Friday, December 15, 2006

Journal, journal, journal

For the past year I've been puzzled that Firecracker would call spinning tops "journals." That led to much miscommunication and frustration. Tonight I realized that she was trying to say "dreidel."

Dentist from Hell

So before Thanksgiving part of a filling fell out. I visited my dentist, who thought I might need a crown (they all seem to think I need a crown—are crowns the greatest money-making venture or what?) and couldn’t see me for the work until January. I had visions of a massive toothache happening around Christmas when absolutely no one would be available to help me. I went through the process with my HMO of switching dentists to get this seen to. I ended up with Freak Dentist from Hell. All seemed well at first. Hygienist was nice, dentist was pleasant and told me that I needed a filling and not a crown. He gave me a shot of Novocain and came back in a bit and started drilling. Youch! “Oh, I’m almost done.” Owie Owie Owie. “Just a bit more” Cringe Ow. Finally he gave up and shoved a couple more shots of Novocain in my mouth, not very gently, by which time I was in tears. He told me that next time I should have nitrous oxide since I was so tense. I ask you. I do not generally have problems with dentists. I’m not someone who quails in terror at dental work. But this dentist made me cry. And he gave me so much Novocain the second round that I almost couldn’t swallow. Meanwhile he bustled off to take care of I don’t know how many patients. Thank God I was truly numb when he started again. Now the nerve for that tooth is jangly and irritated, and no doubt it will be sensitive for a while. The dentist never apologized and barely managed to say goodbye before he was off to the next patient.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Comparisons

Did you know that the eyedrops for treating pinkeye cost almost as much as a nice pair of shoes?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving Delurking Week


I followed the RevGals and placed this image on your blog and announce Delurking Week, starting today and going until November 26th. When you visit a blog, you can either just say "Thank you for blogging" or place a blogstone (o) (The invention of PPB of The Ice Floe) or whatever verbage the Spirit moves you to leave.Let the Delurking begin!

************************************

Does anyone bother coming 'round anymore? I haven't had a chance to reflect enough to be witty or even dour and grumpy. Work gets in the way, or I've grown more responsible and stopped sneaking blogtime. This nagging respiratory infection gets in the way. And now we're off to Los Angeles, so I won't be blogging over the holidays.

I am not looking forward to negotiating the airport with a 6 year old and a 4 year old and a carryon full of medicines. Since I sound like I have consumption, I'm sure to make the day of my fellow travelers. My doctor swears everything is clearing up. But now I have a sore throat. And Firecracker is starting to cough (ominous, ominous--I don't want to visit an LA ER). On the other hand, I do have a bottle of codeine cough syrup. Maybe I'll have a happy flight after all.

Friday, November 17, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Thankfulness

What I’m grateful for:

1. My Dear Husband. He’s my best friend and cheerleader. He does an enormous amount to keep our household running, even while working, going to school, and suffering from sometimes severe pain. He’s thoughtful and tender and has a great sense of humor.

2. DramaQueen and Firecracker. My girls are amazing. How did I live for years thinking I would never want to have children? Raising them is a journey I am glad I didn’t miss.

3. My job and coworkers. I am so lucky to work at a job where the management is understanding of the need to take off time for doctor appointments and family events and unexpected emergencies. My coworkers teach me so much about living a Christian life. They are caring, warm, and joyful.

4. Medicine. We use a lot of it in my household. Our family keeps the local Walgreens in business. All the medicine that Firecracker takes to keep her asthma at bay and her seizures controlled and her thyroid levels functioning. The meds my husband takes to stave off pain and repair his bladder. The meds I take for depression and mood swings. The steroid shot I had yesterday to finally clear my sinuses. I still thank God for the NICU where Firecracker stayed for 2 months after birth. Not that long ago she would have had no chance of surviving. The nurses and doctors who care for these small babies have my highest admiration.

5. Books. Books are among my greatest pleasures. Bookstores and libraries are among my favorite places.What I’m grateful for:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Maximum Candy Acquisition Achieved

Finally, a Halloween where I felt somewhat prepared and steady. We have our lovely carved pumpkin, courtesy of Dear Husband, who did a fantastic job on his first ever carving. Costumes had been thought out several days in advance. The pumpkin candy carriers had been retrieved from the closet of doom. DramaQueen finished her math homework in the car on the way home, as we raced against sundown. I sure hope it's right. I had only enough time to shove a half a peanut butter sandwich at each child before trooping off. I mean, who am I kidding. Real food--hah.

We joined all the other folks who crash the pot-o-money neighborhood nearby to do some serious trick-or-treating. Firecracker was supposed to be a CareBear, but she wore that costume to school for the costume parade, so she decided to opt for her sister's Cinderella costume that is too small for her. She kinda looked like Cinderella if Cinderella were Brittany Spears with a pumpkin. DramaQueen was a flapper. I had to explain that all bloody night, not because she didn't look like a flapper, but because apparantly no one between the ages of 1 and 39 has ever heard of a flapper. She had the cute little drop-waist dress trimmed in feathers, a headband with another feather, gloves and a long strand of pearls. What more do you need to be a flapper? Maybe I should have given her a cigarette in a long black holder. At least she didn't complain that mom had suggested a dopey costume that no one recognized. Not yet, anyway.

Man, these kids have it good. I'm surprised they don't just bring garbage bags or trollys or little red wagons or something, because this neighborhood has major candy. In any case, the pumpkins grew burdensome before we even completed the circuit. Someday when they have grown more savvy and greedy, they will think ahead and bring a bag to dump the candy in so they can press on. Dear Husband and I managed to snag a few chocolates from the folks foolish enough to leave an unguarded dish for all comers. Actually, I made DramaQueen snag them for us. I am so bad. And you know what, when we got home and inspected the swag--it was mostly chocolate! How's that for posh?

I even got the kids down off candy cloud nine and abed before the new episode of House. And that despite the fact that I discovered unsuspected homework in Firecracker's backpack. Luckily preschool homework takes five minutes and a few crayons.

It was a good night.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Boo! The Rev Gal Friday Five

1. Do you enjoy a good fright?
No, I’m a wimp. In general I stay away from scary movies. I definitely don’t watch them alone. And I’m afraid of the dark.

2. Scariest movie you've ever seen
The Exorcist. I still can’t watch it or even hear it from another room. Also, the Blair Witch Project creeped me out for weeks. That final sequence with the abandoned house, the handprints, and one of them standing in the corner. I don’t think I would watch that again.

3. Bobbing for apples: choose one and discuss:
a) Nothing scary about that! Good wholesome fun.
b) Are you *kidding* me?!? The germs, the germs!
It’s not the germs but the suffocating feeling of having my head underwater while trying to bite an apple with my hands behind me. Don’t like that idea at all. My kids are welcome to try.

4. Real-life phobia.
Hmm. This isn’t exactly a phobia, but it sure is a weird aversion. I hate it when I drain macaroni or any tube pasta if any are left standing straight up in the bottom of the pot. I feel very odd, even a little faint. The more there are, the worse I feel. If anyone has any insight into THAT, please let me know.

I also avoid looking in mirrors in the dark. Too many Bloody Mary stories when I was young. And remember that scene with the mirror in Poltergeist?

5. Favorite "ghost story"
My favorite ghost stories are the ones I’ve heard from friends. Since these were their own experiences, I find them particularly compelling and frightening. I had a friend in Arizona who grew up on a reservation. His grandmother’s house had once been part of a hospital in a Japanese interment camp. He said that you could sometimes here gurneys rolling down the hall. He also had scarier stories about dolls that started to talk and watching evil faces superimposed on the faces of sleeping friends. He also sometimes spoke of skinwalkers, very quietly, and of friends who had been chased by these strange shape shifters.

I had another friend who lived in an old house in Japan for a while (I asume on an American army base). He had a huge family—his parents adopted a number of children. Now and then they would hear scratching and a baby crying in one of the storage closets. They never talked about it while they lived there.

Another friend told me that he was staying at his inlaws after his father-in-law’s funeral. He woke up one night and went to get a snack in the kitchen, and there was his father-in-law sitting at the table, not at all ghostly looking. You might think he was dreaming, except that another family member joined him and also saw the ghost.

And then there was a friend who attended St. Andrews University in Scotland. Her housemother lived in an old Tudor house, and when D. graduated, her housemother invited her family to stay there. They caught glimpses of someone in a long dress going up the stairs. Rocking chairs rocked by themselves. And her father once felt something behind him. There was a mirror in front of him and an exit to the side. He didn’t dare look up in the mirror, but just left the room and then the house. His usual job was as a prison warden. I also visited this house with my friend. I didn’t see anything, but something was making a ruckus banging around pans in the kitchen, but there were only us three having sherry in the parlor. In response to our inquiry, the owner said there was no one there. And she left it at that.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

In which I admit my secret longings

I’ve been pondering my previous comment about my Martha Stewart-ish urges. No one would know that I have them from looking at my house. The only style it has was pounded into place by my MIL out of pity. I have no ability to decorate. I suppose I should have known this pretty early on, since my idea of decorating my dorm room was to write morbid thoughts on the walls in black marker. I don’t recommend that, by the way. I didn’t own a bed for years, preferring to sleep on a futon on the floor. I don’t recommend that, either, after a certain age and weight threshold is reached.

I don’t actually look at Martha Stewart’s magazine. It’s far too lofty. Now and then I pick up Real Simple, which always has a section on ingenious ways to reuse items, creating new containers, holders, and such that you never actually realized you needed. Of course, if you don’t have the original item to reuse—say egg cups—now’s your chance to purchase them so that you can use them to organize your paperclips and thumbtacks. Why you aren’t using your egg cups for eggs I don’t know. Perhaps you just recently updated the look of your egg cups. Everyone needs a change.

