Sunday, January 20, 2008

not just another day

Today is a rather auspicious day, equidistant between two points:

One year ago today
One year from today

It's my blog's birthday. I've been anticipating it for the past week. Or two. I mean, what does one do for one's blog after it circumnavigates the sun for a year? Bake it a cake? Give it a new template?

Carry its home (my beloved imac) around a sun candle, a la the Montessori tradition, while telling stories about it?

I want to do something special- I've always been partial to birthdays, remarkable moments that they are. It has always seemed to me that we don't celebrate them like we should. Birthdays, as you will note if you have been paying any attention at all to this blog, have always figured prominently.

To make another trip AROUND THE SUN is no small feat.

Do other people feel this way about their blogs, as if they are an ethereal, yet actual, entity? Something you think about when you should be thinking about something else? A good friend whom you depend upon? A third party in a relationship perhaps? I'm concerned I might be losing my mind. I'm a Capricorn, married to a Capricorn, and my blog is a Capricorn too, and I'm wondering-- just what is the prognosis for a Capricorn threesome?!

Anyway, in honor of my blog's birthday, I have decided to give it something that we all wish we could have in this life: a vacation. At least three weeks. But first, I am going to post a host of photos/events that I meant to post at various times during the past year. Old business, as it were. Time to get on with new business.

To protest the St. Patrick's Day parade being moved from Old Colorado City to downtown, the 24th street gang decided to make its own:

I read Peter Pan to the boys and became enamored with the Lost Boys and Neverland, and especially Tinkerbell. I discovered my brother drives around with her on his dashboard:

My friend Jene is writing a book. It's complicated to explain, but I helped her with some mid-life "research" by going to dance clubs and strip bars with her. I'll let you know when the book comes out. Here I am just before we left for Denver to go to The Church:

Some things bloomed, eventually, despite the odds against them:

My brother and I went to Oregon in October. We visited our mother's cubby and spent some time on the coast with our father, where I got to show my new tattoo its home:

Bennett with the camera. I have a gazillion of these, which I never know about until I upload my photos; they fascinate me. Here are just a few:

One of my co-workers received this letter, telling her that she had to pay a $25 "fee" to the Colorado Dept. of Human Services, because, get this, she is a single mom who received over $500 in child support last year! WTF!?

The boys wanted to hang this poster over their window because there was no space for it anywhere in their room. I said no. They did it anyway. It's beautiful, and it made me think: What if we turned science into stained glass?

It ain't the Olympics, but I won a gold medal in the giant slalom race at Ski Cooper. There were only three women in my age category, but hey, I smoked 'em all! G and B also finished gold and bronze, respectively. This day marked a first: Grant's time was better than mine.... it's the beginning of the end! I wanted to write something about the zen of ski racing, but that'll have to wait:

So there you have it.... I'll see you all in a few weeks. Until then, send me your bookshelf photos!

Friday, January 18, 2008

what book are you? round two, just for fun, if i don't like oprah

You're Lolita!

by Vladimir Nabokov

Considered by most to be depraved and immoral, you are obsessed with
sex. What really tantalizes you is that which deviates from societal standards in every
way, though you admit that this probably isn't the best and you're not sure what causes
this desire. Nonetheless, you've done some pretty nefarious things in your life, and
probably gotten caught for them. The names have been changed, but the problems are real.
Please stay away from children.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

what book are you?

You're One Hundred Years of Solitude!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Lonely and struggling, you've been around for a very long time.
Conflict has filled most of your life and torn apart nearly everyone you know. Yet there
is something majestic and even epic about your presence in the world. You love life all
the more for having seen its decimation. After all, it takes a village.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


Friday, January 11, 2008

all i want

I realize it's not exactly humble to ask for birthday presents from close friends and far away friends and blog friends and complete strangers, but that's what I'm going to do. Today is my birthday. I'm 41. And all I want are two things. Number one: what I have right this moment - a husband cooking spaghetti, two boys baking brownies, and a trip to see The Water Horse with my family later. Number two: what I hope to have after you read this - a photo of your bookshelf.

I first attempted to spell out my brainstorm here. And then I actually started up the blog here.

Now all it needs is you. Click on the link to find out the details. I can't wait. Thanks. And pass it on.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

present for john, part 2

This is The Delusion, a 10-masted glow-in-the-dark ship that we actually DID get John for his birthday.

It's all part of their latest obsession. I love to watch and listen to them play, but have absolutely no desire to try and figure out the complicated rules and strategies. It definitely falls under the guy-geek-game category, which is fine by me. On Tuesday evenings, they pack up their ships and sail downtown to Compleat Games and Hobbies to play with all the other geeky gamer guys. I can see our life savings slowly widdling away as our house becomes overrun with pirate ships!

The Delusion in its non-glowing mode:

Monday, January 7, 2008

funny things you hear when you raise your kids without christianity

Grant, whispering in my ear during a flute concert at the Broadmoor Community Church: "Why is there an upside down sword on the wall?"
Bennett, while admiring the gingerbread village at the Broadmoor Hotel: "Why is there a letter t on top of that building?"

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

present for john

From the deck of the Bonhomme Richard, John Paul Jones shouted to the English captain of the Serapis, "I have not yet begun to fight."

