Wednesday, December 29, 2010

quotable

Spied here, in the comments.  There is no link to this man because he did not include one, but I wish he'd write more. Subsequent post (from me) to follow, but this entire heart-breaking story reminded me of what was going on in my world when I wrote this:  


"...I take issue with the idea that marriage (or long-term relationships) are supposed to make one happy or that butterflies are somehow involved in true love. Sometimes love is hard; sometimes it’s trying to make us into better people than we would be without it. If relationships were designed to make us happy, we wouldn’t need all of the vows and promises. We sell love short when we think that feeling happy is love’s goal. All that said, I am quite happy, and I pray that you will one day be happy again too. Blessings."  ~Jared


On a lighter note, sometimes one can win the lottery of lotteries and get the butterflies and good, sweet, change your life lovin' to boot. That's exceptionally lucky.  


I thought my entire adult life, I'd win the lottery. 
And then I did.

Monday, December 27, 2010

T Says....

There are things that you should be writing about, he said. And I looked at him, somewhat surprised and asked, "Exactly what?"

And he responded, without hesitation or trepidation, "Things about us, and you raising me, mom.  You need to write about the things that make us sad and the things that are awesome and funny because I have been thinking about how maybe we could help out the other people who are doing it like we are, mom.  And that's important. Helping people is important. YOU told me that, so you need to do it, and I'll help you remember, and you'll write about it.  Okay mom?"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Raking



I want to make a huge leaf pile and jump in it, momma. 


He said it in response to my asking him what he wanted to do last Sunday, not unlike he responded that he wanted four pieces of French toast for breakfast, two and a half grilled cheeses with two bowls of apple sauce for lunch, more peanut butter M&Ms when I went to the store, and an entire pizza for snack.


The leaf pile comment sucker-punched me though, a powerful undertow I'd heard about but did not believe until there I was, fully swept under, waves crashing overhead. I left the room suddenly, knowing no explanation would suffice to explain my sudden tears.


Time. Passing, rolling through, between and over us like waves, constant. 


Someone hit fast forward, and my proverbial parenting cassette tape suddenly unravels, spewing delicate brown tape covered with the song of this life, first out of it's protective plastic case, then the tape deck.


I am suddenly aware that there's no turning back, no taking a pencil and methodically dialing the escaped tape back into it's protective case.  I worry incessantly about this verse of our song ending, what I'll do when he's 12, 18, then when his nights are more about my being far away than close, when I am more embarrassing than funny, when this mothering gig that I have learned to embrace with 110% of my being changes, where I will go, who I will be, what I will do? 


I know this: I am not ready for this to be over.  I am not ready to quit living life mostly as a celebration of the little moments: a woolly caterpillar or the wonder of a lightening bug, an airplane or searching for the moon, a healthy poop, a wobbly first step, a night of sleep without interruption, the first touchdown run, a long sigh or giggle in his sleep, a tooth poking through or falling out, the first aced test, sitting up, clapping in delight, standing on tip toes to inflate his height, jumping in leaf piles, running as fast as he can, because it feels good.


And yet, I am grateful and thankful and brought to my knees in these moments for sudden awareness. 


Awareness that this Fall, it might be the last that my baby wants to rake a leaf pile, and then jump there with his dogs.  That the conversations on the way to school each morning, the belly laughter and made up songs in the shower, the fart noises under his armpits and subsequent snort, the dance parties in the living room are all so very precious, and also fleeting.  


I dropped everything Sunday: the sudden tears, the laundry, the dust pile on the TV stand, the unwatered plants, the half emptied dishwasher. I put on an old pair of my Grandma's shoes and raked.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

T says...

I wonder why on earth, with all the things people can do these days, someone doesn't step up and make a mirror for cars with objects that are...oh, I don't know, EXACTLY as they appear.  


