friday morning

I sit on the sofa eating fried kimchi dumplings for breakfast because a kid abandoned a bag of frozen kimchi dumplings on the counter overnight.  Sometimes life is like this; offers of kimchi dumplings when really, the only thing you ever, ever want for breakfast is a giant mug of strong coffee with a splash of heavy cream.

You make do, and you move on.

When I’m finished writing and pinching dumplings with my chopsticks, and have enjoyed my daily mug, I’m going to pack. Sometimes life is like this; offers of incredible opportunities for growth and learning and change, and all of those things are good and right and natural and amazing. And sometimes you arrive at a place on the journey where you realize that for all the flourishing that is happening, there are some things that just can’t continue.

For the record, it’s way more pleasant to find a bag of unfrozen dumplings than to realize your marriage is over. Today I make do with fried dumplings, boxes, and a second cup of coffee. Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.

a confessional lament

Another assignment from my Psalms class.

Oh, Lord, my God
I approach your throne with a heavy heart and tears on my cheeks
You are the protector of the land, you love the people you created.

I repent for my ancestors, who stepped off the Mayflower on to Wampanoag land.
I weep that while they explored, they desecrated a burial ground;
they stole corn buried safely for spring planting.
They extended a hand of smallpox instead of a gesture of peace.

My ancestors took the land, reviled the sacred, and polluted creation.
Greed, and war, and rape, and torture became the standard,
and slowly genocide was enacted.
I am ashamed that my ancestors created reservations.

My people stole their children, discredited their spirituality.
We enforced their poverty, we spend millions of dollars with businesses who
make their living by exploiting caricature,
Exploiting their culture because we are addicted to colonization and power.

And now they rise, and they stand in prayer and we beat them with clubs.
We burn their eyes with gas and spray and force them into kennels.
we shoot them with guns that leave them alive and traumatized.
I repent for my ancestors. I cannot scrub colonizer privilege from my skin.

Creator, they are oppressed, and yet they remain peaceful,
and yet we beat them back, and yet they remain.
Protect the ones who would protect your work.
Protect the ones who love the land you made,
The ones who are your true children, who honor you by honoring your creation.

You have punished armies, ended conflicts.
You take power from oppressors; you restore the oppressed.
You heal the brokenhearted; you set prisoners free.
You bring suffering to those who do not love;
Lord God, make us pay for we know exactly what we do.

participant, not author

I had one goal for this summer, and one homework assignment from my academic advisor. The goal: to get active, and hopefully walk/bike/whatever my way to shedding the extra softness I’ve acquired from all the sitting, reading, typing, and snacking I did as I worked my way through my Master’s degree. I did a somewhat mediocre job at activity in June, and at the beginning of July, I caught the germs that keep on germing. Some kind of respiratory-plus-fever nonsense rendered me completely useless for a week, and since then I’ve been working super hard to cough up a lung. Which lung? Depends on the day.

So that’s been completely awesome.

My homework assignment was to decide which denomination I wanted to join. I did a lot of reading about what each branch believes, and if I’m being honest, there’s not a lot of variation within the Protestant sector. I have been a member of the United Methodist Church for my entire adult life, and as I get older, I find I’m a bit more left-leaning than the official church policy. I started out looking at the denominations that met my qualifications, which isn’t the best possible way to look for jobs when you work for God.

I’m not going into ministry because it’s an especially attractive or exciting line of work, I’m pursuing this because I feel drawn to it. Perhaps drawn isn’t the most accurate word to use; I feel like this is a unique opportunity that has been set in front of me, and I need to honor the opportunity and the giver of opportunity. Right now is a completely terrible time to enter the ministry on a whim. People are full of fear, racism’s ugly heads and claws are tearing into people of colour, into immigrants, into followers of Islam; the evangelical church has positioned itself as a supporter of the Only Pro-Life If You’re An Unborn Baby Party.

It seems like something happens every single day that makes me have a Lorelai Gilmore conversation/monologue with God, “This is what you want me to do? Are you serious? I mean, I know you’re serious, you’re God, you invented serious. I’ve read the Old Testament. I get it that you are not playing, but how do I respond to my friend whose newborn granddaughter just died? Will a solid Ugly Cry be okay, because that’s all I have right now.”

And while I carry on, I picture God looking at me with his lips pursed like Emily Gilmore, or like Edward Herrman playing Lorelai’s dad, casually reading the newspaper, waiting for me to stop talking, so that he can ask me if I’m finished yet.