These are the magazines I think of as leisureporn—offering enticing images of inaccessible perfection to overworked women. Then there are the old-school women’s mags, the meat and potatoes home-cooked version. Every issue has tips on organization, which is an endlessly vexing problem, but without it I’m not sure what these magazines would publish. Many tips on how not to look overworked and frumpy, all in 5 minutes. You go girl. Then there are the diets and the exercises that can be done 10 minutes while you catch up with Desperate Housewives, followed by recipes for seasonal cupcakes. Ah, and don’t forget the ideas for kid’s birthday parties. How to build a castle from 13 sheet cakes, a gallon of frosting divided into 36 colors, a sugar wafer drawbridge, a fruit leather banner, and gumdrops cleverly flattened by a rolling pin and cut into the shape of a dragon.

Do I sound bitter? Because, yes, I admit it, I would like to have my life so well-ordered that I could construct a small building with cake.

And I’ve never even owned egg cups.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Latest Computer Obsession--Online Toy Research

I find that I have almost no time to be on a computer. Dear Husband is always using ours, and when he isn’t I’m busy escorting the girls through their evening routine. The past weekend I spent all my computer time looking obsessively at toys. Yes, I’m beginning to fret over Christmas shopping. I’m looking for the perfect toys—the ones that combine the best educational qualities with fun and durability, all at an affordable price. Uh huh. I think back to my favorite childhood toys—baby dolls, Barbies, blocks and the enormous dollhouse my dad built from a kit. That dollhouse was so big that I recently gave my dad clearance to give it away because I don’t expect to ever have a home with enough space for it. We had to use a spare room when I was a child. Neither Dear Husband nor I could build a birdhouse much less a dollhouse, and the price even of kits is astounding. I won’t even talk about pre-made dollhouses--those beautiful all-wood, brightly colored quality creations that reach up into the $300 range. I made the mistake of letting DramaQueen get a gander at a Playmobil castle. I want a Playmobil castle. Playmobil toys are awesome. But I think I would need a small loan to purchase and furnish the castle.

This is the time of year I start to feel Martha Stewart-ish urges—that I will dip my own candles, fill the house with the aromas of cider and baking cookies, create centerpieces from evergreen branches and holly, and actually use ribbon and bows on my wrapped presents. This will pass. Actually, it’ll get steamrolled over.

After all, I still have to get through Halloween, and DramaQueen doesn’t have a costume.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Crap crap and more crap

I am in a crummy mood. First, my meds seem to be having some annoying side effects. All of a sudden, several months in. I am misplacing and forgetting things more than usual. And I seem to be having a month-long period, which is enough to make anyone crabby. More doctor appointments—oh goody.

Also, this really pissed me off today. We have company devotions. A nice time to share prayer requests and such. Well, one of my higherups asked me about a prayer request sent in last week, and I somehow managed to confuse two people, both from the same ministry and both with serious issues. And you know, this woman was also emailed this same request, but there she was staring me down with a beady eye. Because you see, it was a test. She was ticked off about something or other and as usual with her, she found a handy target to nail to the wall. She does this frequently when she’s in a sour mood. I’ve heard her rant when someone forgets to switch their cell phone to silent. “I’ve done everything and I just don’t know what else I can do.” Well, shut up and get a life comes to mind. That, newsflash, every now and then someone will forget. Or, perhaps, that given the turnover here you should just expect to send out a notice every few months to let the new people know that Armageddon will come if they don’t silence their phones. And I’m not feeling very Christian and forgiving at the moment. Damn, it’s those petty stupid things that make daily life so much more unpleasant than it has to be.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So the drama

We've had some rainy days this past week. As you know, on rainy days children are tightly wound. Those are the days I bring the girls home and they decide to see what happens if they leap of the back of the sofa onto the cats, or chase each other around the house until someone cries.

The other day I picked up the girls at daycare and we were driving home through the rain. I was teasing Firecracker because she wanted to play on the slide, even in the rain. "It's not FAIR!"--the universal cry of childhood.

DramaQueen chimed in: "All our plans are CRUSHED!"

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five Years Ago

On September 11, 2001, I woke up early to take a pregnancy test. Dear Husband had already left for the day. The test was positive. I had to get DramaQueen dressed and to daycare and drive to work, where there would be a company-wide meeting. Usually I turned on NPR and listened while I drove, but today I wanted to think about being pregnant. I missed my mom, who had died in June, and wished she could know about the new baby. I wondered how DramaQueen would react. I wondered how we would manage it financially. My thoughts wandered along these lines as I drove to daycare. I got DramaQueen out, and hauled out all her stuff for the day. And then I opened the door. This was an inhome daycare. The woman who ran it was talking loudly on the phone, her eyes riveted on the TV. It took a few moments before I understood what I was seeing. And as we watched, the second plane hit.

I left. I couldn't think to do anything but continue to work. I phoned Dear Husband from the driveway. As I drove to work, I started crying, and screaming. I wondered if all the other people in the lanes next to me were also listening to the radio. Why were we driving around as if this were any ordinary day?

At work we all crowded into a small conference room with a TV. No one was working. The company-wide meeting was called off. The CEO was on the phone, trying to find out the fate of friends in New York. We were all eventually sent home, to sit in front of the TV for the rest of the day.

How, I thought, can I bring a child into this? From then on I felt uneasy about being pregnant. The meeting had been rescheduled for that Thursday. It turned out to be an announcement of impending layoffs. I was ravenously hungry at lunch. Then I went home and threw up. Thus began unrelenting morning sickness. Thus began months of uncertainty--would I be kept on? Yes. Then, the company declared bankruptcy, and I knew I would be out of a job before I gave birth in May. I still felt miserable. Firecracker kicked a lot. It hurt. It felt wrong, but the doctors brushed it off. We went to Las Vegas and I was so tired walking through the shops. I found a sale at Baby Gap. What is this? I ased a salesperson. It's so small. It's for a preemie, she said. At least I don't have to worry about that, I thought. Yes, I actually thought that. Then one day at work, I began spotting and cramping. Two days later I gave birth at 26 weeks, in a room crowded with doctors and nurses from the NICU.

How many people, I wonder, oriented their lives around 9/11, however distant geographically. Everything in my life shifted and settled askew, all the small personal matters seemed connected in some way to that horror. No one I knew in New York worked there; no one I knew was injured. But I had lived there. That the Towers could be gone--something so integral to the skyline--I'm not sure I could go there and see that gap, and think of all the gaps, the missing mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Stateless

I go to Curves. Those of you familiar with the place know that Curves pipes in music, all sorts of music. As long as it's peppy, you'll hear a variety of dance, country, pop, 50's bubblegum, surf music--whatever. I usually don't pay much attention. The other day I was rotating to the next machine when I heard a song I haven't heard since the mid-80s--New Toy by Lena Lovich. I would not have thought of Lena as mainstream fodder. How quaint and antiquated I feel. Perhaps I'll next hear God Save the Queen or London Calling as I'm doing my bicep curls. This got me thinking about my favorite albums of all time, which in turn made me think about how my musical tastes seem to have ossified before the 90s hit:

1. Still, by Joy Division
2. The Queen Is Dead, by the Smiths
3. Aeon, by Dead Can Dance
4. Avalon, by Roxy Music
5. The Unforgettable Fire, by U2
6. Low Life, by New Order
7. The Dreaming, by Kate Bush
8. Scary Monsters, by David Bowie

At various times I've made an attempt to plunge into the currents of new music and surfaced with a few items. Recently I picked up a copy of PASTE on the 100 greatest living songwriters. I take comfort that I recognize most of the names, even if I've never really listened to them. Others I have never heard of in my life: Sufjan Stevens, Conor Oberst, Stephen Malkmus, Alejandro Escovedo, Sam Beam. The accompanying CD is also full of people I've never heard of: Elf Power, Golden Smog, Janove Otteson. And on and on. Does anyone actually have time to keep up with all this?

PS: Firecracker is much better now. Whatever the problem was, it seems to have resolved itslef.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Firecracker Update

Well, we are no closer to understanding whatever was or is wrong with Firecracker. Things have been better the past few days, either from the laxative or the fact that I keep food in her stomach at all times, not sure which. Now I have time to worry about broncho pulmonary dysplasia as we approach the season of respiratory infections. Yea me. We are supposed to visit my dad this weekend. He is not the greatest housekeeper. Well, he's lousy. Brother 2 isn't much better, because he lives in my grandparents' old home, which is slowly sinking back into the land, taking the carpet as old as me with it. Of course, many of the structures in Alabama look as if they are sinking back into the land. It is a very Faulkneresque place. In fact I'm convinced it is more Faulkneresque than Mississippi, and that Faulkner may have used some of my ancestors as models for the characters in As I Lay Dying.

I'm hoping that Brother 3 will also be visiting, so that we young folks can escape to Brother 2's girlfriend's house, which is a sanctuary of cleanliness, and I can listen to my brothers play guitar and fiddle. Brother 3 surprised the heck out of me by picking up the fiddle on our last visit. I had no idea he could play, and apparantly neither did he. He's one of those people who just pick it up and start noodling about.

Brother 2 and Brother 3 are the ones I see most often, which isn't often enough. They grew up in the 50s and I grew up in the 70s, so there's a big generaton gap. Brother 3 is like the White Rabbit--he keeps up a constant internal and sometime external monologue of worry. He works at the CDC and has a passion for China. Brother 2 has a lovely "southern gentleman" voice. He's into bluegrass and folk music and feels utterly out of place in rural Alabama, except that he would never be comfortable in any other landscape. His favorite author is Mark Twain, and I think they would have got on just fine. He has a radical streak, too. He once told me he thought that the redistribution of wealth was a fine idea, not a particularly common idea in rural Alabama.

Hope everyone has a peaceful Labor Day weekend. Get some sleep.

Driven Mad--RevGals Friday Five

1. Driving: an enjoyable way to clear the mind? a means to an end? a chance to be quiet with one's thoughts? a necessary evil? the downfall of our planet and its fossil fuels? Discuss. I am not a happy driver. I get nervous in unfamiliar neighborhoods. I hate left turns, particularly without lights, but I also hate turning left on green across multiply lanes of dense traffic with someone sitting on my back bumper. Where I live it is a necessary evil. If there’s public transit somewhere (and there is a bus shelter in front of our apartment complex), I’ve never seen it. There has been talk of a rail line, but people grouse about their property values. In other words, please don’t give any of the THOSE _____people access to our neighborhoods.

