Friday, January 30, 2009
"...Minneapolis is full of people who live alone. Forty-three percent of all households consist of one (1) person. Gads. Do you know what that means? Never mind the question of support for schools, or the impact on neighborhoods that no longer ring with the laughter of kids spilling off the bus, or the multi-generational layers of citizenry that add depth to a block. Almost half the city lives alone."
I don't know if this is true in other large cities, but seriously, what a depressing statistic! Perhaps, since I have never lived alone, I can't appreciate that it has a wealth of virtues associated with it. But I think my revulsion to this statistic is more than that - I honestly think it's an unhealthy thing for that many people to live life without the pleasure and the responsibility of someone else's presence. It doesn't matter if all these people are otherwise happily engaged and involved in their communities, busy at work, have many friends. There is a huge difference between having a community outside your door and having one in the kitchen with you at 6:30 in the AM. When you live with others you learn to put your own needs aside in a way that you don't in any other situation. simply because you don't have a choice. For most of human history we have lived together, Christ commands us to live in community - how else should we live?
I think I’ve alluded to this before here, but I have panic disorder, and since I haven’t written about it at length before, I think it is high time I got on with it.
I think I was born with it: one of my earliest memories is of a panic attack at the hospital while being held down by several nurses attempting to take a blood sample. I was two. Later, it showed up as a regular visitor: stomach aches so painful I would lie in fetal position on the bathroom floor, at least until my mother would nudge me with her foot and say “if you’re not going to vomit, get up and get out.” Later, the shortness of breath – suffocating, that feeling of my breath never “catching”, no matter how many times I tried. “Asthma!”, proclaimed my mother’s internist, who gave me a useless inhaler and never checked me again. It was bad in my teens, when my dad was gone and my mom appeared only to give me an update of her expectations of me (the implied “or else” never spoken, but I knew I was as abandoned by her as I was by the father who told me at 14, “I’m tired of this shit” and disappeared for 17 years*). As I grew up, grew more independent, fell in love, it all began to recede.
Until three years ago. Three years ago, I got shingles. We’d bought a house the prior September, and the following April I’d been laid off. Husband worked and worked and worked, trying to keep us afloat but at the same time disappearing into an impossible travel schedule. My body could only take so much, and it collapsed into excruciating pain. The shingles were five or so vertebrae down, so the pain was smack in the middle of my left chest, right over my heart. With the pain came the panic attacks – not just the stomach pain and breathlessness, but crushing pain, numb arms and legs, and an absolute certainty I was going to die. Finally, my sweet, kind doctor explained what was going on – all the pain, everywhere, was panic. It wasn’t asthma, it wasn’t anything else. My shingles case was healing well but I was getting worse, thanks to panic disorder completely out of control. He gave me some medicine, it worked, and as I left his office hot, angry tears rained down my face. All I could remember was how many times I’d clung to the cold bathroom tiles, how many times I’d gasped for air – and no one had ever cared to know why. I hated everyone at that moment.
The knowledge of what was wrong with me helped immeasurably, but the medicine didn’t. Every time I had an attack I needed more medicine. I feared I’d take too much and die, and wham, more panic would flood my body and I’d need more, and I’d fear I would die, and … well, you can see the merry-go-round, can’t you? Finally, after not eating for days I called my doctor at 10pm on a Sunday night and begged for the hospital. Yup, I sat crying on the bathroom floor once again, but this time I did something productive – I asked for help.
I checked myself into the hospital, where I stayed for three days without any contact with anyone. The only words in my head for those three days were those from the chorus of an old song: “because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone, because I know, I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.” The child who memorized hundreds of Bible verses couldn’t remember a one, but I could hear that song, and I prayed it all day. My doctor called in a psychiatrist who found medicine that worked, and I began to heal.
When I left the hospital, I began to put things back together. I took my medicine, I went to therapy, but I also went back to church for the first time in years. I exercised, I slept, and I selfishly did everything I wanted. What helped the most, of course, was re-discovering my faith. Or rather, since I never had much but a frightened child’s view of God, discovering what Christ could do with me once I gave up and let Him get on with it. Because of my pain and fear, I know that I need Him. Because of all of this, I know He loves me. He didn’t cause (or even “allow”) this pain in order to get me to obey him (take that, Mom!). Instead, it’s just that this world is broken and we all suffer from that brokenness. What Christ has done is heal my heart, and when the pain comes I have His love as a balm.
“I sing for joy, that You are in my life, and Your love, it covers me.”
Blessings, y’all. Thanks for listening to my free form of therapy.
*Just a note: my father and I reconciled when One was born, and have a wonderful relationship now – God is good!
I am thankful for:
The gorgeous sunshine today
Cold tap water
Old musicals (other than West Side Story, of course)
The Voice New Testament
The chili dog and cheese fries I plan to eat at lunch today
As well as all the other obvious things.
