expanding mind. in the toilet.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today, after dinner, playing with Play-Doh with mom and dad:

I show her how to load dough (doh?) into the little compartment, position the circle shape over the extrusion spot, and push on the plunger. A tube of dough comes oozing out, snakelike.

Thoughtfully and softly, she says, "Poo."

I wouldn't have believed that she'd made the connection without doing it again and getting the same response.

Please tell me how a 20-month old who has never wiped her own rear can understand what poo looks like when it comes out, and that the play-doh toy we were using resembles that.

All we could do was laugh.


There is something magical about the way she's learning new words (and new uses) so quickly now.

Bird usually spends many hours a week with my mom while I work. While my mom was out of town last week, she spent every day with me, and took to preceding her one-syllable requests with my name:

Momma, out (of the high chair).
Momma, more.
Momma, HOLD!
Momma, SEE!

I loved it. But now that Grammy's returned, we see that she hasn't quite got it yet-- every request, to anyone, for anything, is likely to be preceded by "Momma."

Oh, well. It'll straighten itself out before long, I guess.


But I really adore the way she'll pause, just before entering a new room, going outside, or getting into the car, earnestly grab your hand, and say seriously, "Too." You must come too, Momma (or Daddy or Grammy or Aunt Leigh). "Too."

Too precious, is what it is.

multifaceted? schizophrenic? inconsistent?

Hey. Um, I'm doing fine after that rather dramatic post there. Things are still uncertain. But hasn't all of life been uncertain since we left Florida-- and really, since we arrived in Florida and found it wasn't what we believed it to be? I've been walking around learning to hand over my fear and panic for around six years now. What's a few more months? Pshaw.

That's not what I want to write about; it's just my response to my felt obligation to somehow apologize for or explain that Dark Night post. I can't really do either, and I refuse to delete it, because that is part of my life these days. So it stays, I try my best not to minimize it-- although I can see already that I just did-- and we move on to other fascinating topics.

Including: Who on earth am I? (note: fascinating to me. I rather guarantee this to be tedious to anyone else.)

I've lately become very puzzled by the inconsistent breadth of my own perspective.

I am part snarky modernist, sneering at the simpletons and fundamentalists and hippies. This man's derision of the homeschooling fundamentalist moms at the blueberry patch, for example, made me snort in my tea--- particularly when I clicked on the link to discover who Little Critter's Mom was.) I read snooty food blogs, lifehacker, and like geekery, and usually relish it.

But part of me hates the snarky modernist. I want to grow my own food, educate my own children, follow the God that's been in my heart since adolescence, eschew cable tv and video games and even Dora and Elmo. After laughing at Dutch's vitriol over the homeschoolers, I click right on over to another regular read--a homeschooling mom of 6 in Canada who writes the most beautiful and honest reflections I've ever seen about living life as a mother devoted to Christ. I soak up the wisdom in her writing, and it dissolves away some of the cynicism and arched-eyebrowness that comes from the snarkers.

Then I click over to my Wiccan teacher friend in Hawaii who writes beautifully about her dogs and her knitting projects. And then over to another Wiccan, a mom of a toddler in Virginia who lives with very little so that she can live deeply and richly with her son, giving him a world of hikes and flowers and friendly wolves instead of days of shuttling between a harried home and a chaotic daycare experience. And then over to my favorite snappy shopping blog, who gives me tips on where to find great stuff dirt cheap-- even as I'm contemplating how much less we could live with if we just tried.

I am all of these perspectives, but also a critic of all of these perspectives. I love parts of each and every one of them, but am fairly sure that, were we to need to be slotted into a particular "type," that I would fit in none of their respective compartments-- and possibly even be welcome at none of their dinner parties, because so many of my other sensibilities would not be shared there.

Perhaps this is some of what's sparking this question inside me: We have good friends here that are enthusiastically environmental and naturalistic in their viewpoints. I love those friends and in many ways love their viewpoints. But something in me can't commit to sharing them wholeheartedly. I am a skeptic of all things. I can listen with great interest as they mention their hatred of Wal-Mart, their refusal to vaccinate their children, their distrust of traditional medicine. But I can't join the bandwagon without tangible proof. Can anybody give me something to read that proves that Wal-Mart is worse than other corporate entities they're buying from instead-- not just bigger? (And why shop at Sam's when you drive to the bigger towns, if you don't like Wal-Mart?) Has any reputable source published anything about the dangers of vaccination, when the dangers of NOT vaccinating a society's children are so great? I want to ask these questions because I really would like to know their answers. But I don't want to seem like a prick, so I don't-- and feel myself a little withdrawn as a result.

Our church, which contains some of those good friends, is also full of older generations of a decidedly more conservative order-- Christians whose worlds are more black and white than mine, who would never dream of voting Democrat for any reason, who think that questioning the 7-day Creation account in Genesis is essentially questioning the validity of all of Scripture and even the Gospel itself. These are sweet, hearty, wonderful, loving, good people, and some of them helped shape my faith when I first came to God. I am honored to have them in my life. But my world is much more murky and uncertain than that, and I'm not sure I could return to that purity of perspective even if I wanted to.

