Archive | January, 2011

(thud)

27 Jan

That, for those not so quick on the uptake, is the sound of my head hitting the table.  Seriously?  Is this for real?  And then I remembered…..

Several years ago when I was working as the owner and director of a local dance education center in Mid-Michigan, we had a near-miss with a similar incident.  I tacked up all kinds of posters at the studio depicting opportunities for our students (and their families) to see live performances.  Now, being that we were living in Mid-Michigan, many of these were livestock-centric, or featured monster trucks, but just the same – performances.  In the immortal words of Ms. Judi Swartz, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

In any case, at one point there was a poster for a performance of The Vagina Monologues by a student organization on our local university’s campus.  I didn’t think twice about putting it up – who would?!    Suzi’s mommy, that’s who.

I guess I always knew that vagina was a dirty word, but it wasn’t until mommy drove the point home for me that I really understood the damage it could do to her pre-literate (fingers crossed?) daughter’s young mind.  That poster needed to come down immediately!  Do we have any idea the ramifications of such foul language on a child?  Are we also showing porn in the dance classes?  Does this show also feature livestock and monster trucks?!  So many good questions.

Being the wildly irresponsible crotch enthusiast that I am, I said “to hell with it – who cares about Suzi’s wellbeing! VAGINA!  VAGIIIIIIIIINAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!” and left the poster up.  Oh wait…. no, I remember now.  I seem to recall that I said something about how “vagina” wasn’t a “swear” and didn’t  constitute “foul language”.  I said that I really hoped to god that Suzi had heard that word before, and that if not, I was pretty proud that she would at least see it (the word, my friends – come on, hang in there) on a poster here.  I also may have mentioned something about how Suzi might want to steer clear of medical school…. really school of any kind that doesn’t involve a modesty hood and iron underpants.

Needless to say, that last bit was not well received (and is probably an indicator that while I’m great with kids, parents are not always my forte.  What can I say?  I like the smart ones….).  Also probably needless to say, I left that poster up for at least 6 months after the show had closed, just for my own personal satisfaction.

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Uh Oh…..

27 Jan

My pal Mary shared this funny with me (via interwebs half-life-space) and I thought I’d pass it on.

“Jersey Shore will have more seasons than Arrested Development. Hope you’re proud of yourselves, humanity.”

A sobering realization to be sure.  I don’t think even Plantinga can get us out of this mess, because there is no possible universe that can undo this damage.  It’s that permanent.  It’s that severe.   This isn’t some oil that you can just sop up with your locks of love.  This is serious.

I’ll leave you to be alone with your thoughts now.

 

IT’S AN EPIDEMIC!

25 Jan

Are you afraid?!  While bad things don’t seem to be on the rise in the world, people’s paranoia about bad things sure does.  Now, this pisses me off in lots of areas (hey again, Glenn Beck – you’re like a featured guest on this blog), but the number one concentration of my pissed-ness falls on parenting fearmongering.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I carry Ida everywhere we go when we’re outside of the house.  This seemed silly to me, because Ida can walk now, and LOVES to do so.  I thought about how Ida would probably like to be asked if she wants to get around by herself instead of my just assuming that I should carry her.  I thought about how insane it would be if I suggested that I should always carry my grandfather because he takes kind-of a long time to get from point A to point B.

Like most of us I imagine, Ida loves to do anything for herself and enthusiastically embraced her new freedom and responsibility.  We talk things through, noting any upcoming challenges that might be new (“these stairs are kind-of skinny”), or learning about protocols (“before we move, we need to look around for cars in the parking lot”).  I started letting Ida get around by herself when she’s able to.  She climbs and descends stairs like a champ, gets in and out of the car sometimes, and is, in general, pretty steady on her feet.  When she needs a little help, she lets me know by saying “Mama” and then doing her version of the sign for “help.”  Sometimes, for safety, I offer some unasked for help (like on the stairs, or when we’re walking where there are cars).   Also, it should be noted that we’re not talking about jaunting across I-94 or navigating rope bridges here – these are pretty straightforward (and short) trips.

Anyway, Ida and I are both really enjoying our new mode of transit and today, we decided to head out in Chicago’s tropical climes (30 degrees!!  Practically shorts weather – or, since I live in Andersonville – practically a-line skirt and tank-top with leg and pit hair/mesh tee-shirt weather!) to take perhaps our longest walk yet – a trip to the bank which is down the block from our apartment.

But wait!  Before you infer that Ida and I had a fun and peaceful outing complete with fulfilled check-deposit-mission, consider WHAT COULD HAPPEN!!!!  Consider the myriad dangers we could encounter!  Consider THE CHILDREN!  Well, just in case you refuse to consider these terrors – in case your life experience confirms that most such errands are accomplished without incident – someone else was on the job and ready for action.  As Ida and I were crossing the street, a fellow pedestrian just couldn’t contain her dismay at my shabby parenting (or nanny-ing as I suspect she, uh, suspected) and felt the need to share with me that I “should probably be carrying that baby across the street.  That looks dangerous.”   Not a moving vehicle in sight.  Mother and daughter holding hands, crossing a two-lane, residential street at a cross walk after stopping to look both ways for cars (that would have probably stopped at the sign anyway).  THE HORROR!!!!!!

