Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September is evidently the month Juniper blogs about gender

Lately, I cant read books about boys.
Or men.
I've really tried.

Remember that Leif Enger book we all loved so much, what was it called? Oh yeah, Peace Like a River. Loved it years ago, because the preacher turned out to be one of the good guys (THAT never happens). So, I waited and waited to get his new one at the library, which I suddenly cant remember the name of now either, and I just could not get into it at. all. I finally skipped to the end to make sure he makes it up to his wife for taking off like that, and then gave it up.

Then I tried Monkey Dancing, which is a travel book about a newly single dad taking his 2 pre-teen kids around the world. It reminds me of Anne Lamott's advice (which is not heeded) that if you're going to write about your kids, make sure to make it about the stuff that you, the parent, have messed up more than about them. I about died from embarrassment for the author's son, whose every youthful crush and experimentation is excrutiatingly detailed, before I gave that one up too.

A couple days ago I tried to read Everything Is Illuminated. Loved the movie, but sort of cant understand the book. I felt too old for it. Or something. So gave that one up, too.

I have a copy of Cold Mountain lying around that I havent read yet, but last time I started it I just couldnt get past the flies crawling around in the open wounds on the first page. It's not books BY men that are giving me this block (I just finished a very satisfyingly silly Alexander McCall Smith), only books about them. Maybe I should go back to Dickens. I remember reading David Copperfield with my heart in my throat the whole time.

Or, if you have any ideas, to help me bridge the literary gender gap, feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Women Are from Venus, Men are From a Different Universe: An Elijahlogue

Godsister: Hey, let's go play in MY universe.
E: No, because I'm from a whole different universe, and there's a pretended wall between my universe and your universe, and when I try to go to your universe, I hit that wall and go bonk! right back to my universe.

Monday, September 22, 2008

dreaming about the blogosphere

In my dream, I find new rooms in my house - a whole wing, really, with two bedrooms and a sort of solarium. It is crammed with stuff from the previous owners - musty couches, golf clubs, and a tea pot with animals painted on it among other things. Ladies from the church are helping me clean it out and I say to Christine, "Look! I'm dreaming about new rooms in my house. I LOVE it when this happens!" Then I go to Duluth to see a play starring this ballet dancer we all had a crush on in middle school, (whose brother I recently friended on Facebook) and he is still really adorable, but grown up now, and then I realize he is actually Songbird's #1 Son. He is dancing on the frozen lake and laughing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Things that make you go "hmmm" OR "Oh, so it's NOT that simple."

En route to other things, I found a button for a site called "just be nice dot com." And I'm, you know, from Minnesota, so I clicked it. And got this message:

Our site is currently down for maintenance.
We are very sorry for any inconvenience.
Please try again soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Studying for his very first ever spelling test: an Elijahlogue

First Mommy quizzes E, then E quizzes Mommy. Let's peek in on them, as the child gives his mother a sentence to go with the word "man."

E: "Man. The man walked across the valley to, um, um, hug a sheep. Man."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Have you noticed.....

....a certain grumpiness around your place?

I'm thinking the combined vitriol and uncertainty of the election season are a pretty potent cocktail for some of our dear ones.

Or else, it's just that I've been here a year and the honeymoon is over, honey.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Putting the care in self care

So right after I wrote that thing about not having a day off for a while - I looked ahead to verify and sure enough, I didnt really have a day off for a while.

Then I got the worst headache I've had for awhile and went to bed for 12 hours. Then, I spent the next day taking naps on the couch and surfing the internet.

Then I got up and picked a day of each week that doesnt have something scheduled on it and wrote SABBATH on it in capital letters ( Saturdays, my preferred Sabbath day for this fall are sort of filled up - I'll miss you all at the preacher party, but I'm really trying to get 'er done by Friday....)

The headache is still grumbling, but I just keep saying "You can go away now, I promise I wont do that no-rest-day thing to you again..."

Livin and learnin.....

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

And speaking of values....

... I just saw a neighbor, who is no longer a minor, but lives across the street from the church with his mother, stow a bottle under our bushes.

Should I go throw it away?

Monday, September 01, 2008

V is for Values

I've been butting heads lately with people who value hard work. By this I mean people who say, "I value hard work," which I would never say. If you asked me what I value, depending on the day, I might say compassion, or the happiness of my son and husband, or justice, or Jesus or hot buttered toast but I would never, never, never say hard work.

Which is weird, because I work really hard. Sometimes, like this month coming up, days and days and days in a row - so many days in a row, in fact, that I'm not even counting. (Remember last year at this time when I was whinging about working 10 days without a day off? That was so cute of me.....). And it's not like when I'm not working at the job I do for pay, I'm just sitting around sniffing roses and getting my toenails painted. When I'm not WORKING working, I actually work pretty hard, too.

So, why do I spend so much time doing something that I would never say I value?

I'm not sure I have an answer, but I've been thinking about consistency between what we say we value and what we really value because it turns out that the little baby IS Sarah Palin's after all, and not Bristol's as some have said, which we know because you just cant have a 4 month old and also be 6 months pregnant no matter HOW cold it gets in Alaska.

Even though everyone's saying hands-off the kids in the election (which truly is admirable), the truth is, we're not going to be able to let it go, are we? Because nothing reveals our naked hypocrisy, nothing magnifies both our best selves, and our worst failures more than the way we parent our children. Which is why, when it comes to people we're trying to figure out, it's hard to look away from their kids.

I've slapped E two memorable times, and once was in front of a neighbor in Seattle who sort of kept her distance after that. I didnt blame her. I mean, I kept wanting to say to her "I'm not the kind of person who would hit a child! Ever!" and that's certainly what I had always said and thought. But even if I'd said it, who would have believed me? The evidence was still out there - that pushed to the not-all-that-far limit of a flower pot deliberately overturned on a freshly mopped floor (the other time had to do with another mess involving a broken light bulb and an open diaper pail) - I became just for one second a person whose values I did not recognize.

Since then, I've gone to Values Plan B. I am no longer A Person Who Would Never Hit. I know her, she's that woman who developed Values Plan A, and she means well, but she cant always live up to herself. Instead, I'm now A Person Who Walks Away. Walks away fast sometimes. Into a room with a door that locks, preferrably. And then I wait and eventually, even though I dont ever turn into APWWNH again, I can at least remember what it was like to believe that about myself.

So if you say one of your values is "no birth control" but you live in a little town with a lovely teenage daughter who has nothing to do but drive around in cars with boy, and it's dark 20 hours out of the day....well, you gotta figure on a Values Plan B. Which is: keep the baby and get married and hope that sticks. But what I'd say to Bristol, if she ever asked is, if it doesnt work out, dont knock yourself over the head if you have to go to Values Plan C.

Rounding the corner here into my 40th year - a hard-working, minivan-driving, meat-eating, non-composting, soccer-watching, wife and mom (still justice- and Jesus- and butter toast-loving, too!) - there's less I know for certain than I used to about what I used to consider my most core values. And the older I get, the more suspicious I am of people who claim to have their values all laid out like clean first-day-of-school clothes in neat little rows. Especially when their lives are just as messy as the rest of ours.

How about you? What are your core values - what's Plan A? And do you make the grade or do you settle for Plan B sometimes?