I'm learning and I'm wondering - when I'm not specific in my prayers, is it because I'm worried that if I am and God says "no" or "not now", that I will feel let down? As long as I'm not specific, I don't have to trust him with everything?
Oh my ! What a wonderful way of describing the joy of awaiting being a Nanny, the pain and suffering of meeting our Gabriel, knowing he could only stay with us a short time and so much to tell him. It was hard to carry our Gabriel, wrapped in his blanket to the morgue, but so there were so many things I had to tell him as we walked together that last time. He needed to know that he would always be my first grandson and that he would forever have a special corner in my heart. Gabriel needed to know he was now part of a big family that were waiting for his return to heaven and that they would tell him stories about his Nanny and Mom and Dad. One day we would be together again and I would help you and Mr. Spit as you grieved his loss and began to celebrate this little baby we knew as Our Gabriel.
Miss Amelia, who is a trooper, is through surgery and would appear to be fine.
If you would continue your prayers that the thing in her head is benign, (current request seems to be that it would be a third eye ball.)
Could you please say prayers for her mum and her dad and her surgery? And her poor brother's Alex and Ben, who have had a lot to adust to.
My mother was, to put it mildly, tickled pink to be a nanny. The day I phoned to tell her I was pregnant, "Good Morning Nanny", that was the day she put the sign on her office door:
"I'm not allowed to tell you that my daughter is pregnant, so I'll tell you that I'm going to be a grandma!".
When I got pregnant, well, when I was about 20 weeks pregnant, my mother announced her intention to join GANG. It's an initiative from the Stephen Lewis foundation, helping grandmothers in Africa, who, as a result of the scourge that is HIV/AIDS, are raising their grandchildren. Like all Anglican women, they run garage sales and pasta suppers and concerts to help the foundation. I've been eaten the spaghetti, I've been to the concerts, and I own a variety of useless kitchen implements, as a result of the garage sale.
It's funny, but I could tell you all the many things I've missed out on as Gabe's mum. I can tell you the little losses that quickly add up into big ones. I can tell you the things I looked forward to, and the pain that was mother's day. I can enumerate all the loss from the death of your baby. Perhaps, I think actually, almost certainly, grief has blinders. We are so wrapped up in our terrible pain, we forget that others lost something.
Last night we were at HomeSense. Looking around, poking. Nothing in particular. Debating the merits of an armchair - she thought it was comfortable, I thought it was horrible. We both liked the fabric.
And for just a moment, I followed her eyes. To the little boy things. To the furniture and bedding and toys. I watched her look. And look away. A lifetime of competing moments passed through her eyes, as I watched.
My mother did indeed join GANG. A kind and compassionate woman called my mother this time last year, and merely asked what job she wanted in planning the garage sale. No question of the semantics of joining, no question if this was appropriate, simply a request. "What do you want to do to help?" A question, that after the pain of grief, my mother found easy to answer.
And suddenly in HomeSense, I saw the terrible cost to a grandma. I could see my mother, as women crowded around, sharing pictures and stories, moving away to organize things. I could see her working quietly in the corner, moving away, leaving the conversation. My mother, for all her voice and strength, she wouldn't advocate. She wouldn't tell you that she's a grandma, unless you asked.
And what stories does she have to tell? While other women tell of presents, does my mother tell them of the blanket she bought? A first and last gift? When they tell the story of rescuing their daughters, of giving them a break, does she tell the story of taking a cab to the hospital, because she was too upset to drive? When they say that their daughters are exhausted from child rearing, does she say that her daughter is exhausted from grief and trying to get pregnant again?
My mother calls my son "our baby". He was born to not just Mr. Spit and I, but into a family. With a history and traditions and values, and now a future doesn't include him, and I'm not the only one who grieves. His tree is surrounded by 4 roses, and a set of tulip bulbs, called Wendy Love. She planted them with care last fall.
Perhaps it is enough to say that grief can take a terrible toll. And it is not specific about whom it hurts or when. Simply because no one realizes the toll, does not mean it is not there. Our baby. Our past. Our future. Our sorrow.
Do you know where your pancakes are?
At any rate, I had visions of spending today sitting in my living room, re-reading the Isabel Dalhousie books by Alexander McCall Smith, and leaving behind Edmonton for Edinburgh. But, I've been to the library and the hardware store. I've purchased a planter for the cat grass, and Drano for the bathroom sink. I've measured a new bathroom vanity, even though we said we were doing no Reno's, because it would fit the period of our bathroom so well, and the old one is broken, and it was about half price. And I've planted the cat grass and poured the Drano down the sink. Hoping it works. I lost a toothpaste cap down there a while ago, and I'm not sure that Drano is going to do the trick.
I've been to 3 clothing stores, looking for the perfect coloured shirt, and I finally found it at Laura, for 14.99, on sale, after going to 3 other stores. I hate when I get one colour in my mind, and nothing else will do. I think I will wear the sweater I also purchased with my other pair of new shoes, that I bought on sale 2 weeks ago. (Heartily in favour of recessions over here!)
I've been to the grocery store to purchase more of my latest obsession, bocconcini, which I then marinate in balsamic vinegar and blueberry pomegranate salad dressing.
I've had a bit of a nap, spoken to my mother, phoned a few board members about the latest crisis brewing at Rat Creek, and talked a little catch up, re-iterating the idea that we need to all get together, enough with catching up on door steps and on phone calls, in between bits of board business. I promised someone some tomato seedlings, reminiscing about the warmth of summer. I talked about midwives with another.
