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.

 

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.

hey, you guys.

Everybody is crying here. Or punching other people in the mouth. Some are doing both. All the long-faced whiney-pantses were up by seven, which is completely abnormal. We do not do mornings here. 
 Elliott is currently laying on his belly, on two pillows, on the sofa, with his legs flopped up and over the back of said sofa. He is kicking himself in the butt, every couple of kicks he says, “I win!” Perhaps he will nap; 9:30 a.m. naps are divine. 
 I don’t actually KNOW if they are divine, as I do not remember having a 9:30 nap. I assume they are divine. I believe in naps.
**** 
 Short list of things, other than crying and punches in the mouth, that have happened: 

  1. Elliott turned three, and has embraced 3-ness with every ounce of his being. 
  2. The H-bomb has announced his intention to learn the bagpipes. 
  3. The village where we live told us we had to get rid of our chickens because we were in violation of the zoning ordinances. 
  4. I turned 35. 
  5. I got a job. (I typed “I got a Jon”. But I already had a Jon.) 
  6. I remembered some things from my childhood that explain a LOT. 
  7.  I got a tattoo. 
 **** 

 Speaking of how awesome three year-olds are, mine is forever chewing on his shirt. Every time I turn around, kid is chomping away. Super gross. Tell me how to make this stop. It’s gross, and he’s wet and that is gross and have I mentioned gross? Is there some sort of clothing pepper spray that I can apply to deter him? 
 **** 
 I would also like to mention, in regards to Item 3 in the list up there, that there is a village resident who lives in close proximity to the mayor, who has a rooster. This rooster crows all day long. I can hear it in my house. Did that guy (or woman) get a zoning violation notice? NO. For the record, I do not care even the tiniest bit that I can hear the rooster. I like them in other people’s yards. I just think the general Ignoring The Premise Of Equal Application Of The Law is ridiculous. But whatever, to each village, its own… Ummm… choices to ignore the Constitution and the Bill of Rights ??? and stuff??? The whole story is another post for another day. 
My people seem to have settled down, so I’m going to see if I can get them to do something useful. Wish me luck.

this is what’s up

Moved furniture yesterday. And still today. Gah. It is taking two days because every time I think I am finished sweeping and vacuuming, someone dumps something vile or crumb-filled on the floor. Or furniture. Or someone needs to eat. Or have a diaper changed.

And sometimes I need a break because OH MY GOODNESS IT IS BLOODY EXHAUSTING UP IN HERE.

My biggest baby turned nine this week. Woah.

My smallest baby is in love with mashed potatoes.

My washing machine is either broken or possessed by a wicked demon. It beeps continually, and plays dead in the middle of a cycle. Good times… THAT WILL COST ME A BAJILLION DOLLARS.

My iPad recognizes the word BAJILLION, but not the word WOAH.

I took all four of my people to the dentist in their pajamas yesterday. There was more than 65% refusal rate, and I was not going to be charged with a cancellation fee, so pajamas it was. I’m going to count that as a win, because, well, I can.

I found a Craigslist post for a whole lot of wool fabric. I think I will buy it to make coats for the boys.

My third babe likes to dress monochromatically. Today it’s red. Red sweater (no alligator) and red corduroy pants. Usually it’s yellow.

The fourth and final child has been tormenting the cats lately. I tend toward natural consequence-style parenting, and I have not stopped the cats from slapping him with their claws out. And the beating he is taking from the cats is not stopping him from beating the cats. Hmmm.

We are dyeing play silks later today, and a cashmere sweater-pants-cap set that I made from a slightly hole-y cardigan. Then we will make pizza and watch The Wizard of Oz. And then maybe some Harry Potter. And maybe some popcorn.

Also and finally? I want some slipcovers for my furnitures.

That is all. Carry on.

is this thing on?

I haven’t had much to say.  Really. 
The weather has been gorgeous. I did a lot of sewing and knitting. We schooled and unschooled and field-tripped. The Mister is enjoying his dream job, and we have been enjoying having him at home two days a week now that Christmas is over. 
Jack has taken to wearing one of two black hooded sweatshirts constantly, inspiring Henry to wear any of my wool sweaters that he can squirm inside fastest. Elliott? Well, he would prefer to get dressed and never, ever change his clothes, NOT! EVER! And speaking of not ever? That never changing his clothes is not ever going to happen.
It’s odd to have started a hibernation of sorts while the weather has been so balmy, but now that it’s cold and snowy and actually doing things that seem like winter outside, I’m in full hibernation mode. Lots of school happens on or near the sofa, buried in heaps of quilts, with hot cocoa and popcorn. The cocoa and popcorn make it a Hip and Fun School Party and not Boring Drudgery, or at least that’s what I am trying to get them to believe.
I’ve discovered that a three-inch-long cuff on mittens is not nearly long enough to protect the tender arms. I think I’m just going to knit knee-length tube socks, and add a thumb hole. And by knee-length, I mean The Size To Fit From My Knee To My Toes, Even For Elliott. I am also going to only knit them in one color and size, so that there is always a pair.
Does anybody else struggle with mittens? They make me crazy. We seem to be able to keep our hats, but it’s the mittens that give me problems. I just know they have formed a little mitten conspiracy and are planning to go into hiding. Stinkers.
A fuzzy-footed little man has just climbed into my lap, asking me to “daw a bawoon pease.” I think I’ll oblige him.

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.