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.

it’s another banner day in washington

Today, the House of Representatives pushed a shiny, new healthcare bill on through to the Senate. No hearings, little analysis. This bill has been called “a monstrous act of cruelty,” and has been denounced by pretty much every medical-related field except big pharma.

The list of pre-existing conditions includes CRIMES.

Rape is a CRIME.

Sexual assault is a CRIME.

Domestic violence is a CRIME.

And instead of offering embrace and support, victims can now be penalized for seeking medical attention for those three crimes against them. All this happened while the President of the United States made statements saying that women want to be sexually assaulted, and abusers in the entertainment industry were awarded Oscars and given multi-million dollar severance packages.

AND DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THE JOHNSON AMENDMENT.

What today’s executive order accomplished is to make it legal for churches to tell their congregations which way God wants them to vote. Nobody’s First Amendment rights were violated by the Johnson Amendment. No pastor has been sanctioned for looking at sociopolitical current events through the lens of the Bible. No priest has been reprimanded for asking, “What would Jesus do about _______?” No pastor has been fired for preaching about how the church should interact with refugees or the poor, or about issues of race and gender.

But.

Now no pastor’s tax status will be on the line for preaching the Gospel of Trump. No church will lose its 501(c)3 status for bowing to the idol of America. No house of worship will be in hot water teaching the Doctrine of American Exceptionalism.

Because that’s why we have church, right? To hear about how great the government is, and to have someone tell us what is God’s perspective on our political climate. It’s too much work to look at the critique of government provided throughout the Bible, and compare those situations to what we face today. And besides, Revelation is so dramatic and confusing and HARD.

*****

I took Introduction to Preaching this semester, and Tuesday was my turn in the pulpit. I preached from Jeremiah about prophets, and about the responsibility we have to speak truth to power.

Here’s some truth:

This administration does not care about its constituents. It does not care about women; it does not care about children. This administration does not care about the disabled or the people suffering from mental illness. It does not care for our elders. It does not care about the land, the water, or the air. It does not take seriously nuclear war, nor does it care about the blood already on its hands. It does not care about the poor or the oppressed.

Lifting the Johnson Amendment might accomplish one of the to-do items on the Republican Evangelical’s to-do list. But more importantly, it built a pulpit that allows the rest of us to call them out.

Thanks for holding the door open for us, Mr. President.

*****

Jeremiah 5: 26-29

“My people are infiltrated by wicked men,
    unscrupulous men on the hunt.
They set traps for the unsuspecting.
    Their victims are innocent men and women.
Their houses are stuffed with ill-gotten gain,
    like a hunter’s bag full of birds.
Pretentious and powerful and rich,
    hugely obese, oily with rolls of fat.
Worse, they have no conscience.
    Right and wrong mean nothing to them.
They stand for nothing, stand up for no one,
    throw orphans to the wolves, exploit the poor.
Do you think I’ll stand by and do nothing about this?”

debacle

I turned the television to watch the election results at about 8:30 p.m. We are in the Eastern time zone, and I was looking forward to watching Hillary Clinton be declared president. An hour later, my gut told me the election was going the other way, and by 10:00, I knew the results were not going to turn out how I expected.

I thought about the people I know. I live in an extremely red town, in a red county, in a red section of a blue state. I thought about how excited many of my neighbors must be; I thought about the people I love who are not straight and white and Christian. My friends whose marriages may come under attack from a White House where the second in command believes in one-man-one-woman marriage, and advocates for electroshock therapy and conversion therapy to fix the gays. I thought about all the teenagers and twenty-somethings I know who are discovering that who they are is quite different from what their parents believe is good and correct. I thought about the Native people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the sacrifices they are making on a daily basis. I thought about Ana and the rest of the Buffalo 25, who were arrested in an ICE raid in October.

Wednesday morning I woke up, and saw a message from the parent of a Black son who was assaulted on the school bus by other children, because he was Black and because he was not born in this country. Nobody helped. Nobody stood up for this child. All day long, more and more reports of racist-fueled attacks came out via social media. A colleague of mine got a phone call from their children at school, asking to please be picked up because they were being harassed for their family’s politics. I could link every word in this blog post to separate incidents of hate-fueled crime and not run out of examples.

Last weekend I read that 66% of white women voted for Donald Trump. Sixty-six percent of white women think it is better to have a president who speaks with disdain and disrespect about women, and brags about sexually assaulting women, than it is to have a woman president. I don’t understand this, but as the days slip by I realize that the things I don’t understand are many, and that nothing is every only white or only black. I wonder if what we consider to be white is really a million different shades of grey. Or is it an asymptote? Is the path of things just a curved particularity that get closer and closer to its definition, but never quite gets all the way there, even after it exceeds infinity?

