Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Farting Cousin

Dear Farting Cousin,
Happy belated birthday. This blog's for you. I love you!

For the past three months I've been hiding a boyfriend from you all for reasons that, if you've been keeping up, should seem kind of obvious. I am the girl who cried "love." But that's a whole other blog in itself, and I promise to get there soon. Nevertheless, I recently found myself trying to school my bf, The Scientist, on my family, as he was getting ready to be included in our annual dirty santa gift card giveaway. I explained who was who and who would be there and who would be missing, and when it came time to tell him about my cousin I couldn't help but introduce her to him as "My Farting Cousin." I went on to tell him a story about why I have dubbed her with such a nickname. It goes like this:

A handful of years ago I found myself shopping with this particular cousin who is about 6 years younger than me. She and I bare a family resemblance, except that she is blond, buxom, and shall we say bootylicious. I am none of those things. But still....we look like cousins. We were in a major department store in between two racks of clothing when she came up to me quickly and muttered under her breath, "We gotta go. Move...go. Go now. We have to go."

I was confused as to why I had to suddenly drop the clearance priced sweater in my hand and get the hell out of dodge so I asked, "Um...ok...why?"

And the blond, buxom, bootylicious one replied with, "Fart and run, Fart and run." She had, evidently, lost control of her flatulence and left a rather unpleasant cloud of toxic vapor waiting for the next unsuspecting clearance shopper.

This isn't the only reason that I have nicknamed her My Farting Cousin. It's enough of one. But it's not the only reason. She is proud of her gas. On numerous occasions I have witnessed her lift one butt cheek from her chair in order to let a slow rumble emerge. And when she does it she laughs about as heartily as E does when he farts. And he's four. Our family suspects that she has an intolerance to gluten, because no blond, buxom, bootylicious young woman should produce such excessive amounts of gas, and yet she does...every time. It's got to be because of the gluten. And maybe the dairy...

But there's another reason that My Farting Cousin is so special. She isn't just blond, buxom, and bootylicious. She isn't just gassy. She isn't just good with kids or kind or funny. My cousin has been blessed with "it." I'm sure you know "it". It's the indescribable thing that some people have that can't be categorized. It has nothing to do with kindness or smarts or intentions or purpose. It's just "that thing" that you can't put your finger on or adequately quantify with words. It's an essence or an aura that reaches out from behind a bright smile or the sparkle in the corner of an eye that digs back behind your ribs and makes friends with your dark places. My cousin has the ability to light up a room simply by walking through it. She is by far the easiest person I have ever had the honor of being around, because she has the uncanny ability to quickly find her place in the room and fill it up with joy. And she does it effortlessly and without the slightest realization that she's doing it. "It" is what happens when a genuine spirit plays tag with easy laughter, an absence of judgment, and an open heart. The result of this sweet, unassuming, friendly little game is a person who drips little drops of sunshine into the path of every soul that she briefly brushes by. Someone like that is a gift to know, and my cousin is one of them. Wherever she goes, people are certain to be blessed.

As long as she hasn't had gluten. And possibly dairy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Kinds of People...

The weather has turned a bit colder here in Tennessee, and last night was my first night back to work since the day before Thanksgiving. I had fallen into a very comfortable rut in the days following Thanksgiving of doing nothing but eating leftover stuffing and cream cheese apple cake, so it took slightly more momentum than I'd like to admit to get myself going again when Monday rolled around. I had spent the day at the counseling center talking to clients about depression, and boys, and boundaries, and....well....boys, and then it was time to head to the bar.

As I drove into the parking garage of the hotel, I noticed the color of the sky shifting towards the shade of gray that I associate with my pajamas and old lifetime movies. I knew that if it actually started raining it would be a busy night. So I went in, slid my key into the safe deposit box where my bank is kept, set out the half consumed bottles of scotch and red wine, and began slicing limes. SportsCenter was playing on the tv behind me, and before I knew it people started drifting over to the bar for a quick beer or a glass of whiskey and coke. I saw a few of my regulars. Paul joined me around 5pm, earlier than usual, but like always he drank a few coronas and ate a wedge salad. While he was there, Wayne came down for a glass of red, and Kenny stopped by for a quick beer before heading to the pub to watch Monday Night Football.

And then the bottom fell out of the sky, and rain pounded the pavement outside the floor to ceiling windows.

Within twenty minutes the bar and the restaurant filled with guests all asking for menus and requesting glasses of water and iced tea. As the bartender, one of my responsibilities is to answer the calls that come in for room service. I take the order, write it on a form, and then pass it off to the server on duty who puts it in the system and then delivers the order when it is ready to go up. Normally, this isn't an issue as the volume of guests is fairly manageable. However, last night was unlike anything I've ever seen. It was almost as if every guest in the hotel conspired against our dining staff, consisting of one server, one supervisor and me, and decided to descend upon the dining room all at one time.