If I could, I would get you the real one
or a replacement
it suits you
fight on

happy birthday, m'love!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

on being chosen

As a young girl of about seven or eight, I loved browsing through the Illustrated Children’s Bible in the waiting room when I went to get my weekly allergy shot. One picture I remember vividly: a darkened room, a boy in his bed, and a glowing Jesus standing in the middle of the room, arms outstretched. The boy was peering out from under the covers at Jesus, slightly afraid, or perhaps in awe. I never bothered to read the story on the page opposite the illustration; all I knew was that I wanted Jesus to come into my room like that. I wouldn't be afraid. I would crawl into his welcoming arms and rest there awhile, knowing he came just for me. I had faith, but I needed proof. I didn’t know then that faith was what you had when you didn’t need any proof.

At night, I would wait for Jesus under my pink gingham sheets. I would whisper under the covers, “Jesus, if you are really real, you will come into my room this night.” (I tried hard not to sound demanding or desperate or doubtful, but it never worked). I prayed. I made deals. I begged. Night after night. He never showed. I was raised to believe in miracles: Lazarus, loaves and fishes, the meek inheriting the earth (ok, this one hasn't happened yet, but I believed, and still believe, it will). I fully expected one to happen to me. I'd like to say that this was where my doubt in religion began. I'd like to say I was one of those wise-beyond-her-years characters in a novel. But instead of doubting Jesus, I doubted my own power to make him show up. As if making Jesus appear in my bedroom at night were actually something I had any control over!

The conclusion I drew was a sad one: obviously, I was not good enough, not pure enough, not worthy enough, for Jesus to come into my room at night.

About this same time, I saw the movie Escape to Witch Mountain. That's it! I was to be chosen not by Jesus, but by Magic. I had abilities far superior than the average child! I was a witch! I just knew I could make those sturdy books fly across the room and into my hands with sheer willpower. And so I sat on the sofa and stared across the living room at our bookshelves. Day after day, I applied myself to my new task. I concentrated. I focused. I almost passed out. Sometimes I swear I saw a book jiggle a little, especially the ones on the top shelf, but nothing ever came of it. And my doubt in my own power grew. Because I still believed in Magic.

I wonder how many kids today lie awake at night on the eve of their 11th birthday, waiting expectantly for an owl to show up.

Next it was the extraterrestrials. Fed by Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET, my mind raced with the idea that aliens, surely, would see my desperate plight. During warm summer nights, my mother would let my brother and I sleep in the backyard under the stars. Staring up at the night sky, I waited for friendly aliens to come and carry me away to another, better place. I sent frantic, telepathic messages into the worlds beyond... Pick ME! Choose ME! I had no fear of them, just as I had no fear of a strange glowing man in my room at night. I knew they would come for me. I was special.

You know the ending.

Eventually, fundamentalist Christianity came along. Picture, if you will, a 13-year-old girl in the throes of puberty, lost in a spinning dance outdoors at the Jesus Northwest Festival. Somewhere in the middle of that crowded field, I met the holy spirit face-to-face (it was red, all red), fell on the grass, and, to this day, still don't know whether I laughed or wept. I hadn’t been chosen by Jesus or Magic or Aliens, but by God Himself! I’m still not exactly sure what happened to me that evening, but I do know that my body was aroused, my mind was open, the music was loud, and I felt, for the first time in my life, unconditional love.

I gave up on organized religion shortly thereafter, realizing hypocrisy at the ripe old age of 15 or so. At least I can say my foray into the born-again realm was short-lived. But the intensity of that evening has never left me. I have recreated it at other times in my life, with Dead shows or drugs or dancing or sex, but nothing has ever come close to that first time.

People who don’t understand evangelicals have never had this kind of experience, I would presume. They dismiss with disgust the swaying worshippers in New Life with their hypnotic music, hands in the air. I don’t laugh at them because I understand their desperate need to belong, to know someone loves them, to be chosen.

The thing about fundamentalists of all religions is that they KNOW they are chosen, and there is something powerful and soothing in that. And terribly, terribly frightening. If you believe you are chosen, you have all things instantly: faith, purpose, meaning, and all the right answers.

All this leads me to my own young children at this time of year, so willing to believe in Santa. Santa tells you that you are special... he reads YOUR letters, comes to YOUR house, knows just what YOU want. He feeds an ancient, holy, human need. For my older one, it is almost a desperate need. It seems as if he is clinging to his faith in Santa, even though he knows the truth already.

Younger: “I don't get it, I mean how do the reindeer actually FLY? And how does Santa get EVERYWHERE in one night with all those presents?"
Older: “Duh!.... MAGIC!” This one, he has all the answers. No questions asked. He believes fervently in dragons, ghosts, monsters, and magic. He believes all movies are real, no matter what we tell him to the contrary. He would believe in God so easily, if we just let him.

What I feel compelled to do now, more than anything, is to let people (my children, my students, random strangers on the street, my beloved few readers....) know that they are chosen. Maybe not for something great, but at least for something important. Something good, with meaning, that is ultimately larger than themselves. We cannot hope or pray or wish or will things into existence. We cannot make others come to us. We may have been abandoned, or we may just feel abandoned, but we can choose as well as be chosen. With this knowledge, comes power.

And what I know so deeply and painfully in my heart is this: If we don't let our kids know each and every fucking day of the year that we CHOSE them, that we love them NO MATTER WHAT, then SOMETHING ELSE WILL! It might be fundamentalist religion or a sexual predator or the wrong kid at the wrong time or shopping or addiction. Because to feel powerless and unloved in this world will make you a victim.

“Pick ME! Choose ME! Love ME!” Meredith pleads, begs, wails to McDreamy somewhere during the second (or third?) season of Grey’s Anatomy. Because it sucks not to be the chosen one.