- Shop my novel around and get a 13 million dollar advance
- Reading more
- Smaller clothes
- Firm bedtimes for the kids
- A rock band
How about you?
My spiritual cup and Christmas Spirit flask seem to contain only dregs, leftovers from years past. I've only been what you might call a practicing Christian for about 13 years. I wasn't born to it; I chose it.
I was lucky to run into the right people at the right time as well as the wrong people at the right time. My initiation into the faith was dramatic; I experienced full submersion baptism at a Baptist Church in front of a thousand people. But by the time they were ragging on my slacks for being "clothes made for a man" and scorning my lack of femininity, I made my escape.
I went to college and met Elizabeth who impressed me with her quiet and steady faith. Her knowledge of the Bible combined well with her shrewd judgement. She was the first person who sold me on Christianity without selling it to me. For that, she earned her place at the heavenly banquet.
I left college and went to an episcopal church with my Mom. We went through the catechism process together. I joined the choir and the organ committee. The priest was a converted Jew and a ph.d. His sermons were deep, memorized, delivered among the congregation. I learned how to get forgiveness and stop kicking myself.
When I married Doc, I had found a home church: wherever it was we were together. We prayed together before meals. I prayed every night before dropping off to sleep listening to the frogs chirruping or the frost crackling on the roof, depending on the season. If I listened hard enough, I could almost hear the creek.
Then we fled the countryside; having children changed our life beyond what we could have imagined, just like everyone said it would. In the city we were alone, but we had each other. Our time there contained the snowiest April in recorded history. Knee deep in the urban plight, I clung to my faith and took the first train out of there.
Now, we have a manageable house, we are close to family, we have a great neighborhood, and the children are out of diapers. It's the result of several well-laid plans that were designed with the help of prayer and good council. I should sigh a sigh of relief and rev up to soak up the season.
But I was feeling kind of empty and detached. Doc and I are ships passing in the night most evenings. We aren't sharing many meals, therefore we aren't praying much. I was feeling kind of sorry for myself, like maybe I was wrong to latch my wagon up to this particular fairy tale. After all, if God was loving and kind, why are all these people dying before their time? And why are people dumb enough to say things like, "It's all part of God's plan."? These are questions I am forced to consider daily, thanks to my pal, Hot Lemon.
After awhile, I ran out of reasons. I stood on the brink of kissing the whole idea of God goodbye. And I was granted a minor miracle: a few minutes alone with solitaire and iTunes. Getting time alone is a rare gift these days and I enjoy a good few games of solitaire; it puts me in a contemplative move. I turned on iTunes; I needed to hear some Dolly.
Love is in the water
Love is in the air
Show me where to go
Tell me will love be there ( love be there )
Teach me how to speak
Teach me how to share
Teach me where to go
Tell me will love be there ( love be there )
And then I heard this:
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother,
and in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his holy name.
I bowed my head, humbled. This was my Grandma's favorite Christmas carol. I didn't know her very well; she emmigrated to Canada when I was very young. I remember very vividly sitting in a food court in a mall in Ottawa when I went to see her in 1994. We had gone shopping and we were breaking for lunch. Her husband Peter, was fetching napkins and Grandma and I had just settled into our seats.
O Holy Night began to float over our heads and my Grandma inhaled deeply. "This is my favorite Christmas song...'fall on your knees!' Isn't it wonderful?" She asked me breathlessly. She was a died in the wool Anglican and had a real joy around her faith. I was surprised by the simple happiness she shared with me. Often, when people talk about faith, they are trying to either convince you to join them or they have some other not so hidden agendas. This was either a moment purely lacking hidden agenda or my Grandma was one fine actress. I'll tell you, I'm not really sure to this day which it is, but I hope it's the former.