I've sent off an agenda for a board meeting on Thursday to my board, touched up a presentation for John School on Saturday, and in snatches, read some of the first book in the Dalhousie series. I've thought about a blog on the evils of prostitution. (But, I've been thinking about this blog for 6 months, so don't hold your breath). I also thought some more about individuality and Christianity, and talked to this Julia about it, a bit.
And now, I've fed the dogs and I'm typing this blog, which is a long and wordy way to tell you that I don't really have a listed post for today, just some ramblings, and I'm going to skip watching Amazing Race and go back to my cup of tea and my book.
And you really should try the bocconcini. I mean it. Amazing. Throw some walnuts and some figs in.
That, my friends, is the end of this Monday miscellany.
We plowed through our
Mr. "I've bought you dinner, can I take you home now?"
Mrs. "Nope, you have to buy me coffee first. I'm a woman of negotiable affections."
Mr. "Tim Hortons? Starbucks?"
Mrs. Glare. Make growling sounds.
Mr. "I know. You are thinking that little place on the corner."
Mrs. Waiting for it.
Mr. "Yep, that little place. 7-11!. I hear they serve gourmet coffee!"
Mrs. No words, kicks him under the table
Waitress: "Can I clear those plates for you?"
Mrs. "Want to buy a husband? I'll give you 20 bucks to take him. He's handy around the house, pretty good at doing the laundry, and he vacuums. He kills spiders, and mostly he helps with the dishes."
Waitress: (big smile) "Well, I'm not sure what my husband would say."
Mrs. "Darn. Are you sure? It's a good deal, all that, and 20 bucks. If nothing else, you'll be 20 bucks ahead. That's something in these uncertain times."
Mr. "Hey. . . . "
Mrs. "Well, I guess I'll have to keep him then."
Mr. "Hey, you forgot to tell her, I don't use a lot of hair supplies."
I left her a good tip. And to think she could have had Mr. Spit and turned him down. Don't know what she was thinking of!
As I type this, the Mister is looking at Google Maps, finding the locations of all the tankers in the Straight of Juan De something. I'd tell you exactly what, but he figured out that I was poking fun at him, with all of you, and won't tell me how to spell it. But, as of this exact moment, there are 260 shipping vessels around Rotterdam.
If nothing else, (and there are many other reasons), I would keep him for the ways we laugh together. That alone is worth every moment.
2. The meeting went well. It has a lot to do with the fact my direct manager seems to hate me. I don't know why. But, if there is a problem, she automatically thinks the worst of me. She doesn't listen, treats me with contempt, and when another department complains about me, she doesn't look in to it, she just blames me.
3. Yes, I will send my supervisor an e-mail documenting our discussion, and I will send an e-mail indicating my concern and confusion that my manager told me to stop cc'ing her on the emails and provided me with little assistance when it seemed I wasn't going to get anywhere on my own.
At any rates, the storm seems to have somewhat blown over.
Please pray I get pregnant this cycle, so that I can go on medical leave and get the hell out of here?
I hate the job, but it pays the bills, and should I ever get pregnant again, it has great benefits.
Could you please say a prayer for my sanity tonight and tomorrow, that I would make it through, with a job?
And that even in this wretched economy, I could find another one? I promised myself a long time ago that any job that kept me up at night agonizing over politics and fear was not worth the pay cheque that came with it.
I often remark, that it was the Christians who understood how we felt about Gabe's death, right after he died. In the sense that they understood that death was not, is not, and will never be the end of life, in the sense that they both believed and shared in the power of the Resurrection, they had the power to bring us tremendous comfort.
And then, last spring, I realized that my friends without faith were actually better at staying in touch, better at being kind, better at abiding. Most (not all) of our friends who would call themselves Christians, had moved on. In fact, one got the feeling that they were looking at us, wondering why we were still sobbing in church, wondering why we weren't over this already. After all, Gabe is in heaven, why on earth would we be sad?
My friends without faith understood that there was nothing they could say or do to make this better, that there was no better, so they just held my hand. They had no platitudes, no promises to bring to the table. There were no bible stories and quotes on their lips. (1)They only had themselves. And so when they had to bring comfort, they brought themselves. Sitting with us. Holding our hands. Knowing there was nothing they could say to make us better.
And I was perplexed. This didn't seem to make sense. It seems counter-intuitive. It is all the more bewildering and all the more painful because it seems to me, church should be the place for the grieving, the broken, the walking wounded. It should be the safe place, the place where we are all a wonderful mess. How in the world did I find the only church in the world with all the perfect, put together, highly functional people in the world? How in the world did I find the only church where every family has 2.5 kids, a mum a dad and a dog? How in the world can Mr. Spit and I be the only broken, left-out ones? How can we be the only ones that hold broken dreams and not much else?
It is a truth that on the 11th of December, Mr. Spit and I turned inward. We faced each other, and I think, to some extent, we shut out the world - and the church. I could tell you when it started, I could tell you when we made the decision, I could tell you why - it was because of a terrible hurt. We did hide our pain, from those at church. Perhaps they simply have not realized that the death of a child goes on and on, and it is a terribly long time before you are able, much less willing to join in a community of normal, un-broken people. Perhaps they were not aware of the need for gentleness and mercy and care in their dealings with us, long after the funeral. Perhaps they didn't know we no longer had voices, we were mute in our pain and anguish. Perhaps they did not know the grieving are struck dumb by pain and cannot speak their needs.