Instead, every car, it's 'objects in mirror, are closer than they appear'...why don't they DO something about that?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ramdom

it occurs to me that during those times i write the least, i have the most to say.

retrospective

The Piano - Retrospective life (Animation) - kewego
A touching retrospective of an old man's life, based around the evocative imagery created by his piano playing. A very beautiful animation created by Aidan Gibbons, student at University of Hertfordshire..

Thursday, October 14, 2010

spoken

“Gay people who want to marry, have no desire to redefine marriage in any way. When women got the right to vote, they did not redefine voting… When African Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter alongside white people, they did not redefine eating out. They were simply invited to the table. And that is all we want to do.” - Cynthia Nixon.




Thursday, October 7, 2010

T Says....

Last night T dreamed he was a part of a protest. A sock protest. There were the people with the socks and the people without the socks and they were protesting them.

If you were wearing the socks, you got one of those really, really bright flashlights, and if you weren't well you were the one being protested and you got nothing, you just had to walk around with no socks.

So, I ask, were you with, or without socks?

T looks at me, surprised and perhaps even a bit disgusted that I wouldn't just know the answer to this and says: Oh, I got a flashlight, baby, because not only did I have the socks, I was skidding around in those suckers!"  

Monday, September 27, 2010

T Says...

It's a weekend of odd jobs, catching up from the time spent leveled on my back, in the hospital.  T's jobs are few and far between and yet what he does, he does with little complaint.  He puts the last, most abhorred task off until late Sunday evening: sock sorting.  The basket is overflowing and within minutes of starting his piles of paired socks begin to take shape.

Then the boredom begins to set in and he's suddenly dancing, twirling the socks around as props, creating songs, using them for microphones, and whipping them at me when I am not looking, watching me flinch and laughing his butt off.  I am exhausted and the sock to the left eye is a bit much, but I cannot help but laugh at his hip gyrating sock dance, the fun he's creating.

I leave the room and when I return one of the dogs is donning bright red football socks and she's propped up on her hind legs, they are dancing.  She looks at me and her eyes scream help and he laughs hysterically, so hard he bends at the waist and lets her go. Within seconds, he's hopping around, with something tying his legs together...a wayward pantyhose stocking, and he's twirling another set in his hand.

T takes the contraption off his legs, waves it in the air, says: "What is this thing mom? Where's the other leg?  And what do they call this, some kind of a panty hoe?"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quotable: Donald Miller

***
"Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life." 
***
"No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath... We get one story, you and I, and one story alone."

***
Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road


"I'll tell you how the sun rose 
A ribbon at a time... 

It's a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were . . . and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be. 

So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification. 

And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?" 

 Donald Miller (Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road)
***photo by me. so there.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

C


We are 18 and for the first time in both our lives, hundreds of miles from home. College, possibility, fear and ignorance are in abundance and yet somehow we find one another here; in the cafeteria, fumbling and stumbling through awkward glances, hello, and yet within days we grow a connection rare, magnetic, perfectly innocent, and yet among the most powerful I recall having in 36 years.


Him: six plus feet of olived-toned, chiseled-cut strength; the kind that comes not just from pushing weights for sport but also from moving dirt, working the land.  His eyes alternate between sparkles and dancing and a steady, stalwart stare and for the first time in my life I realize what it means to have someone gaze so intently at me that they peer straight through, taking with my words.  He plays football and he plays it admirably well and yet his personality plays perfectly to the polar opposite of each my well-crafted stereotypes.  He is thoughtful and contemplative, intellectual and intense, yet at the same time has a perfect undercurrent of calm: he is as gentle and refreshing as salt water from ocean waves rolling freely over my feet, pulling the sand free from between curled toes.


We protect our hearts by claiming loves with others hundreds of miles in opposite directions, and it is likely these commitments allow our friendship to blossom more innocently, purely than it would otherwise.  Our bond is not unlike the determined lone Spring tulip, bursting, unbridled, pure beauty through a pile of dirty snow.