2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket? I generally drive about 5 to 10 miles faster than the speed limit except in rain. I’ve had two tickets in my life, both for speeding.

3. Do you take public transportation? When? What's your opinion of the experience? There’s no public transit here. When we go downtown we often drop our car at the nearest MARTA station (which is a good distance from where we live) and take the train into downtown. No parking issues. I loved the subway and buses in New York City. Getting around was so easy, and if you had a long commute you could at least read.

4. Complete this sentence: _____________ has the worst drivers I've ever experienced. Phoenix, Arizona, has the worst drivers I’ve ever experienced. First, everyone’s a cowboy. Yee haw. Second, the folks who were born and raised there sort of forget that the city grew by about 400% and so you can’t just drive 85 mph, even if that is the speed limit. Oh, and the speed limit IS 85 mph on the highway, so of course everyone is driving 90 to 100 mph. Third, no one there is used to rain, so they either freak out and slow to a crawl or are oblivious and keep barrelling at their regular speed (80 mph). Or, because everyone’s a cowboy, they try to do something dumb, like cross a wash during a storm. Then you see them on the evening news, standing on the roof of their pickup, waiting to be rescued. Fourth, for some unknown reason Phoenix started putting in roundabouts in some areas. Needless to say, no one out West knows how to handle a roundabout. Good luck getting in. Fifth, people are just jerks—they tailgate, they honk, they are impatient, they weave, they run red lights, they sit on train tracks, they refuse to use signals, they speed through school zones, they use intimidation tactics. If you don’t turn fast enough they’ll go around you and turn in front of you.

5. According to the Census Bureau, reverendmother's fair city has the 6th longest average commute in the United States at 29 minutes each way. How does your personal commute rate? My commute is a jolly 15 minutes (except that I have to drop the kids). Dear Husband’s is more like an hour to an hour and half. I just refuse to work in Atlanta. In Phoenix I had an hour commute, and I promised myself I would never do that again.

Bonus for the brutally honest: It has been said, and the MythBusters have confirmed, that cell phones can impede driving ability almost as much as drinking. Do you talk on a cell phone while driving? I’ll call on my cellphone if I’m running late or I’m lost, and I’ll take calls from Dear Husband, because I never know when an emergency will strike. I don’t like to do it unless I’m in steady to slow traffic going straight ahead—no lights or turns. And I like to keep it short.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Dead Can Dance - The Host Of Seraphim

Dead Can Dance is one of my favorite bands. Watch this and weep.

Firecracker Has a Bad Week

So, on Monday morning Firecracker wakes up with a bad stomachache. She’s miserable. She throws up a couple times. A bug, I think, better stay home. So I stay home with her a bit and she perks right up and wants to go to school. No pain, no vomiting, no fever. I take her to school. That evening I pick her up at daycare and hear that she’s been complaining about her stomach. We go home and the pain is back. We have a horrible evening, but eventually she calms down and sleeps. Gas, I think, or constipation.

On Tuesday morning she seems fine. She takes the bus. I pick her up from daycare and she immediately starts to whimper. I pick up Mylicon drops for gas. It seems to help. She sleeps pretty well. She seems okay the next morning until I put her on the bus. She’s a bit clingy. I send a note to the school to eliminate dairy. That afternoon I get a call from school to come pick her up because she cried about her tummy until she fell asleep. I call the pediatrician and go pick her up. She screams all the way to the doctor and cries so vigorously there that the doctor leaves a patient to see her. The doctor feels around on her tummy and does a urine culture. Nothing obvious seems to be wrong. She tells us to go to the ER—a nice, long drive to the nearest children’s hospital (we made the mistake once of taking her to the local hospital). Firecracker sleeps a few minutes and then screams the rest of the way. Two blood draws, an x-ray, and many hours later we are assured that she doesn’t have appendicitis, or a blockage, or constipation, or gas, or a thyroid problem.

She doesn’t have anything.

We go home. I throw up. Firecracker offers to rub my back and drifts off to sleep.

Thursday, more of the same: I pick her up at daycare and she starts crying. I put her in a bath, which helps. She wakes up a couple of times complaining but I manage to soothe her to sleep. This morning Dear Husband takes her to an unrelated doctor appointment. He tells me she’s lost weight. I drop her at school. She is crying and has contorted herself in her car seat by the time we get there. During the car ride the only thing that seemed to interrupt the cycle of pain was talking about a friend from her previous daycare and promising to try to contact her mother for a play date. So maybe it’s stress—new daycare, new classroom, missing friends, dad in pain and not home much, mom irritable. It seems to get worse in the afternoon and again in the evening, when she sees me. Best, I think, to keep to the routine and not make a big deal about it.

Or maybe it’s gallstones. Or celiac disease. Or maybe it’s what Dear Husband has only she can’t tell the difference between bladder and intestinal pain. This has been going on for five days. If it doesn’t improve over the weekend, we’ll have to see a gastroenterologist.

Firecracker Has a Bad Week

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Where Did My Blog-time Go?

I don't seem to have a chunk of time to blog about anything these days, or to make my rounds through my favorite blogs. There's a party going on and I'm not there.

News. Let's see. We've joined a new church, one very close to our home. We have been going to one about an hour away, and I'm just not that dedicated. The old church is messianic, so it is dear to my husband, who is Jewish, but I have mixed feelings about the place. It is amazingly diverse, and the Jewish liturgy is beautiful, but the sermons are disjointed and at times the atmosphere just seems weird to me. The rabbi says he as to be annointed to preach, which seems to mean that he'll throw a bunch of scripture against the wall and see what sticks. They are really into the end times thing, which makes me squirm (apologies to Dear Husband, who does not concur with me on that). It doesn't help that the Bible study groups are all on Wednesday nights. An hour away after a full day of work, with two kids. Not going to happen. So we've joined a nice Methodist church that seems to be alive and kicking, building homes in Nicauraguaga and the Appalachians and with incredible childrens' programs and fellowship and study for the adults. A coffee shop is on the way, too, which seems to be the thing these days for churches. I really like this church, which is surprising because they are enthusiastically contemporary. I'm pretty much a smells and bells kind of girl, but I'm enjoying this.

And we have a wedding anniversary coming up on August 28! Dear Husband teases me that he's the wife in our marriage. He's the one who remembers to plan and buy unique and thoughtful gifts. I'm known to forget important milestones. If he weren't there I'm not sure the girls would have birthday parties. This year I did find an excellent gift, but not a babysitter. I'm particularly bad at babysitter-finding. I don't like phone calls, for one thing. But I do now have a list of prospects from our new church (yea, new church!).

Now, back to figuring out what do with the amazing amount of stuff that comes home in backpacks.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Theological Questions from a Six Year Old

Yesterday DramaQueen peppered me with questions. She tends to do this right before going to bed, partly as a delaying tactic and partly because she’s like me and all her best thinking happens at night. I assume Sunday school triggers a lot of these questions. Yesterday they talked about David and Goliath. Elizabeth brought home three Styrofoam cups decorated with markers and googly eyes, representing David, Goliath, and the king. She told me that we still need toothpicks for arrows and a rock. I understand the rock, but I confess that I don’t recall arrows as part of the story, but one of the cups is going to get poked with them. The children’s worship looks like a lot of fun. It’s called Blast! and it’s modeled on Howard Gardner’s research on multiple intelligences, which I guess is pretty common in Sunday schools these days. They have stations and do different kinds of activities each week. One Sunday’s activity involved Alkazeltzer and a soda bottle, and I never did receive an adequate explanation from DramaQueen about how that was connected to the lesson of the day.

In any case, here are her most recent theological questions:

What is grace?
Who made God?
What was there before God?
What is a spirit?
Is God a spirit?
Is God like an angel?
Does God know everything?
Can God do anything?
Can He make another god?
Can he do something mean?
Does God have children?
     Me: Yes, Jesus is His son.
     DQ: No—Mary had Jesus.
     Me: Yes, but God is his father.
     DQ: But they weren’t even married!

And my favorite question:

Why did God make boys when they’re so yucky and all they talk about is poop?

Friday, August 04, 2006

School Days

Here in Atlanta school starts on August 14. I’m almost as excited as if I were a kid myself. The beginning of the new school year has always been one of my favorite times. I was never very fond of summer break. Until I was in my teens, my mom couldn’t drive. We lived on this road in a neighborhood that never quite got it together enough to be a suburb or a community. Maybe developers thought the city of Albany was going to spread all the way to where we lived, but it didn’t. So we were stuck off in this street that went nowhere, far from any mass transit (I think there were busses), and yet not rural enough to enjoy the benefits of woods and romping over meadows or whatever people do in rural areas. There were no children in our neighborhood for a very long time.

It was boring.

My mom was not an ideal companion. She didn’t play with kids. My dad was tired when he got home and mostly concerned about avoiding mom. Neither thought to find me some kids for me to play with. My mom was too anti-social, anyway. She would have done something weird, like accuse the other moms of forming a secret society just to persecute her.

It was hot.

Summers in south Georgia are hot, sultry, sticky, mosquito-infested horrors. I have never been good with heat, and we didn’t have ready access to a pool. I spent a lot of time indoors. Probably a good thing, since trucks drove through spraying the area with DDT to kill the mosquitoes.

So, school was a mecca of stimulation and structured activity. The purchase of school supplies was one of the high points. I still love the smell of office supply stores and the glorious selection of binders, notebooks, pencils and pens. And the beginning of the school year meant that cooler weather would soon follow.

So I’m looking forward to next week, when there will be school orientations for both girls. Dear Husband is out buying supplies, taking advantage of the tax holiday. I would liked to have shopped for school supplies, but he told me it was awful—because everyone is taking advantage of the tax holiday of course. So when the frenzy dies down I’ll meander through the aisles at one of the drugstore and snuff the wonderful scent of new beginnings.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A little-known use for sandpaper

So I went to the doctor for a physical today. When they were getting me ready for the ECG and stress test, they prepped me with SANDPAPER.

