Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cheesy Christmas wishes

Thys wrote a poem for school the other day for Remembrance Day. In Canada, this is a day where everyone remembers the soldiers who died protecting our country. It was a very sad day for us... rather, a sad day for us pretending to be sad with everyone else. 

Here you go:

Peace smells like cookies.
Peace looks like a kiss.
Peace sounds like a waterfall.
Peace tastes like pizza.
Peace feels like puppy’s fur.

Myles wrote one too. It was an acrostic. Remember those?
His “M” line: “Men and women fought for us to protect us.” 

And I confess: I am so proud that he is clearly already a feminist. 

And I can’t write anything better than that. 

But I haven’t done an acrostic in years, and I’m tempted... 

Oh... so... tempted.

OK! Here it is. An Acrostic Merry Christmas! 

My gift to you: Things I’ve learned the hard way this year that I share with you so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way, (as if this ever works).

Men need to be told exactly what we women are thinking. They really don’t have a clue, and it’s okay to tell them. Exactly.
Everyone has problems. Everyone. Even Jennifer Anniston and your minister and your grandmother.
Right when you think you may have arrived, enjoy it, it won’t last.
Remember the good. Forgive the bad.
You don’t have to be important to matter. (I haven’t actually learned this one yet. But I’m trying)
Change either strips us of our self-delusions or reinforces them.
Humility is invigorating, and sometimes embarrassing. And often both.
Rarely do people tell you if you’ve hurt their feelings. You must ask them, and then apologize. Even if you meant to hurt them. You can apologize for that too.
If your edges are harsh, like mine, allow them to be softened, even it requires painful sanding.
Sometimes when I say things out loud they get ruined from the way they were in my head... brilliance may be delusional.
Tears are okay.
Men need to be told exactly what women are thinking. They have no idea. And it’s okay to tell them. This is worth repeating.
Almost everything in life that is worth something, doesn’t cost real money. Everything except all of those things that you can buy at Nordstrom.
Sometimes love is simply cleaning up a mess.

Well, that was fun. For me. Really, an acrostic for adults is about as pathetic as me texting my husband from bed. When he's downstairs.

I hope you're all enjoying all the gimmicks that are supposed to make us feel cozy and heartfelt toward Jesus and our families! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Me and Tina

I came home from work today (my two-hour-a-day gig) and went straight to my bedroom to take off my jeans and put on sweatpants. Then I lay down on my couch because I was so exhausted from my hard day of work, and read a bit of my latest favorite book: Tina Fey's “Bossy Pants.” I know, I’m always a few years behind on everything. For example: Today I learned what a hashtag was. It took a few seventeen year olds to explain it to me. But they did it with such excitement by providing so many examples and so many iterences of the exact same thing, I tried hard to understand... and then I tried hard to re-channel their excitement into Shakespeare’s Othello

Perhaps if it were written in hashtags they would like it better:


#Othello, #thebard

I am the bomb #moorofvenice #blackram
I think you’re sexy #whitegirlslikeemblack #whiteewe
Let’s get married #onlyinvenice  #thingsyoucantdointhesouth
Your daddy is real mad #grounded
But Daddy, I love him #poutysmile
Let’s go to war #realwomenfight
We won the war #celebrategoodtimestonight
Take me baby #beastwithtwobacks
Your wife is cheating on you #thegreeneyedmonster
I wish I never married #wishinevermarried
You are a strumpet #whoresrus
I am innocent #ididntdoit
Look at the evidence #handerchiefsbackinstyle
I will kill everyone now #bloodyswordplay
Even dead people talk #shakespearesuspensionofdisbelief
Othello, you’re wrong, she was innocent #fml
Why did you ensnare my soul, Iago? #demidevil
Now, I must kill myself too #waystocommitsuicide

I know, clearly I don’t get it yet. No doubt my students would tell me that I’m doing this entirely wrong. And then they’d get all excited about showing me how to do it wrong again. And they’d say the exact same thing.

