “That woman was a bitch.”

“She was?”  I replied.

“Yes.” he said, ” She was an awful bitch.”

So now David and I have inside jokes and we have also have SECRETS!  

Then he asked me how long I had been an atheist.

“What?”

“When did you become an atheist?” he repeated.

“Huh?”

I looked at Martha.

Martha looked back at me.

Martha said that she had told David that I was an atheist.

“Oh!”  I said.  

For a minute I thought that maybe David Sedaris was reading my blog!  

So I said, “Not very long ago”.  

And just FYI  - David seemed perfectly okay with my atheism.  Even though he is a devout Jesus drawing guy.  

And then David handed my books to Martha and we all made plans to vacation together at his house in France.  

And then just a few days ago, I was going through all the books that he signed and I saw this…

 

Somehow I touched his heart.

I touched David Sedaris’s heart.

Me.

I did.

I have no idea how.

I just did.

Isn’t he awesome?!?

_____________________________________________________

I have an extra copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day which is autographed by David.  Unfortunately – it is autographed to me.  That is because Martha and I are both very bad at telling best-selling authors what to do.  So that neither one of us was able to tell David to autograph the book to no one.  So instead he autographed it to me.  But since I am his best friend and also – I touched his heart – it is kind of like you are getting a twofer. Plus, you are getting an original David Sedaris drawing of an angry squirrel.  So it is really a threefer.  Feel free to cross my name out and add your own.  

 

If you would like a chance at this book – just leave a comment.  I will draw a winner randomly on Sunday night. Over-seas readers are welcome to participate. Good luck!

I don’t know if anyone has realized this other than me – but the past few months have been something of a doozy for me. In fact , you could compare this past year to a tumultuous ride on a spine covered zephyr, flying into a crashing storm while throngs of angry bystanders hurl clumps of cold wet pasta into my face.

It’s been a little rough.

The downward spiral really did begin with my visit to PW’s ranch. I hate to point to that trip as the scapegoat for the beginning of the end of me – but it was the beginning of the end of me – so we might as well face it together.  Purely in the interest of self interest, I thought it might be uh…  interesting in a purely selfish way to examine my grisly remains.  So i give you the decroded flesh of one Rechelle, the blogger.  Let’s see what the bones can tell us.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Finding My Viscera Part I – The Pertinent events That Preceded my Visit to PW”s lodge!

PW and I had been e-mailing each other for about a year prior to my visit to her ranch. I bought an ad on her site.  A few months later I wrote a post bemoaning the fact that I never won any of her contests and out of the blue she e-mailed me and offered me a deep deep discount on a second ad on her site.  I snapped that deal up and tried to think of a good thank you gift for her generosity.

At that point on her website PW frequently wrote of her new found love of horses, especially a horse named LB.  She mentioned how as a child she never understood the girls with the horse lunch boxes, horse notebooks, horse trapper keepers and horse t-shirts.  But now suddenly at the age of 39, she did.  So I sat down at a custom t-shirt shop and made Ree her very own horse t-shirt featuring her beloved LB.  Ree e-mailed me to thank me for the shirt but said that her daughter had stolen it from her.  You can see Alex wearing the shirt in this post.

A few months later she put a link up to my site on her sidebar and for this valuable piece of real estate, I ground my brain into ashes trying to think of a way to thank her again.  I finally decided on four custom designed coffee cups with photos of the ranch dogs. I also included a necklace with her four children’s names hammered into it.

You can see her wearing the necklace in several photos on her site. She used one of the coffee cups here. She was very appreciative of these little gifts and I was very happy to send them to her.

After I sent off these gifts, I began to hear from her every once in a while through e-mail.  She always initiated the e-mail conversations and like a labrador retriever slobbering all over itself, I eagerly, promptly and with as much ingratiating wit as I could muster, responded to her.  She told me at one point that she read my blog. I had already begun to wonder if she was reading it for one main reason.  Our words started to match up.  One time I used the phrase ‘gesticulating wildly’ in a post and A few days later PW used the phrase ‘gestating wildly‘.  Now I don’t really know how one ‘gestates wildly’ – but I do understand how to gesticulate wildly.  Still – her word choice made me wonder if she was reading my blog.  This word thing continued.  I would use a somewhat unusual word like obsequious or perfidy or querulous and in a few days the word would show up in one of her posts.  I especially noted the frequency that the words from my now defunct ‘word o’ whenever’ would show up in her ‘word nerd’ quizzes.  At first I thought I was crazy – but it happened enough that I became quite sure that I in fact was crazy – and also that PW was reading my blog.  I mean c’mon!  The dictionary is a pretty BIG BOOK!  How many times can my unusual word choices show up in her posts and word quizzes before I can say she is reading my blog?  I am a word person – I notice this kind of stuff.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Finding My Viscera Part II – The Visit to the Lodge…

So the beginning of my descent into the chasm of endless pain and misery began with a visit to PW’s ranch.  I still don’t really understand why that trip made me so miserable.  I suppose it was a lot of little things that all combined to make me question this thing called blogging and how I felt that it could be very false and often it made me very false.  You can say all sorts of horrible things about me that would be very true – but I am an honest person.  I value authenticity more than anything.  My blog was frequently at odds with my desire for the authentic.  Why?  Because I took my cues from the ‘Queen of Keepin’ it Real’!