You, my blog friends, have read about the pain, my husband has heard it, and that's really it. A few at church have been invited to read the blog, to a greater or lesser degree. But for the most part, I have built walls around my pain, not bridges into it. I have realized, when our church talks about family, they don't mean Mr. Spit and I. We aren't a family. When they talk about the mission field, when they talk about sphere's of influence, or who they serve, they don't mean Mr. Spit and I. We don't have children. We are those grieving people at the front of the church, on the gospel side. They don't know what to do with us. And I was, and am perhaps still am, to busy grieving to educate others about perinatal death. I am to broken to teach the church about the need to reach out. The need to remember the grieving and the broken. The need to honour the small anniversaries, and the big ones. Mr. Spit and I walked through Advent alone. Gabe's due date is coming, and we will be alone for that too. Perhaps if you have not been here, you simply don't know. You can't know.
And so, I go back to wishing that the Anglicans said Kaddish. Not just on the 30 days after Gabe's death, but on the anniversary. I wish that my entire church came together for mourning. I wish that I didn't have to explain to someone why I wanted to put the flowers on the Altar the week after the 10th. I wish that we could have stood up together, and recited God's promise, that we could have been, just for a moment, united in our grief. That just for a moment, we wouldn't have felt so left out, so useless, so worthless. That just for a moment we wouldn't have had to defend our right to mourn and grieve, our right to be wounded and sad.
They would have known what to do with us. A bridge into grief.
(1)And a special thanks to the person who told us the story of David's son that died, as a result of his father's sin - can't tell you how much better that made me feel!
They had, clearly, in the words of Great Big Sea, "spent 3 hours on their hair". These BYT were lovely looking creatures, although, I must confess, their dates must have come early, as they didn't seem to have finished putting on all of their clothes. One young woman in particular managed to put on her belt (extra wide), but was clearly rushed out the door before finishing her outfit with a skirt or pants. How unfortunate that her partner was so unconcerned with her modesty.
Irregardless of her clothing state, it was nothing but cheek that these young men waltzed into a restaurant at 8pm on a Saturday - Valentine's Day, and had no reservations.
Good heavens! Who taught these young men to date? Who taught these young women to put up with this sort of nonsense? (The young women missing clothes below her waist gets a by, I'm assuming that so much of her blood was required to keep her legs warm that her brain might have been a bit slow that night).
But, enough! I am horrified. Horrified!
Let us review the responsibilities of a host, at a restaurant.
1. You pay.
If you invite someone to a restaurant, you must pay for their meal. Full stop.
And yes, dear reader, if you invite a number of friends to a restaurant for a meal, to celebrate your birthday, or an anniversary, you pay for their meals. Can't afford this? I'd suggest you scale back your plans.
There is, perhaps, a bit of leeway for the set of couples that meet every so often for a meal, where each couple pays for their meal, or for a set of contemporaries, who meet for lunch, but generally speaking, if you are inviting someone to a restaurant, you are paying for their meal. After all, I presume that you do not invite someone to your home and expect to have them cook their own meal.
2. You organize.
This means making a reservation. Yes, you must. You cannot expect your guests to sit and wait 50 minutes for your table. This will limit the places you can attend - to the best of my knowledge Arby's doesn't take reservations.
Organization also means that you provide a complete address, a phone number, and parking information. Your cell phone as well. And readers? A complete address is not a random description that it's by City Hall.
You arrive early, handling payment (below) ensuring that you have instructed the waiter on the number of people who are attending, and that the table location is to your liking. Know where the washrooms are, where to hang winter clothing.
3. You select appropriately
Why on earth to people persist in attempting to invite Mrs. Spit out for sushi? Mrs. Spit doesn't do raw fish. She just doesn't. And the entire experience is not wonderful, and she doesn't like it, and frankly, she can think of a million places she'd rather be.
Learn from this, dear reader. Unless the person has expressed an explicit wish to feast on the flesh of an uncooked flounder, stick to more contemporary fare. Pick a restaurant that has a wide assortment of options. You know, something for everyone.
4. You are still the host.
You should wait for your party to arrive, to be seated. You should have already scouted out the table, making sure that things look right and that you know where the bathrooms are. Listen to the specials.
If you are seated when some of your party arrives, get up, welcome them. Take their jackets from them, help them get seated. Know what the specials are, what the house specialty is. If you are ordering a bottle of wine, then you choose it (with some consultation from the table). The waiter or Sommeliere will bring you the bottle, decant it in front of you, and offer you the cork to sniff, and a small portion of the wine in a glass. You are checking to see if the cork is in good shape, and the wine tastes like you thought it would. Mrs. Spit is not a wine expert. Ask the head waiter, or the wine steward for their recommendation.
5. Handling Payment
If you don't handle this correctly, this is a terribly awkward place in the meal. Be gracious. Arrive a few minutes ahead of your guests, hand off your credit card, and instruct the Maitre'd or the head waiter that you will stop by to retrieve the card and sign your bill at the end of the evening. The bill doesn't arrive at your table. If someone questions you, smile and say "thank you for being my guest."
And hopefully I don't need to remind you, you are the last person to leave that evening. And when you are handling payment? Leave a 20% minimum tip. Waiting on a large group is a hard thing, and your server deserves some credit. And none of this ridiculous "I tip on the service" business. Your server was prevented from taking care of other tables, as the result of your large table. Compensate them for this.
There's a story in the Gospels - a parable - called the Parable of the Rich Young Ruler. (Bear with me, I'm going somewhere). The parable gives rise to words you likely know, that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich person to get into heaven. I went back and read it again, in 2 translations: The Message, and my NIV study bible (my old one, I confess, I was hoping their were some notes on the parable in it)
So, the parable has a rich young man, a powerful young man, coming to Jesus. Teacher, he says (and in my head I hear this as a peremptory request) how do I get eternal life - and he uses an interesting turn of phrase - he asks what Good Thing he has to do. Now, those of you who are Christians will immediately see an issue - we don't earn eternal life. Jesus runs him through the 10 commandments, and the young man insists that he has kept all of them. One can almost see him saying "Yep, yep, yep, got that one, Oh, I'm really good at that one, yep I'm good!"