Yes, they sandpapered me every place they affixed an electrode.

They sanded me, and then they followed with alcohol.

Let me repeat that: After abrading my skin quite vigorously, they followed with a bracing alcohol rub.

And then they sanded me again.

I should have asked if they used a special medical-grade sandpaper. Surely they didn't go to work with something they grabbed off the shelf at Home Depot--doesn't sound sanitary.

And now, 8 hours later, I still have red, irritated blotches.

Update
Look what I found out on the WWW:

Electrode Skin Prep PadPictured above. Each prep contains 70% alcohol along with pumice to gently abrade skin. 100 per box.B59800
Price: $6.55

Notice the word "gently". My doctor was too cheap to buy the pre-packaged stuff.

And I'm still irritated.

Monday, July 31, 2006

One for the memory book

I guess DramaQueen has overheard me talking about demographics and life expectancy, because over dinner she turned to her dad and said: “Even though you’re younger than mom, you’ll still die sooner.”

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Skate

Yesterday we decided to go skating. Or rather, Dear Husband, Firecracker, and DramaQueen skated while I stood safely on the sidelines. I have been rollerskating once in my life, and it was not a pleasant experience. I was just into my teens. The rink was hard and the slipperiest surface I had ever been on. Everyone whizzed past while I inched along the wall. It was not fun at all.

I'm glad the girls have the chance to learn early, and that they aren't at all intimidated by the throngs of faster skaters. DramaQueen did very well--she's been skating twice with camp groups. It was Firecracker's first time, and she also did well, even though she's so tiny I worried a cocky skater wouldn't even notice her. She didn't seem worried, though.

On the way home Firecracker announced that she wanted to ice skate. I've never been on ice skates even once.

I think I need some remedial lessons in being a kid.

Friday, July 28, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Hot Hot Hot

It’s getting sad when all I blog about is the Friday Five. I guess I need an assignment to inspire me. Perhaps I’ll blame my lack of inspiration on the heat..

1. What's the high temperature today where you are? 96 degrees. Could be and has been worse. On the plus side the sky is a soft blue with fluffy clouds. Still, not a temperature I feel like hanging out in.

2. Favorite way(s) to beat the heat. Stay inside. Libraries are particularly nice places to be when it’s too hot. I would say the pool, but since that is where everyone wants to be, I don’t find it very pleasant. There really is no other option, unless we could drive up to the mountains. Early morning is more bearable, but only for a short period of time. The evening is still warm, and full of mosquitos.

3. "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." Evaluate this statement. Anyone who thinks that humidity is the problem should try Arizona at 118 degrees. Still, humidity is nasty to deal with. Nothing dries, everything mildews. It’s hard to breathe. You feel sticky.

4. Discuss one or more of the following: sauna, hot tub, sweat lodge, warm-stone massage. Go away. I am utterly bored by the idea of sitting in something hot at any time of year. Maybe with a book. I could probably deal with the warm-stone massage, but I would be happier with a regular mssage.

5. Hottest you've ever been in your life. Phoenix AZ, 120 degrees. I have never been hotter than when I lived in Arizona. It’s dangerous to be outside for any length of time, and it doesn’t cool off at night. Well, 110 degrees doesn’t seem like a lot of relief. Putting kids in and out of carseats in the summer involves a lot of precautions if you aren’t lucky enough to find covered parking. Get the airconditioning going ahead of time. Make sure you have water and towels to wet down the seats and especially the buckles, which will leave red welts if they brush your skin. Oh, and taking the key out of the ignition—be careful not to touch the metal part—and don’t put it in your pocket. Ouch. When we went shopping we sometimes saw signs warning you not to put your wine in the trunk with the rest of the groceries, because it would explode.

Non-temperature related bonus: In your opinion... who's hot? Hot in what way? Popular? Sexy? I’ll go with sexy:

  • Colin Firth
  • Alan Rickman (Severus Snape has quite a few fan sites)
  • Shane on the L Word

Friday, July 21, 2006

RevGals Friday Five



1) What is your first memory of the RevGalBlogPals?
I think I found RevGals when I discovered Reverend Mommy via Real Live Preacher. I don’t have much memory of how I started looking for blogs in the first place. Was I bored? Googling a specific term? I imagine that I was feeling very at odds theologically with everyone my workpkace and was looking for comfort on the Web, and that somehow I stumbled upon Real Live Preacher. I was so excited to find Christians I felt comfortable with.

2) Have you met any of the other ring members in real life?
Alas, I have not. And some even live around here, and some have visited the city. What can I say, I am a slacker.

3) Of those you haven't met, name a few you would love to know in person.
Oh, dear, I feel a bit bad to give names, since I think I would enjoy meeting everyone. I would love to meet Reverend Mommy, the first RevGal I ever read, whose career I am enjoying vicariously, and who lives so close. And Lorna, who is such an encouragement. And Tentmaker, also, because his sermons are so thoughtful. He lives near here, too. Joe, because I think she is incredibly cool and has such an interesting life. Juniper, Dorothy, LutheranChik, Caroline--but there are so many of you I would love to meet. So many new people have joined that I haven’t even made it through all the blogs yet.

4) What has Ring Membership added to your life?
I love having a glimpse into other people’s lives, joys, challenges, whatever. On any given day I can travel the blogs and read something funny, something deep, something pensive. For myself, I like the chance to hide behind my pen name and say what I really think about my life, parenting, my so-called Christian life, my work.

5) Describe a hope for the future of the WebRing.
Wouldn’t regional get-togethers be fun? This is coming from someone who can barely plan one day ahead.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I am so not a morning person

Here is a Bible verse just for us creepers:

If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse. (Proverbs 27:14)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Modern Milestones

Yesterday DramaQueen sent her first email. Sniffle. It was a very emotional moment.

Friday, July 14, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Peevishness

1. Grammatical pet peeve: (1) Incorrect form of pronouns as the object of prepositions, e.g. “He gave the present to Walter and I.” Shudder. (2) Using “that” when “which” is required and vice versa. (3) It drives me nuts when people correct split infinitives and sentences that end with prepositions (these are NOT incorrect, do you hear?)—that’s just being fussy. Grin.
2. Household pet peeve.  My husband’s idea of organization is to stuff the stacks of papers and accumuilation of sundry objects into whatever drawer is immediately available. Also, why can we not commit to putting our clothes in the laundry? Either it can be worn again (meaning, hung up) or it needs to be washed. And yet my husband’s trousers are in limbo, laid out on the floor.
3. Arts & Entertainment pet peeve (movie theaters, restaurants, concerts). Seeing children at movies that are wildly innappropriate for them, particularly ones that are too scary.
4. Liturgical pet peeve. Well, there’s the “please just” issue that so many mention. I also hate it when the worship band plays soothing (vapid) music behind the person praying. And the woman who opens us with prayer at church—she has a perfectly modulated voice that sounds as if it belongs on a relaxation CD. With the “soothing sounds of jazz” behind her I feel like I’ll be nodding off any second.
5. Wild card--pet peeve that doesn't fit any of the above categories. Drivers who don’t buckle up. My husband always forgets and his brother and father never use seat belts. This drives me bonkers. How can you forget? How can you just flat out not use them? Great day, I used them when I was so pregnant they barely reached around me.
Bonus: Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God: What do YOU do that others might consider a pet peeve? I’m not tidy or a particularly rigorous housekeeper, and it drives my husband crazy. Then again, see Number 2.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pot of Gold


I found the following quote in a Beliefnet review of Nanny McPhee:

“Finally, this being a British fairy tale, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is, inevitably, Colin Firth in a puffy shirt, tight pants, and an ingenuous smile, but, hey, it works for me.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm Psyched!

By that I mean that I’ve seen the psychiatrist. And just like when you get to the dental appointment the tooth stops hurting, I was feeling okay today. By okay I mean that I’ve switched from feeling slug-like to feeling anxious and jittery. I function more like a normal person when I’m anxious and jittery. I suppose that passes for normal these days. Besides, me hyped up looks to the world the way a hyped up turtle looks to a hare. I’m not suddenly a whirlwind of activity, because low-energy and laziness are deeply engrained in my personality. But I have IDEAS. I want to phone several people to make weekend play dates, create memory albums for all the grandparents, knit a scarf, take up needlepoint and read The Secret Message of Jesus while completing two editing projects. I also want to buy the girls’ school supplies, organize their fall wardrobes, and learn sewing. Yes, sewing. I’ve been looking longingly at sewing machines. Understand, now, that I have never liked sewing or had any desire to do it. Also rug hooking—that looks interesting.

The psych has put me on a mood stabilizer. Meanwhile, I guess I need to steer clear of craft stores.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Question of the Day

Why is it not possible to reheat Kraft Mac and Cheese? What happens to the cheesiness? Does it evaporate? Change properties? I know this isn’t real cheese I’m using but a packet of powdered curd product, but it is quite tasty right off the stove. Okay, it’s not that tasty, but DramaQueen will eat it, whereas she will not eat a lovingly prepared homemade macaroni and cheese made with real sharp cheddar stirred into a b├ęchamel sauce. So Kraft it is. But she won’t eat the leftovers, and I don’t blame her.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bits and Bobs

What's Good:
  1. I don't feel like crap.
  2. Today is not hot and sticky as a sauna.
  3. The warranty covered the new airconditioner for my car.
  4. I'm reading a Jane Austen murder mystery.
  5. I have the new Brian McLaren book through interlibrary loan.
  6. We have not overdrawn our account.
  7. I bought new yarn and needles to start my first real knitting project.

What's Middling:
  1. My spiritual life.
  2. The office website, which I think needs professional help.
  3. I will never, ever, understand CSS. Or JavaScript.
  4. I wish I had paid more attention when my mom was teaching me embroidery.
  5. I want the girls to have dance or tumbling classes but I don't know if we can afford it for two.