But the verse I quoted above, about being brothers to slaves I was reminded about what I really dig about Jesus: Righteousness, goodness. And why I chose the path I did, why I chose to believe. I received a reminder to fall on my knees and my cup and flask began to runneth over. I could blame Hot Lemon for this recent hot funk. Afterall, he is constantly questioning God and His existance. And like I said, I've run out of rebuttals. But he's done me a favor: he made me think about God, seriously, like I did when I was on the run.
I glanced into the abyss that is the universe and thought, I'll never understand, but I'd like to know for sure: Are you there God? I think I got my answer.
So I will kick off my holiday season believing again. I will keep asking how to speak, where to go, and will I find love. If you need me, I'll be out breaking chains.
What are you thankful for?
I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. It's a good thing I quit school or I'd be dangling out a window about now. Doc thinks we need to stay at Mom & Dad's at least one more night to make sure all the chemicals are gone and to start the vacuuming rituals. We've been here since Saturday night and I miss my bed. I don't miss the fleas though.
I'm trying to look on the bright side of all this. Maybe all the vacuuming will be like swinging two bats on the on-deck circle...it will just get us warmed up to the idea of vacuuming more often. I hate to vacuum. It's noisy and monotonous, like an AC/DC concert. I'd much rather dust, personally, but dusting ain't gonna kill any fleas. Also, all this flea business might mean that I will soon have some brand new carpet in my bedroom to replace the teal green plush from the Emerald City collection that currently lurks under my bed.
I worked so hard this weekend. Friday night: I finished the paper below. Well, it's not really finished. There are plenty of errors, as I noticed when I read it for the podcast. But it was done enough for government work. Saturday, my Mom and Grandma came over while Dad took the girls to his house to play. Mom, Grandma and I swept, picked up, dusted (whee!), packed up and gathered all the laundry we could find and headed off to the laundromat.
We stopped on the way at Milk & Honey, a Canton institution that serves steak burgers and sundaes. We fortified ourselves and started in on the laundry at about 2:30. By 5:45, we had finished nearly 30 loads of laundry.
Oh, by the way, a cute little Asian guy tried to pick me up at the laundromat. At first, I couldn't figure out that he wanted a date. He kept asking if I would be his friend.
"Sure," I said, "I can be your friend."
He mumbled something unintelligible that included street names I recognized. Then he asked me for my number and then offered me his number. I had a flash-forward of him calling me constantly and telling me about his problems with an accent so thick that I'd want to scratch my ears out as my better nature did battle with my bitch nature over whether to stay his friend or ditch him like a sack of rotten bananas.
"Um," I said, looking around for my Mom, "I don't have my phone."
I was able to tear myself away and get back to the task at hand, pumping quarters into greedy washing machines. Later on, as I went to my car to get some baskets, he cornered me.
"Do you want to have dinner tonight?" he asked me, plain as day.
"Uh," I stammered, "Well...I'm married...I've got kids."
"You're married?" he asked, surprised.
"Yes," I said, feeling like I may be out of the woods.
"Oh," he said, "I don't mind."
"Well," I said, "I think my husband would. Thanks anyway though," and I walked away.
He made himself scarce, while he waited for his laundry to finish, talking on his cell phone. I think he might have been a bit of a con artist.
Sunday, I worked on the house, colored my hair (finally) and crashed out on the couch. I was late for work this morning; I couldn't find my keys. Someone had hidden them in my purse. Imagine that! But work was good and I got my hair cut, so I look fabulous. I had a leisurely dinner on my own and finished reading my book. Riley's out cold and Lucy, well, who knows when she'll crash out. She seems to be a bit manic right now. But she's got to sleep sometime, right?
So what, I'm faced with one more night without my bed. At least it's not in a hotel, but rather Mom and Pop's Comfy Couch Inn. And Doc is going to handle a lot of the to-do list this week. Hopefully by the weekend we'll have a new routine that includes vacuuming until our fingers fall off. Dirty deeds...done dirt cheap and all that rot. Wish us luck and send us a post card.
Until then, fleas be not with you.