And I felt better.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Well, my dear, sweet, larger-by-the-second son:
Happy Birthday! You are a joy to be with. Your conversation is better than most adults I know. Your love of knowledge and learning is something to behold - you inspire me to learn more about the world, if only to avoid being caught out by your increasingly superior knowledge. At the same time, you are still a sweet little boy, and I count every kiss you give me and keep them close to my heart. I love that you are still young enough for me to take care of - to tuck into bed, cuddle after a nightmare, and kiss before you leave for school. I am so proud of your determination and hard work. You are so like your dad in this respect! If you tell someone you'll do it - it gets done (and done well). You can always be trusted to keep your word.
If there is one thing I could tell you - one thing I pray that you will have more of as each year passes by - it is that your love for Christ would grow and grow. All the things I listed above are the great and wonderful gifts He has given you, and your work for Him will be a gift to us all if you let Him guide you where He wants you to go. Keep reading the Bible, keep listening when He speaks to you, and all your knowledge and love and determination will come together into a life of service for our Liberating King. I pray this for you now and every day, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Happy Birthday, most wonderful child. I love you all the way to the moon, and back.
*Our friends Mitzi and Jerry have christened One this - it's what they think of whenever they read about him here, and I love it.
One: "It's my obstinancy."
Chuckles from the front seat of the car.
One: "It helps me with lots of things."
A bit later, on sighting police cruiser lights in the distance:
Husband: "It's the Bellaire police."
Me: "Yup. Out there protecting, helping, and keeping people safe."
Husband: "Yup. One black man at a time."
Husband: "Sorry. I couldn't help myself."
Monday, January 26, 2009
To our two friends who were with us that day: thank you so much for making that day so special, for the flowers, the champagne, the pictures. Every time we think of you we think of that fantastic day; it was an adventure, just as our lives together have always been!
To my husband: I love you even more today than I did on that day in the Hill Country sunshine. The look in your eyes as you stared at me when One was born, the times you've held me as I've cried tears of sadness and joy, all the evenings spent quietly enjoying each other's company - all these things have bound us together in ways that can never be undone. My greatest wish is to never be parted from you, not in this world or the next. I love you because you are the finest, most honest, funniest man I've ever met, I love you because God sent you to me, and I love you because you love me, too. Thank you for all that you are and for all that we share.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
When we moved into this house I bought a new board - here are last year's cards still decorating the kitchen hallway. It really brightens up a dark corner of the kitchen and, consequently, works for us.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
"Government ... is ... a thing analogous to writing's one own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These are things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly."
That's as good a thought for the day as any.
Monday, January 19, 2009
So no cat.
But recently I've been having cat thoughts. And the boys have been having them as well. We finally all discussed this, and a cat is on the horizon. Right now we are in no-new-animal mode, in order to honor Oscar. But in a few months, we may be the proud (and slightly nervous) owners of one of these:
What do you think?
Sunday, January 18, 2009
And then he goes in for the kill.
One: "And that's why, mommy, in The Lord of the Rings when the river floods and destroys the Nine, there are horses hidden in the waves.
Me: stunned silence.
One: "See mommy - everything is all connected. Isn't it great!?!"
Oh help me.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Me: "Well, why don't you go snuggle up with him and watch what he watches?"
Two (in a whisper): "No, because it might be football."
Actually, it's basketball. But Two doesn't like "basketball, or football, or any ball. Okay?!"
Friday, January 16, 2009
What is it, you ask? Well, I. Am. SNOT GIRL*. Yes. I know, you are very impressed and almost frightened at the thought of my great powers. Are you worried that I will always use them for good? Well, never fear. I am devoted to the cause of virtue, and will use my amazing powers only to save the day.
What, you ask, does Snot Girl do? Well, she can catch bad guys with her, you know, snot. Yes, when sick she is so overwhelmed with snot that she can release it at will, as a super crime-fighting tool. She has caught many bad guys with her fantastic power, and she will continue her fight for justice wherever evil preys on the innocent. At least, she will when she’s sick.
*Husband bestowed this name on me years ago, and I have used it ever since.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I know you're supposed to brush your teeth after having a glass of milk at bedtime, but if warm milk puts a over-tired eight year old to sleep (finally), do I really have to wake him up again?
I know I shouldn't let the boys watch scary movies right before bed, but if all it does is make Two come in and snuggle with me in the middle of the night, what's the harm?
I know I should make the boys wear something nicer than Crocs on their feet to church, but didn't Jesus get by with sandals?
I know I'm supposed to go to work even when I'm sick (suck it up and be a grown-up, in other words), but isn't it better for everyone else that I keep my germs at home?
I know I shouldn't buy my son everything he wants, but what if all he wants are books?