What's Bad

  1. My attention span.
  2. My temper.
  3. My closet.
  4. The drawers in the bathroom.

Friday, June 30, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Fourth of July

1) Do you celebrate 4th of July (or some other holiday representing independence?).  I don’t really like 4th of July celebrations.  It is always so blasted hot and muggy that I get no pleasure from sitting outdoors sweating with a cooler of melting ice and tepid drinks and children getting progressively sticky. I do not understand why anyone would want to be outside in this weather. Our ancestors sure picked a horrible time to make history.

2) When was the first time you felt independent, if ever? I don’t think I understand this question. As part of the nation? I probably take a lot for granted. As a person? Probably when I went to college and didn’t have my parents to oversee my comings and goings.

3) If you're hosting a cookout, what's on the grill? Ugh. All that heat. I would never grill in July.

4) Strawberry Shortcake -- biscuit or sponge cake? Discuss. Biscuit. Absolutely. The dryness of the biscuit absorbes the juices very well and it’s easer to cut and eat one handed while you hold the plate in the other at an—ugh—cookout. And I dont’ really like sponge cake because it has the texture of a, well, sponge.

5) Fireworks -- best and worst experience.  When I lived in NYC, my boyfriend had an apartment overlooking Morningside Park and Harlem. We went up to the roof to watch the fireworks that would be set off in the Harlem streets. Yes, the streets.  The alleys glowed. I’m not sure if that’s the best or worst, but it’s memorable. We also got a good view of fireworks set off in other parts of the city.  The worst experience was probably last year, when we took the kids to Gwinnett Glows and sat in the hot sun and crowds while the girls got more and more bored waiting, and then a storm burst, we got soaked, and the fireworks were cancelled.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Relevance, the New Utilitarianism

Found via Dissonant Bible, who sent me to somewhere that led me to www.theocentricpreaching.com . . .

From Connexions:

Indeed I’d suggest that the fundamental malaise of contemporary Christianity is precisely its substitution of a problem-solving God for a God who is ultimate mystery.

For many people, God is a god who answers my questions, satisfies my desires and supports my interests. A user-friendly god you can access and download at the push of a prayer-key, a god you can file and recall when you need him (which gives “Save As” a whole new meaning!). A utility deity for a can-do culture. Evangelism becomes a form of marketing, and the gospel is reduced to a religious commodity.

The real God is altogether different. He is not a useful, get-it, fix-it god. He is not “relevant”, he is the measure of relevance. Indeed best think of God as good for nothing and totally unnecessary, playful rather than practical - and whose game is hide-and-seek: “such a fast / God,” as the poet R. S. Thomas puts it, “always before us and / leaving as we arrive.” The Bible speaks of God as a desert wind, too hot to handle, too quick to catch. A God who is only ever pinned down - on the cross.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Depression Is So Depressing

For most of my life, for as long as I had any word for my mom’s condition, it was “schizophrenia.” That’s what I was finally told at the age of 20, and that's what I told all my therapists. I even participated in a study of children of schizophrenics. I took lots of tests and had my brain scanned and was pleased to find that I did not have the brain of a schizophrenic. More than likely, neither did my mom. She was diagnosed in the 1950s sometime, I guess. I have to guess because no one talked about the “problem," and I get so many mixed reports from my brothers, who were young when the episodes started. She was institutionalized a few times and given shock treatments. She rarely referred to any of this herself, since she didn’t think there was anything wrong with her. A lot of the time she was really tired. Sometimes she didn’t even get out of bed except to make sure I was taken care of. Then, suddenly, she would have one of her “spells.” She would rage at my father, or at no one in particular, pacing through the house, opening the door to wherever you might have retreated to lob one more verbal assault. She would be tense and agitated and restless for a day or two. Then she would calm down. Other times she would embark on massive projects only to abandon them mid cycle, and whatever supplies were taken out would remain where they were. Or she would hustle us off to some destination with some overriding purpose that never made sense to the rest of us. Still other times she would sew for hours on end, entirely engrossed in her project. Then back to weeks of staying in bed. She heard voices, but she rarely talked about them. For most of my childhood I didn’t realize that the doctors she told me about didn’t exist. There were three of them, men, and they seemed very nice. She was sometimes paranoid, thinking that she was part of an FBI experiment, or that there was a conspiracy against her. She was under no treatment whatsoever for mental illness from my birth until her death.

A few months ago my nephew was being treated for depression with an SSRI medication. His behavior changed dramatically. He went into violent rages. He got in trouble with the law. He had hallucinations. My nephew is bipolar, and so, as it turns out, is his father--my brother--who has spent much of his life alternating between depression and episodes of anxiety and panic attacks. More than likely my mother was bipolar and not schizophrenic. Until my nephew became ill, I didn't realize that manic depressives can have hallucinations. I also didn't realize that there are bipolars like my brother who don't have manic episodes but something called hypomania, or that SSRIs can trigger mania or hypomania not just in bipolar people, but in the children of bipolar parents. That there is something called the bipolar spectrum. That I've probably had an episode of hypomania in the past but I just thought I was being "wild." Or that if you are the child of a bipolar parent and you have recurrent depression, you need to revisit your treatment plan.

Recently I turned 40. From age sixteen to my mid-twenties I could count on a depressive episode every year or two. It seemed to lighten up a bit after that, particularly when I threw myself into a new job. Even when I’m not depressed, I am not exactly okay. Psychiatrists call my condition dysthymia—chronic, low-level depression. Sometimes I tip over into something more problematic. I’ve been in the something more problematic stage for about a year now. When I feel like this, I don't remember what I felt like before I felt like this. I don't remember normal.

I am not so depressed that I can’t function. I can drag myself out of bed and go to work. I can’t stay focused, remember anything, or keep organized. I am easily distracted. I can’t make decisions. I forget what I’m doing and move onto something else only to remember that I have to finish the first project. I try to write everything down. At the end of the workday I'm not sure what I did. I exercise regularly, but it doesn’t help. I cry at small frustrations, I cry at commercials, I cry when I see videos of children. I don’t enjoy much. I think, “Hey, this is really nice, I should really feel great about this.” But I don’t.

This condition is very tiring and frustrating. People want you to do something about it, as if I had any energy to make an action plan. As if I could just "change my attitude to one of gratitude." If anyone mentions affirmations I will hunt them down and force them to eat the entire works of Louise Hayes. I can understand why manic depressives who experience euphoria when they're up don't want to give it up. I could use a little euphoria. I'm stuck. As a therapist once told me, therapy doesn't work if you're too depressed. You have to have enough energy to engage. So I'm off to a psychiatrist to adjust my meds and I hope find something to make me feel normal.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Ice cream

It's not Friday, but it's always the right time to talk about ice cream.

1. Ice cream: for warm weather only or a year-round food? Year-round, any time. It's never too cold in Georgia for ice cream.

2. Favorite flavor(s). Mint chocolate chip, peppermint, coffee (Starbuck Java Chip--mmmm), and anything with caramel or nuts. I don't much like chocolate ice cream, but I like chocolate in ice cream. At ice cream shops, I don't go for elaborate mix-ins (And I still haven't figured out why anyone would put Twizzlers in their ice cream--don't they get hard enought to break your teeth?).

3. Cake cone, sugar cone, waffle cone, cup? I like cake cones. They hold up well. Waffle cones are good, but are usually so enormous and crumbly.

4. Childhood ice-cream memory. Orange push-up pops from the local convenience store. The cardboard cylindar would start to get soggy and mushy near the end. I also loved ice cream bars. I ate the chocolate shell first and then the vanilla ice cream. And I have fond memories of my dad taking me to Dairy Queen for butterscotch sundaes. I liked butterscotch better than chocolate.

5. Banana splits: discuss. Blech. I am not a fan of bananas because I don't like their texture. I think they are really weird eaten with ice cream, kind of slimy, and then those little stringy bits come off. Ick.

Because Dear Husband is somewhat lactose intolerant, we've experimented with soy ice cream. Nasty. If anyone has ever had one that didn't taste like, well, soy, let me know. He has to make do with Breyer's Lactose Free, which comes in vanilla only .

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Done

It's over. I survived our General Assembly. I have no more idea than a cooked goose what happened in the assembly itself, but I smiled like an idiot and tried to get people to take free umbrellas. (Note to self: don't try to give an umbrella to someone from South Texas, as this leads to one of those exchanges of jollity that are so tiring.) I picked up a nifty gadget from another ministry's table (the little oval devices houses a tiny tapemeasure and opens up to be a screw driver with exchangable heads).

I am an introverted person, and I am not energized by rubbing up against the madding crowd. Being smiley and friendly to strangers saps me. Even nice conversations with nice, interesting people are tiring. I still have the clamor and clatter in my head. I need to live in a cave for a week.

Now I can get back to trying to dig myself out of the hole I was excavating when I got caught in the GA storm.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Excitement Ahead

Tomorrow and Wednesday I must show up pressed and pious at our big ol’ assembly. I’ve worked a number of conferences before, but always for publishers. Where books are involved, I’ll happily stand at a booth and smile non-stop, even though I am a pretty introverted person. Usually you get to go home with pre-publication galleys or other goodies. I find it hard to believe that working a denominational gathering is going to be quite so rewarding.  Even at book conferences, the day usually breaks down into long stretches of mind numbing boredom interrupted by spurts of manic activity, and a lot of time on your feet. Exhausting, in other words. Since I’ll be a sort of public information dispenser, I can’t sit and read, or anything during the boring stretches. Except eat the M&Ms from the candy dishes.

But I could be wrong. Maybe it will all be very exciting, and I’ll remember to avoid bad language when I drop a 50 lb box of brochures on my toe, and I’ll navigate those odd minefields that seem to exist where I least expect them (we don’t have a “pot luck” meal but a “pot provident” one). I’ve discovered that there will be a Celtic hymn fest, which astounds me, but it will be late in the evening and I won’t be able to go.

