Sunday, September 30, 2007

what a week!

This has been one of those seemingly endless weeks.

Tomorrow, I start my new "get up every morning" schedule. It should greatly increase my productivity.

Monday, September 24, 2007

session expired

That's the shitty thing about weekends — as soon as I'm rested and a bit rejuvenated, they come to an end.

I had wanted to share the story of a boy I loved dearly who died recently, but I got to rambling and didn't get around to it.

And now I need to go to bed. I've got to work tomorrow and I'm expecting an early morning wake up call from a perky blonde, who has generously agreed to try to help me get on a healthier sleeping schedule by waking my sorry ass up in the mornings. I just had to promise not to cuss her out when she calls!

revelations

Every now and then God reveals, in perfect clarity, some of the intricacies of His plan.

I am left in awe by these revelations. I marvel at the intricate pattern the Maker has created — the delicate interweaving of ourselves with others and the enormous impact seemingly "chance" encounters can have on our being.

There are many intersections, parallel points and blind curves along our path.

Most of us constantly question God's will — seeking clarification on the message and the means, longing to know the intent.

We beg for God to "cut us a break" and pray for what we believe we need for eternal bliss. The Rolling Stones would tell you, "you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need."

Even a bunch of old rockers know the deal — there are times in our lives when it seems as though our prayers go unanswered, but sometimes unanswered prayers are just God knowing best, and sometimes He humbles us by revealing the sheer mastery of His plan.

This can all be extremely difficult to remember when we're in the midst of all life's bullshit or sinking in utter desolation and feel like we just need a break from the whole damn thing. It is especially during these times that we must cling to the hope left with us during these moments of revelation.

bitter truth

One cannot accept the existence of God without also facing a bitter truth...

The existence of God, and the acceptance of that existence do not erase human suffering.

I have screamed to the Heavens, cursing my God for allowing His children to endure such heartache and begged Him to allow me to understand His purpose behind it.

There are those who say we brought such suffering upon ourselves. Some say that our suffering is a test of our faith, or the path to enlightenment. We are reminded during these times that it is "God's will" but rarely is the righteousness of that will apparent to us.

Perhaps The Boy had the best answer to why a loving God would allow such horrible things to happen.

"Maybe He figures we need to experience the same kind of suffering Christ did in order to appreciate Heaven," The Boy explained from the back seat of the car.

A year after The Boy, who was also not raised in the church, shared such insight, I begin to read Mother Teresa — Come Be My Light, which is a collection of her personal writings that reveal the dark night of her soul.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

beautiful recognition

There is something inherently beautiful about death — a soul slipping from the physical decay of this world, offering a parting promise of eternity.

I was not raised in the church and struggled with my faith for years. It was not the "miracle of life" in having a child that left me doubtless of God's existence. No, it was the comforting presence that filled my car as I followed the ambulance that carried my husband's body.

There are those who would say it was merely an illusory product of a mind distressed.

However, I recognized it immediately as the presence of God.

Over the next few months, as I prayed fervently for my husband's soul — that he may be forgiven his earthly sins and his soul be allowed to remain in the presence of God — I could often hear his footsteps, catch a whiff of his cologne, or even feel his arms around me. Eternity suddenly stretched before me, offering its sweet promise and this life suddenly seemed incredibly short, yet somehow maddeningly slow.

God reveals a lot in death, if our hearts are open to recognize it.

stubborn ass

I've always been a stubborn ass and seem to insist on learning things the hard way so it really shouldn't surprise me that The Boy is the same way.

He's only been back in school four or five weeks and is already grounded for having a 'D' average in social studies. His teacher says he would have an easy 'A' in that class if he would just do the work. Of course, making matters worse, The Boy tried to delay my knowledge of the matter by not giving me the note the teacher sent. Luckily, the teacher sent me an email the next day when she The Boy couldn't produce a signed copy.

It reminds me so much of all those report cards I brought home with notes about how "she is a gifted child but is not working up to her full potential."

Like me, The Boy is stubborn and hasn't yet been presented with a good enough reason to "waste his time" doing things that he "doesn't want to do". He's willing to take the bad grade, willing to take the consequences of losing privileges and being assigned extra chores. Incentive programs are not enough to encourage him to do the work required of all the other students.

I keep trying to tell him that yes, homework is intended to offer a review and practice of material gone over in class, but it is also intended to encourage him to develop a good work ethic, which will be crucial to his survival after "leaving the nest".

Eh, he shrugs it off. He's not much concerned about it. I hope it doesn't end up biting him in the ass too hard.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

need a laugh?

Laughter is indeed the best medicine and can certainly be extremely infectious...

If you need a laugh, (and don't we all,) pause the tunes and play this video.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

*yawn*

The past couple of weeks have really kicked my ass! This time of the year is always a nightmare at work because we have a huge annual project on top of the normal daily grind so I've been working insane hours.

I just need to finish tying up some lose ends at the office tomorrow. Then I can get some rest and recharge a bit.

