Low & Retribution Gospel Choir

Dooce posted these some time this week and I am loving them. Enjoy.


Fancy Ranch Water

A “friend” from high school has started this blog – Not That Martha.  I say “friend” because we definitely had interconnecting groups of friends, and I thought M was both incredibly beautiful and overwhelmingly hysterical but we definitely never called each other on the weekend.  We’ve had awkward “catch-up” chats at Patty Griffin concerts, but until this blog started I wouldn’t have really claimed a friendship.  However, as blogs have the ability to do, since she started this blog and I have begun stalking her professionally, I feel a bit more like we are establishing a legitimate acquaintance.

Let me just say, her blog is fantastic and her business is something I have a deep admiration for.  I won’t tell you the whole story here because it’s all on her blog but she and her partner are going a year without buying anything new, they are not eating out and they are farm-to-tabling it like masters.  Her recipes are incredible, but the ingredients she uses, the things she finds and the local Texas stuff that she knows about are fantastic.  I have a feeling you guys will become as addicted to her blog as me.  I hope as well you are inspired by her lifestyle.  I so admire the steps that she and her girlfriend are taking to respond to the current state of our habitat.  I appreciate their commitment to not participate in over-consumption, appreciate the small things in life, be honest about the sometimes difficulty and celebrate their big and little victories, they are shameless promoters of local farmers, producers and distillers.  There is a lot to admire and learn on one little blog.  Enjoy.

Here’s our current favorite from Martha’s blog, I may have been less productive Sunday due to a morning full of this!

Fancy Ranch Water.

Schedule Shame

Thanks for all the love on my AM post. It’s funny, I go on and on about her all the time, perhaps the post was more spectacular due to the current circumstances surrounding our lives, it didn’t feel that spectacular to me. It was factual. That really is who she is, it’s not flashy. It’s just her. However, I appreciate all your love and encouragement.

So, I have a new topic. I am currently supposed to be working on homework, but I try to blog on Mondays. It’s the only day that I have time. Not that I really have time today, but I am going to do it anyway.

I was thinking on Friday about what a bad friend I have become. I used to be a good friend. I was great at cards, mix CDs, books with sweet notes in the front, encouragement, and surprises. I was brushing my teeth and thinking about how one of my best friends from high school had a birthday Thursday, I had a little treat for her and a card and it was going to go unwritten and un-mailed just like Liz’s socks, my sister-in-laws treats that I made for them at Christmas, a birthday card that IS already written to my grandmother-in-law, pictures from my wedding for my mom, a photo album for my mother-in-law, CoCo’s Christmas present is sitting on the couch, she lives a mile away and countless thank you notes that have still not been written. I haven’t seen most of my friends that live in this town, returned sincere and beautiful emails and phone calls from dear cousins and friends of our family checking in on me about something very specific. My father is coming to town this week and I am not sure when, nor am I sure where he is staying or what he is doing. I spend a lot of time snapping at J instead of communicating with him, and all I want to do is sleep. I am so, so tired.

Depression you ask? Nope. Life. School. Work. Laundry.

Here’s what last week looked like.

Monday
6:00 am Out the door for a run
8:30-1 AK, she’s 2 so we got donuts and we also ran some errands. I am almost sure that she enjoyed the donuts more than the errands.
1:30 rush around calling old schools to try to finalize transcripts to be sent to schools I am applying to, this has been a three month nightmare, which came to a raging tear-filled frenzy of groveling and begging on this day. Only to be told, “Oh my gosh, we’re so sorry. This was totally a computer glitch, we’ll release these transcripts right away.” HEART ATTACK.
3:00 Drs Appt
4:00 Home to start working on studying for Marketing quiz, rough draft due for English, and start flash cards for Management mid-term
7 J home, cook dinner
8:30 Finish paper/Work on Vassar summer program application
11 Bed

Tuesday
6:00 run
7:15 leave for class
8-1:15 Class
1:30 Pick up the boys
1:30-5:30 but normally 6 or later Two little boys full of energy and their friends
7 We had something this night last week but I can’t remember what, I just remember going straight from work to do it.