My point was, I got home, took off my pants, and then opened Tina’s book (Tina and I are best friends, only she doesn’t know it yet). And I read the best and shortest chapter ever (I think she’d approve, since we’re best friends, of my reprinting it here):

Chapter Title: What Turning Forty Means to Me

“I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. But now I do” *.


*Thanks Tina, for letting me print this, call me later, K? 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A writer's craft

Good Morning my fellow writers. Thanks for dropping by. I have some exciting news to share: One of my articles was selected to appear in The Adoption Magazine--A support group for families of adopted children. Pop over and pay them a visit, and please leave a comment there if you are inclined--share with friends of family members who have adopted children....put a bow on it and give it as a gift:)
I'm looking forward to popping around to read your latest word experiments.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Expired Password: A Eulogy

For the past 13 years, I have used my dog’s name as a password for all of my technological needs (it was original when I started it). And, yes, you too can now sign in to see the results of my latest pap smear or peak at the negative balance in my savings account. But now, our old lab is well past her expiration date. And like other things that we keep too long (milk, some clothes and decorations, and drawings that I created in 1978) she is getting stinky, difficult to watch, and oh so frail. 

The biggest clue was when a passerby in a vehicle pulled over and rolled down (yes, rolled, we live near a lot of elderly folk, don’t judge) his window to ask if she was alright. You know something is bad when people pull over to address it. Pull-overs usually only happen when you need some serious first aid (story for later) or child services (another story for later).

I mean, she’s just a measly dog. But. I have listened to her snoring, smelled her farts, and endured her loud barking since 1999. I remember listening to Prince with her 7 pound body curled on my lap (in my garage, smoking cigarettes... story for later) “I wanna party like...” Nevermind. If you can’t finish that, go change your diaper.

It was 14 years ago in San Diego, early in my teaching career, when a student of mine brought the runt of his latest litter to school one day. The tiny cutie stole my heart and the hubs didn’t stand a chance at talking me out of her. My student told me that they almost “drowned” her (which is farmer talk for something normal, though it surely can’t involve actually drowning?!?! PETA? Am I correct?) In fact, this “runt” outweighed her own mother at only a few years old, not something I think young ladies should necessarily aspire to, but in her case it was a cause of pride. 

She was a strong, steady presence in and staple of our lives for many years. 

And this is a tough one for me, I confess... I’ve had many changes in my life lately. I am not sure just how to weather this one. 

None of my the recent changes has involved disrupting the family unit; in fact, they’ve all worked toward strengthening it. But this silly dog was our first child. We have a freakin photo album of her, for God’s sake. Our Christmas cards used to have her as the focus (she was much cuter than we). I’m not sure I’m in a safe enough place yet to endure such a jolt.

CS Lewis once said that “animals that have enjoyed a positive personal relationship with a human have a better theological chance at immortality.” And I like to think that she’ll be in heaven to greet us. With a big lick and a jump. That jump she just can’t do anymore in this life.

We are all that she has known of life. She never even went to a kennel. We always took her with us or manipulated our neighbors and/or former friends into keeping her when we were away.

And even though I’ve only very recently re-connected with her after the tumultuous years of raising young children (those years when I really wanted her out of my way and out of the house) she did not harbor a grudge. In fact, it was like she never even noticed. She accepted my love in whatever way she could get it. The sadness for me is that she finally became my walking companion, now I don’t have a dog-excuse to justify my night-time meanderings.

There is something to be said about a loyalty that harbors no guilt. It’s a beautiful portrait of unconditional love. Julian of Norwich once said, “In God’s voice, I never hear a hint of blame.” Not that I’m comparing my dog to God. But I am. Sort of. They share the loyalty thing. And the blamelessness. I never had to worry what Daisy thought of me, or had to apologize for three hours about all the ways I let her down. She had so few expectations of me. She taught me how to lower my own expectations of other humans. 

In the end, dogs end up teaching us about our own capacity to love--they are willing receptacles (or dumping grounds) of all our leftover emotions. Sometimes they get the best of us, sometimes the worst. 

This morning, we had Daisy put down. 