Yes. I’m finished. Kind of.

The BMI people are unhappy with me, and I’m signing up with the Methodists. None of the other choices was the right one, so here I am. It’s not really about my preference at this point, anyway. (Yes, that is a line from my Lorelai monologue.) I feel like there is a plan, and I trust that there is a plan. And I trust the author of the plan enough that I’m freed to be present, and to participate.

 

the gift of silver

I left my house the other night without children. WITHOUT CHILDREN. If I’m being honest with me, I say I am getting really bad about doing things for me; or, if I’m feeling like a pity party, I tell myself it’s a season, and they will  soon go away and I can go to the movies any time I please.
Which will likely be thrice weekly, supposing there’s anything interesting playing.
So I went to see Les Miserables with a friend. I had extra napkins, I was ready. Because really, when you are going to see a musical where everybody dies, you need to be prepared. I was ready for The Epic Crying.
I was not ready for The Epic Cry to begin when the bishop gave Valjean the candlesticks. 
I should back up. Not everybody has read the novel by Victor Hugo (you really should), nor has everyone seen the musical, even though every professional, semi-professional, amateur, and high school theatre group in the nation has performed it in the last 15 years. 
Here’s a little summary: Valjean was in prison for 19 years, 5 of those for stealing bread to feed his sister’s dying child, and 14 more for trying to escape. He gets paroled, and wanders around trying without success to find work, because nobody will hire a dangerous! man! A bishop shows Valjean kindness, offers him food and a place to sleep, and Valjean repays him by stealing most of the silver on the premises. Naturally, Valjean is caught by the local gendarmes, and is brought back to the bishop’s residence. The police tell the bishop that they have recovered his stolen silver, and that Valjean will return to prison, despite his claims that the bishop gave him the silver. Without missing a beat, the bishop tells Valjean that he left in such a rush he must have forgotten the silver candlesticks, how terrible that he forgot the best silver of the collection. The police are terribly confused, but go about their business, and leave Valjean with the bishop.
Valjean stole the silver. His guilt is not debatable. And yet the bishop corroborated Valjean’s story.
Hugo used the character of the bishop to speak the voice of God to Valjean. Hugo got God right. I know I have done some serious silver stealing in my time, not actual silver stealing, of course. I have spoken and behaved in ways that have caused other people grief and hurt, sometimes by accident, sometimes not so accidentally. Sometimes it happens by accident, but the result makes my inner mean girl grin a bit. It’s a really horrible thing to live with, knowing exactly what it feels like to be on the receiving end and at the same time being the person who is handing it out.
I have been given the candlesticks, and not just once. I can see clearly so.many.times. when I have screwed up royally and have been shown beautiful, undeserved mercy. In the same moment, I see so many more times when I have been utterly merciless and it fills me with horrified embarrassment. I don’t understand why I choose unkindness and unforgiveness and mercilessness when I know how it makes me feel to do that, but even more importantly, how it feels to be treated that way. It’s dreadful.
I am meditating on Micah 6:8 this year:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Intentional mercy. Intentional forgiveness. Intentional kindness. Intentionally training myself upward.

let’s try this again. maybe.

it’s been about a year, and i’ve been mostly quiet.

sometimes that happens.
sometimes it has to happen.
i could say that 2012 offered an endless stream of hassle.
it’s true.
but it was full of learning about myself, about my people.
it was full of learning about the people around me, that 
opinions are formed about you (me) independent of 
fact and truth.
i learned that my child would do better if he was able to do better.
i learned that behaviours are often unrelated to attitudes.
i learned that sometimes the things that hold you (me) back are 
held firmly in place by the rubble of things that happened long ago.
sorting through piles of destruction is hard work.
i learned open hearth cooking, and how to bake in a brick oven.
whilst wearing proper underpinnings for a woman in the 1850’s.
including a corset.
i learned that making pretty, useful things for people is 
terrifically satisfying.
i love sitting in my work space, sewing away,
while my people do their schoolwork.
i learned that the unorthodox sometimes is the best fit.
also in the very satisfying category:
drinking a guinness after setting up our enormous
10-person tent, after driving 5 hours, after packing for a camping trip,
ALONE (plus the short people).
i learned that i can do all the things.
well, many of the things.
there is always more to master.

i know.

i remembered.

i know who you are, and i know what you did.
i think i always knew, somewhere, in my innermost hiding-place self.
but last week, i remembered.

oddly enough, i’m not angry.
i’m disappointed, disgusted, sad.

you took what was not yours, and not just from me.
i was not the only one.
i.know.who.you.are.
and so do you.

wishbone

My hips are on strike this week, along with my right thumb and a tiny, but crucial place in my lower back. Most of the time I can stand up straight like a normal person, but sometimes I just cannot.