As guests found seats wherever they could, the room service phone began ringing non stop. For the next two hours I juggled 6 dining tables of guests, 6 guests dining and drinking at the bar, and over 50 room service orders. I ran between tables refilling water glasses, grabbing silverware, filling ramekins with extra salad dressing or extra tomatoes, refilling wine glasses, making martinis, pulling beer from the refrigerator, and jotting down room service orders to hand over to the server, who was also running wild. It was pure insanity, and it was no better in the kitchen. If you were brave enough to venture to the other side of the swinging door between the dining room and the kitchen, you would find one supervising cook slinging pans and flipping steaks with a non stop ribbon of orders sprouting from the ticket printer. It didn't help that it was his line cook's first time to work at night. And it didn't help that she didn't know what the dinner plates were supposed to look like. And while we're at it, it didn't really help that she didn't speak English.

The wait time for a burger went from the normal 20 minutes to about an hour, and before long room service callers were buzzing the phone again to check on the status of their food. About an hour into the chaos, a couple walked into the lounge area and requested menus and a couple glasses of wine. I brought their wine and they, apparently having taken in the sea of heads in the dining room impatiently tapping their fingers on their tables and the sweat dripping from my forehead asked if we were having trouble in the kitchen. I acknowledged that we were a bit short staffed. They requested an appetizer and said they didn't mind waiting. Not long after I put in their order for tomato artichoke dip, I answered a room service call and wrote down the order after the woman stated this:

"I want a chocolate brownie sundae. But I want the brownie, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave, on one plate and the ice cream on another. And I don't want the hot fudge, just the whipped cream. You can put it on the ice cream. Not the brownie. I don't like for them to touch. And don't put the walnuts on the ice cream. You can put them on the brownie. On the side. And also...a diet coke."

My response was "that will be up in 30-45 minutes."


She hung up the phone and I delivered the order to the server.....and I may or may not have made a noise of contempt in the process. Then, I returned to refilling drinks, delivering food, and apologizing to about 50 different people for their wait and thanking them for their patience. I offered a third round of drinks to the couple in the lounge who at this point had waited about 45 minutes for an appetizer, and again they were pleasant. A few more minutes went by and I was finally able to bring them their food. They complimented the dip, told me I was doing a great job, and asked for their check.

While printing their check the room service phone rang. By this time, the dining room had cleared out some and most everyone had their food, but the frustrating feeling of helplessness hadn't quite gone away. I answered. This is what I heard in a not so pleasant tone:

"This is room 808. What did I order?"

"I"m sorry, ma'am. I don't have your order in front of me, Can you refresh my memory?"

"I asked for a brownie..."

"Oh yes ma'am, you wanted the brownie on one plate and the ice cream on another."


At this point, I was done. I replied that I didn't have her order in front of me but would be glad to get my supervisor to which she responded,


I called Dave to the phone, feeling as if just one glass tipped over or one fork fell on the floor, that I just might cry. He took the call, and I could hear him apologizing and offering to do everything but lick the woman's big toe while I gathered plates and laid checks on tables.

In the few minutes following, the room cleared out and we were left with a heap of dirty dishes to bus and checks to close out. My tomato artichoke couple had waved goodbye to me during the chaos. They had signed their dinner to their room, so I grabbed the black presenter and held it in my hand as I asked Dave what the lady on the phone had been so upset about. He prefaced his story with "This is the most ridiculous thing ever..." and then filled me in while I rolled my eyes. Just as I was about to go off on how some people are so incredibly rude, I opened the black presenter from my tomato artichoke couple and saw their ticket. They had signed their dinner to their room credit card, and across the top of their ticket they wrote, "You did a great job!" The encouragement alone was a welcome tip, but underneath the credit slip, was a crisp $20 bill.

I breathed in a little bit of Jesus in that moment, and I was hit with the realization that there are two types of people in the world. There are those precious few who go out of their way to build up their neighbor, to offer a word of encouragement, to leave a much needed tip, and to make a difference in someone's night. Just because they can.

And then there are those who pitch a fit because their nuts fell off their brownie.

God bless the tomato artichoke couple, wherever they might be...and God have mercy on the man that the brownie lady goes home to.