Finally, Jesus takes it one step further. He says "Give up everything you have, everything you own. Everything that makes you the rich young ruler. Then follow me." We know the end of the story, that the rich, young ruler 'goes away sad, because he had much wealth'.
We have this idea about marriage. If I told you the story of our wedding rehearsal, perhaps it would make more sense. It is tradition, in the Anglican Church, that when you do your wedding rehearsal, you don't actually say your vows. That's for the next day. Rather, what you do is a bit of joking. As I recall, I promised to clean the bathroom, cook and wash the floor. Mr. Spit promised to vacuum, lift heavy things and kill spiders. (I'm not sure if he promised to do the laundry, or if that was the result of extensive contract negotiations later. . . )
Did you catch it? Do you see the point? Suddenly I did. We go into our marriage, and we preen and puff, and spiff ourselves up, and we say I have this to offer, I am good at being a housekeeper, I'm good at communicating, I'm good at cooking, I'm good at taking out the heavy stuff and killing spiders. We come in, looking at who we are, everything that makes us, well us, and we say to our partner "Now, measure up. Show me what you bring that makes you equal." Equal makes us worthy.
At any rate, we come into marriage with the concept that we each have our skills that we bring, that we are equals, that we will compliment each other, that we will each do our fair share. We come into marriage with the idea that we each have our good parts, what makes us, us, and then we see that what makes us, us is perhaps not so good, that we are not so perfect, so skilled, so strong as we thought.
This young man is coming into his marriage with a partner, who at least on the surface, is profoundly unequal, in that she's physically unwell. He's coming at the issue from a position of wellness, a notion that if he is physically well, and she is not, they are not evenly matched. She's perhaps not worthy. He's wondering if this is going to hinder their marriage.
Now, I suppose, if he was going to stick with this attitude their whole marriage, that would be a problem. But, knowing how I was, how many of us were, I'm inclined to think that this is something that married life cures us of. We learn that marriage is not about two perfect equals agreeing to create an even, perfect life; but that marriage is about two broken and messy people agreeing to forge a common life filled with mistakes and sins.
Perhaps, in some sense, this couple is spectacularly fortunate. They won't have to spend a lot of time at the side of the road, looking at Jesus and holding on to their stuff. Wishing they could follow him, but unable to let go of who they are. They can get over being sad, and get on with giving not just their obedience to the laws (the function) but giving their whole being (their form).
On the whole, I'd say marry her.
(And Mr. Spit, thanks for marrying me. . . . )
(1) These probably aren't bad questions to ask. No, really, they aren't. There's an empirical difference between issues and diseases we find out about after marriage, and those before, and it takes a specific type of person to be able to be a help mate to a chronically ill spouse. It takes a particular type of person to be able to accept that help.
No, really. It's second Sunday. Kind of like second breakfast, but without the first breakfast that you barfed up as a result of morning sickness, or, you know, hobbits.
Also, kind of like Sunday, but without church, or the Bishop's arrival, and also without sleeping through Sunday dinner. So, Sunday again. A do-over if you will.
Yep, it's Family Day(1) today.
No Monday Miscellany today, because, well, it's not Monday, now is it?
I have a post ruminating on individualism and the church, one on marriage, one on the always a bride, never a bridesmaid phenomenon, and maybe one on the ethics of neighbourliness, if Kuri and I can finish talking about it, and if she doesn't write it first. Oh, and the etiquette lady has requested a soap box for her column on Wednesday, all about dating. She's apparently not amused.
Have a great Second Sunday if you are in Y'Alberta, and a great monday if you are anywhere else. . . . (2)
Remember, go check out the TOBY AWARDS . . . . .
(1) Family Day. The made-up Alberta holiday, that office workers get, but no one who works in the trades, or works retail. Because none of them have families. Apparently. Thanks King Ralph.
(2) I can see that you are accusing me of being less than sympathetic about the whole you have to work and I don't thing. Possibly there was a small amount of nah-nah.
Given to those who perform silent but heroic acts. Those that would never think of praising themselves. People who probably don't even realize how remarkable their actions are. Those who work hard to make the world a better kind of place, just by virtue of who they are and the decisions they make. For those much like brave sir Toby, who beats up on the english mastiff, only when he is sitting on your lap.
(I have another nominee, but she gets her own post, next week).
If you had to ask a dead baby mum what the hardest thing was, well, they would probably tell you, that after leaving the hospital with empty arms, it's the first time that you have to deal with a baby after yours has died. This is a particular type of hell, when that baby is the age that yours should have been. We all develop many coping mechanisms.
MLG joined our ranks just a few months ago. She's barely had time to get her feet under her. She's barely had time to find her voice, to remember how to breathe after this horrific hit to the solar plexus. It must have felt like the hits kept on coming. It must have felt like the pain would never go away.
True courage is not that we never feel overwhelmed, it's not that we are never frightened, it's just that we carry on, we treat others the way we want to be treated, even when the death of our child meant we didn't get treated the way we wanted to. MLG, lots of people in our world won't understand how much phoning your friend hurt. They won't get that this was real courage, and real care. But those of us out here, we know. We know how much it hurt, how hard it was. That noise you hear in the background, that's the standing ovation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if you would join me, in not a toast, but a round of applause, if you would stand up and applaud, to MLG, who gave better than she got.