We spend as many hours walking around in shared silence as we do chatting one another's ears off, fishing, laying at opposite ends of my dorm bed, legs tangled, listening to mixed cassete tapes, debating bands' finer points, our respective dreams of travel, adventure, escape. His hands are massive, strong and calloused, like they hold secrets of a man much older, and yet they are soft enough to draw a perfect portrait or massage my feet.


A year later, when I leave there, I swear he is all I will miss.  We wrap one another up in a huge hug, say goodbye with one promise now irrevocably broken: stay in touch.


****


17 years later, we say hello, a second time. We are 35 and for reasons both our own, we live back near our respective homes, 350 some miles apart.  Determination, tattered hearts, death, space, age related realism, and yet shared flashes of an eternal hope are in abundance now and somehow we find one another perfectly imperfect yet again; in the street in front of his house, fumbling through a huge hug that feels like coming home, 20 seconds of heart thumping awkward small talk, and then immediately the sweet calm of the unchanged, familiar, and so Goddamned refreshing.


Her: thousands and thousands of miles of adventure, road trips, stories, books, concerts, athletic pursuits, loves claimed and lost, and an 11 year old boy; and yet living in the dark shadow cast by her greatest failing to date; an inability to retain a day's peace with a man she once laughed with, loved, for the sole benefit of their child.    


Him: a dream realized and then slipped away, a recalibrating and resetting of newfound dreams, a digging in and then out of the land and home he's always had. Adventures dotted with laborious work, a new home, and a business he built with his own determined hands, and then tragedy, tears, and a gaping hole of loss he can never hope to refill or cobble back together despite an unfailing commitment, desire to do so.


We spend hours watching football, sharing beers, plates full of meatballs, crackers and cheese and then we drive around chatting one another's ears off, frantically and hilariously filling in, the in-between.  We stare at one another and then burst out laughing when we realize the time passed is equivalent to our age when we last saw one another and then lament in somewhat surprised seriousness at the ease and familiarity of it still.  We share the highlight reel of triumphs, glimpses of the tragedies and then, the smack-in-your-face reality of knowing we both could have been better off, had we been around to catch one another's falls.


When I leave this time, a few hours later, we don't make promises; instead he smiles, brushes the hair from my forehead and kisses me lightly there and then he wraps me in that huge, strong, familiar embrace.  I allow myself to linger a very long time in that perfectly safe space between his pecks, breathing all of him in, grateful, thankful, relieved, exhausted, and yet giddy and completely calm, and I listen for the sound of his heart.


***words + photo by me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

T Says....



I knew we were in trouble early Saturday when as I showered, I first smelled and then peered from behind the curtain to note T quietly perched upon the toilet.  The sight of him was not so alarming as his exclamation, "My poop is most definitely not in groups, momma!" 


"Awesome," I replied. "Thank you for sharing and stinking up my shower...again." 


And so we carried on: T dressing in his padded armor for his football scrimmage and then both of us driving 45 minutes there, me chattering mindlessly about how he needed to EAT! that buttered toast, EAT! something or he'd never play up to his mighty 11 year old self's potential, and T sitting there mostly in silence, peering oddly out the window.
He did not eat save for a few bites of yogurt and toast...and when I looked over and noted that instead, he'd guzzled down an entire JUG of water I nearly crashed the car telling him  "OMG STOP...you're going to be so water logged you'll puke!"


Which might as well have been an omen, because sure as the wind blows, we pulled into the parking lot to the football stadium and he turned and faced me and immediately began puking, all over my (for the first time in my LIFE, to the tune of $200 detailed) car.  He puked in the vents.  He puked on the windows.  He puked in that handy compartment where you put the maps and important papers.  He puked on the seats.  He puked in the console.  He puked on the upholstery and the carpet and...well, you get the point.  Never one to discriminate, he also puked mightily on himself. 

