Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spiritually Homeless

During our girls weekend my cousin and I had a conversation about religion. Specifically it was about a desire to believe something, and to teach our children something, tempered by a distaste for Christian culture and a belief that people can be good even without God telling them to be good. Christianity is my home. It's where I started and it is to this church that I return when I am struggling. But I don't feel at home there anymore. When I go there looking for answers I don't like what I find. I believe in some of the basic tenants of the faith but I cannot feel at home within the four walls of the church. If I'm honest, I know that my beliefs would disqualify me as a Christian in the eyes of most Christians. This leaves me feeling lost, like I have no home. I'd like to believe that my need for a spiritual home is a social construct, not necessarily something I need but something I've been told I need, but that's not true. I know that I need something that binds me to other people. I am considering the Quakers as a next stop on this road. Who knows, maybe one day I'll come home and it will feel like home again.

But this leaves me with the question of teaching our children. I want my girls to have a church experience and I want them to feel like they are part of something big, something outside of mommy and daddy that unites them to other people and to God. There will be things they learn that we don't agree with but I'm not much afraid that we can't just address those things at home. Right now it's easy, church is singing and puppets and Love. As they get older it may be more difficult. I hope that I can trust the values we teach here at home to influence what the children believe more than what they learn at a church program.
Elliet gave me hope this week when she came home from her mid-week church program:

E: They told us that God knew all our names before we were born.
St: Oh, that's cool
E: Yeah, I don't really believe that.
St: Oh really?
E: Well, yeah, I mean, you didn't even name me until I was born so that doesn't make any sense!

I don't recall ever once questioning what I was being taught as a child. She's a smart one!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Paltry Postings

So I'm supposed to come up with seven things you don't know about me because this lovely lady tagged me as a Kreativ Blogger and I would hate to disappoint my newest blog-friend. The problem with this is that I think you already know everything there is to know about me. I'm open to a fault. I've decided to aim for things that maybe a few of you don't know and hope the rest of you don't get bored.

I got my fourth tattoo this weekend. It's a phoenix rising from the flames of my Burning Man tattoo. I like it very much even though it hurts and it's all crusty. And here's a photo because Michele likes illustrations and I like showing off my tattoos.

You probably already know that I am overweight. I started gaining weight about nine years ago and really started packing it on in the last year or two. So what you may not know is that I'm now like, Biggest Loser fat. This week I've been eating a very strict diet to help me break the habit of overeating. Very little or no sugar, low-carb, no alcohol, no diet coke. I'm seeing great progress so that should help me stick with it. Having been addicted to both food and cigarettes I can tell you with certainty that you CAN be addicted to overeating and the craving is just as bad.

A few of you might not know that I was homeschooled as a kid. In part it was fantastic but it was also a little bit of crazy. I love homeschooling and I'm strongly considering it for my girls but we were homeschooled because the public schools might have taught us things like "evolution is part of science" or "condoms can prevent pregnancy" or even "being kind to other people is a good idea no matter what god you worship." So yeah, our homeschooling was tainted by our religious practices.

Remember Monica's closet on Friends? That's my basement. I am appropriately ashamed.

I went parasailing for my 17th birthday, skydiving for my 18th and at 21 I did the sky flyer at King's Island. HIGHLY recommend all three.

Deep down inside I believe that one day I will have to go to Romania to work with their orphans. I think this is what people mean by a "calling." I saw a video about Romanian orphans when I was 18. We were at a small youth function at church and I had to leave the sanctuary because I was sobbing.

I can't drive stick. No good reason, just never needed to learn.

So, there you have it! I am giving this award to these fine (but fewer than seven) bloggers:

Swistle at Swistle
Suzanne at List Lust Lost
Christie at Calling Occupants
Melynda at Your Wild Child

Kreativ Blogger Award Rules
1. Thank the person giving the award (Thank you, Michele!)
2. Copy the award to your blog (it's in my sidebar)
3. Place a link to their blog
4. Name 7 things people don't know about you
5. Nominate 7 bloggers
6. Place a link to those bloggers
7. Leave a comment letting those bloggers know about the award

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Homenum Revelio!