Wednesday
7 Late morning run
AM’s birthday – wrote blog, arranged a couple of birthday surprises.
Studied for Management mid-term and finished up second draft of English paper
Spent some time with Amy and Ellery, a rare and luxurious occasion. I also spent a lot of time on the phone with SDSU and MCC regarding the aforementioned transcript situation.
12 School to get in my hour of lab work for German and Math, also to meet with a professor regarding the summer program I am applying for at Vassar which requires, you got it, transcripts.
3 Pick third family’s kids up from school. Worked until 8.
8 Home to study for test and print paper

Thursday
6 Up early not to run as planned, but to study
8 -1:15 Class
1:30-6:30 Boys
7 J provided dinner
8 Study for German test and work on Math homework
11:30 Bed

Friday
6 Up to study
7 Leave early for pre-class review
8-2:30 Class
1:30 Pick up boys – That’s right I miss an hour and 15 minutes of class every week so that I can work, which is why my math homework is so tedious and important
1:30-6 Boys
We went to Brunello’s on Friday night and had dinner. We were too tired to cook and had a lot to talk about, as we don’t get much talking done during the week.

Saturday
Slept in until 7, ran errands, got groceries, did some shopping.
Family birthday party in Holden, late afternoon
8-2 am Back in Cambridge, babysat for the baby I worked with last semester
3 am – Bed

Sunday
8:30 Up and At em, baked Frittata and made some Ranch Water (recipe to follow in next post)
10 Brunch with Amy and Ashley, trying to remember to make time for friends
Drove to Sommerville to get gas for 20 cents cheeper, went to Trader Joe’s for some groceries, couldn’t get what we needed, ran to Formaggio bought some fantastic cheeses
4 skipped church for the umpteenth time
5 Pulled some meat out of the freezer to try to prepare food for the coming week so that we aren’t stressed about eating each night and so that J has lunches to pack and take.
6 cooked dinner
7 dinner and caught up on The Office & Parks and Rec
9 Clean up and crawl in bed

It’s Monday and now I am starting over. And I am already behind. This morning I wanted to get my German and Algebra homework done. I also need to finish the final draft of a paper, I have an appointment at 4, Haley’s in town for dinner, so tonight is not an option. I haven’t been running yet, because I have been trying to take care of some emails about pretty important stuff, pay some bills, and catch up on my administrative life. None of this will include mailing those things I mentioned at first… So again, more behind than I want to be and German and Math will get pushed aside, as will running and showering.

All I know to say is that it produces shame in me. I always said that small groups were the life of a church, alas, I cannot manage to get to one because of my schedule. I don’t want to go to church because I don’t want to defend my last blog post or explain where I’ve been for the last few months. I want to call my friends but feel overwhelmed with how much and how little I have to say. It seems to create this cycle of shame that even though I am giving everything I am doing, everything I have, none of it is quite enough, and still the time I do have I am not spending in the best way. I am not quite sure how to get out of it. I want to celebrate my friends birthdays, their marriages and new children, I want to be a friend to them during difficult times, I want to catch up and hear how they are. I want to see CoCo, DTB and my cousin who live less than two miles away. It’s simply not going to happen. The things I listed above are more than I can handle, and I am holding on my the skin of my teeth to manage those. Much less the unexpected, like needing to pick up dry cleaning, go to the bank or grab something we forgot from the store.

So please be patient with me. The friend I was is no longer the friend that I can be, I am not sure if I will ever be that girl again. What you are getting is the best that I’ve got, and if it’s not enough, believe me, I understand, I underwhelm myself. But I beg, please be patient with me, I am trying to be patient with myself, and it’s much more difficult than I imagined.

Undefinable

God I love this woman. Who couldn’t? Look at her! She’s gorgeous. She doesn’t even look like this anymore. She has cougar hair. Seriously. Corrine cut her hair yesterday into this fantastically sexy short number, and I swear that she’s one of the only women I know who looks thinner with sexy short hair. I’ve been thinking about cutting mine off in act of solidarity with her, but I am afraid I’d look like a fuzzy pumpkin.

It’s her birthday today. The infamous AM is turning… Gotcha. No revealing her age. Try to guess… You’re wrong.

As I was running this morning I was thinking about how she taught me to run. And when we run, she teaches me about life. I cry EVERY time I think about my favorite runs with her. There are a few distinct ones, some that I’ve shared about before, but many that are so private, I only sometimes have the courage to tell her how much they meant to me. But she knows. And I love that about her.

Then I was thinking about what defines her. Well, I’ve been writing a lot of college essays lately and they like you to do a lot of self-defining. What defines me? Who the hell knows. What defines her? She is undefinable. I am not being kitchsy. This is really true. Here are the thoughts that lead me to this conclusion.