When he was finished, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, looked up at me and said, "Now what are we going to do?" 
And I said, "Well, you can play, or we can go home." 
He said, "I have to play. I feel much better now.  It's just that darned Nervous Nelly stomach of mine."
I noted, "Your uniform is covered in puke!"


Because I had just picked my now vomit infested car up from the detailer the day before, I had NOTHING in said car with which to clean up said puke.  So I took his tshirt off him, mopped up the puke from his pants and dumped my water on his jersey, and sent him on his way to warm-ups.  In the meantime, I parked the car and gagged incessantly.

He played the game. He stunk mightily.  He fared well, nonetheless.  And only one teammate accused him of "smelling like he'd rolled in crap." Not bad, he decided later, for how much he'd puked.

*** 
This morning as we stumbled about getting ready for school/work, already a half hour behind schedule, T began playing a brief concert on his keyboard, you know, prior to getting dressed, letting the dogs out, and the other fifteen things that needed done because we apparently desperately needed a little Bach to start our (late) morning out right. 


Little did he/we know, his dog reeeeally needed to pee.  So after I'd told T approximately 57 times to hurry up, the dogs needed let out, they have to pee...said dog squatted quite literally on my bare foot and began pissing.  Everywhere.  


She pissed on my foot, she pissed on my rug, she pissed on my bedroom floor and when I started screaming at her to stop pissing, she began running about the various rooms of our house and finally down the stairs...pissing in all of those locations too.
She was um, unstoppable.

T eventually led her outside (where she will more than likely still be in 47 years), and I began mopping, bleaching, and then steam cleaning up her mess.
What seemed like hours later, finally in the car, headed for school, I said to no one in particular, "I swear, I still smell like pee."

T says: "That's funny, all I smell is puke!"




Monday, September 13, 2010

Barb Boylan Schager




Barb Boylan Schager closed her eyes for the very last time here Thursday, a day before her 45th birthday. I like to picture her lying  wrapped in the loving arms of her husband and her two sons as she did so, head tilted back, smiling, fearless and looking upward.


I am told I am not far off.


There are truly no adequate words to describe the stalwart determination, grit and grace Barb displayed in the face of one of the world's most horrific and disgusting diseases: pancreatic cancer.  While most of us would have turned inward, she turned out, inspiring children, mothers, sisters, brothers...everyone in her path to fight like hell, to put your faith in God and under all circumstances, keep smiling.


She leaves behind two beautiful, blue eyed sons, who cannot possibly begin to fathom the ripple effect of love their mother left here.  It is her sons who I most often think of when I imagine her gone...now here without any living biological parents, and yet left with an angel/father nonetheless, chosen perfectly for them by their mother.


None of us will likely ever understand the purpose behind the degeneration and pain cancer leaves in its wake; the early goodbyes or the gaping holes, but I believe we all understand why Barb came here, a California diamond in the Iowa rough, choosing for her sons, the man and path they now follow, her family, friends and everyone in those ripples she created; better, wiser and eyes wide open grateful for each and every day.


Rest in sweet peace Barb...the community you created will not soon release your sweet boys and husband from our warmest embrace.

Friday, September 10, 2010

football + homework + a problem



It's football season around these parts.  My kid LOOOOOVES him some football.  Which is just great for a whole bunch of reasons:

1. His momma LOOOOOOVES her some football too.
2. I get to make and enforce the rules of the house with football as bait. What do I mean by that?  Well, let's take for example, homework:

Your homework isn't finished? No football.
Your timed reading isn't complete? No football.
Your spelling words aren't written five times each? No football.

And so forth.  It works exceptionally well because it would be close to a life altering tragedy for T to miss football.  So typically by the time I come storming through the door to pull his football laundry from the washer, re-stuff the pads for another practice and clothe him, he's done with his homework for the day and ready to head to practice.  Which still puts dinner at approximately 8 p.m. but that's another story for another day.