I had a bit of vodka an anxiety attack yesterday after the baby's allergy testing. I already knew she was allergic to eggs so why the freak-out? Well, there was this, and there was three hours in the exam room, a shot in each thigh, and the doctor telling me she was at risk for anaphylaxis but not really at risk of dying from it so no need for an epi-pen. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that last part. She's also doing the whole freak-out-over-nothing-80-thousand-times-a-day-until-Mommy-thinks-you-hate-her thing. That didn't help.

I've also not been sleeping well. I wake up a few times each night absolutely terrified. While I'm still asleep I pound on Jedd or give him a good hard kick so that he gets up to check the house before I've caught my breath enough to tell him it's just...not a dream, really...I guess it's just my crazy. My heart pounds so hard I'm afraid it will explode. The adrenaline coursing through my body makes certain I won't fall back to sleep for a good long while. This really can't be healthy.

Saturday night Kenai was not given a snack at church because the teacher wasn't sure about her allergies. When I came to pick her up she was sitting at the table with her friends, terribly sad, the only one without a little cup of pretzels.

This morning before we went into the school Kenai said, "Mommy? When my teacher says, 'criss-cross applesauce'? I can't do that" Cue heartbreak.

The first hit in this TKO was last week in a parent meeting for her preschool class. The parents gather with the teacher, all of us in tiny chairs, to talk about the upcoming semester. One parent, we'll call her Ignorant, starts pitching a mini fit about following rules. She says that if the rule is that children sit, legs crossed, on their carpet squares then that is what they should do. The teacher explains that some kids aren't able to sit "criss cross applesauce" and different kids have different abilities and we really just want them engaged during circle time. Enter anxiety attack #1 of 2010. She meant Kenai. My baby can't sit cross legged like the other children. Heart pounding now, I hear Ignorant say "No! If it's a rule then they should just do it! We are the authoritarians!" Oh crap. Other parents are speaking up, "we don't want to turn it into a power struggle" "some kids can't really sit still for very long" I have to go, Kenai has to be at therapy in a half hour. I can't get into this. What the hell is her issue?! We just got done talking to the grandmother of another student about her options for diagnosis and IEP through the district. Ignorant just refuses to believe that some four year olds don't have the same abilities as her daughter. Thankfully, the teacher is kinda awesome and she sent home a letter yesterday letting parents know that we meet each child where he is and any discipline issues will be handled by her in a manner designed to show grace. Today, Ignorant was in charge of snacks. She brought popcorn with nuts in it. Kenai and her friend are both allergic to nuts and Ignorant KNOWS THIS. How about we just change her name to Bitch now, hmm?

So I've felt mostly sad all week. Which is why I haven't finished writing my story for you. I know you are DYING to find out what happens next but I don't have it in me to dredge up the old hurts while the new ones are still fresh. But it's coming. I also need to write this thing for Yummy Mommy who tagged me and put a little bit of awesome into this terrible day.

In the meantime, it's Official Delurker Day! It's a thing that someone invented. I guess it's a blog-thing that a blogger invented. Then Greeblemonkey made a creepy neat little graphic and now it's the thing to do on January 14th, 2010. So show me your stuff, are you here? Speak up!

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Decade of Falling Shoes- part 1

2009 was the year of recovery for us. This last decade has been RIDICULOUS but 2009 treated us well and we learned how to relax a bit.

The Decade
In the year 2000 (you can sing that a la Conan if you want, I did) I was living with my sister. That year we moved six times. 6. SIX TIMES, in one year. We were in one place for about 6 months while my dog, Kaiko had to stay with other people. She was already an anxious dog so this was not good for her. As soon as we could, we were going to find a place where we could have both dogs. Emily found this great remodeled apartment in Covington, Kentucky. It was beautiful and even came equipped with a washer and dryer. The day we moved in I brought my dog home. One of the great things about this place was that it had central air, we hadn't had that since we left home! It stopped working on this day, the first Saturday of July. So we opened all the windows.