Debby's hair is growing back. Now, I know that this isn't the most exciting thing, but when you lost it because of chemo, and you have kept your chin up, and called yourself Uncle Fester, and made jokes about the time you save on shaving your legs, well, that's called making the best of a pretty darn rotten situation.
When you do it with a smile, when you show up to your daughter's university to speak about Cancer, when you work and struggle and love your kids and your husband, and when you still find time to think about the deeper meanings, and when you make more time for praise than protest, well that's fortitude.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you would join me in raising your glass, to Debbie's hair, and to the many things she's learned and shared in its absence. We are glad she had the lessons. We are gladder still that her hair has come back, and we wish her many more years with it, and never a single bad hair day.
And one final shout out, so to speak.
Dear Myles and Maddy, I know you both through your mummy's words and tears. I know you through your photo's. Through remembering. I know you in your mother's arms, waited for and beloved. And I will never know why you had to leave, and I would rather you were both here. But, I am glad for two little boys that can play together and a slightly older little girl, to torment the heck out of two little boys. Because they need that.
Got someone who deserves a Toby? Send me an email explaining why - it can be short, and I'll happily write it up.
But none I think, do there embrace. (1)
I made Mr. Spit a cupcake for Valentine's Day.
Delta ate it.
After I hunted through the bag of candy hearts to find the one that said "your awesome". (2)
Delta is not awesome.
(1) Andrew Marvel, To His Coy Mistress. The anti-love poem, but very, very funny.
(2) No, really it said that. No apostrophe. It was grammatically incorrect. The grammar lady bought grammatically incorrect valentine's candy.
I'm to list 10 things about myself, and then tag 7 people. I'll list the 10 things. If you'd like to participate - tag you're it!
- I have bad computer karma. So far at my current job, I've nuked a screen and 3 hard drives. Not bad for 3 years. At my old job, working for a certain blue computer company, I went through 4 screens in a month and a half.
- I often stop watches dead. I think it's my magnetic personality. Other's might disagree.
- I held my first membership in a political party at 14. It was a gift from someone.
- Mr. Spit spoils me rotten, and I know it. I thank him for it frequently.
- I've never stayed at a job longer than 3 years. I'm not flaky, just easily bored. It's getting to be time to move again.
- I love to cook, but I can't make rice to save my life. Just can't. I feed poor Mr. Spit Uncle Ben's. I can make amazing risotto.
- I'm scared of the BBQ. I don't like being around it, I would never use it. When I was a little girl at summer camp, one of the propane cottages on the Island blew up. Don't like propane.
- I'm really grumpy when I'm tired. Really grumpy. It amazes me that Mr. Spit wakes me up every morning. I wouldn't wake me up.
- I gave my first engagement ring (My mum gave it to Mr. Spit to give to me) to Goodwill by mistake. I couldn't get it back. I've never told her I did this, and when our house got broken into, she assumed it was stolen, and I didn't correct her.
- I may be good at grammar, but I'm a terrible speller. I can't spell receive correctly, and I could never name a child Michael, because I always spell it wrong.
I read Bluebird's post, and it was so beautiful and so truthful, and so terribly painful. It was like being made to watch the footage of a train wreck, over and over again. You know how it will end, you know that you can do nothing to stop it. You know the crash, the bang, the howls will come. And still you sit there, with your hands over your mouth, almost whimpering. You aren't so much whimpering from pain, but from the knowledge that pain is coming. I read the story, knowing how it ended, and I could do nothing. I can't make it better, for her, for me, for my co-worker. But still, I watch.
There are days, and today was one of them, when I feel more strongly that I should still be on maternity leave. When everything goes terribly wrong, and I'm up to my eye-balls in problems, and I'm grumpy and overworked and under appreciated, and I want to look up and yell.
"I shouldn't be here. I should be home with an 11 month baby. I should be on maternity leave, going to the park and play dates and taking my child to the swimming pool and Salsa babies, and cooking up strained carrots. I should be meeting the other mum's in my neighbourhood for coffee, while our children play at our feet. I should be so many places, and none of them are here, slogging away solving problems. I should be in another life."
I went, with all of that weighing on my mind, to the mall tonight. I didn't realize that I'd had the day I had. I was looking for a pair of yoga pants, and maybe a new suit, and Mr. Spit needed new runners. And I walked by the Gymboree sale. Baby clothes. $10. $20.
I didn't shop for baby clothes for Gabe. We are the last of our friends to have kids, and they mostly handed stuff down to us. We didn't need clothes. And everyone told me, I would get so many clothes. I didn't need to buy any. When we took apart the nursery, it was the crib and the change table and the rocker that came downstairs, not clothes. I missed the clothes shopping.
And for just a moment, I could feel my throat tense up. I could feel my eyes fill, see my vision go that terrible blurry/clear from un-shed tears. The self-talk began.
"That isn't your life. You aren't looking for baby clothes, it doesn't matter that there is a sale. Don't look at that woman with the baby in the window. Don't look at the shirt she's holding up, and the child, Gabe's age, who would fit it. Don't look. Your life is here, now, and you are going to buy a suit. To wear to work. For the meeting tomorrow at the branch. You don't have children. You are in another life."
Most of the time, I live in this life. In the here and now, in heels and hose and suits, solving problem. Dancing backwards in high heels, as Mr. Spit calls it.
When I am tired, put-upon, worn out, struggling. I remember. Perhaps I lack the mental fortitude to keep it straight.
But for a moment, in another life.