She has never let being a woman define her. She doesn’t look like it, but she grew up in an era where women were not even looking through a glass ceiling. She was a hippie, she was gorgeous, she played softball, she drank beer, she loved all the wrong men, and she kicked ass at the office. She was professional and a hard ass and she didn’t really let what people thought get to her. Her father, her co-workers, her friends, herself. She just took each day as an opportunity to give it everything she had. If she didn’t, she started over. She still does this every day and she expects you to do the same. She doesn’t fall to pieces or get depressed, she cries at Hallmark commercials and she runs marathons. She is a feminist in the most beautiful definition of the word. She is totally comfortable with herself and her gender in whatever way it expresses itself, and you better respect her for it, or she’ll make you. But probably not with her fist, she doesn’t believe in hitting idiots.

She has never let her work define her. This is a big deal, because she is a company lady. She worked for the same company for over 30 years in total. When she went for her interview at 19 they told her they only had a position that men traditionally held (see above paragraph), she said, “Fine.” Did it, better than her co-workers and made it look sexy. Years later, representing the company to those people, she would remind them that despite her current management status she had, in fact, been one of them. She changed jobs within the company every few years, to keep it fresh, and she never took a day of sick leave. To reward her, at the end of her career she got a string of pearls. I think she should have gotten majority share of some stock, but they didn’t ask me. I like that after she retired they kept calling her to come back. She finally had to go work for another company so that they would leave her alone.

She has never let marriage define her. I’d heard the story before, but she recently reminded me of the time she was married to a man named Linsey. It was annulled. To celebrate she and Emily (who is like an Aunt, but more than an Aunt) took a trip to Mexico, where they promptly got hit on by every man in the area. This was not because she didn’t respect the sacristy of marriage, this was because she knew that she couldn’t let the stigma define her, and she needed to prove it to herself. She always says, you can’t make a bad decision, just make a decision, if it doesn’t turn out, make another one and move on. After Linsey, she didn’t give up on love. One time, when my heart was broken and I was telling her that I was afraid I’d given up on my best chance at love, she told me about a time she took a big risk. She ended up in an apartment alone with a mattress on the floor, a telephone and a broken heart. She told me to never give up on love, and to let myself cry it out, and then to get up and move on, and to never doubt that I was truly loved. After over 20 years of marriage to UK, I’d say she won. They are a true partnership, best friends, and brutally honest. She still takes trips with Emily. One to Vegas where she called home and told UK that she’d spent an inordinate amount of money on glasses, he pictures crystal… they were instead this fantastic pair of green square shaped EYE glasses, that remain my favorite pair that she wears.

She has never let propriety define her. I went to the beach with the YaYas one time. AM&UK’s YaYa’s are their friends from college. They didn’t go to college together, but they are linked through the Schmidt family. Frank is UK’s bestie and Maggie his sister is one of AM’s. So at the beach the HITWG (aka YaYas) tells me about how they used to pre-game, put on wigs, make up names and go out as their other identity. When we used to watch Mad About You or Dharma and Grace or whatever that show was, we used to fantasize about going on a cruise and making up a different story about us to tell every person we encountered. When I was 15 I was in desperate need of a mother. She and UK had been married 5 years, they were living the good life in Houston with Harry, dual income, no kids, planning trips and kicking ass. They came where I was, and trusted me when I told them some day I would tell them why, but in that moment, it felt like “home” as it is normally defined was not an option for me. It took me over ten years to get the confidence to tell them some of my reasons. They never asked. They just made a place for me. I hid phone bills, wrecked cars, lied, threw parties, went into the negative, got kicked out of hotels, needed lots of bailing out. None of which they signed up for. All of which they gave freely, they also have lectures as freely as I gave tearful apologies. I had spent my life aching for some unconditionality, stability and assurance. Her name was Aunt, but she is undoubtedly a mother. She has honored and helped me love my mother EVERY step of the way, and she has taught me, that life is complex, and definitions unnecessary, the human heart hold plenty of room for the mother who bore you and the mother who raised you, and both are invaluable. This is perhaps one of the most significant lessons she and UK have offered me.

She has never let trial define her. She has led a blessed life. Mostly good, some bad. For every mile on the road, you spend two in the ditch, making the road that much lovelier. During a trial she was experiencing when I was in high school, she had a difficult moment right before we were going to see my grandmother. She said pointedly to me, DO NOT TELL YOUR GRANDMOTHER ABOUT THIS. In many ways I looked at this moment and I marveled at her strength, she was such a martyr, suffering alone. I missed the point completely. She knew it was a moment, a ditch time on what was a lovely road. She tells me a lot to have a good cry and move on. She is a woman of her word. In the face of what I consider one of the scariest things an individual could face, the promise of pain and a lot of unknown, she has been vulnerable, courageous, generous, thoughtful, honest and optimistic. This is not an act, it is simply how she chooses to be. It is a decision that she makes, not an easy one, but one that she accomplishes every time. And I love it.