To start off  - the directions that she gave us to her ranch were extremely vague.  She didn’t include a phone number to call in case we got lost.  I chalked this up to ‘famous blogger paranoia’ and decided that I probably was far too unworthy to have access to P-Dub’s cell phone.  The CD and I eventually found the lodge using a mixture of ESP, gestalt and by stopping the car every three or four miles and throwing handfuls of dirt into the wind in a effort to let the sky spirit guide us.  What makes this lack of direction even more pathetic is that – PW’s ranch is exactly 200 miles south of me.  I could have gotten on HWY 99 and ended up at her back door in four hours.
View Larger Map

Yet with all the wrong turns we took, it took us six hours to get there.  I tried to call my sister a few times to get directions, but she had left her phone at home.  We finally arrived much later than we had estimated and after stumbling in the door and telling everyone that all my kids were covered in head lice, Ree asked me if I had a baby.

I didn’t have a baby.

I hadn’t had a baby in seven years!

Did I look like I had just had a baby?

Was I all milky?

and puffy?

and pale?

Why would she ask me if I just had a baby?

That really confused me because I was sure she was reading my blog.

Why would she ask me if I had a baby if she was reading my blog?

There was not a baby on my blog!

Here are my theories…

1.  She wasn’t reading my blog and I was milky, pale and puffy.

2.  She was completely cracked out on cocaine.

3.  She was conducting a psychological experiment.

4.  She was messing with me.

5.  She was sending a message.

6.  She was jest joshin’ me.

7. This was not the real Ree Drummond.

8. This was a FAKE Ree Drummond!

9. Was that a fake Ladd Drummond too?

10. How come she thought I had a baby?

It really made me wonder what was going on.  After eating some lasagna, the womenfolk sat in the kitchen and talked homeschooling while the menfolk gathered round the TV.  I feigned interest in the conversation, but as I am not a homeschooler nor have I ever been one – relying entirely on professionally trained individuals at the local free public schools to give my children a sound education I kind of wondered what I was doing in this group.  I knew all the people assembled (my sister because she is my sister, Jenni because I had been reading her blog for years and of course Ree.) yet Ree knew very little about us which was also a little strange as our entire lives were easily accessible ON OUR BLOGS!  I don’t think she needed to read every post – but brushing up on the basics about her weekend guests would have been an obvious choice for most bloggers who were hosting other bloggers.  She was willing to admit that she knew that my husband was a doctor and that we had only male children, but she was fuzzy on the number of kids I had and claimed to think that one of them was a baby.  We of course, knew everything about Ree.  I guess I had this crazy idea in my head that we were going to meet as equals. Four Midwest bloggers – one of them very famous – but still –  all of us sharing the same viral internet addiction.  And yet it slowly became clear to me that it was actually going to be a very different weekend.  One in which three of us venerated the fourth.

We sat around and drank wine and venerated the fourth.

We rode horses and venerated the fourth.

We ate dinner and venerated the fourth.

I kind of have a hard time venerating the fourth.  I am not prone to veneration.  Veneration is not in my nature –  unless maybe it is David Sedaris or… well let’s just stick with David Sedaris.  I am much more likely to point out reasons why the veneration is ludicrous and to poke holes in the theories behind the veneration.

In order to try and bring things back down to earth I got my sister to tell the ‘fuckus story’ which is an absolutely hilarious tale involving a non-native English speaker with a thick accent mis-pronouncing the word ‘focus’.  In meetings, this non-native English speaking man would try to get the group to come together and move forward by saying….

“We just need to fuckus everyone!”

“Please!  Everyone!  If we could just fuckus!”

“Fuckus people.  Please fuckus!”

But no one was able to focus.

Because a man in the room kept saying ‘fuckus’ over and over again.

After April finished the story, Ree said ‘fuckus’ a few times.

Everyone grew silent.

Did Pioneer Woman seriously just say FUCKUS?!?

What was she going to do next?

Light up a JOINT?

We all held our breaths!

We were about to find out who this Ree Drummond person really was!

And then she said…

She said…

SHE SAID!!!!!

“Help Me Rhonda”

She actually said, “Help Me Rhonda.”

Just like Pioneer Woman always says!

Except that we all knew that Pioneer Woman was just a character!