I've been told that if someone is a "nice person" and treats a waiter badly, they aren't a nice person. I'm inclined to agree. When we treat others with courtesy, it's because of how we think about others. If we think that all people deserve basic courtesy and respect, we strive to treat everyone that way. Our partner, our children, our co-workers, and the retail staff we deal with. It's not about how we appear to others, or even really about the sorts of people we want to be. How we treat others is predicated on what we think the basic rights of other people are.
I would tell you that I believe that all people are worthy of dignity and respect, of courtesy. All people should be acknowledged and treated with kindness.
So, I was thinking one day, and I realized: I wouldn't dream of ignoring Mr. Spit when he tried to get my attention. I wouldn't ignore a co-worker when they looked up and spoke to me. I wouldn't shoot a customer a dirty glare for asking me a question.
The question, there's the rub. When the question is "Spare some change, lady?" or "Got $0.50 so that I can buy a coffee?" Or, well, you get the point.
So, if I wouldn't ignore Mr. Spit or a co-worker, or a customer, and if I believe that all people are entitled to kindness and courtesy, why I am ignoring a panhandler?
Oh, I can hear the voices. But "Mrs. Spit, they are going to use the money for booze or drugs or cigarettes". Maybe. Possibly. Probably. I don't know.
But, that's not the real point. It is likely de-humanizing enough to stand on a street corner and ask people for money. I can't imagine how it must tear a person down when no one will look at you.
It's awkward to look a panhandler in the face. After all, in Western society, the way to avoid conversations is to avoid eye contact. Looking someone in the eyes is an intimate sort of thing. And really, do we want to be that, well, involved, with someone who has a negotiable relationship with hygiene, and a non-negotiable relationship with illicit substances? And what about mental illness? Some of those people are dangerous. They must be. I see them talking to themselves, I see them yelling to themselves. Paranoia, delusions.
I don't give money to panhandlers. Not, actually, because they will spend their money on booze or drugs or cigarettes. I have, in the past, spent money on all 3. I'm not sure I'm qualified to give advice on what to spend money on, and more than that, once I give something away, what right do I have to stipulate what's done with it? I don't give money to panhandlers, because when I give that money to social agencies, they can solve more problems with it. I don't give money because money doesn't solve the problem.
But, whether I give money or not, I still have this ethical dilemma. What do I do about the asking? And where the rubber meets the road, if I believe that all people have worth, and deserve dignity, how do I respond? How do I reconcile that I treat co-workers and customers and friends and family differently than a panhandler? And, perhaps more than this, does it matter?
About a year ago, I decided it did. About a year ago, I decided that I could respond to a request for money with a "Sorry, no." I could look at someone, look them in the eyes, and smile. I could say "Good Morning" when they looked up and held their cap at me. This year I decided I could carry granola bars and those cheap stretchy gloves to hand out. I could treat everyone like a person. With worth and dignity.
About a year ago, I decided that someone who was nice to their husband, and not nice to a street person, she wasn't very nice at all.
No homework this week, but I'm interested to know what you think.
She got easy questions about how her new job is going and where she lives and what her perfect day would be like. I got really freaking hard questions. So hard that I had to email back with more questions. So hard, that I had to pour myself a shot of Maker's Mark.
1. Were you always religious?
I have to ask this. Do I come off as religious? Because if I do, I'm really sorry. I like Christians. I don't like religious people. Generally they get on my nerves. Honestly, when I'm around "religious" people, I have a terrible urge to smoke and drink and swear. And if you are at all inclined to say things like "praise Jesus" or talk to me about going on dates with Jesus (he's the Messiah, not your boyfriend), I'm going to be irritated.
I think the question is have I always been a Christian? The answer is no. I became a Christian when I was about 16, in high school. I didn't like God for a long time. It seemed that the world was really unfair and unjust and people were hurting, and hungry and broken, and it didn't seem like God was doing much of anything about it. Mostly I was hurting and broken, and no one was doing anything about it. God showed up in the midst of it. He didn't heal me overnight. In fact, some 15 years later, there are still broken places in the midst of me. But he did remind me that he's bigger than I am, and that I cannot fix the world on my own, and I need him in my life. I've been a follower ever since.
As for going to church, mostly, I have gone my entire life. To an Anglican Church as a child, a Baptist Church for 3 years as a newlywed, and back to an Anglican Church. There have been times that I haven't gone. I think the thing about church is this: It's a family. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it just hurts. The church isn't a museum of saints, it's a hospital for sinners. We aren't always going to be perfect. In fact, we aren't always going to be good. We're going to be there, and trying.
2. Have you ever questioned your faith? As in wondered if there really is a God?
Absolutely. Many times. How on earth do you prove that God exists? He's the most logical illogical thing in the world. An all knowing, all powerful being, that doesn't show himself. I see the works of his hand, I protest that even the rocks shout his name, but I can't take you to meet him. And when terrible things happen, both in our own lives, and in the world, I do ask. I do wonder. I've written about it a lot. Here, and here and here. Truthfully, I find if I stop praying, stop reading my bible, stop going to church, I find I feel further from God. All relationships have to be cultivated, even when it's just hard work.
Perhaps as my relationship with God deepens, I ask fewer questions about whether God is real, and more about where he is in the situation.
3. You're a very liberal individual, how is it living in the conservative capital of Canada?
Infuriating? Truthfully, what bothers me most is the anti-intellectualism. The idea that any old hack who can door knock and stuff envelopes can be a politician, and sit in the house representing our interests. I don't think you have to have a Ph.D. I think you have to be sober and thoughtful and have good ideas. Perhaps more than anything, you must be willing to listen. Not just take the pulse of the population and do the obvious, easy thing, but the right thing.