I’m not sure if such things as sessions and overtures can be all that exciting unless you have something at stake.  It seems we plan to declare someone or other heterodox and squash something called New Perspectives on Paul and something else called the Federalist Vision, whatever those are. After glancing through the results from googling those terms, I think I would get a headache trying to figure out why everyone is in a lather, so feel free to enlighten me.  

So, bad attitude or not, I’m not looking forward to this chunk out of my work schedule, and I’m feeling a bit nervous about talking with lots of people, not to mention the hassle of actually getting into downtown Atlanta in summer humidity while staying unwrinkled and retaining my sangfroid.  The M&Ms, though, I can live with.

Friday, June 16, 2006

RevGal Friday Five: Sleep

1. In what kind of environment do you sleep best? (e.g. amount of light and noise, temperature, number of pillows, breathe-right strip, sleeping in the buff, etc.)  Dark room, although I can nap in a quiet, dim room in the middle of the day. One pillow for my head and one for between my knees (I’m a side sleeper). I like the temperature cool, because I prefer to have the weight of covers to snuggle under. I don’t sleep well in heat. I like nightclothes. I’ve never liked sleeping in the buff. Some part of me always feels drafty, and I often have to leap out of bed to tend to a chuild. Dear Husband bought me breathe right strips, which I use most often during the winter and allergy season. Hah—he should talk.

2. How much sleep do you need to feel consistently well-rested?  I need 8-9 hours of sleep. Sometimes I need more, like during my period, when I think I could easily sleep  10 to 12 hours.
How much can you get by on? 6 to 7, sorrowfully
What are the consequences when you don't get enough? Very very grim.  At 5 hours or less for several days in a row I become very impatient and irritable and resentful of the smallest task.

3. Night owl or morning person? Night owl, hands down. Much as I’ve come to appreciate the morning out of necessity, and even started going to the gym in the morning during the school year, I always revert to my old habits.
4. Favorite cure for insomnia. I have never, ever experienced true insomnia. Ever. The few times I’ve had trouble sleeping have been the resulf of too much caffeine or excitement about some upcoming event.  Sleep is my friend.
5. To snooze or not to snooze? Why or why not?  Snooze only if there is a full hour available. Anything less makes me feel weird.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Paste and Serendipity

Some of you may remember that I lamented that someone I know was praying for his son to fail in his career in a rock band.  Well, this weekend I happened to see a copy of Paste in a drug store, and since I had heard so many people talking about it I decided to get a copy. It’s a great issue—the top 100 living songwriters. Well, I was looking through the record reviews when what should I see but a review of this band’s CD?! A three-star review, no less! Not too shabby for a first effort.

So, those of you who subscribe to Paste can have fun trying to figure out which band I mean. Only don’t give the whole name. I bet the dad can’t resist Googling regularly to see what shows up.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Thwarted Bookworm

One of the things I’ve found most frustrating about having children is the lack of time to read anything I want to read. I’m very good at reading to my girls and encouraging them to read. They both have library cards, which we turn up occasionally in odd places. And now I’ve discovered that we can check out magazines! I can check up on back issues of Real Simple, the magazine of wishful thinking.

But I digress. I get to read very little for my own enjoyment. I read Bing Gets Dressed, several times, and then Firecracker emptied the entire row of Bing books from the shelf, and we’ve been through all the library has to offer of Rolie Polie Olie. Drama Queen is working her way through the Junie B. Jones series, and pauses every few sentences to ask about a word. Last night I ended up coaching her through a PowerPuff Girls book (how did that end up in our collection?) in which Buttercup was keeping a baby whale in her room. The vocabulary seemed far too advanced for the age of a girl who would actually give a crap about the Power Puff Girls, and I finally had to take over reading the whole thing. By the way, if you love an animal, set it free.

But recently I grabbed some time to read a book, much to the chagrin of Dear Husband, who is horrified by the state of the laundry and the kitchen. I read not quite from beginning to end but close enough.  I begin to panic that I might not make it through and start skipping ahead, then backtracking to fill in the details. I do this even with novels of suspense. But, on to my book. Man, this book rocked. It had everything I like—a big door-stop of a book set in Victorian England, with many Dickensian twists and turns and surprising revelations, a dastardly villain or two, and some not-quite sweet and innocent young women.  Books like this can be a disappointment. I think back to my anticipation when I started The Quincunx (which got rave reviews), another door-stop of a book set in Victorian England etc. That book dragged the reader through every possible social ill of that time—child labor, prostitution, slums, the horrors of the legal system, tuberculosis, and so forth. I think they even ended up in the sewers at one point. The author seemed to feel obliged to plod through the entire back end of Victorian culture. When the mom ended up in the tenement I thought: Oh here we go, consumption can’t be far away now. I just had to wait for the coughing to start.

But this book avoided those problems with pacing while also taking a good romp through the Victorian netherworld. The book is called Fingersmith, and it’s about a young girl, Sue, who has been raised among thieves, one of whom serves as a surrogate mother. She is hired by another thief to help him woo a sheltered young heiress, Maude, and then dump her in a madhouse and take her money. Sue goes to work as lady’s maid to Maude, who lives in a dreary falling-down house with her too-weird-for-words uncle who is composing an encyclopedia with the help of the gentleman thief, Maude’s suitor. Maude seems to think marriage is the only way out of her isolated life but also seems to be afraid of her suitor. Well, as the gentleman thief is closing in on his prey, Sue begins to feel a bit sorry for Maude, and then a lot sorry, and then very fond of her, and then very very very fond of her, and well, problems ensue. It ends up that more people are playing deceitful games than you think, and just when you seem to have reached the end of it, there’s another revelation. I’ve just found out that there’s a DVD available of the BBC production, which is supposed to be very well done.  

Perhaps I will be able to report on another book in, say, a year.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Back to My Bloggy World

For those of you who want to know how the birthday away from the kids went, it was wonderful. I was pampered at a spa and stayed with Dear Husband at a B&B in downtown Atlanta. And spent several hours in a bookstore, one of my rare indulgences.

Ah, so brief are life's pleasures. My MIL is back in Arizona, and our house is quickly returning to its usual state of chaos. DramaQueen is on antibiotics for strep throat, and I'm watching Firecracker carefully for signs that she's heading down that path as well. No seizures since we've doubled her dose of Keppra. Also, no sleep. She doesn't see any need for it.

Today I thought it might be time to get off my heathen butt and read from the Bible. Doing so, I was struck by something I have so often thought reading scripture--this is really boring. I know that many people just love to delve into scripture. Today I opened to Nehemiah 12:44-46. Whenever I pray before I open up the Bible I end up somewhere so wildly inappropriate to my circumstances that I wonder if God is poking fun at me. Or maybe it's not supposed to be appropriate to my circumstances. Sometimes I wonder about all this "practical" application. A lot of the Bible doesn't seem all that practical to me. A lot of it just seems really weird and alien. Perhaps while we're at it we could look for a practical application of Wuthering Heights.

So, why is the Bible never as interesting as a novel? I'm sure many who read this will feel differently. I see it listed in the favorites section of blogger profiles. I'm in a web ring of ministers, who must enjoy the Bible on a regular basis. What do you do with, say, Leviticus, the most tedious instruction manual ever penned? And then there's Proverbs, which has always struck me as the book of pithy sayings about the bleeding obvious.

Besides the Gospels, my favorite book of the Bible is probably Ecclesiastes. No surprise there, I imagine. Eugene Peterson calls it a "witness to this experience of futility." Being a cup half-empy kind of person, I can readily hum along to that tune. I only read Ecclesiastes after realizing that The House of Mirth and The Golden Bowl took their titles from there. Dear Husband recommended it, too, since he thought it would resonate with my generally morose state of mind.

But, you know, I would probably rather read The House of Mirth.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

Firecracker had to have blood drawn today to test her med levels. Bless my husband for taking her, because I don’t think I could cope with little Firecracker and needles. I had to trot downtown for a meeting, and since I don’t like city driving, I was pretty annoyed. But someone bought me a birthday brownie, which went a long way to improve matters. Then I found that Dear Husband had let Firecracker leave me a happy birthday message on my cell phone. This was so adorable that I’m tempted to make everyone around me listen to it.

My MIL is coming in to visit. She’ll watch the girls while Dear Husband and I have a night to ourselves in a B&B this weekend. The girls are looking forward to seeing Nana, who will spoil them, tell them how incredibly smart they are, oo and ah over all their artwork, and let them watch too much TV. What could be better?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Firecracker Goes Off

Firecracker has had seizures since she was about a year old. She has what are called partial focal seizures. She never loses consciousness, but she looses the ability to control the left side of her body. Sometimes they are so subtle and over so quickly that you aren't sure what you just saw. She has been on a few different meds, and her seizures have been pretty much under control. But after a long period of seeing very few if any, she's suddenly having them every couple of hours. I know when they're coming on because she starts laughing uncontrollably, and then she starts tilting or crumpling. She's zonked now, whether from increased meds or multiple seizures, I'm not sure.

So I'm asking whoever reads this to say a little prayer for Firecracker.

May 23 Update
Thank you all for your prayers. The increase in meds seems to be working. We saw only a couple of seizures yesterday. She's still feisty as ever.

Yet another update--May 24
Abby had one seizure last night. She started laughing and trembling. Probably brought on by fatigue, because she resists going to sleep. This morning when her bus came she started screaming and crying. This is completely out of character. She loves the bus and school. I just knew--and it turned out that I was correct--that I would hear that she had a seizure on the bus. Poor Firecracker. She has an EEG coming up, which will tell us what we already know, that her brain patterns are abnormal. Her medication will have to be revisited. I've been lax about scheduling a sleep study (requested by her pulmonologist, as it turns out, since apnea can exacerbate asthma), but her sleep patterns may also be abnormal and contributing to the seizures. I'm grateful she doesn't have grand or even petit mal seizures, but our neurologist put the fear of God into me by telling me that left uncontrolled the electrical impulses will keep building until she does have a grand mal.

My birthday is tomorrow--I'm turning 40. I do not feel very celebratory.