It’s her day. This is her year. One of the hardest things in my life is being so far away from her, not because she needs me, but because I adore her, and being with her is one of my favorite things in the world. I am one of many, many people who feel this way. She told me this morning that this is going to be a fantastic year. Last year was pretty great, but I know that she’s right. In part, because if she has decided it, then none us of really have much of a choice, she is the boss. And she has no problem being defined as such.

The State of Faith

I have been hesitant to write about this topic for multiple reasons, the first is that many of my readers are happily non-religious, many of my readers are hyper-religious, and an equal part are too busy raising their children to think about politics or religion, they are simply avoiding children’s shows with all the energy that they have.

Here’s the deal. I got into religion at a younger age. I liked the Episcopal church. I loved the liturgy, the communion, the sense of age old continuum. I was 11, this was sincere. I didn’t feel like I needed to be saved, I simply loved the reverence, the kindness of the people, Rev Powell was a towering and loving man. Rooster Andrews and his family sat in the front row and always greeted me. The single little girl, in her Sunday best, who brought herself to church. I was too naive to understand the beauty of the history or the stigma of faith. Maybe it was a different time and there wasn’t such a thing… I honestly can’t remember.

In high school I had two groups of friends, school and church. This isn’t that abnormal for kids from the south. My youth group was a passionate VERY energetic group. There was plenty of high school drama even amongst the church youth, to be honest, I feel like the church group generally holds infinitely higher levels of drama than the real world.

Eventually I nestled into a church in a small town in Texas. I worked for a real estate company and was very involved in this church. I ended up working for the church in another country. In the tiny town that we lived, there was more vitriol in conversations about the theology amongst churches than there was about politics. I am not kidding. Churches that ascribe to be there to minister to the poor and “reach the lost” spend an INORDINATE about of time arguing amongst themselves about “right theology.” Let me be clear, at the end of the day these people would all say that they are Christians, they have the EXACT SAME basic tenets of faith. Little baby born of virgin mother, fallen humanity needed sacrificial lamb, crucifixion, resurrection.

Do you know what they argue about?
Who gets to be saved?
Does God already know?
Or is it all up to us?
Also, how to save the unsaved?
Do we, mortals, have a LIFE CENTERED MANDATE TO SAVE THEM, or will God do it inevitably?
Another one is should Christians read from books or dance in the isles?
Which one is THE BEST ONE – the one that makes God happiest, you know, has the market cornered on pleasing God?
Let me think, oh, this is a good one, how do we as mortals evaluate whether or not we are doing a good job for God?
There is also “the non-judgmental” why the way we are doing it is better than that other churches/person or groups way.

Sound petty and ridiculous? Well, it’s an industry, albeit a very sincere one. However, as a participant, it is exhausting. And to be honest, depressing. I spend a lot of my day glancing at charismatic, presbyterian, catholic, baptist, evangelical, atheist etc tweets and status updates. They are all laced with comparison, well intended “enlightening” opinion, honest though subtle condescension, and inspired instruction on how to live a better and more “effective” life FOR God.

We are currently “attending” a church that we like for the most part, I have a hard time making myself go, because in the end it is as much a part of the behavior described above as any. It’s more rooted in some balance and history, but it has its fair share of zealots. Educated at the “best” seminaries learning the most true truth. This theology is more right than that one because I have a more accurate interpretation of the original greek… That’s right, interpretation, “scholarly” guess. To be honest, lately I have been having a hard time making myself go. Some of it is my own church exhaustion, some is an uncertainty about our fit, some is because having just retired from a church plant the constant demand of “all hands on deck THIS IS A CHURCH PLANT!!!!!” talking point makes me tired before I get there, and then there is also this one couple that make theologically condescending jokes back and forth on their Facebook pages… I don’t know if I can handle that in a church, I understand it’s not done consciously or maliciously but these are people who are really committed to being relatable and creating community where anyone would feel comfortable… Maybe most people in the real world love theologically charged conversation… What do I know? I have left churches for not having any consistent theology, so I guess really I am the contrarian here. I often wonder how much of this problem is me.

