The Blog of James – chapter 28 – verse 1

BEHOLD – the illiterate Phoenix rises from his modestly adventurous ashes! What monumentous, life changing, death defying event could have awakened his blogging hibernation while simultaneously compelling him towards 3rd person prose? How about our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Big enough reason for you heathens? Now that you are not at all squirming uncomfortably with the direction of this blog – let us bow our heads and begin.

Bla bla bla, a string of events occurred a little more bla took place and for the last 2 years I’ve been living in Los Angeles – the urban equivalent of a slutty 36 year old. Still attractive, you’ve got a chance at a wild time, but if you linger inside too long you’re going to catch something. That something, LA’s metaphoric herpes so to speak, is a completely vapid set of ideals, and a moron’s vocabulary. Also… literal herpes. People get around in this town.

But me, I’m immune of course. Only the gays are transformed by LA right? A straight white male with good old Virginia morals can’t contract this town’s sickness. How naïve I was.

2 months into my tour here I described a movie screener as ‘dope’ and a kale salad as ‘my jam’. The first 2 red bumps. You tell yourself it’s just a rug burn, or some irritation after that bike ride… but you’re still Usain Bolting to the clinic to get your junk examined. Praying to hear those blessed words “Mr. Calabrese, your dick is fine”.

I needed to do something about the metaphoric L.A. herpes I was showing early signs of (to be clear for those with James-esk reading comprehension – herpes is serving as a metaphor. I do not have herpes). More bla bla bla I decide that attending vespers at a Catholic church is the shot of penicillin I need to clear up the self absorbed infection I’m exposed to in L.A. By the way, ‘Vespers’ is Latin for “why the fuck are you going to church on a Tuesday night you dweeb?”

Turns out there are barrels of dweebs here. Sunday mornings alone are not enough to instill the soul crushing/saving guilt the young Catholics of Santa Monica apparently need to soldier on through their sun-kissed lives. I guess you lose sight of the righteous path when you’re perpetually long boarding past jaw dropping sunsets in designer beanies.

Asides:

  1.  What the freak is with the year round floppy beany? Did everyone but me suddenly decide they wanted to be as douchey and overheated as possible?
  2.  If something amazing is “jaw dropping” then something absolutely unbelievable should be called “pants dropping”. Imagine it – a sunset so spectacular that you immediately drop trou embracing an animalistic instinct to put the fewest possible barriers between it and your genitalia.
  3. If my blog posts became an album then my ‘asides’ would be the ‘b-sides’.

Anyways, it’s 7:30 on a Tuesday night and I’m sitting in a polite circle with 60 other twenty somethings. Quietly wondering if it was a lifetime of good decisions or a quick flurry of bad ones that brought me to this moment. Instead of actually challenging myself with this existential crisis I land on an eye roll and muttering ‘whatever’ as a suitable answer. Like a community theater student at my second improv class I’ve learned that I just have to go with whatever scene unfolds. I know full well that the scene is going to suck, but hell, the alternative to this ‘tear it down’ creative exercise would have been another night alone on the internet with my roommate’s obese asthmatic cat Rose by my side. 

B-sides:

  1. A Rose by any other name would be just as fat
  2. I sadly no longer live with Rose. I actually wrote this story 1.5 years ago, so a lot has changed. Actually, little has changed seeing that I wrote this 18 months ago so that means I’m still lazy as fuck, I’m still not doing anything on a Saturday night, and have my new neighbors obese husky at my feet right now to replace Rose.

Vespers get’s under way and I’m primed for some young adult discussion with steady streams of spirituality I can comfortably ignore when they get too dogmatic. But I forgot… this is a Catholic church. An institution not exactly famous for it’s open dialog, but one that leans more heavily towards a “shut the fuck up and memorize this shit – get them while their young – by ‘get’ we mean brainwash – by ‘get’ we mean sodomize – don’t talk unless you are telling us your secrets – push the stylistic boundaries of hats – are you guilty yet – love each other – hate gays – minimize women – god is love – god reserves the right to burn you forever – no it’s not magic – no it’s not science – sit – kneel – stand – sit – sit – sit longer – our new Pope is refreshingly not a dick – spare any change?” mentality.

So no – I obviously did not get the young adult discussion and potential friendships I was looking for. What I did get was trinity of hilariously Catholic experiences.

Firstly, the Vespers was 1.5 hours of getting talked at by a priest. That’s bold even by Catholic standards. We’re all young people volunteering to come to Church on Tuesday, and you have the balls to just jabber at us. How fucking un-creative too. Who’s the marketing genius that came up with this one? The dialog must have been something like this:

Concerned Parishioner : “Father, our Church is losing young people. It feels like we are lagging behind global social shifts, and our lazy assertions that God exists because there are forces we can’t explain has led to an ever diminishing view of His presence since that blasted ‘science’ is endless in its expansion of man’s knowledge of the universe”

Marketing Wiz Father : “Just have the kids do the same shit we do on Sunday, but on Tuesday… and in a circle”

Everyone : “Brilliant!”

Secondly, is this gem : the father is hitting his stride around minute 38. He’s explaining how he was a 14 year old kid who absolutely hated the church for numerous legitimate reasons. He’s really done well to humanize himself thus far, and in this moment I’m intrigued to hear about how he transitioned from this point in his life back towards faith. You know how he did? How he made the shift from literally punching holes through car windows when his mom made him go to church to being an ordained father? Here’s how – he saw the Pope from 15 yards away… once. I’m not making this shit up. At that moment he was, and I quote, “so overwhelmed with the presence of God” that he “broke down crying”. How spectacularly Catholic is that?!? The answer to all of our most profound and deep questions is the Pope. No more questions. Pope says everything is A-Okay!

There are 59 kids in a circle leaning in further than Sheryl Sandberg soaking this into their marrow. While 1 underground Episcopalian sits dressed to impress and desperately fighting back laughter.

Thirdly, everyone goes to a bar after Vespers. That pretty Catholic and pretty cool. +1 for Catholics there.

Amen.

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