I think it's exemplified in something that happened during Premier Ralph Klien's time. He said that he was for "stupid cutting". Essentially, this was Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, before it was popular. And I suspect a few cuts needed to be made, but truly, why as a political leader, would you be for stupid anything? Shouldn't you be for smart everything? Providing the best solutions for Albertans?
Ed Stelmach was the last of my involvement with the provincial Tories. Mr. Spit and I worked to get him elected, because Ted Morton scared the pants off me, and Jim Dinning would sell our health care system to the highest bidder. Last time. And we don't talk about federal conservatives, affectionately known around chez spit as "the bastards who destroyed my conservative party."
4. Do you agree with all the teachings of the church?
I saw this question and gulped. Which church? What teachings? This is one of those questions that I had to ask extra questions about. Do I agree with church teachings? Well, sometimes.
The church gets stuff right, creating hospitals, orphanages, being the original social workers of the world. We also get it wrong. The Crusades, the sun orbiting around the earth, sexual abuse by priests.
God gave his people a job. We call it the great commission - go into the world and tell people about God - to make disciples, to baptize. Telling the Gospel is telling others about God. You cannot have God without the Gospel. You could have a divine being of your own belief, and that's absolutely your right, but you cannot have a Christian God without the Gospel. Everything leads to the Gospel.
So, the church has the Gospel, and the Gospel gives us a job. Mostly, I think we get it wrong. We go into the world and we tell people about us - about what we are doing for God, and how amazing our life is. We go into the world and we tell people about them - what they are doing wrong, what terrible people they are. That's not what God told us to do. He told us to go out in the world and tell people the story of him. Of God and his son. Of the cross and the Resurrection. Of what God did for us, before we even asked. And the response to that is to become God's disciple. Not for everyone. Some people hear the story of salvation and they aren't interested. I won't say I get it, but I absolutely respect their right to not believe it.
I believe, along with the great commission, that we all need salvation. I believe that God planned Christ's death on the cross to accomplish that salvation - to be the perfect sacrifice for my sins, for your sins, for every ones sins. I believe that we need to personally accept that salvation. And yes, I do believe that the only way to heaven is through Christ.
5. If you could have anyone to dinner, who would it be?
Would you believe me if I told you this was the hardest question? I have no idea. Karl Marx because I'm sure that we get his ideas wrong, all the time, and I'd like to ask him what he meant. Aristotle because I'm dying to know what he thinks about Obama. Elizabeth 1, wondering what it was like to rule Britannia, and never marry. St. Paul, because while he's always gotten just a bit on my nerves, he was so on fire and passionate about the Gospel. Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, because I have always admired what they did for my country, although the bit about activist judges on the supreme court drives me crazy.
Now, it's your turn. Do you want to be interviewed?
Of course I'll ask really hard questions!
- I stood at my front door, and clicked the car remote at the door.
- I dumped a bunch of coffee beans in the sink, and thought about hitting ctrl+alt+del.
- I left the dogs out of their kennel on Friday. (but given that the house was absolutely fine, and that we were broken into in November, and 180 pounds of dog is likely a good deterrent, we'll keep doing this).
So that I don't feel all alone, what have you done?
I have to confess, I loved the term "adoption midwife". I thought that was such a profound way to express the passion that is close to Lori's heart. It takes a special kind of person to help a baby start growing in your heart and mind, and not just your body. There is no one I have met who is more passionate about adoption.
Martha also mentioned her Perfect Moment Monday's. I always check them out, I find it so, gratifying? to remember how much I have, and how lucky I am, and some days, especially Monday's, I think we can all use all the help we can get!
Ladies and gentlemen, if you would join me in raising your glass. Abundance is a state of mind, and Lori has it in spades. Out of that state of mind, she shares so much.
I'm looking outside Jen.
See those branches sticking up just a bit, at the bottom of the picture? Those are Explorer roses. They are probably about a foot high.
I'll try to put it another way. My Nana had this line. "Is it nice, is it true, and last but not least, does it need to be said?".
Usually, when someone believes in the power of words, they believe in absolute freedom of speech. I don't. I don't believe in freedom to denigrate someone because of their race, their political beliefs, their sexual orientation or their gender. I don't believe that you should have a right to spew hatred and bile. It may be true, but it isn't nice, and like Nana said, it doesn't need to be said.
I believe in the absolute power of the audience.
We get so confused about freedom of speech. We get so confused about who has the right to say what, and when and where, and if we should protect it, and if we should help others speak. We get confused that just because we can say something, we should.
Now, I'm not talking about voicing feelings and needs and desires. I'm not talking about saying "I'm hurt, I'm sad, I'm angry. I need to be heard."
No, I'm talking about expressing ideas. We get confused and think that all ideas have equal weight, all ideas have absolute merit. We don't understand ideas, and good ideas, and how to tell them apart. We confuse hearing others out with giving credence to their ideas. We think that if you can write it down, it deserves to be read, if you can string it together, it deserves to be heard. And not only that, but irregardless of the quality of the idea, we hold it up and say "freedom of speech".
We never talk about the power of the audience. No one says that some things don't need to be said.
Mel, over at Stirrup Queens posted this article. I read it. With horror. Disgust. Astonishment.
The power of the audience is this. To stand up and call this what it is: disgusting crap. The author has poured a collection of venomous and mean thoughts into 5 paragraphs, and run up the flag of 'personal beliefs'. Anyone can do it. It doesn't take talent as a writer to write snipe, it really doesn't even take much thought. There are logical issues wide enough to drive a truck through in this article: it's not well written; it's not well thought out; and it's sure as heck not a constructive contribution to the abortion debate.