And no one really says, “Help me Rhonda.”

Because that is just stupid!

But she said it.

She really did.

It felt like product placement.

Were we being secretly filmed?

Where were the hidden cameras?

The microphones?

Was any of this real?

Almost immediately I understood that we were probably not going to meet the real Ree Drummond.  We were only going to meet Pioneer Woman.  It was like meeting a politician.  We were only allowed to see things that matched up with her persona.  Once I realized that this was not a visit to deepen an existing relationship or to establish a new friendship – I started to feel like I was being used.  My job was to go home and write glowing reports on the incredible awesomeness of Pioneer Woman. I felt like a pawn in the PW game of internet chess.  Her quest to rule the world wide web involved using people like me to spread the gospel of P-dub, to counter the negativity and to override anyone who dared to paint a picture that was not the image PW was trying to create.  All it cost her was a steak dinner and an infestation of head lice.  It cost me a lot more.

A lot more.

Because I had to agree to participate in it.

And guess what.

I did.

The next day we poked some cows and then went back to the lodge for the worlds tiniest breakfast.  Ree scrambled six eggs (for eight adults) and I fried two packages of bacon.  We divided the small mass of scrambled eggs into eight tiny piles and arm wrassled each other for a spoonful.  We ate the bacon and wondered how long til lunch? Ree left (probably  to go home and eat a big bowl of cereal) and she came back in a little while with a huge video camera.  She turned it on us and started asking us about our political views.

Suddenly the visit changed from a celebrity veneration weekend to a surprise audition weekend. I felt very uncomfortable talking politics on camera with Ree Drummond.  I had no idea what she was going to do with the film and I didn’t want to say something that would cause me to lose readers because back then – blogging was a numbers game for me.  So I didn’t say much.  Everyone else clammed up too.  No one was particularly interested in being filmed talking about politics at PW’s lodge.

Ree tried to draw us out.  She brought up Sarah Palin.  At the time Sarah Palin was new to the presidential race and I was interested in her simply because she was a female politician.  I didn’t know much about her and felt that the image that the press was building by using unflattering sound bytes was somewhat manipulative.  I didn’t think it was fair to label her as ‘stupid’ as there are lots of politicians who are not exactly Rhodes scholars.  So for me – the jury on Sarah Palin was still out.  I said that I felt the press was manipulating her image.  These days I regard Palin as a complete idiot – but back then I was undecided.

Ree went on to ask us what we thought about ‘Momversations’.  I said that I thought they were awful.  Who cares about the opinions of Heather Armstrong and her chummy internet clique?   My brain turned to lead whenever I watched them.  But then I hesitated and admitted that I felt differently when I watched Heather speak. I remember saying something like,” I think ‘Dooce’ is a very hard  blog to read.  She is so angry.  I don’t get all that anger.  But whenever I hear Heather speak, I find her very appealing. She seems very real to me.  I think I would like her if I knew her….”

These days – I totally get Heather’s anger.

TOTALLY!

After that – I don’t remember saying much at all.

Besides – my ‘fuckus’ for the weekend was to find a connection – a visceral connection with Ree Drummond.  I had great hopes that we would become real friends and not just vague internet friends.  I kept trying to find a latching mechanism that would connect me to this famous blogger.  Something that would make me feel like I belonged in her rarefied world of blogging awards, best selling cookbooks and interviews on The View.

But there was nothing there.

We did not click.

We did not mesh.

We did not find each other’s viscera.

I kept attempting to draw out the person that lives inside of the Pioneer Woman.

The wizard behind the curtain.

I kept searching for the ‘real Ree Drummond.”

And I think I saw her peek out a few times.

At one point she mentioned a post that she wanted to write about Annie Leibovitz.  She had a photography book of Annie’s that she wanted to feature but felt unsure about how her readers would respond as the book featured photos of death and nudity.  And then there is the whole issue of the relationship between Annie and Susan Sontag which might not sit well the Christian homeschooling crowd.  We all encouraged Ree to write the post.  She did.  But I think it is telling when a blogger hesitates to write about a book.  A book!  A BOOK!  For Chrissakes Ree!  That is really messed up!

At dinner on the last night, I said, “And then there was this one time when I said that Pioneer Woman didn’t exist.

I was referring to one of several thinly veiled criticisms I had written about PW’s blog over time.  Even though Ree pretended to think that I had a baby, I knew that she read my blog.  I knew it.  And I felt bad about some of the things that I had written about her and wanted to clear the air.  Ree and Ladd just looked at me. The same way that I had looked at Ree when she said, “Help me Rhonda.”  I was just trying to move this last evening’s conversation towards something a little more interesting.  Something designed to break down the facade that we were all so gallantly holding up.  But the Drummonds did not want to go there.  Sensing their displeasure, I backed down.