Or are things exactly the opposite? Do they begin near their definition, and then follow a trajectory up and out and away, always recreating, doubling down, becoming caricatures of what they originally were?

Two years ago, our President-Elect tweeted, “Are you allowed to impeach a president for gross incompetence?” and now he is the president, and his list of cabinet appointees is a swamp of incompetence. The latest, education secretary Betsy DeVos, has never taught, has no personal experience with public education, and appears to be a Ken Ham-level science denier. But she’s rich and white and Christian, and has fulfilled the Trump Trifecta.

“Just wait! It will work out! Everything will be fine!” Yes. Everything will be fine for the people who are CHRISTIAN, WEALTHY, and WHITE. If you meet the criteria, you could plug your nose and bury your head in the sand and completely ignore the storm that is brewing in Manhattan. You could come up for air right before the next election.

But hear this. The president-elect is already placing limits on freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, and he’s not even in office yet. He’s going to make America great again by making sure nobody is around to report on his daily activities, by doubling down on the militarization of police, by closing the gap between Church and State, and by trimming the Bill of Rights. Oh, and so what if it costs a million dollars a day for his wife and child to live in Manhattan from now until June? And so what if he is making money by being the landlord to the Secret Service members who are protecting his family? And so what if he is part owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and has a vested interest in completing that project?

So no, I’m not going to get over this. And neither is America.

apparently i’m the big bad wolf

“People are afraid of you. Who? Oh, you know… people. Everybody. Everybody’s afraid of you.”

I am told that this is who I am, that people dislike me, that people hate me.

I’ve always expected people to dislike me, and when I was a kid I would often do things to purposely sabotage my relationships. I’ve since learned that many adoptees expect that their relationships will fail, that their friends and loved ones will abandon them, and that self-sabotage is pretty common. We view ourselves as discarded, cast offs, unlovable, and we buy into the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Relationships are really difficult to navigate when you believe your efforts are futile. I’m very lucky to have found some very tenacious and patient friends who gently, and sometimes not-so-gently, remind me that I’m worth their efforts and patience.

But then there is that one person who feeds the lie; the one person who should probably be my biggest cheerleader, who instead seems to find satisfaction in taking me down a notch or two or fifty. They know where I am most insecure, and they find the mark every.single.time.  They casually tell me I am the source of problems, I am frightening, I am too much, I am hated.

Hated? Really? I know I am flawed, but to be hated for being myself?

Hyperbole (and possible gaslighting) aside, I really do hear what this person is saying. This person says that *they* dislike me. This person finds me intimidating. This person hates who I am, and the person I am becoming. I am too much FOR THEM.  It’s a painful realization for me, and it’s difficult to understand. I have to accept that this person has a really negative opinion of me, and figure out how to go on from here.

It has been two years that this person has been telling me how the world sees me. I’m ready to be done with that.

.one hundred seventy-four pages.

I have a paper due next Tuesday. I love writing papers. It’s a sickness or something. I love researching stuff, and writing my notes on little blue Post-its, and typing and footnotes.

I have no explanation for this.

But. The book that I need to read in order to write the paper, y’all, it’s like wading face-deep through a swimming pool full of words. I read and read and read and read, and then I go back and read all the stuff I just read again, except out loud this time, and then I put my finger under the words like they teach you in Kindergarten and read it AGAIN.

It goes like this for pages and pages, until the author throws a bone and writes a couple paragraphs using words in combinations that make sense to me.

I have been slogging through this book ALL DAY LONG and I am on page 46. FORTY-FLIPPING-SIX. (Full disclosure: I was on page 32 when I started this morning.) Yes, I did school with my kids, and yes, everyone has been fed today, and yes, I did play games of BS and Go Fish, but SIXTEEN PAGES??? At this rate, I will be almost done with the reading assignment when my paper is due.

Please. FOR THE LOVE. If you have a suggestion to improve my reading comprehension or to get this stuff read in a way that takes way less time with way better results, PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE help a girl out.  I will love you forever and like you for always and never climb into your bedroom in the dark of night after driving an extension ladder to your house.

organize now challenge: post OMG THE SICKNESS

I have totally dropped the ball with the Organizing Things Now.  And yes, this is where I blame everything on my children and the Cold Of Death I had for days and days and days.
I was on a roll, people. I had MOTIVATION! and AMBITION! and I was making SERIOUS PROGRESS.  And then I sat on the sofa with my snot-nosed, barfy kids for the better part of three weeks, which is totally what I really should have been doing, you know, the whole mothering thing
But dang. 
Yesterday I cleared my kitchen counters and scrubbed all the things. Today, I made some pretty awesome refried beans for burritos, watched my six year old make cupcakes, and then watched all four of them dump sprinkles all over my kitchen. 
The laundry has erupted. Again. The bedrooms are a mess. There are sprinkles in my socks.
Sigh.
Tomorrow we will be back at the routine. Wish me luck. Send cake. Both.

so that happened.