Rest easy, fearmongers – your delegates are hard at work on Chicago’s north side.  But you know what?  So am I.  I hope that lady is ready to call CPS in a few years when she sees Ida playing UNSUPERVISED in our gated front yard, or biking around the neighborhood, or a few years after that when Ida plops her solo-CTA-riding self down next to her on the train.  Because you know what?  This is how we fix it.  By walking.  By being exactly who we are and moving around in the world like we know we can.  By taking up our space, looking one another in the eye and making a life together.  Because how will cloistered children become a community of adults?  They won’t.  And no matter how safely they arrive, they’ll never get anywhere worth being.  THAT’s what I’m afraid of.

Dislikes #1

24 Jan

I don’t like being scared.  The idea that I would even need to say that (or type that) seems crazy to me.  Isn’t this a given?  A universal truth?  It’s like saying “I don’t like breaking my hip” or “mistaking a rock for a pistachio is a bummer.”  I mean, I enjoy a good chase scene (like those bits in Finding Nemo that are touch-and-go) as much as the next guy.  And who doesn’t like a suspenseful story line (remember when we didn’t know for sure if Julia Stiles was going to be admitted to Julliard for her raw and tortured urban angst ballet?)?  But volunteering to watch someone get stabbed in the shower?  No.  My threshold for horror lies between books 4 and 5 of the Harry Potter chronicles.  I do not pursue terror in my leisure hours for the same reason I don’t spend that time repeatedly stubbing my toe on my ridiculously sharp bed frame.  It’s unpleasant.  I don’t like it.

But for some, bafflingly, this is not the case.  As I write this my dear husband is reading some terrifying story by Stephen King (do NOT get him started on why Stephen King is and will remain history’s greatest author.  Or… on second thought, do – it’s a glimpse into Nathan’s strange perfection).  He will perhaps follow that with one of his other favorite activities – a late-night solo viewing of a horror film (we’re talking obscenely scary Japanese business and the like – the really, REALLY terrifying stuff) .  He doesn’t feel afraid when he reads or watches these things.  He doesn’t feel the need to look in the closet, or double-check that the door is locked, or create his own ghost-busting backpack-dustbuster-hybrid (more on this some other time, perhaps).  Curious….  I can’t imagine what that’s like.  I can’t fathom taking any kind of pleasure in a horrifying scenario.

I bring it up, because the other night some friends were over and we got to talking about scary books and movies.  It was a good time to share what is perhaps (according to Nathan) the origin of my hate for all things horror.

In the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I was in Germany at the end of a 4 week tour with a youth choir.  I was homesick and thoroughly sick of sausage (which, if you know me, is really saying something).  The only thing standing between me and my flight home was one more night with one more host family.  I plastered on my largest, be-braced smile (and what I’m sure was no small amount of Mary Kay makeup), stuck out my hand and said “Gutten Tag!”  A couple of hours of nodding and sausage later, I went downstairs to meet my 17-year-old host sister and her friends who were mid-slumber party and certainly really psyched to add a 14-year-old choir nerd to their festivities.  The decor in her basement room (or lair as I soon re-categorized it) consisted mainly in pentagram posters, drawings of demons, and all manner of Hot Topic wares.  Satan chic.  I’m sure it was much less menacing then I remember it, being that I was an 8th grade DC Talk devote at the time.

All I wanted to do was curl up in my sleeping bag, let 8 hours painlessly elapse, and wake up the next morning.  But they took great pains to wait for me to begin the main event – a viewing of Silence of the Lambs (and by “great pains” I mean “deep slugs” of vodka).  Even pals who enjoy being voluntarily terrorized by books or movies admit that this particular film is especially scary, but I would venture that it’s made even more so by the german language.  Overhearing a deutch conversation about even the most mundane topic can make you feel like a fist fight is about to break out.  So – to break it down – in my homesick and nerdy state, I spent an evening with people I believed to be aspiring Satanists, watching Silence of the Lambs in German with english subtitles (so that I had to LOOK at it the WHOLE time once I had been sucked in by the story).  It was a bad night.  There were many quaking tears and fervent prayers and it was sometime around the revelation that pulleys can be used for great evil that I swore off horror of any kind.

I really don’t feel like I’m missing anything.  Nathan (who believes that if you’re not reading Stephen King, you’re not reading at your full potential) begs to differ.  Hopefully our marriage can survive this tremendous divide.

Happy MLK Day

17 Jan

‎”I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”- MLK

Amen.