Friday, May 19, 2006

TGIF

Well, so much for work ethics. Here I am typing a post with 25 minutes to go to quittin’ time. I’m too tired and burned out to think straight.

The book discussion was, as I thought it would be, pretty dull. But like I said, I have a bad attitude. I thought the discussion questions were pretty lame. One was “What role does work play in redemptive history?” First of all, I don’t think I even understand that question. I don’t think I understand what redemptive history is. I was also introduced to the idea of work as worship. Well, that makes worship sound really exhausting to me. But it’s over now, and I can reflect on how it can be that the author did not mention one woman in the Bible. Considering how much women work, you’d think he could have mentioned one. Ruth, maybe. Or at least the Mary and Martha story. Or how about Mary the mother of Jesus? She must have had her hands full. But then, this is a denomination that won’t ordain women, so probably the women are used to being overlooked. Everyone else seemed to like the book. I thought it lacked any kind of exhortatory power. But at least it wasn’t Who Moved My Cheese?

So, I’m going to take my decidedly unbiblical perspective on work on home, where I can grouse about the amount of cleaning and laundry to do this weekend.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm Cranky

I’m tired and I’m cranky. I’m up to my eyeballs in brochures and I’ve been commandeered to work at our General Assembly next month. Ack—Atlanta traffic. I don’t like standing at a booth looking friendly and properly Christian. I have to remember to watch my language. I expect to be bored out of my mind.

Cranky Update: I also have to read a book for work. It's a book about biblical work principles. The fellow who wrote it is a nice guy and he has a great ministry, but I don't want to sit around tomorrow discussing this book when I have tons of work to do. So far, the book says nothing new. I expect to be bored out of my mind. I also expect to be irritated by the discussion. Don't you hate it when management starts trying to instill a work ethic in you? And then they pull out the Bible to back it up. I mean, really, does it help me to find the origins of work conflict in the Garden of Eden. No it does not. I start feeling all anti-establishment.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day--Can I Go Hide?

I'll have to confess that I'm not exactly looking forward to Mother's Day. I feel very uncomfortable being on the receiving end. I feel like a fraud on Mother's Day. Twenty years from now my kids will be in therapy trying to sort through the mess, just as I did and do.

If you had asked me when I was 25 if I was planning to have children, I would have laughed and felt the usual stirrings of impatience with people who felt they had to propagate. I didn't like children. The thought of small powerless creatures depending on me filled me with, well, rage. And I thought that was a pretty good reason not to have kids.

When I was 32 I had been around a few actual children and babies and discovered that I did not want to swat them. Usually. I still wan't planning on having any children.

I still wasn't planning on having children when I got pregnant. Being pregnant required an enormous shift in perception. I felt relatively good about the whole business.

As my children get older, I find that I am revisited by old and unpleasant emotions from my childhood. This is not good. I was furious with myself as a child. I made up alter egos to absorb my fury. Now I have actual children, and sometimes I feel that I walk very close to the line. My words can be cruel. Sometimes I don't like them very much, and then I burst into tears because I adore them.

I wish my mother were still alive. She wouldn't have any advice. Actually, she was wonderfully free of any parenting advice. DramaQueen was just over a year old when my mom died. My mother adored DramaQueen. She went through a hellish round of chemotherapy because she wanted to stick around to see her grow up. I wish she could have seen Firecracker. She would say, "Oh, she has the Akins temper!"

My mom raised five children. She had wanted children all her life. She couldn't wait to have lots of kids. She would be the first to say she wasn't a very good mother, and, well, she wasn't in many ways. There were some things that went very wrong, sometimes for reasons beyond her control. My brothers, who are much older than I am, lived through some really awful stretches when mom's behavior became worrisome enough that dad committed her to an asylum. But she was affectionate and had boundless love for her children. Although when she had delusions she could be mean and kinda spooky, she was usually gentle and kind. She made sure to call each of us every week after we were all out of the house. She was a very intelligent woman who had not had the opportunity to go to college. She would have felt at home in a seminary, I think. She listened to lectures on Augustine and peppered my husband with questions about Judaism. At her funeral her pastor said good-naturedly that she always pushed him into corners with her questions. Several women from her Sunday school class mentioned the same thing--that my mom thought of questions that never crossed their minds.

Mom's frequent refrain was, "I just don't know what to do with my life." This used to drive me crazy, but I find that I'm pretty much in the same boat. I've inherited her lack of drive and energy, her sensitivity to too much stimulation, her social discomfort, her disorganization and inability to actually finish anything. I have her questioning mind, but not one-tenth of her faith.

And I can't garden at all.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Firecracker Goes to the Library

Firecracker may be the only four-year-old girl whose chosen bed-time reading last night was Big Yellow Trucks and Diggers. This had some informative tid-bits such as "The sky is blue. The track-type tractor is yellow" and "The hard hat is green. The wheel loader is yellow" and my favorite, "The garbage is many different colors. The landfill compactor is yellow." As you can see, the theme was "yellow."

Every Saturday I take Firecracker to the library while DramaQueen is in drama class. Yesterday Firecracker insisted on wearing her gold dress-up shoes to the library. They had gotten mixed up with her sister's, so she was wearing two right feet, and she's still so small that there's a good 5 inches of shoe sticking out behind her. She was pretty delighted with herself, though. As usual she took off to find books for herself. I suggested she look in the section on animals. She likes to get books about monkeys and tigers now and then. This time she chose Tunneling Earthworms. Perhaps that will be our bedtime reading tonight.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Grace Is So Cool

Well, the ministry leader whose letter I screwed up told me that he had made so many mistakes in the last months that he had lost count. So, all is well. Thanks for your prayers.

It's those sorts of actions that make me really like the people I work with, even when I don't agree with so many aspects of the theology they hold dear.

For example, for administrative professionals day, all the support staff were taken out to lunch at an off-the-beaten track little cafe serving traditional Southern cooking. After that, we were taken to a local massage clinic for mini-massages. But best of all, when we got to work that morning, on each desk was a sheet of paper with our name and hand-written messages from the senior staff thanking us for our work. The HR manager was really thinking ahead, because most of the senior staff are scattered across the country and only come into town twice a year.

I doubt many people can top that.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mistakes Were Made

This is a lousy day. I just discovered I made a rather large mistake in a mailing. Everyone is no doubt hopping mad about it—and they do not yet know that it was my fault. Ugh.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Neurotics Anonymous

Lorraine has tagged me to list 6 neurotic things about myself. I think I may have done this in the past, but I have enough neuroses to wrap around me twice with enough left over to make Woody Allen, so here is a selection:

1. I avoid left turns where there is no traffic light, unless I know I am somewhere there is no traffic. I also can't stand it when Dear Husband, who has no such fear, decides to turn left across multiple lanes of cars going 60+. I usually close my eyes.

2. I'm afraid I won't recognize people I've been introduced to. I'll run across someone I've met and they've changed their hairstyle or their clothes (drat them) and I won't know who they are. I've decided I should act as if I know everybody until proven otherwise.

3. I won't look in mirrors in the dark. Remember Bloody Mary? Pam M., my childhood nemesis who pretended to be a friend when my mom was around, terrified me with stories about looking in mirrors and this apparation called Bloody Mary appearing. Who was Bloody Mary supposed to be, anyway?

4. I'm afraid that some day I will see a ghost. I have a lot invested in not seeing ghosts. I'm convinced that if I ever see a ghost I will be so scared I'll have a heart attack and die on the spot.

5. I don't like being without ready access to water. For instance, I don't like to be in a car without a bottle of water handy, and I don't like being at a mall where I have to find the water fountain (yuck). I also have to have water by my bed at night or I feel anxious. This started in NYC, where I discovered that I needed to drink a lot of water to deal with the pollution or I'd get headaches. Then in Arizona, well, you have to be crazy not to keep water with you at all times there. Every summer in Arizona there's a news story about a tourist who collapses on a trail because he was foolish enough to sprint up Squaw Peak without water.

6. A holdover from working in publishing: I avoid opening and looking at books I've edited. I'm certain I will find mistakes and everyone will wonder what they're paying me for. I'm afraid my mistakes will show up on a list of stupid errors editors make. I've just edited a devotional at my workplace and I dread looking at it. But there's no escape since we'll be using it soon.

Bonus neurosis: I don't like getting manicures. Sometimes my worst fears come true: recently my boss sent us all off for free manicures. What I don't like is having my nails filed. I've only met one manicurist who managed it without rasping my finger tips, which makes me shiver and twitch and writhe inside. In the same vein, I can't stand rubbing my fingers across rough surfaces--not brick, plaster, the carpet, bed linen, not anything. Just thinking about it makes me feel cold and twitchy. I also can't stand to be around when someone else does it, but I sound like a freak blurting out "For heavens sake stop rubbing your hand over the carpet before I'm forced to strangle you!"

I think I'm supposed to tag 6 others. If you read this and you plan to play, leave a comment so that the fun of self-revelation can continue.

Friday, April 28, 2006

RevGals Friday Five: The Joys of Procrastination

This week we reveal our favorite procrastination techniques:

  1. Blogging and surfing other blogs and websites. One site leads to another, and another.
  2. Watching TV and movies. Last night I was sucked into watching a kung-fu movie about mah jong. You wouldn't think that mah jong could be so exciting, but it was smashing. And I have no idea how it's played or what any of those little tiles mean.
  3. Reading fiction. Murder mysteries, if I allow them into the house, will eat every spare moment as well as those I can't spare.
  4. Emailing a cheery message to my husband. That is so much more fun than my to-do list.
  5. Looking through catalogues. I love catalogues. Everything from Ikea to The Oriental Trading Company. I particularly like catalogues from The Learning Store and SchoolBox. I never buy anything, but I so enjoy looking at them.
If I have a particularly undesirable task, I will even procrastinate by doing laundry. There's always plenty of it, and I can always say to myself that it needs to be done. Of course, most of the time I procrastinate doing laundry by blogging, watching TV, reading, etc.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

DramaQueen Speaks Her Mind

Today Dear Husband was looking over his anataomy and physiology textbook, and because DramaQueen was sitting next to him, he started showing her parts of the body: "Here's the heart, and these are the kidneys." She showed a mild interest, asking what some organs were. Then Dear Husband turned the page to the reproductive organs. "These are the ovaries. Do you know what they do?" Then followed a very basic description of eggs and sperm meeting to make babies.