This weekend I will write — share some things that have been rattling around in my mind lately.

Monday, September 17, 2007

in awe

The sheer enormity of it all leaves me breathless.

"It was like he'd had the breath knocked out of him."

They say that God never gives you more than you can bear and that there is a reason for all things even if you don't understand it at the time.

It is almost overwhelming when it all unfolds before you, when you catch a sudden glimpse of the intricacies of this life, when you recognize the parallel paths our lives have taken.

It leaves me in awe and utterly speechless. Although I know that soon, once I've allowed it to sink in a bit more, this is definitely a story I need to share.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

too tired for words

It's been a long time since I've cried this much.

And I don't think I've ever cried this much in public. I tried desperately to maintain my composure, but I couldn't control the steady flow of tears.

This entire week has seemed so surreal — the fire and then, Monday night, the unexpected death of a friend.

There is so much I want to attempt to put into words, but I've spent the last four days putting out a 14-page paper and a 24-page tab, preparing for a mass distribution next week, going to funeral homes and funerals, and crying.

My eyes are so tired they hurt. Maybe after a good night's sleep my eyes, and my soul, will be able to bear putting it all into words.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

random thought

All mourning is not so much a longing for what once was, but a sad, wistful sort of longing for what once could have been.

Monday, September 10, 2007

when the job gets tough

It just hurts my heart.

A friend of mine called this morning and left a message asking that I call her as soon as possible. She said it was an emergency. Her husband just died two weeks ago. She found him in his truck on one of the family farm roads leading home. He'd had a heart attack.

She was devastated. They are a very close-knit family. Their son, 21, still lives at home and their daughter lives just down the road. Their daughter's ex-husband even still lived on the family farm. In spite of the divorce, the two remained close friends, forever bound to one another by a 15-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.

My heart hung in my throat as I listened to her message this morning. Two weeks ago, she had not referred to her husband's sudden death as "an emergency". Something was horribly wrong.

She was awakened, at 3 a.m. this morning, by the frantic screams of her granddaughter and two other little girls who were banging on her door.

The three young girls were in a panic, screaming hysterically and breathless from their long run through the woods in the middle of the night.

There was a fire.

The cedar house that my friend's son-in-law had built back in the woods had become completely engulfed in flames. Her granddaughter had escaped the fire along with a friend and the daughter of her son-in-law's girlfriend. The girls were physically unharmed except for the scratches and bruises their feet and ankles suffered as they ran barefoot through the woods to safety.

However, her grandson, her son-in-law and her son-in-law's girlfriend all died in the fire. Their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

There are many heavy hearts in this small farming community tonight. There is a woman who has lost a grandson so suddenly after the death of her husband. There is a little girl who recently lost her granddaddy and has now lost her daddy and her brother to a fire that so nearly claimed her as well. And there is a woman, who so soon after losing her own daddy, tries to comfort her little girl while mourning the death of her son.

To hell with the paper plates and plastic cups. This time I showed up with vodka, chocolate chip cookies, super soft Kleenex and a big huggable terry cloth pillow. My heart broke for them and I begged God to offer them the comfort I could not. I spent most of the day with them before coming home, giving The Boy an extra squeeze before I sent him off to bed.

Kate asked me recently if this sort of thing, this empathy that I have for others, built me up or dragged me down. I'm not really sure how to answer that. All I know is that it hurts my heart.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the sewing machine

Ok...I have a list, kinda.

I am, after all, a great believer in the power of lists. Everything seems a bit easier when you have a list to work from. Lists, or rather the "checking off" of each bullet, can also instill a great sense of accomplishment.

It's a shame that, often, the very task of committing a list to paper is so daunting.

At the moment I have a pretty decent list (in my head anyway) of the various pieces of clutter around here that MUST go with me when I head north...

My sewing machine and sewing basket is on the top of that list. Funny thing is, as much as I've always wanted to make quilts, Christmas stockings, curtains and such, I've never really done a lot of sewing even though I've owned a sewing machine for almost five years.

I used to watch my granny sew on a machine, but I never really learned how to operate one. I also have very fond memories of cold winter mornings spent in front of a woodstove with an elderly neighbor as she quilted, sharing her stories with me as I waited for the school bus.

But it was the ratty old blanket of an ex-boyfriend that really taught me the basics. His great grandmother had made it for him when he was just a child, but after years of wear and wash, her hand-stitching had become badly deteriorated. A heavy panel, backed in soft brown cotton and topped with a patchwork hodgepodge of cotton fabric, it was the most comfortable blanket I've ever slept under. No matter what the season, that blanket was always enough to keep you warm and never too much to make you hot. It could cure insomnia, ease a broken heart and sometimes I even thought it did amazing battle against cold and the flu.