Productivity in Jeopardy

4 Jan

Those of you who are close to me should prepare yourselves for the inevatable intervention.  A fellow, morbidly curious pal gave this to me the other day.  Why can’t I be this interested in learning about physics, or computers, or….. well, really anything useful?  If my google searches continue to lead me to such madness, I’m going to have to censor my internet access so that I can’t get to all of this outrageous Christian content.  Zing!

 

Those unfamiliar with the quiverfull movement…… I was going to say “should probably stay that way”, but instead – this.  And, now for the good stuff.   Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  The Christian Patriarchy Movement produces some disgusting stuff to be sure, but I was in no way prepared for the violence being perpetrated against food.  The recipes alone will aggravate your sense of decency (and perhaps your gag reflex…… and maybe your tear ducts).   I’m sorry.  You’re welcome.  (you can pick one, or, like me, pick both.)

ways I ruled the school in 2010

2 Jan

And now, a list of things I did that were awesome in 2010*:

I started baking bread, making yogurt and cheese, stock, and all manner of edible stuffs.  I now cook almost all of the food meals that we eat.  As soon as I figure out how to make a cheese-it, I’ll be in business with that last bit…  I started fixing and mending things, and generally questioning my own aptitude for doing it myself.  I’m doing a lot of sewing.  I’m discovering that I previously bought some bad hype – namely that there is a reason these things are available in the store and that their creation/fabrication is beyond my reach.  I’m beginning to cultivate delusions of grandeur, which are a welcome shift from my prior self-doubt and anxiety.  These delusions lead to some hilarious google searches, such as “urban goat farming” and “how to make a mirror.”

I was a great parent.  Ida is so cool.  Obviously most of the credit goes to her on this front, but I think I get a little.  She eats all kinds of food, has good coping skills, is curious about the world around her, is healthy, sweet, and just generally a delight in the world.  She shows all signs of being healthily attached to me and Nathan, and loving the world around her.  If I don’t do anything else right throughout the rest of my life, at least I nailed this very important thing.

I started saying “no” more.  This has led to a major upswing in sanity and peace in my life.  While I really love spending time with people, I’m an introvert through and through, so always saying “yes” when a fun or meaningful opportunity to spend time with other people presents itself really drains me.  I now don’t usually feel over-extended and I feel better able to manage stress and frustration.

I upped my participation in actively trying to not kill the earth and it’s inhabitants.  I joined a (arguably) humane and sustainable meat CSA, have gotten more involved in local agriculture through farmers markets, started buying stuff in bulk or other minimal-to-no packaging, and am trying to make what I can and shop more responsibly for what I can’t (yet…..).  I switched to cloth rather than paper/plastic in a number of areas (cut up old tee shirts rather than paper towels, cloth diapers and wipes, produce bags), and am trying to cultivate a more permanent, as opposed to disposable, view of stuff.  I also switched to homemade or scary-stuff-free cleaning solutions.  I often guide myself with the principal W.W.J.D. in this area.  Obviously, that’s pretty funny on one level.  But on a more serious note, I think Jesus might be a communist radical earth-lover after all.  Glenn Beck is going to be pretty upset if this is the case.  Well, actually, if the future continues to resemble the past, I think Glenn Beck is going to be pretty upset no matter what.  Anyway…

I started waking up an hour before Ida does in the morning and using the time to read a book that I enjoy.  I prep the coffee-maker so that all I have to do is push the little button and crawl back into bed with my book.  This hour has really changed the way I approach the day.  Having the first thing on my agenda be something I really enjoy has been transformational.

I started to hope and dream about the future again.  Now, this can obviously get out of hand sometimes, and cause me to derail from the perfection of the present.  But for the most part, this is really good news.  The last few years have been so crappy and full of failure and rejection that ambition for the future feels like kind-of a miracle.  I’m starting to loop my pinkies through those boot straps…  No pulling yet, but the potential alone is refreshing.  An upside of having trudged through these last couple crap years is that I no longer feel frantic to take immediate action.  I’m more thoughtful about my ambitions now, really exploring their potential to aid my happiness rather than just blindly jumping in.  I’m also deeply grateful just to be in homeostasis.

I grew in a faithful perspective.  This – even writing this – is a bold move for me.  I feel like revealing myself as someone who believes in God, and some part of the Christian religious tradition after my near-miss with fundamentalism is a little outrageous.  But here we are.  It’s true.  I had a really rough couple of years, and felt invisible, and made a lot of changes.  No matter how I have tried to re-work it in my mind, I just couldn’t divorce myself from the idea (at turns comforting and infuriating) that God saw me.  I made a lot of peace this year and found a lot of strength in my insides.

What were your feats of awesomeness this year?  If we all start telling each other the ways in which we’re thriving, I think it might help us to feel a little better about the general state of things.

*also, sometimes I don’t do any of these things – at which point I usually just order a pizza and indulge in some television bingeing.