Monday, January 12, 2009
Mitzi: "... and how surprised we were when Two came crawling through the dog door to say hello!"
When I got home I told the boys Mitzi and Jerry had said hello, and related the story of the dog door.
Two: "yup. I can fit through it but One can't!"
Am I really the mother of an about-to-be nine year old? How did this happen? Or, more accurately, how did this happen so quickly? When I was searching for Oscar pictures over the weekend I saw 100's of One as a little guy. I have to say in many of them I cannot see the resemblance between that tiny two year old and the long-haired giant currently in my living room. My memories of those times are fairly clear, but the pictures themselves were a little shocking.
I'm getting old. Sigh.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
Sweet Barley Pudding
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
2 T apple juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 T agave
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cook barley according to package directions. When done, splash in apple juice and put the lid back on for a few minutes. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together; add this mixture and the rest of the ingredients to the barley. Stir over very low heat for several minutes. You may want to taste and check if it's sweet enough. If it's not, a dash more agave should do the trick.
You can serve right away, let it sit a while with the lid on, or refrigerate and serve cold later on.
Delicious. And since barley has tons more fiber than white rice, this is a rich, creamy and healthier alternative to rice pudding.
Stuff I've never done:
1. I never went to a Grateful Dead concert. And this disappoints me somehow, with Jerry being really actually dead now and all.
2. I've never hitchhiked anywhere.
3. I never nursed my children. I fed them breastmilk for a year each, but I used the pump for a variety of reasons. I am really bummed about this now, although at the time I didn't care at all.
4. I've never been to Washington, DC. Husband finds this endlessly strange so I include it here.
5. I didn't have a "real" wedding. We eloped with 2 friends in attendance and were married by a JP. It took 4 minutes to get married, and afterwards we tailgated on the maid of honor's Tahoe and drank champagne out of plastic cups. I recommend this as the best of all possible weddings.
6. I've never been to Vegas. And I will never go. I prefer my sin obviously nasty, rather than shiny and glimmery and faux-glamorous.
7. I've never read the Bible all the way through.
8. I've never broken a bone either. Knock on wood.
9. I've never been robbed (again, super-double-extra knock on wood).
10. I've never gotten a tattoo. I'm completely fine with them on others, but I couldn't ever do this to myself. One flu shot a year is more than enough contact with needles, thanks.
Join in (but keep it clean, girls). ;)
Thursday, January 8, 2009
"Yes, I turned it off, turned it on, reseated the cables, reinstalled the software, restarted the computer, ran the setup assistant, checked the site for drivers, aligned the unit to face true north, painted the room a soothing grey, daubed lamb’s blood on the top and chanted blessings to Ra, and all the other rote things we do. It’s worked fine for a year or so, even though it drinks print with a thirst that brings to mind Dracula in a convent, and wouldn’t remember my preferences if I engraved them on the motherboard with a woodburning tool in three languages, and occasionally makes scanning noises for no reason like a dog sighing in the next room. It was only seventy dollars. Nine hundred, counting the ink. I hate it."
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Just thought you should know...
A thumb on the nose to all those who believe that the Palestinians are just innocent lambs in the face of Israeli oppression. Oppressed, yes, but by their own leadership.
From Slate. HT Instapundit.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Debt like this is such a huge sin. You really have no idea until you're squashed under it. I can't tithe (or really give anything to charity), and that is such a huge deal, especially in my church. I can't even tell you how much it upsets me. And because I can't tithe, even though I've been asked to attend leadership meetings several times, I won't do it, because I don't think I should take any kind of leadership position at all if I can't meet my Christ-ordered responsibility of giving to the needy.
I am trapped. Absolutely stuck. Stuck in debt. Stuck in the consequences of sin. Yes, I've asked for and received forgiveness. Yes, I've changed my behavior and no longer even own a credit card. But the consequences go on a long time and the shadow they've cast is very dark sometimes.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
1 can black eyed peas, with liquid
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid (you could make these Rotel if you weren't cooking for my delicate flower-children
1/2 lb ground beef, cooked (or the equivalent amount of TVP if you've feeling vegetarian)
1/2 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 package Seeds of Change Tigris grains (in a ready to heat and eat pouch)
Chunk it all in a large saucepan, heat and eat. You can top it with some cheddar cheese if you want as well. Wow - lots of protein and whole grains, and it tasted great, too. I think I can make it through the evening without grazing on something bad. I like that.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Just to make y'all jealous, I'll take you on a little tour.
Here we are at the shrine of BBQ: no plates, no silverware, be prepared to get messy.
Does this look at all good?
And the dining room - nothing fancy, but very cozy and comfortable.
Nothing but meat, and onions, jalapenos, white bread and cheddar cheese for sides. The best food in the entire world. God bless Texas.