I drove to Canada yesterday. It`s really not that big of a deal to drive to Canada from where I live, it takes a little bit more than an hour if nobody needs to stop to pee.
My plan had been to cross into Canada at the Peace Bridge, which connects Niagara Falls, NY, USA with Niagara Falls, ON, Canada. That didn`t happen because someone was talking or punching someone else and I was distracted.  Fortunately, there are LOTS of options for entering Canada legally, and we got stuff sorted out and all was well.
The Canadian border agent was very nice, because, well, he was Canadian, and it`s a law or something that they have to be nice. I presented him with the many birth certificates, my ID, and the notarized permission slip The Mister had drafted that said I was allowed to leave the US with our children. When we finished, Henry said I like that guy, and by Ì like that guy, I mean I LIKE HIS GUN. 
Okay, then.
We went to Ikea, because it was on the way and I believe in being practical, and also nothing says GOOD TIME like a shopping cart that doesn`t turn and four kids in flip flops. 
We had about 2 hours left of our trip, which meant it was the perfect time for the GPS (borrowed from the in-laws) to become possessed by the devil and the anti-saint of good travel and the whole trip went straight to hell in the handbasket most commonly known as my supercool minivan.
North on the QEW. NO WAIT!!!! Turn around and go south on the QEW. NO WAIT!!! turn around, turn around, recalculating, recalculating, no satellite contact, recalculating….OH SCREW IT YOU`RE LOST. SORRY ABOUT YOUR LUCK.
Also… no cell phone service.  Did I mention I was alone. (That was a question, honest, but the Canadian computer keyboard has the French accent grave enabled where the US question mark should be.) And more also… no actual written down address of the place we were going. Because nothing helps when trying to locate a house in another country as much as not having an address.
FOUR HOURS LATER, we arrived at our destination. 
Olivia was quick to inform our hosts that I was using some VERY VERY VERY bad language, and that somehow the boys didn`t notice. Direct quote: I honestly can`t imagine how that happened, though. Yeah, me neither.
Anybody have an awesome travelling alone with the short people story (yes, this is a question). Do tell.

hiatus

We are unplugging the internet over here.
It’s not because we dislike the internet,
but because we like other things more.
Things like, say, owning our home, heating our home, eating.
You get the picture.
If you miss me terribly, you can email me *the*dayton*time*at*gmail*dot*com.
Or if you have my number, you can give me a call or text me a little love note.
And I will check into the effbooks from time to time.
I will also be paying attention to my etsy shop every few days.
Be well, y’all.

sometimes i can’t even believe it myself… and now, with updates!

I just finished knitting a super adorable capelet for a friend of mine to wear to a wedding this weekend.  Unfortunately there were no super adorable, yet super grown-up looking buttons to attach to make it totally complete.  And because I am the Sort Of Person that I am, I bought boring buttons and knit slipcovers for them.  And now they look like FABULOUS! CUSTOM! BUTTONS!!!
So I was sitting on the sofa, feeling just a teensy bit clever and smug about my fabulous custom button slipcover nonsense, watching completely ridiculous things on the Netflixes, and also feeling a little smug.  Did I mention I was thinking that I was a bit great?
THAT’S WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN, people.
Our old-ish and somewhat sickly cat, Sebby-Sebastian, jumped up from a sound, snoring sleep, and knocked over a lamp.  That was odd.  He’s not really into jumping, see, and this was pretty spectacular.  A minute of scuffling and scratching ensued, follwed by one of my most unfavorite noises in the world:  THE I AM THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD AND KILLER OF PESTILENCE MEOW.
It makes my tummy hurt.  Especially and also for example, when I am curled up in the corner of my sofa in the corner of the living room and there is no room for escape.
Sebby-Sebastian jumped up on the huge pile of laundry on the  other sofa, and shook his cousin-to-a-lion pretend mane.  The recently deceased mouse in his mouth flopped merrily.  Or something.  Sebby-Sebastian walked across the huge pile of laundry on  the sofa, meowing the Killer of Pestilence meow, and every muscle in my body cringed and clenched with every step he took, because I knew.
He was coming for me. 
Getting up from the sofa would only put me closer to Mr. Awesome and his Floppy Dead Mouse.  There was no escape.  He jumped from the other couch to the comfy chair.  The Floppy Dead Mouse was less than six feet away from me.  I curled up into the fetal position.  Sebby-Sebastian hopped off the comfy chair and onto the floor.  Five feet.  He dropped the Floppy Dead Mouse next to my clogs.  I threw up a little.  And all the while?  He meowed the Conquering Hero meow that sends the grotey-induced chills down my spine.
He jumped up next to me.  Floppy Dead Mouse was still on the floor, THANK GOD.  I told Sebby-Sebastian that he was a good, marvelous, wonderful kitty and that he was the bestest kitty in the world and that if he loved me he would take the mouse outside and dispose of it properly.  Sebby-Sebastian meowed knowingly, as if he understood that while I was terribly proud of him for saving our lives, I was also horribly skeeved out by Floppy Dead Mouse.
He jumped back down to the floor, and crouched next to Floppy Dead Mouse.  And just to prove that indeed, he was a cat, and that also he does not actually speak English, he loudly ate Floppy Dead Mouse.  Crunch.  Squish.  Crunchy-crunch.
And then?  Because the whole Floppy Dead Mouse crunchy-crunchy-squishy-crunch wasn’t enough?  He leaped onto the other sofa and barfed Super Messy Floppy Dead Mouse onto the arm of the sofa.  And because regurgitated mouse bits is STILL NOT ENOUGH?  He jumped to my comfy chair and barfed a whole bunch of other unidentifiable schmuckus on the arm of the comfy chair.
So instead of going to bed feeling quite satisfied with myself, I went to bed feeling squeaky clean after sanitizing my furniture.  
*Please know that I do recognize the cat probably has an actual medical condition and I did call the vet. 


