Chapter IV: God
It is 1997. It is Florida.
Sorry that's a super depressing way to start a chapter, but it's important we get through the meat of the darkness so we can start laughing soon.
I am enrolled in the first of nine schools that I will attend before moving out of the state of Florida. This one I think was called something to the effect of
"The Academy of Indoctrination Into Ignorance" something like that.
It was a Christian school, like all that I attended while living in Florida, and it was not a pleasant place for a child like myself.
My relationship with God had been complicated up to that point to say the least. I came from a mixed background with one self hating Jewish parent and the other was a once rebellious Baptist preacher's boy. Neither of them enjoyed any sort of theological services during the 90s and now that my life had evolved to the point where I was going to school with cheerleaders for Christ it was clear this was uncomfortable for my entire family. We were faking it so we could make it.
Every morning we'd begin our days with reading scripture and praying. Our pastor Dr. Dipshitticus would require us to play bible verse games where he'd shout out a verse and whoever found it first won. What did you win? Praise, approval and acceptance.
Guess who never won?
Yup. Apparently even then, my needs for approval and adoration could not be satiated by people who I could clearly see were arrogant. Rarely would I even attempt to find the verses.
It was futile.
By then I'd come to understand the most important thing about reality. No one fucking knows who, what, when, where, how God is. No one knows whether there is or isn't a God. No one knows what we're really doing here. No. One. Knows.
To be informed by wealthy white people in suburban Florida that THEY KNEW the way, the light, and path to salvation- congratulations you've just lost my trust completely and now gained my rebellion. By the age of 7 I'd become aware that if someone told you they knew something with certainty about a matter that no one could know about with certainty they were lying and therefore a threat that could not be trusted. It was a dangerous survivalism skill to adopt at such a young age, but came to serve me well in later years.
My lack of enthusiasm obviously caught the attention of the authoritative figures at the school. Their thinly veiled concerns for my salvation were over shadowed by the gossip I heard from fellow students. I was a Judas in a school of people striving to be Jesus. It didn't take long as you can imagine for my mother to exacerbate the situation by reminding them poignantly at each parent-teacher conference that we were Jews and we were not here to be saved, we were here for a good education.
Many people who claim to be Christians aren't actually people who behave like Christians. Since my mother had made my bed for me in this situation, I was forced to lie in it. Not long after her informing them that the matter of salvation was irrelevant to us, the educators there began handing down egregious disciplinary actions towards me. If I was late because of a doctors appointment, or simply late because of traffic, I wasn't allowed to just come into school and go into the class I was scheduled too, I was forced to sit in the cafeteria alone and write a bible verse 50 times in a row and then write a paragraph about what it meant to me. This delayed my days significantly which led to me coming home with more homework than usual, which as you can imagine snowballed.
My mother had little interest in dealing with me after school. She wanted to be home in time to see Oprah and have a glass of wine. She had no desire to assist me in my schooling.
So again, now at home, I would sit alone at a table doing school work.
My pace slowed as my soul gave up. Each day this as Oprah wrapped up she would come into the kitchen and demand to know why I hadn't finished homework yet.
Despite my best attempts, providing her with the honest answer was as futile as trying to find bible verses.
"You're just slow because you're fucking stupid. I should have let the public school have you so you could be with the retards where you belong."
I was stuck. I knew it, but I also knew there was nothing I could do. This continued on for a while until one of my educators noticed that my mental health was collapsing. Taking pity on me as she was aware I was just a kid caught in the middle she began to offer me help, staying after school to tutor me, finally teaching me how magical a thing like reading could be, building me up. She was a devout Christian, and behaved like one. She helped a needy child, as any Christian should do.
Feeling confident and empowered after a few weeks of her attention and support, a morning came where I was late and ordered to write verses. I pushed back, saying I shouldn't be punished for the actions of my mother.
The act of pushing back led to me being dragged into the principals office and my mother being called in. Dad was somewhere on the other side of the country or the globe at that point as he usually was for most of the 90's and 00's, so he could not come to my aid.
A confrontation ensued. Mom called them peasants and fools. I started a new school the following week.
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