My husband is one of those people who cannot help but speak his mind on almost everything. He'll challenge almost anyone's viewpoint, argue or debate if necessary, lay his own perspective out on the line before he knows what the other person believes at all. I sometimes admire this and sometimes think it's insane, but regardless, I have never been able to imitate it. You probably won't know my opinion unless you ask me outright. This is sometimes wise and safe, and sometimes overcautious, I know.

Apparently I am unclassifiable. Too conservative to be a hippie, too liberal to be a conservative. Too environmentally conscious to run around consuming thoughtlessly, but a bit too skeptical to believe every eco-rumor that gets passed down from a friend or natural foods store worker, and unwilling to modify my life for something I'm not sure of. So I end up with friends (and reads) in each camp, sampling from everyone, enthusiastic about everyone, and utterly unable to stake a tent in any one location.

It's odd, and I think it's part of what makes me always a little lonely. But isn't everyone always a little lonely?

Dark night.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Here I am, sitting in the dark at your feet, miserable. I pour out my heart to you, because you are my refuge, my shelter, my mother hen. I know you know it all already, but still I do it-- even wondering why you find this precious, when none of it is new to you at all.

The two deeply interested buyers from June on our downtown house have not panned out. One simply lost interest, for reasons unkown-- "the house will not suit our needs at this time." (Assuming that our realtor's trustworthy and didn't fabricate the buyer at the end of May to get us to extend our contract. We're beginning to wonder about that, as it's happened repeatedly as the contract has expired and been renewed over the past few months.) Another has waffled all through last month-- about to make an offer, about to make a rent-to-purchase offer, about to make an offer again. Not one piece of paper has been offered-- nothing official, nothing written, just an array of questions, stated intentions, and long silences inbetween. Torturous. On Sunday we gave our realtor one more week with the house, to see if he could bring forth something from this man. It's Thursday night. Nothing so far.

That it itself makes me heartsick.

The other house's current tenants agreed to send us $5000 as a deposit on their purchase of the house in return for keeping the house for them for a month-- on May 23. We agreed, but didn't receive that check until June 26-- and their financing still hasn't come through for them to buy the house.

But thirty minutes ago, I checked our bank balance on our Orlando accounts. I deposited the deposit check before the holiday; it's bounced. We also haven't received July's rent yet, which they are supposed to pay us if the house didn't close in June (and it didn't, obviously).

I know we extended a certain risky amount of faith and good will to them in this. But they want the house, they're doing their best to find the financing, and we love the idea of helping someone buy the home that would otherwise have trouble buying one. Have we been monumentally stupid to trust them, to think that you'd want us to help them?

I really, really, REALLY need some indication that you are looking out for our interests, God. I cannot believe that you would lead us out of Orlando and then let us waste away financially. It does not make sense to me, does not match what I know of You in my life. Our bank accounts are spent, our tax return has been doled out to the mortgage companies, and we are at the end of our resources here.

I am not afraid of being poor, of making less than even Husband did when he was in ministry. We can work within that; many good people do, and live happy and righteous lives. But I do mind being financially ruined by houses that we bought as we tried to follow Your lead. That does not feel just to me.

(And I think of upright Job, and tremble. He never got an explanation for his financial and personal ruin, but the ruin came. Please, God, do not Job our life. I could not bear it as he did.)

I sit here thinking of my sweet, good husband, hopefully sleeping in our bed across the hall right now. If I tell him what's happened, he will not sleep tonight (as he did not last night, worrying about these things even without that terrifying bounced check). I cannot imagine sleeping next to him knowing about that without telling him. (I know I need to sleep, so I'll go lie down and feel the weight of this on me until I go unconscious; and I'll tell him in the morning, so at least he'll have a little rest tonight.) And so I'm stuck here, typing something to You that you already know, which feels somewhat absurd, and yet what else can I do?

My heart, God, it breaks. I am tired of breathing in and breathing out and waiting for houses to sell. Houses sell for other people, other people leaving Orlando for the same reasons we did, but they do not sell for us. Why is that? It's getting hard to continue breathing in faith. The alternative-- an asphyxiation of my hope, a panic of not having trust and not choosing to believe without seen evidence-- is too hard to contemplate. But the breathing, that's getting very hard too.

Where else can I go, but to Your feet, and sit here with tears blurring the screen and a bitter grapefruit lump in my throat and our total helplessness spread out before you like a pitiful offering?

It's all I can offer, my dependence and sorrow. I hope it's acceptable to you. I hope too that you choose to have mercy on us.

Please don't Job me. But even more, please don't Job my dear sweet husband. He is so tired, God. We need to see your hand at work. We've seen it before, in amazing ways.

Please hear me. Please do something. I sit here with my eyes downcast. There is nowhere else for me to go.