She enjoyed a long, beautiful life. A life full of adventure: snow and ocean and lake and hills and dead bodies (story for later) and mountains and parks and lots and lots and lots of walks. We let her leave this life before her suffering became too unbearable to endure. She was always such a tough gal, I’m sure she’d have lasted even longer in her mind than her failing body would allow; however, it’s a strange choice to I’m about to compare myself to God. No, I won’t go there. 

I will always picture her running on a path just ahead, or snoring at my feet millimeters away or wagging her tail violently. For who now will tell me when someone is at the door? Or walking in front of our house? 

It will be eerily quiet here. 

RIP Daisy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The whores of the Four Nations

As a student in Grade Three, my son Myles received the honor of reading at an all-school Mass that the Grade Three-ers were in charge of leading. My first response: nice. I confess, I gave myself the metaphorical “good mom” pat on the back.
(New readers: My boys go to the local Catholic school, but we’re not Catholic; it’s a good school and they talk about Jesus, whom we like. And here in Canada, it’s free like the public schools, which we like too.)

Then he came home with the two pages (not double-spaced) of lines he needed to memorize. Yes, memorize. In two weeks.

And they were from the book of Revelations. The scary one in the back of the Bible that I don’t even want to read at night. Or alone in a room. Or ever, really. And now my son needed to root them into his brain.

It’s okay, I thought. I can go with this. I’m a casual, non-dramatic, non-crazy, non-reactive parent (these are things I tell myself in order to fake it til I make it, which will hopefully happen by the time I have grandchildren).

We chanted Revelations in our house all day, every day, for two weeks. Sure did.

Even Thys (the six-year-old) was walking around singing things like, “In my vision, I saw another angel, coming down from heaven, who condemned the earth for its evil and rapturous ways.” It was just like the Nursery Rhyme songs that he usually sings, but with an Iron Maiden twist. It was catchy, sort of, in the same way tampon commercial songs are. I was thankful that our walls are well-insulated, and that the in-laws were not visiting.

Then. The Mass.

I went. To watch, of course. Not to see how good of a reader my son is. Not to listen to how clearly and crisply he enunciates his words. Not to notice if he remembered the inflection I taught him to use. Not to verify that the $300 we spent on speech therapy to get rid of his lisp was a good investment. Nooooo. Of course not! 

I went to kneel on those fold-out benches that Catholic Churches have (which I couldn’t do because I did an unintentional “Plank” on the pier recently which shaved two inches of skin off my knee, a story for later) and to see if I can cross my chest in the right direction when I did the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” thing*.

Myles approached the stage. And the two robed, elderly males in charge of the service were sitting in the giant chairs toward the back of the stage, smiling at him very sweetly, and looking very important. 

Myles stood behind the podium, looking at them. They looked back. For what seemed like hours. I couldn’t tell what he was whispering to them, but I wanted to run up to him and remind him that Catholics are very formal and you can’t just TALK to them in a service (but since his grandpa is a pastor and we’ve always gone to quite casual services, this was lost... I was that parent in the back of the room, trying to ESP my son, and trying not to scream or run or worse. It was that helpless, horrible feeling you get when you realize that you can’t control absolutely everything--a reality of parenting, I know, but it still catches me off guard at times). Finally, one of the robed giants got up and walked behind the huge statue of this desperate looking Virgin Mary and then reemerged with a small, plastic stool for Myles to stand on so that he could reach the microphone.

We have no self-esteem problems in our house. My boys know that they are important enough to be heard.

Myles began, “In my vision I saw...”

And if you can be fabulous at such a thing, he certainly was.

But then he got to this part that his teacher warned me about. Apparently, she tried to get this taken out of the reading, but after weeks of dispute, the Priests wouldn’t let her “alter scripture.”

Standing on the plastic stool, beside Catholic importance and underneath the yearning virgin, Myles proclaimed the Word of God: “For He judged the great whores who corrupted the earth with their four nations.”

With inflection.

But. The four nations that did all that corruption may or may not have originally been called “fornications.” 

But we’ll just save that word for at least Grade Five.

Who says we can’t alter Scripture, just a little bit? 

*No disrespect to Catholicism. I just don’t get it. I’m attempting to mock my own ignorance, not the Church itself. Sorry.