That night I stayed up late to unpack. I felt so good about this house. The beautiful tile in the kitchen, the stacked washer and dryer that came with it. No more laundromats! I went to bed at 3am, around 4 I heard some rustling out in the laundry room. I was certain Kaiko was out there getting into things so I stumbled out of bed to go find her. As I got to the laundry room a man stood up. He had just come in through the high window and landed on some plastic garbage bags. It took me a second to register that I didn't know him and then I yelled. "GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!" I thought he would leave. I mean, he got caught, wouldn't he run away? He didn't and before I knew it he had ahold of me. I started fighting and he put a really old, probably very dull steak knife against my arm. So I relaxed, I told him, "it's cool, it's cool" He said, "get your purse" but he wouldn't let go of me. He had a stench so strong, his breath on my neck, that his smell is more present with me today than his face. I know now that it's the smell of an addict. Old smoke, body odor, the stringent smell of alcohol seeping from his pores... desperation. I kept saying, "I'll go get it, it's back there" but he wasn't letting me go. Then he started backing us up into the laundry room. I was suddenly aware that I was only wearing a t-shirt and underwear and I started fighting against him again. Then something changed. He let go and he backed up, just a step. He said, "get your dog"

Sure enough, Kaiko had finally wandered out of the room where she'd been asleep the whole time. She was a big dog, about 75#. Rottweiler, lab and chow as far as I could tell. The hair on her neck and back was standing up and there was a low growl coming from deep in her throat. I saw my opportunity and took it. I slammed the laundry door on the intruder and ran. To my room. Where there was no phone. I'm proud of everything I did this night except this part. My cell phone wasn't working and instead of running to Emily's room, I ran to mine. Then, instead of letting Kaiko come in with me (she ran too) I closed the door on her. I felt safer with her guarding my door from that side but later, when I see evidence of her fear, I am ashamed.

On my way to the bedroom I yelled to Emily, "CALL 911! THERE'S A MAN IN THE HOUSE WITH A KNIFE!" Panic and grammar don't mix. She wasn't really awake so she poked her head out of her bedroom door and said, "Huh?" I stuck my head out and yelled it again. Then I sat in my room. Listening. I heard someone running; slapping feet across the parking lot outside my window. Within seconds I also heard Kaiko lay down against my door, relaxed. Still, I couldn't be sure. I was terrified that he had gone to Emily's room but I was too scared to look. I finally got up my courage and ran to her room.

She was sitting on her bed talking to the 911 dispatcher. When she called she got the wrong city and had to be transferred. Minutes later someone was banging on her bedroom door. We screamed, "the police are on their way!" It was the police. They had entered the open front door and were searching through the house. An officer checked the bedroom and told us to stay put while they looked around. Once they determined that he had gone, we all moved out to the kitchen. The kitchen suddenly felt very small and the police officers all seemed very large and very warm. Like grizzly bears walking around in polyester. I heard an officer on his radio, "theeee suspect may have manure around the bottom of his pants." Kaiko had been so frightened that she had shit all over the kitchen.

We didn't notice anything missing but another officer came in with a tube of chapstick he had found on the ground outside. As soon as I saw it I looked over to where my workbag had been and it was gone. It had been on a shelf right by my room which meant the man had run across the kitchen for it, this is probably what scared Kaiko. He had then run through the living room and out the front door.

I told the police that he had run through the parking lot but they insisted that he had probably gone back the other way, toward the projects. They said our cute little apartment was right between the projects and the main street for drugs and prostitution. With a parking lot that was the obvious cut-through. It was a crime of opportunity with our windows standing open.

The police brought me outside to look at a man who was sitting in the back of a squad car. They had seen him "acting suspicious" earlier in the night and they really wanted him to be The Guy. I glanced at him through the flashing lights and I nodded, "yes, that's him" I went back inside with an officer who asked how certain I was. I said, "not at all" He said I had to be sure. He wanted me to look again and I was so afraid to go back out and see that man and be seen by him, I almost said it was him just so I wouldn't have to go. That poor guy had not been anywhere near me that night. He looked up at me through the smudged window of the cruiser and he was crying. He was crying for his mama. He was bigger than the man who attacked me and he had a grill that outshone the flashing lights. I knew for sure this was not The Guy.