BUT. There is always a but, isn't there? 
Sometimes, when the kid has questions about his homework, he'll save them for AFTER football.  Which puts us at about four minutes until bedtime with T whipping out his bag and declaring...."WAIT, I have a problem!"  

And I promptly declare: "To which ONLY I have the answer...muahahaha."  
And then he rolls his eyes.  
He then fetches said "problem" and we do our best to tackle it.  
So far, so good.  


Until last night when said "problem" was too much for even momma to handle.  Now allow me to admit, I was never a math whiz.  I actually was kicked out of my Algebra II class (temporarily) for, the horror of it all, asking too many questions.  So of course, it was a math problem that got me.  

I read the problem, my palms got sweaty, I reread the problem and promptly and calmly asked, "Where's the book?" 
T responds, there is no book.
Okay then, "Where's my phone?"

And then there was a series of banter that went something like this:

T: Who on earth are you going to call and why?
Me: Chew. He has a photographic math memory. Trust me. If anyone can help.  Chewy can help.
T: You're kidding me, right?
Me: Nope.
T: Mom, this is fifth grade math.
Me: Shut it.

And then Chew wasn't home.  But since he is such a fab friend, he heeded my call for an emergency call back and was back on the line within seconds.  And then, after explaining to him our predicament, he didn't even skip a beat.  He also didn't make fun of me at all, which is rare, considering the circumstances. So we got straight to work. I read "the problem."

And then there was a series of banter that went something like this:
Chew: Read that to me again.
Chew: Read that to me one more time.
Chew: Can you re-read that first part to me one more time?
Chew: What was the first sentence again?
*pause* *silence* *pause* *silence*
Chew: Gimme just a second. I need to call you back.

And of course, when he called me back fourteen seconds later, he'd figured out the whole thing.  He also explained it to me, and then explained it to me in a way that I could also explain it to T.  And then he hung up, once again, without making fun of me.

Shortly thereafter, crisis averted, T and I were both in bed.  As we went through our typical goodnight banter: I love you the most! I love you to infinity and beyond.  No, I love YOU the most, and so on, I declared: I love you the most and I win, because I am the oldest and the smartest!  

To which he responded: Oh, you might be the oldest Mom, but Chew is definitely the smartest!  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

refresher

I posted this to my Facebook page awhile back and am not sure why it never made its way here. Kristin over at Acufit tells more eloquently than I ever could why we all should watch it daily. 


Monday, August 23, 2010

he grows

I shared a glass of wine with a new single momma friend last night and she lamented at my son being amazingly well behaved, attentive and polite. 


I agreed and told her I felt it was mainly a product of him being constantly surrounded by a gaggle of strong, amazing women.  


She responded that he appears better trained than 99% of of the men out there, and at age 11?!?  


Then, after a few seconds of silence I replied: if he ever gets a controlling, shitty girlfriend, I swear to God I will rip her head off.  


And I took another gulp of my wine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

quotable

find life experiences and swallow them whole. travel. meet many people. go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. try everything. exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.


- lawrence k. fish

Friday, August 13, 2010

flooded

Pardon the interruption but my little town is under water...literally. Fortunately, my house is not in a flood plain and I only had about a foot of water in my (unfinished) basement.

My BFF, her house is also NOT in a flood plain, brand new, beautifully finished and had 10 feet of water in the basement in a matter of minutes. She lost everything: heater, wiring, wedding photos, baby books, music.

It's a mess over here. A smelly mess at that.

110 degree heat index isn't helping...nor is the rain that continues to fall. We're on a emergency boil alert for water...and people are hoarding the supplies being shipped in.

Amazing to see how something like this brings out peoples' absolute best...and worst behaviors.