I am easily embarrassed, which might come as a surprise to some; I am horribly self-conscious. I use smart-ass comments and self-deprication to diffuse and hide. But this. There is no witty anything that will make me forget that my body doesn’t work right. There is no joke here, nothing humourous whatsoever. There is no hiding.

I cleaned part of my living room today, removed the toys, reclaimed flat surfaces, filled the giveaway bag and a trash bag. It was less than an hour’s worth of work, and I couldn’t do any more. Didn’t vacuum, didn’t dust, didn’t even take the trash outside.

In everything, give thanks.

Oh God, I am having a hard time giving thanks. I am sad that I am not able to do my job well, I resent the pain and the hindrances and the exhaustion. I want to do and serve and be able. I want to be able. I want to be able-bodied, to do and walk and work and play. I want to see the point of my current state; how do I use my pain for good?

I am thankful for my husband and our short people, for dear ones that lend an ear or a sponge and elbow grease. I am thankful for our home and the food we eat and that The Mister has secured his dream job and is happier than I’ve seen him in the ten years we have been married.

I have so much to be thankful for, I know this in my deepest spirit. I rejoice in these things, but even in the midst of that I feel weighed down by this frustrating disease. I want there to be something good to come from this. It doesn’t need to be a big or important or revolutionary, a tiny quiet something would be just as lovely. Please. And thank you.

it is quiet, and i can hear the rain bouncing off the beech tree, the roof, the sidewalk.
i can hear myself think.
but i would rather listen to the rain.
rain hurts less.

got a phone call yesterday from somebody i haven’t heard from in quite some time.
she called about something i posted on the effbooks; wanted to make sure i wasn’t giving away the super important thing she thought i was giving away.
thanks for calling to check on the super important people that live in my house.

the rain washes.
and the rain makes mud.
six of one, half dozen of the other.
i prefer the cleansing.

got a letter yesterday from somebody i haven’t heard from in quite some time.
a real, actual postal service letter in an envelope with a stamp.
it was chock full to the brim, and then some.

rain is good.

flush.

I have been sitting on the sofa all afternoon with a (shameless plug) hotsy-coldsy bag on my left eye.  You might think a lot of things about how this came to be, but I will just tell you straight away:  It was my own stupid fault.  
Really, it was.  
I put the contact in my left eye this morning, and it felt uncomfortable, and instead of just taking it right back out of my eye and giving it a good old rinse-off, I left it there.  Uncomfortable became more uncomfortable became sting-y became scratchy became white-knuckled pain.  And by that time?  I was not at home.  In fact, I was at an outdoor picnic in the bright! blazing! sunshine!   Completely useless tears were pouring down the left side of my face.  
A person with more sense and a less horrible prescription would have removed her contact before it got this far.  But NOT ME!  I am a stick-er-out-er.  That dead horse over there?  Yep, that was me, and I have the souvenir beater stick to prove it.
I do this sticking-it-out-keep-on-trying thing all of the time.  The Mister will verify this for you.  It’s not pretty, and it’s not rational.  But I persist.  I make mistakes and I try to fix and fix and fix and all I accomplish in the end is epic levels of awkward and ick.  I notice something heading south (no offense, Southerners) and I figure it will rectify itself as if things actually do that on their own.   It’s a whole other kind of awesome that leaves a spectacular pit in my stomach, or a spectacular pit in my eyeball, as is the case today.  Just keep blinking, just keep blinking, just keep blinking…
So I ask you:  how do you learn to stop, to put on the brakes and to lay down the beater stick?  And do any of you suffer from this same bout of nonsense as me?  

friday the thirteenth, also the thirty-fourth

Y’all, today is my birthday.  And I was out having way too much fun to even talk to you about it.  Also, motherhucking Blogger was a little too NOT ACTUALLY WORKING for me to even talk to you about it.

But let’s not talk about *that* little EPIC FAIL.

Usually I post a list of things I want for my birthday.  But this year, I have something very different in mind.

Is your curiosity piqued?  Hmmm???  Maybe just a little?

Tomorrow evening, people.  I will tell you tomorrow evening.  It’s completely awesome.