Lately, in the bigger picture, this one group of famous pastors has been letting this other group of famous pastors have it. Why? Speculation about the rules of hell, and most perfect interpretation of the gospel. I bet this is the exact debate that is racing through the hearts and minds of the Japanese today. I am sure these thoughts are plaguing the poor. I bet the lonely are racked with concern about which gospel is more true and makes God happier. I am sure that the suicidal are torn with concern about which Christian church God likes more, the dancing one or the reading one. I know for sure that when people tweet and blog about these topics and people happen upon them, all the well-intentioned assertion of greater rightness is not only confusing, but un-appealing. I mean, isn’t Washington doing enough of this that we shouldn’t have to go to a religious community and experience the same thing?

I don’t know what this means for us. I don’t know where this frustration and realization of how ridiculous this behavior is will lead us. I know that we believe in God and we believe that He is benevolent, kind, good, just, fair and Holy. We also know that He assured us that no matter how real He was/is to us, His ways will always be a bit out of our realm of total understanding. Leaving us with a sense that asserting our ways are more right than someone else’s is offensive to us. Obviously. We believe in right and wrong, but we do not believe in a right and wrong way to worship. Sitting up, laying down, dancing, standing. We do not believe in a right or wrong way to live out your faith, we prefer the path that we have chosen, but we know there are street preachers, and you know what? this is America, you have a right to share your faith where ever you want, as long as you are respectful to and of the people you are talking to. Maybe that’s what I don’t like, the fact that there seems to be this underlying disrespect for people’s journey, preference, and personhood. I don’t really know what is so distasteful to me, I just know it is. And I know I am not the only one.

I also know, there is a boat afloat on the ocean, that the church has missed as they were attacking the five pointers and the universalist…
Those who don’t give a damn.
Those who think the church is full of shit, and filled with a bunch of bitchy people feigning non-judgment while evaluating them as lost.
Those who are desperate for relationship but who would rather be alone than subject to the vitriol that permeates the church today.
Those who are longing for community but would rather sit alone in a bar than be subject to the hoop jumping of the charismatic church today.
Those who are desperate for the charity that the church is desperate to give but would rather go without than have to listen to someone share a condescending gospel with them in exchange for charity.
And those who need nothing, but are on a spiritual journey, but whose pragmatism does not allow them to engage with yet another group of people who are filled with drama and comparison and rituals assigned with meeting, but not born of meaning.
You know what, I am a part of the larger church in the theological sense, but I feel more in relation with those boat floaters than the people identifying themselves as the church.

So for now, I am going to keep on keeping on. Life and spirituality are a journey. I am all about making mistakes and figuring it out. I do that a lot. And I am all for an organized group of people who are doing just that, making mistakes and figuring it out. I am not, however, all about a group of people who are making mistakes and figuring it out, but better and more right than that other group. I want to be a part of a faith community not the Greek system, I am not looking to join the best group.

I know it’s not a cohesive thought, and I know it’s a rambling post, but I’ve been horrified by the church in the last few weeks and horrified by men that I thought I respected and the way they are talking about each other and the kind of public way they are handling this situation. It only reinforced an already growing concern, but my experience was small, personal, private. When the leaders of the church take their assertion of greater rightness to Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Newspapers and the National News, then I need to step back and take a bit of a breather. Who wants to be associated with that? I guess the ones who are sure they are right. And I am just not sure at all…

A little of this, a little of that…

Some things that have been on my mind lately…

Lent. J and I were talking about Lent yesterday and he quoted his Grandmother who encouraged them to always, “know why you are giving something up, don’t just give it up.” I love that woman. So I’ve been thinking a lot about why I am giving something up this Lenten season.

My family.

I was invited to apply for a program at Vassar this summer. It’s a five week intensive course. I am thinking about it, but the application is due tomorrow.

Spring break. It’s 5 days away, which feels like an eternity. We’re heading to New York for a couple of days. It’s accessible, it’s affordable and it’s not Boston.

Faith. It’s a journey.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Racial Profiling. Both, topics of papers in one of my English classes. It’s incredible to be in the North East talking about the subjects instead of the bible belt. It’s the other side of the argument here, and challenging to the accepted answer in the South. I am learning a lot. About logic and writing.

Privacy. I crave it in the midst of stress and change. I am a bit like a turtle, neck inside until I can get it all sorted out in my head and heart.

Love. I hope it is as healing as I always believed it was.

Blog at WordPress.com.