As the police were getting ready to leave, one officer asked us how long we had been living there. When we told him we had moved in that very day he said, "You have four days to back out of your lease without repercussions. Pack your shit and GET OUT."

Once the police were gone we sat outside on the front step, both of us afraid to go back inside. Jt was out of town. Emily couldn't reach her boyfriend so she called his crackhead cousin who came right over. Tony was great, he was lots of energy and a hefty dose of "nothing can happen to you while I'm here" Eventually we went to Jt's house because everyone there was out of town.

We called the apartment manager and they were shocked. SHOCKED! that this had happened. *insert giant eye roll* They said they would let us out of our lease but we needed to get our things out immediately. It was a matter of four days before we found a place to store our things. The rental agency kept our entire deposit as a "storage fee" for those four days. We moved our things into a house owned by someone Emily worked with. The house was disgusting. I'm not even kidding, it was BAD. Jt was back in town and he and I had bought all kinds of plug-ins and candles and roach traps but we walked in that first night and the roaches scurried and the smell was so bad that I sat down and cried. He said we could come back to their place until we found something. Emily got us into the dorms at my alma mater for a very low fee. So we gathered our trashbags full of clothes and we lived there for a couple of weeks while our other belongings sat at the casa de cucarachas absorbing the rott-pee that soaked the carpets. Know what's scary? Living in an empty dormitory when you've just been traumatized. It feels very much like a horror movie waiting to happen.

The intruder had only taken my work bag so I thought the joke was on him. The bag was mostly filled with teddy grahams from our field trip to a Red's game. But my checkbook was in there. The bank advised me to close the account and we could deal with any outstanding checks. I guess the joke was on me.

We found a great house and were all settled in by the first of August. The first week I spent my nights sitting up at the kitchen table where I had a view of both the front and back doors. I slowly moved into my room. I would wake up sitting on the floor having spent the night looking through a crack in the door I kept barred with a dresser. I took baby steps and eventually was able to relax in the new place. But it wasn't over.

In September I was accepted for a job as a home health aid. I had to go downtown for a police check. The police said I had an outstanding warrant for an unpaid check. They said all I needed to do was find a police officer ad ask for a recite. He would write a ticket and I could go to court to take care of everything.

On my way home from school a day or two later I stopped at Kroger to pick up a few things. On my way out I popped into the police sub-station to ask for that recite. The officer there was a younger black woman and she was very nice. She called someone who explained to her how to write the recite. We chatted a little while I waited. When she was done she called her sergeant to clear everything. When the conversation ended, she hung up the phone slowly, an almost guilty look on her face. "My sergeant says you have to be processed" I have no idea what this means. "You have to be arrested"

To Be Continued...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Blaspheming for Fun

We passed this billboard tonight. It says "I miss hearing you say 'Merry Christmas' -Jesus"

Jt: Jesus can be such a NAG.

St: It's only been like SIX DAYS! Geez.

Jt: Everybody gets ONE birthday, Jesus. Get over it.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Year-End Clearance

Doing this long-ass year-in-review survey from Sundry again this year. I'd enjoy this more if Blogger made cut and paste posting easier.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
I used a trainer and stuck to a committed workout schedule. It only lasted about 8 weeks but it was a big accomplishment for me.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I don't do resolutions. If I did I would say that I will eat better and start exercising again. It's not a resolution. It just sounds like one.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not super close. One cousin, one cousin's girlfriend and my sister's friend.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
I'm gonna go ahead and use last year's answer here, "Hahahahahahahahaha...ha"