Friday, August 6, 2010

M Ward: Chinese Translation

I sailed a wild, wild sea
climbed up a tall, tall mountain
I met a old, old man
beneath a weeping willow tree
He said now if you got some questions
go and lay them at my feet
but my time here is brief
so you'll have to pick just three

And I said
What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart
and how can a man like me remain in the light
and if life is really as short as they say
then why is the night so long
and then the sun went down
and he sang for me this song

See I once was a young fool like you
afraid to do the things
that I knew I had to do
So I played an escapade just like you
I played an escapade just like you
I sailed a wild, wild sea
climbed up a tall, tall mountain
I met an old, old man
he sat beneath a sapling tree
He said now if you got some questions
go and lay them at my feet
but my time here is brief
so you'll have to pick just three

And I said
What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart
and how can a man like me remain in the light
and if life is really as short as they say
then why is the night so long
and then the sun went down
and he played for me this song

M Ward: One Hundred Million Years

This river that we ride
Has always been alive
O my soul one hundred million years

This river that we ride
Will roll on when we die
O my soul one hundred million years

And this love, this light
Between you and I
Is older than that burning ball of fire up in the sky
And the gale that fills our sails

The lights that shine tonight
Have always been alive
O my soul one hundred million years

The lights that shine tonight
Will burn on when we die
O my soul one hundred million years

And this love, this light
Between you and I
Is older than that burning ball of fire up in the sky
And the gale that fills our sails

quotable

"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." ~Pema Chodron

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

another ragbrai complete

Another Ragbrai comes..another Ragbrai goes.  Not sure how many this is for me...thirteen...fourteen? Doesn't matter, they keep on getting funnier. They continue to amaze me in utter unpredictability.

Videos, photos, and commentary are forthcoming.  Quote of the week was never topped after the first night...nor were the schooners and loose meat sandwiches and the stench of ass at the place that served them.  But it's not every day you find schooners, and those other categories aren't really categories at all.

The winning quote, taking top honors among some other very funny stuff that came spilling from peoples' mouths:

"You're opening your mouth, and there is something coming out...but it is not words. It is something that is bending and folding. You need to ANNNNNNUNCIATE!"  


To be continued...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

dare gone bad

video
A small snippet from my Saturday. I am not sure what hurts more; my abs from laughing or his ego and tattered body from falling. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dear Dr. Laura

In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,
James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia
(It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian :)

Almanzo: a film about a gravel race


From the Ground Up from Chris Skogen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Random + Perspective

1.  These past few months I became intimately familiar with my right gastrocnemius muscle, when one afternoon, just after bragging about the stellar state of my fitness for that time of year, I tore the sucker. I chose not to blog about the spectacular face plant I did after the onset of the tear, the subsequent months of physical therapy, missed races and missed training beer rides because nobody likes a cry baby.  But now the sucker is on the mend and I am back in the saddle (suffering, woah nelly).  Starting training over in late June kinda sucks no matter what you are training for, even though I am well aware it could have been way worse AND I am not someone whose financial well being relies on one's fitness.


2. A couple of weeks ago I dropped my kid off at his dad's for a six week summer visitation. Like every other year prior to the onset of said visitation, my kid cried for weeks prior, had nightmares, anxiety attacks and "anger episodes." And, like thousands of other parents out there, I stuck him on a plane anyway. Watching your kid go through this day after day, for the record, sucks donkey poop.

I am, thank the maker, allowed to visit my kid two of the weekends he is there, talk to him twice a week, and I bring him home after the visit is complete...so this means, three of those six weekends I am flying around to see/find him.


3.  So. Now that we've gotten THAT out of the way, allow me to say this:  while people's intentions are generally, I believe, overall insanely good, I find it wildly entertaining that the two things they most frequently say when they learn that my kid is gone for six weeks are (and yes, they are
always said with an exclamation! point! at! the! end! for! special! happy! two-dimple-smiley! emphasis!!!):

A.
"You should be able to refresh!" 
B.
"I bet that will give you plenty of time to get your house nice and clean!"


Each and every time someone offers one of these responses I stare at them blankly for a moment before gathering my composure and spewing forth some
bullshit kindly response. 