But that damn blanket was falling apart! I would wake in the night, startled by my foot becoming trapped, having become hopelessly entangled in the torn and ripped fabric of the quilted top (which was actually the side you wanted touching you as it always seemed cooling, soothing against your skin). Sometimes, as you struggled to make the blanket envelope two people, you heard the sickening rip as more stitches gave way, or the fibers of the fabric holding them begrudgingly let them go, too weakened with age to put up much of a fight. We pulled scraps of fabric from the washing machine the one time I insisted on washing it.

Someone had to save the blanket. So I dug around in the closet and found the small plastic box filled with the needle and thread of my junior high cross-stitch days. (See, being a pack rat DOES come in handy!) My fingers soon remembered the soothing, repetitive poke, slide, poke, pull motion and I began flying through small, evenly spaced stitches. They were even almost, kind of, in a straight line.

The more I stitched the more the old stitches ripped in the night. I couldn't keep up with the unraveling.

So I went to Sears and bought myself a cheap Singer sewing machine, referring to it as a Mother's Day gift to myself. I brought it home, pretty proud of the fact that I actually owned a sewing machine...I just needed to figure out how to use the damn thing! After referring to the diagram in the manual countless times, quite a bit of cussing and trying to hold my mouth just right, and two phone calls to my grandmother, I finally rejoiced in a properly threaded needle and my first successful practice run using two pieces of scrap material!

I can do this, bring me that blanket!

I thought he was going to cry when he saw me take the scissors to a small section of the brightly colored patchwork.

I spent hours on end at the kitchen table using that sewing machine to piece that jigsaw puzzle back together, adding new scraps of soft cotton fabric when necessary. I took that patchwork top apart section by section, salvaging as much of the original material as I could. (Incidentally, since she too was a pack rat, my ex's mom was able to provide the "new" material from her basement.)

Within a month, the old blanket was in one piece and even survived the washing machine. I felt such pride in my handiwork, but bemoaned the tiny spot where I misjudged a measurement, resulting in a little "knot" of fabric at one seam.

I haven't used the sewing machine since then. We broke up a few months later, having waited three years longer than we should have to do it, but the next time I got sick, he brought the blanket for me to use.

Damn I miss that blanket!

(Ok, I admit it, I did squirrel away a few small scraps of the material not strong enough to handle another twenty years of regular use, but hey, I figured somebody might need it one day!)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

slight snag

It has suddenly occurred to me (as I was sorting through the contents of a closet) that I have accumulated quite a bit of stuff over the years. I am, after all, a pack rat by breeding.

When I was growing up, the contents of my great grandmother's basement rivaled the selection of any thrift store. If you ever needed anything, it was always a good idea to check the basement first. I have several pieces of furniture that came from that basement, but it was also a good source for board games, glass jars, lamps, aluminum pie pans and the occasional forgotten treasure.

"Oh mother, why do you insist on keeping this junk," my grandmother would ask as my great grandmother, who hit adulthood right around the Depression, squirreled away safety pins, baggie ties, plastic cups, scraps of fabric, gift bows, wrapping paper, etc. etc.

"You might need it one day and then you'll be glad I'm keeping all this junk," the old woman would say with a huff.

Sure enough, the day would come, when we had to ask if there was a big sheet of plastic, a toilet paper holder or an extra broom down in the basement. There usually was.

As I begin to go through my closets, in an effort to consolidate as much as possible, I argue with myself.."I don't really use this....but I might need it some day."

I may need to rent a small storage building so that I can appease the pack rat in me while achieving my goal of moving as little as necessary.

on the road again

I've been climbing the walls of my life recently.

This is hardly a new phenomen. Seems I have spent most of my life in longing and a good deal of it in mourning.

As I child I hid in my bedroom, immersing myself in the stories, poetry and music of others and escaping through my own when the urge became unbearable.

As an adult, I have longed for the same...to hide in a little house in the middle of the woods, to immerse myself in the stories, poetry and music of others and to allow myself that escape through my own.

This next move will allow me just that...filling me with that same thrilling rush I've felt so many times before, when I simply walk away, towards a better life.

I was fifteen when I walked away from school one day and walked away from my life. A few months later, after spending only one more night in that trailer, I got into a car with a trash bag full of clothes, a backpack full of books and notebooks and my pillow. I was driven six hours south to another state and dropped off. I started school and got a job.

A year and a half later I got on a plane with a suitcase full of clothes and a backpack full of books and notebooks to fly back to my home state, settling in a town 45 minutes from "home". I started school and got a job.

Just after graduation the following year, I packed up my car with a suitcase and a wicker trunk full of clothes, a backpack full of notebooks and a box of books and went to a nearby town to start my family.

Six years later, my family shattered by death, I went back "home", just a few minutes from that old trailer.

In a few months, fifteen years after I first walked away from my life here, I will be getting into another car with my clothes, my books and my notebooks and I will go six hours to another state. Only this time I will go north and this time I will be driving.

I will hide in a little house in the woods, where I will immerse myself in the stories, poetry and music of others and I will allow myself to escape through my own.

Maybe then the longing and mourning will cease.