But the power of the audience. The power of the audience is to vote. With your feet, by leaving a comment that this sort of "article" is not nice, true, and it doesn't need to be said. You can vote with your eyes by no longer reading this site. The power of the audience is to stand up.
Stand up and say that it is wrong to be hateful. It is wrong to deny the grief of another, and it's always wrong to tell an adult how they should feel. The author may be a lovely person, but her ideas, they are putrid and foul.
So, it started out kind of badly. The guests we were supposed to be feeding prime rib had to cancel. Something about surgery. (like *that's* any kind of excuse!)
So, I was having coffee with a friend, and I thought I'd invite her to dinner. She's a close enough friend that she wouldn't mind being a replacement. I was a bit anxious about what I'd tell the blog about my dinner party. I figured I'd better have someone over. Mr. Spit and I just aren't that exciting.
Mrs. Spit feeds Mr. Spit pizza! Or nacho's. Or porkchops! And the dogs get raw ground chicken! Wow!
So, on Thursday the 22nd, I invite the friend for dinner. On the 30th.
On Monday, the 26th, I phone and mention that we didn't settle a time, could she call me?
On Tuesday, the 27th, I phone and mention that I still need a time, 7 would work for us, but let me know.
On Thursday, I'm getting a bit anxious, and I phone and say that I really do need to know what time to expect them, could she phone? If I don't hear from her, I'll assume that something has come up and she's not coming.
I'm a bit surprised, just because she's not like this, and she would never dream of being, well, this rude, and I really haven't met her new husband, and I'm looking forward to it . . .
On the morning of Friday, the 30th, I decide they aren't coming.
So, I'm standing in the kitchen, cooking up perogies and Mundare sausage. We are discussing our week. The house is tidy-ish, but certainly not company ready, and the floors are decidedly furry around the edges. It's about 7.
And there's a knock upon the door. I go and look out, and there's my friend. With her shiny new husband.
And I'm in my ratty t-shirt and old jeans, with crud on the jeans. I look down and there's a tuft of pet hair stuck to my sock.
I open the door. I usher them in. "Oh, your cell phone wasn't working. Funny that."
I see Mr. Spit open the freezer back up, pull out the rest of the sausage, and start slicing. . . .
Please, dear blog readers, tell me your event went better!
Mr. Spit and I grew up together, that much is true. To a greater or lesser extend, during the year, we saw each other. And this continued. He was there, in a corner, and so was I. We came together, perhaps a few times a year, for holidays.
And then he arrived in Edmonton to pick up a mirror for his telescope. My mother was in a downward mental slide, and I was determined to keep him from finding out. I did the only thing I could think of, everywhere I went, he came too. The first night, he arrived, I looked at him, told him to put his bags in his room and hurry up, we had a theater performance. He needed to bring $15 for the performance. I can't remember what we did on Saturday night, but by the time he left on Sunday, he had perhaps spent a grand total of 20 minutes with my mother.
And in all the time he spent with me, I started to enjoy his company. He was funny and smart and kind, and while he must have realized the game I was playing, he was kind enough to not mention my mother's incipient mental issues to me, or to his father.
The conversations started in email, in earnest, and carried on through the summer, and into the fall.
And suddenly, after a long and horrible day in late October, I realized that I wanted him. I wanted him, by my side. I wanted to lay down on my couch and put my head in his lap, and be still. I wanted to hear him breathe next to me, I wanted to come home to him.
There was no flash of light, no blinding moment of clarity, there was just an awakening.
I was engaged with a ring he had already bought me. Our wedding rings were $88 for two, including the cost of the sizing. We moved, quickly, but carefully towards our life together. And we have held together.
Indeed, those rings have formed part of the story of us. With no money, struggling, we have told the story of 2 rings just when we needed them. Like our first apartment that was a dump, and the odd neighbours that lived below us, and the landlord from hell, our cheap rings have formed part of who we are. Far from those days now, we could look back and remember who we were, and how we started. That the story of us has not always been wealth, but not always poverty. There has been joy, and there has been sorrow. And through it all, in the midst of it, a set of promises. Reminders.
And in the break-in, mine was stolen. The Secret Shopping Mission was this - a new set of rings for both of us.
A solitaire and band for me, and a band for him. New rings to remind us of an old thing, holding on and hanging in are what makes a marriage.
My North, My South, My East and My West. My working week and my Sunday rest.
- The dogs need baths. Really. They smell, umm, doggy.
- I need to sit down and make a list of of who I need to knit for. I'd swear that conception was catching at church. I'd say that it was something on the pew, but hello? I'm not pregnant yet. (bloody hell!)
- Buy laser toy for cats. The
very fatrotund cat is not the slightest bit interested, but the other one loves them.
- Pick up duvets from cleaner. Dog drool. Small-ish washer.
- Bring my coffee cup and my water bottle home and run them through the dish washer. You should too.
- Nag everyone to send me Toby Award Nominations.
- Tell everyone about the Secret Shopping Mission (SSM) - on Tuesday.
And one last reminder, for Trish. DO NOT COMPARE THE AMAZING ROBBIE TO OTHER CHILDREN. They are no where near as amazing and wonderful and miraculous as your sweet baby boy, and you will make them feel badly about their ordinariness for the rest of their lives, even if they do weight more than Robbie.
Have a great day! Hoping the ground hog sees his shadow wherever you are. (It never works here. The stupid rodents don't live in Alberta)