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Confidence and, as usual, discipline.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched in your memory and why?
January 20. Watching Barack Obama, a black man with a funny name, getting sworn in as president let us feel like maybe things can change.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Working out.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Letting the ankle injury kill my fitness run.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I fell down the front steps holding Ziva. To keep her safe I had to take the fall on my right ankle. I ended up with a nasty burn/abrasion and a sprain. But the new bone growth I can feel suggests it was actually fractured or severely bruised. This was last July but it's still sore!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well, technically Jt bought my iPhone and my KitchenAid so the best thing *I* bought is the down comforter from Ikea.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband. Honestly. For Valentine's Day he surprised me with a night at a nice hotel, BY MYSELF. All. Alone. Mother's Day was the iPhone, Christmas was the KitchenAid. He also got up almost every single night with the baby. He just decided he was going to do nights and then he did. He worked his tail off at his job even when he was unhappy and that brought us a new measure of financial security.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The TeaBaggers, Town Hall Screamers and the 9-12 um...demonstrators. Seriously.

14. Where did most of your money go?
To the usual places. House, cars, debt, medical, food. The new one this year was the Y membership. Expensive and worth it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Watching the California Supreme Court hearings on Prop 8 was equal parts exciting and frustrating. Seeing the crowd gathered for the decision and then watching them protest it was amazing.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
All the Above - Maino ft. T-Pain
It's really, really cheesy but this was my workout song. When I'm not with a trainer, not in a spin class, just on a machine by myself I find it really helpful to harness old pain and use it to push out some anger. This drives me to work harder.
"Tell me what do you see when you're looking at me. On a mission to be what I'm destined to be. I done been through the pain and the sorrow, the struggle is nothing but love. I'm a soldier, a rider and yeah, a survivor and all the above"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
-happier or sadder? About the same
-thinner of fatter? Fatter
-richer or poorer? Richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Active recreation with the girls. More time at the pool, more time hiking.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spending money on pointless things like fast food.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Morning here with the kids, then all of us in Dayton for the day, finished by seeing Sherlock Holmes, just me and Jt.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
If I did, it was with my iPhone so we're just gonna skim right over this question, yes?

22. What was your favorite tv program?
We discovered Battlestar Galactica and I like it but I picked back up with The Wire and SEASON FOUR O.M.G.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Not really, I don't like to use the word hate when I'm talking about people. I'm pretty sure that I dislike Glenn Beck even more than I did last year.

24. What was the best book you read?
I haven't finished In Defense of Food but I really like it so far. I LOVE the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs (starts with Moon Called). Her Alpha and Omega series is good as well.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Hands down K'naan. No question. My new friend at Kick Me posted about him and it was the first I'd heard of him.
This is my favorite song but I'm partial to hearing Swahili and I also have a little bitty crush on Mos Def. If you aren't sure after this song, look up Wavin' Flag.

26. What did you want and get?
My couch

27. What did you want and not get?
A kid-free weekend. I'm not really ready to leave Ziva for that long though.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I really liked Star Trek. Precious was exactly what you'd expect and it was amazing. Totally lost my shit seeing The Hangover in the theater but it wasn't quite the same on DVD.

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 32 and once again, my sister really came through. We got pedicures and manicures while we had wine and Godiva chocolate then she took me out to Brio's for dinner.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If we had made more of a dent in out debt and if I had really stuck to the better eating.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Still rockin' the sweatpants. My fashion concept is that there are two set fat girl styles, I don't like either of them and they don't make anything else.

32. What kept you sane?
The internet and my friends who live there.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
There's that word again. I did not used to like David Boreanaz but I had a dream that changed everything.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Is there anyone who won't say healthcare here?

35. Who did you miss?
I need to see my sisters more often and I really miss my nephew. I did spend some time missing my sisters-in-law as well but that's been remedied for now.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Susan Campbell at the blog Dating Jesus (also the title of her book) and all the regular commenters there.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Without discipline you are just treading water.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Etcetera, whatever, I guess all I really mean is we're gonna be alright. Yeah, we're gonna be alright. You can close your eyes tonight. 'Cause we're gonna be alright."
Etcetera, Whatever - Over the Rhine
This year afforded us some time to learn how to relax instead of always waiting for the next terrible thing.

On a side note, according to some Facebook app I use the word "really" second most often of all the words. But really, you probably already knew that.