Update:  Sebby-Sebastian did not eat the tail. And also?  Thanks be to God for boy-children.

i’m just going to skip to the interesting part.

Day Two of the second camping trip of the year.  Everyone had swum (what? is that even right?) until they could swim no more.  Each had eaten his or her fill of whatever hot dog/marshmallow/snackity things he or she could put his or her grubby mitts on.  
It was time for bed.
The Mister slept in the tent with us the previous night, but he had an appointment in the morning, and needed to go home.  The five of us snuggled down in our respective sleeping bags, and The Mister kissed each of us goodnight, said goodbye and hit the road.
A couple of hours later, I heard the sound of unfolding tarps next to my head, outside of the tent.  It had been threatening to rain, so we stacked our firewood on tarps and covered it all up so it would light.  Honest to goodness, I thought someone was stealing our firewood.  Why would I think that?  WHO KNOWS.  It was after midnight, and I’d been sound asleep.  So I just laid there, because if somebody needed to have my firewood that bad, they could have it. 
BUT THEN.  That somebody sneaked into the screened-in area of my tent.  And started going through my things.  I reached for my flashlight, and as luck would have it, the windows on the doors between the screened-in area and the sleeping area were not zipped up, and I could see what was going on.
I did not like what I saw.
A skunk was eating cookies.  Cookies that I made.  I do not like to make cookies, people, I really don’t.  Cake? Yes.  Cookies?  NO.  I made a lot of cookies for this trip, and I stored them in a Tipperware container that clearly was left uncovered.
I slowly zipped the windows closed and laid back down on the air mattress.  I tried to go to sleep, really I did, but as it happens, the cookies were crunchy, and skunks are noisy eaters.  
FINALLY.   I heard the rustle of tarps, and the skunk was gone.  Peace and quiet had returned.  I think I dozed, but only for a moment, and for no reason at all I opened my eyes.
Something was moving inside the tent.  Except that I was laying very still, and the short people were all sound asleep, so really nothing should have been moving around the tent. 
I saw it clearly as it walked between Jack and Miss O.  THE SKUNK WAS INSIDE THE TENT AND IT WAS WALKING NEXT TO MY BABIES’ FACES.  Precisely twelve million gazillion thoughts blazed through my brain.  I know this because I was laying very still and counting my thoughts because I needed something to do so I didn’t FREAK OUT LIKE AN INSANE PERSON BECAUSE A SKUNK WAS WALKING AROUND IN MY TENT AND PLEASE, JESUS, DON’T LET THE CHILDREN ROLL OVER OR SNORE OR SNEEZE OR FART OR ANYTHING THAT WOULD CAUSE THE SKUNK TO SPRAY AND THEN WE WOULD GO BLIND AND DIE.
And because I was exceedingly awake by this time, I listened to the skunk exit the tent through the door that wasn’t zipped closed when A Certain Someone exited the tent earlier on his way home.
When I was convinced the skunk was really gone, and my heart had started beating again, and I could, you know, STAND UP, I gingerly stepped over my babies and zipped the tent closed.  Then I texted That Certain Someone a message that isn’t actually suitable for print.  He didn’t respond.  Just like a man.