“Well – I never thought for a minute that you would read my blog!”  I said.  ”Who thinks that the Pioneer Woman is going to actually READ their blog!”

And then to further bury my thorny contention under a pile of deep dark bullshit I said, “It’s a bit like Angelina Jolie reading your blog! It’s not something you ever think is going to happen!”

Ree was very happy to be compared to Angelina Jolie and she nodded and smiled and said something like  - “Well… if you are going to compare me to Angelina Jolie..!”  Ladd remained coiled.  I decided to stay away from him for the rest of the night.

The next morning when I left the lodge I heard the door to the internet slam behind me.

I was never going to attain the lofty heights of the PW blog.

I was not even going to reach the foot hills.

No matter how hard I worked, how diligently I posted or how funny I could write – my little blog was never going to rise out of obscurity.

I lacked the finances, the time, the desire to photoshop my life to glossy perfection and the ability to portray myself as a balloon headed caricature that smelled of money.  I was also uncomfortable with manipulating my audience with reasons to come back again later in the day… and then again and again and again.  And I also couldn’t write my own comments to set a positive tone and to make my blog appear more populated than it actually was.  Not that PW EVER DOES THAT!

She is far too busy keepin’ it real.

I went to the bookstore after work today, to purchase a few new atheist books that people have been recommending to me.   I felt like I had to do something to counter the fact that three of my kids are at a Christian camp this week.  Yes.  They are in the wrapped up in the arms of Jesus.  Their grandmother (my mom) runs the camp.  I had to choose between allowing my children to be indoctrinated into the Christian myth for one week or breaking my mom’s heart.  I chose indoctrination.  I think that during the 51 other weeks of the year that my kids are under my influence, I can counteract any brainwashing they were subjected to during camp.

As I was walking around the bookstore to find my books, I do what I always do when I walk around bookstores these days.  I hide all The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbooks.  It’s just a uncontrollable urge.  Resistance is futile.  I can’t help myself.  If anyone really needs one of her books and can’t find one, you might try looking behind the huge Sports Illustrated College Football book as well as on the bottom shelf of the science section by the Field Guide to North American Birds.  I always feel very noble after I hide her books.  Like I have saved someone’s life.

After that, I found my atheist books.  I bought Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, The Quotable Atheist by Jack Huberman, and also Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer, which is not an atheist book, but an inside look at the religious right told by the son of two famous conservative American evangelists.  I don’t think the son ends up losing his faith entirely, but the book looked interesting anyway.

Mission accomplished, lives saved, I made my way to the checkout.

And that is when I SAW HER!

Ree Drummond was on the FUCKING TELEVISION SCREEN RIGHT OVER MY HEAD!

She was baking a cake!  The same cake that she attempted to make while we were visiting the lodge.  A cake that she claimed on the video that she had made so many times, she didn’t even need the recipe anymore.  But when I was at the lodge, she screwed the cake up and threw it in the trash.  Clearly she still needs the recipe!  Clearly I am suffering from some kind of psychotic delusion!  But I was not hallucinating!  She was really there!  It was like she was HAUNTING ME!  She was making that cake in one of those long tunic things she is always wearing and it was long and white and glowy and HOLY HELL!  SHE WAS HAUNTING ME!  Then she said that her daughters could make the cake from memory too. She followed that up by saying that for Mother’s day she wished her girls would do the laundry for her.  So I guess her daughters cook, clean, AND work cattle?  What do her sons do?  Play with Barbie dolls?  What the hell is going on in that house?  It just really hacked me off.

First of all, she is haunting me.

Secondly, she made a big deal about all the butter that she was putting in the cake.  Because Ree Drummond can’t go for more than twelve seconds on camera without saying the word, ‘butter’.

LIKE AMERICA ISN’T ALREADY GROSSLY OBESE REE!

Then she pointedly assigned the cooking and the cleaning to her daughters as if they were the only children she had.

It just made me sick.

What is wrong with us AMERICA?

Why do we choose the worst of people to be our role models?

She’s so empty, dumb and pointless.  It’s like listening to a robot talk.

A Reebot.

I wish Eugenie Scott had married Ladd Drummond.

And then decided to homeschool her four kids.

And write a blog about living on a ranch.

Now that would be a blog worth reading!

And a woman actually worthy of following.


World’s stupidest book promo ever…

She gets her inspiration from THE PRAIRIE?
Inspiration for WHAT?
Is that where she discovered photoshop?
And designer cookware?
The video makes it seem like both her mom and her mother in law are dead with the melancholy photo flashback and the phrase, “She WAS a really good cook”.
What the hell is a ‘cube’ of butter?
“I’m teaching them important things in life, I figure.”
Yeah you are Ree – cooking and laundry… very important. Make sure that only your girls learn it. Never your boys. They will have wives to take care of them.