Refresh?  What? My savings account, only to notice that it is now empty of all funds? My fictitious supply anxiety medication? My drink?  

Seriously? 
Seriously. So there's that. 


And then there's "B"...to which I can only offer the truth: my house looks worse at this moment than it did at any point in college. 

You see, I am not particularly motivated to spend countless hours at home (nor am I motivated to spend
any non sleeping hours there, for that matter).  It is not exactly a bundle of fresh cut flowers coming home to eerie quiet, the kid's nut cup and baseball gear still strewn by the back door, his now rotted carton of milk in the fridge, his big empty bed, or the dog crawling up there, sniffing for him and then throwing herself in a heap on his pillow and crying. ...all constant reminders of that which was not finished, a thousand things he'll learn and say and do there that I will miss, only to have him return home and act like a turd for a month while he "decompresses." 


It just ain't where I wanna be, okay? 


4.  On a personal note...I have these friends. These friends who are single, or newly married, or with very young babies, all of whom I never see because their children's or their lives no longer coalesce with the vibrations of my own my kid's when every night I am ass-planted in a lawn chair, or throwing extra B.P., or trying to get his new ball to bounce over the top of our house, or driving my kid around to practices, or driving home to pick up that which he forgot like some kind of crazed mad woman, or making some half baked meal, or insisting 57 times that he shower, or laundering his skid-stained underpants... and my god it's 11 already, we
MUST go.to.bed. 


So.
These precious few weeknights, this time, it is much more judicious of me to spend it trying like hell to catch up with these friends I used to have and love so dearly than it is to clean my god damned house. It's also kind of fun to live like a slob again.  So let's not remind me of it, okay? 


Phew! That was a very windy (and therapeutic) way of saying, don't say A. or B. 


Say this:
"That blows, want to go ride bikes + get a drink?"

5. Since the year my kid began making this westward trek each summer, during the final week of his absence, I ride 
RAGBRAI. There could be documentaries shot and books written solely about the adventure and journey to, and then the week that is Ragbrai

Suffice it to say, 
for each of the 10,000+ of us on the road each year, my story is unique, only in that it is mine. We've all got one....and what brings us all there mostly though is the common intrinsic understanding, that there has been, or will likely be at some point, a radical, unexpected internal seismic shift that occurred or will occur in each of us while pedaling.

There have been, to be sure, MANY different instances where I have quite literally 'found myself' pedaling. There have also been plenty of times when I've been up shit creek without a map or a paddle and half in the bag, but those are stories for other days because there are children and proper people that read this blog and those stories are not G-rated and they all implicate
Chew someone. 


Every year T leaves, the process to/during/after
 the visitation is so overwhelming for him, by the time he leaves, I am so exhausted I can barely function. But every moment I want to curl up fetal, cry, retreat to a dark closet, sleep for days on end, or am overcome with anxiety that feels like a vice grip on my heart, instead... I pedal. 
  
My first seismic shift came years ago in the training, pedaling for hours on end; forcing myself into efforts that required breathing harder than I ever knew possible.  
I quickly learned that the exertion and effort of turning the pedals can readily mask any other pain, distress, anger or anything on my mind.  

Years and thousands of miles later, I learned that the monotony and simplicity of turning pedals strangely also allows
 forgiveness, healing and then a complete calm to creep in...and then even more miles under my belt, riding with this family on wheels I've found: ...the keeled over until you almost fall off your bike, bubbling up still hours, days, years after the fact: laughter.

RAGBRAI, I like to think, is merely placed somewhere on the journey for emphasis, a huge and necessary set of exclamation points to celebrate the adventure of us all getting ourselves there, skidding in each year, however, and wherever we might be....laughing and dancing and drinking and pedaling regardless..


6. ...in 18 days... and then we all go back to our respective journeys, inevitably after all that pedaling, laughing, thinking whatever
'it' was, 
all of it, could have been worse. So much worse.