DramaQueen looked out at us with an odd expression on her face and stated calmly, "I think I've heard enough."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bloggers in Dreamland

Have you ever had a dream in which another blogger appeared, someone you know only from the blogosphere?

And by “dream” I mean something completely innocent, so don’t get your hopes up.

I’ve been meaning to recommend some of my favorite blogs, and it just happens that one of my favorite bloggers showed up in a dream:

I was in a Medieval country, probably France, and I and my comrade were running from the royal guard. I’m not sure what we had done, if we had stolen a loaf of bread or tried to overthrow the monarchy, but whatever it was, we were in deep trouble. The guards finally cornered us, and the exit we took shot us straight into the castle dungeons, where everyone was awaiting their dinner of roasted newt. I’m not sure what a newt is, but my dream newt looked like a rat. The prison guards were doing a comedy routine for a spot of entertainment, which gave us hope that we could suborn them into helping us.

At this point Firecracker let out a wail, so I never found out if we managed to escape.

My comrade was Augustus, from Liberal Christian Front Parlor. Augustus, if you happen to read this, what do you think we did to piss off the government of France?

And fellow travelers, if you are interested in progressive Christianity, you should definitely check out his blog.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cheese and Whine

Since I’m in the mood to rant about everything that irritates me, let me address a children’s book that DramaQueen is currently reading, Who Moved My Cheese for Kids. I’ll state up front that I loathe Who Moved My Cheese. I’m pretty cheesed off (ha ha ha) that the author made oodles of money out of delivering this earth-shaking message: “Change is scary but you need to get used to it and not blame other people when things change but instead you should be proactive and get off your butt.”

Wow, my life is transformed.

Basically, this is a corporate inspirational poster in book form and I bet that corporations across the country hand it out with pink slips.

Given that it’s so simplistic that even a corporate executive can digest it, you would think that it would be right on target for a kids’ book. What a kid is supposed to make of “Smell the cheese so you know how old it is” I’m not sure. Actually, I’m not sure what to make of it. Now’s the time to dump your low-wage job and move on? Now’s the time to dump your not-so-fresh low-wage employees and find fresher cheaper ones?

And then of course there’s the message “Don’t blame others for moving the cheese.” I gather that means “Don’t blame me if I had to let you go in the downsize. Life’s a bitch so deal.” It’s America and there’s always enough cheese to go around as long as you aren’t one of the lazy mice who sits around and whines when Cheese Station C runs out of cheese instead of being a forward thinking mouse and striding forward boldly in search of new cheese in foreign markets. It’ll taste even better than the old cheese, and will be cheaper, too.

I just thought of an alternate title: I Just Moved Your Cheese: So Suck It Up!

As one reviewer put it: “Spencer’s book puts the onus for adapting to change on those who have it imposed on them instead of those who impose it.” It’s good to learn early how the system works.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

Today someone I know mentioned that he was praying for his son to fail at his current occupation. His son is a musician. This occupation is, in his opinion, un-Christian, and the music the band plays is also awful and un-Christian. Oh, and it protests war, which is also bad for some reason. Now, if the boy was singing about God and nice Christian things, like holiness and how Jesus died for us and heaven is a cummin and playing nice wholesome venues like churches, there would be no problem.

I admit that when I heard this I was so startled I almost started crying. But no one hesitated to pray for him to be taken out of the godless environment of rock music. I prayed for his protection, which was the only thing I could think of.

I’ve listened with some astonishment to similar opinions of popular music. Some people gave up their music collections when they converted and never listed to rock music again. One person mentioned bonfires of CDs.

I. don’t. get. it.

Give up The Rolling Stones to listen to Michael Card?

I think not.

There’s more true religious feeling in Sympathy for the Devil than there will ever be in My God is Awesome. One talks about the problem of evil in an imaginative way with great musical finesse; the other is, well, self-congratulatory pious dreck from the la la land of happy shiny Christians.

I don't want to downplay the dangers of the lifestyle, which has many pitfalls I have not doubt, or the misogyny and other reprehensible sentiments found in some music, but the dismissal of incredible, fabulous, creative works of genius because they aren’t “christian” makes me so very ill.

And I’m going to stop there, because my heart is still sore for this young man but being angry, resentful, and critical doesn’t help anything.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Real Gospel of Judas

And on a lighter note, from Gladly Suffering Fools, (be sure to stick around and read more of his posts, because he’s hilarious), I bring you:

From the Gospel of Judas, Chapter 27, Verses 19-29.19 Jesus pulled Judas aside at the gym and said unto him, "Did you tell the Romans about my plan to have you 'betray' me?" while making air quotes around the word "betray." 20 Judas replied unto him, "The other disciples are all over me like stink on lepers. I have not been able to get two freaking seconds alone."21 Then Jesus said, "What we need is a distraction." 22 And Judas said unto him, "You mean like an explosion? Or nude cheerleaders?" 23 Jesus shook his head slowly and said, "Um, no. I shall tell the other disciples to organize a celebration of the coming of springtime. 24 They shall hide colored eggs, both real and plastic, among the lilies of the field and the trees of the hills and the barbecue grills near the picnic tables.25 "All the children of the land shall look for the eggs and rejoice at the bounty contained therein. 26 And their parents shall call out, 'Lo! Remember to share! There are plenty for everybody!' and 'I think you've had enough candy for now!' 27 The disciples will be so busy running the celebration and dealing with the parents and the insurance underwriters that they won't notice you've gone to scheme with the Romans."28 Judas said, "Okay, just as long as I don't get in any trouble." 29 And Jesus said, "Relax, man. History is written by the winners."

Spiritual Doldrums

It’s Holy Week, and just about every blog I visit seems to mention it. I’ve been thinking about my lack of any spiritual community, discipline, or enthusiasm. I am not the kind of person who is filled with spiritual joy. Christianity is something I assent to because it has pursued me, but emotionally I remain distant. I cannot imagine getting teary-eyed over Christ’s sacrifice. I can’t say that I ever have. It is satisfying as a pattern, as a plan, as whatever, but I have no emotional connection to it. The world is broken, we are all broken, redemption is needed, redemption is provided. The birth of my children I can respond to—God becoming incarnate, dying, and rising again, well, He is God, after all. When anything is possible, is anything truly astounding?

Friday, April 07, 2006

RevGals Friday Five (uh, Seven): Performing Arts

This week we're talking about memorable performing arts experiences. Once I started I couldn't stop at five, but sadly these experiences have definitely tapered off since leaving New York City. I really must make more of an effort.

1. In college I saw a production of The Canterbury Tales in which the actors also served as props, becoming part of the landscape or a piece of furniture, as needed. When the action called for a river, an actor with long blond hair leaned over and her hair became the rippling water. A fiery hot poker was played by a man wearing a red sock.

2. I saw the dance troupe Mommix perform a piece called Baseball. Momix is incredible, and if they ever come to your town (or Pilobolus, a troupe that is somehow related to Momix) try to go. They do things you would not thing possible. This particular dance was funny and amazing and athletic. In one sequence they danced in full baseball regalia with bats. I also remember a naked woman dancing in a giant baseball mitt (this sounds cheesy, which it was, because it was poking fun a bit).

3. In the 90s I saw a production of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore at the Papp Public Theater in New York that I liked a lot. They set the story in Fascist Italy. Definitely not flawless acting, but since it is a Jacobean drama, it was violent and excessive and ran pell-mell over taboos (Giovanni falls in love with his sister Annabella, who wants to stop bonking her brother and marry, provoking violent rage in brother). I looked up the production online—it starred Val Kilmer, whose name I recognized at the time, and Jeanne Tripplehorn, whom I did not know at the time. Although I have a suspicion that someone else played the role of Annabella the night I saw it, and the phrase “Sharon Stone’s little sister” stays in my head). The final scene was memorable: Something nasty (perhaps the title) written in blood on the wall of Annabella’s bedroom.

4. I saw Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia during it’s first run in NYC. If you don’t know the play, it flips between the present and Sidley Manor in 1809, where the 18th century gardens are being transformed into a more romantic style. The main protagonist is Thomasina, a young math genius who has somehow anticipated chaos theory. I loved the way science and art bounced off each other. Thomasina’s story was haunting. She had these incredible ideas that bumped up against the limits of science (no computers), and because she was a girl, her interest in mathematics would have to give way to marriage and family. But she doesn’t even get that far, because we learn at the end that she dies in a fire the very night depicted in the last scene we see with her (she dances with her tutor).

5. This isn’t strictly speaking one of the performing arts, but I saw Jeannette Winterson give a reading. I find that a lot of readings are pretty boring. The authors go into “Public Reading” cadence (for poets, that means that each line goes dowwwwnnnnn). But you could tell that Winterson had been groomed to be an evangelical preacher. I guess she was reading from Sexing the Cherry, which had just been released at the time, but I don’t remember. It didn’t really matter what she was reading, but how she read it.

6. Recently we saw an experimental puppet show about the Epic of Gilgamesh. The show started with the actors, dressed in fatigues, singing shape note songs in the lobby. The puppeteers, who were visible at all times, also served as narrators, and sometimes as actors in the drama. They used a variety of puppetry styles from around the world. There was even puppet sex—very memorable, and rather startling I think if you were anywhere within firing range (I leave this to your imagination). One of my coworkers (who unfortunately has left and now I don’t have anyone to talk with about books who won’t get all prissy) recommended it because it engaged the Big Themes of redemption and death.

7. DramaQueen recently performed in The Foot Book for Dr. Suess Day at our local library. She was Big Feet. Or maybe Fuzzy Fuzzy Fur Feet. It’s not just me—the performers were also a little confused.