I have a feeling he might need a tomato artichoke couple of his own.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Can I see your ID

The other night at work, my bar was crazy busy and I was completely exhausted. I had stayed up until about 2AM for the two previous nights, then participated in consecutive hours of counseling at the counseling center where I am doing my internship (YAY!), then worked, then stayed up dreadfully late again, then got up and wrangled stuff out of my garage for a yard sale, then worked some more. The last place I wanted to be was behind a bar pouring beer and whiskey for a bunch of rowdy tourists. So when I carded the two black, British men asking for Coronas, I was less than happy when they looked at me and asked, "Seriously? What are you wanting to see?"

Apparently there is no ABC board in the UK, because these men honestly didn't realize that they needed their identification on them in order for me to serve them. I sent them up to their room to retrieve their passports in order to make sure I stayed out of trouble. When they returned and I explained that they couldn't even enter most bars in the area without getting carded they thanked me and placed their order for drinks and dinner. It wasn't until later that I learned that the younger of the two was a rising British pop star signed by Simon Cowell. I later looked him up on YouTube. Pretty talented kid. However, I still think it's funny that they were so perplexed when I asked for their ID. They really had no clue what I was asking for.

Ironically enough, another intern and I are on the schedule to lead an hour long discussion on the college campus where we are interning this week about "Your Identity as a Woman." We have had so many discussions about how to approach this topic, because there are so many things we want to say to these 21 and 22 year old women about this topic. You see, this is a conservative Christian school, and most of these young woman have grown up in conservative Christian households. The generic answer that we are anticipating is "My identity is in Christ." And that's all well and good. In fact, when I was 21 and 22, it's the same answer I would have given. But over the course of the last 8 years, with all of my life experience folded neatly into baggage, I have come to realize that "My identity is in Christ" is a complete cop out. It's all well and good to love Jesus and worship God, but WHO ARE YOU REALLY AND WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

I gave this answer all those years ago, because I grew up thinking it was who I was supposed to be. It was what was expected of me. And no one ever came right out and said it was ok to be anything else. Since I was never one to rock the boat, I never questioned it. And whether it felt right or not, it's who I said I was. And then, because I could only see this one very narrow path that started with a pretty white dress, and had me pushing a stroller around the bend, I never gave myself permission to go a different way. In all honesty, I don't think it ever occurred to me that there actually was a different way. This was, for all I could see, THE ONLY WAY.

Then life happened harshly, and there was no other option for me than to redefine who I thought I was, who I wanted to be, where I wanted my life to take me, and who I wanted to go there with. It all happened so fast, and at the same time, finding myself has been the longest road.

So in an effort to find some sort of resolution to this question of "What is My Identity As a Woman" I am writing a letter to myself at the age of 22:

Dear Sara,
First of all I want you to know that I'm proud of you for finishing your bachelor's degree. I know you are second guessing your decision to major in interior design...as well you should...bad decision, my friend...but the degree will come in handy exactly two times. Once, when you are picking out paint for your home and you chose the lighter shade because paint always looks darker at home, and then again when you decide to go to grad school. It will be useful in no other way. So just accept that. I wish you knew that you were amazing, and smart, and funny, and pretty, and valuable. But I know you don't. I wish you realized that life is much bigger and much broader than marriage and babies and living like you should. I wish you would go to a party, dance with a frat boy, drink a margarita, and have fun...because you're 22 and you really shouldn't be so worried about doing the right thing all of the time. I wish you realized that your parents were proud of you...and I wish you knew that no matter how badly you screw up they always will be. You'll figure it out one day...but I wish you got it now. I wish you could dream big dreams for your life, instead of limiting yourself the way you do. Go travel, see the world, and then come home with stories to tell! I wish you could relax just long enough to see that you are worth it. I wish you knew that God could see your hurt places and doesn't judge you for them. I wish you knew that He loves you NO MATTER WHAT...because your life will be easier once you figure this out. I wish you knew exactly what you deserved...because if you knew that, you would make different choices. I wish you realized that there are no rules, no boundaries, no limits, and no expectations...because you are the one in charge. I wish you knew what I know. Because if you did, you would love you as much as I do.

But one day you'll get there...and we'll meet up somewhere, shake hands, and have a diet coke...and then I will know that you are ok. And then you will know that I am too. You should know, Sara, that the road is going to be rough for a while...but I will not give up on you.

Whatever you do, just keep going. Because once you catch up to me you'll see that it's about to get so good.


Eight years ago, if someone had asked who I was, I wouldn't have known how to answer them. Now...there's so much to tell, I don't even know where to start.
But at least I know who is in charge of the story.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Please Advise...

The other day I found myself driving behind a mobile memorial. It was a Honda Civic with a large motorcycle shaped cling'em to the back windshield that said In Memory of Robbie, who apparently died in 2006. I know a lot of people do this, but I've honestly never really understood it. Why does it make someone feel better to broadcast their pain on the rear windshield of their car? I have searched all the dusty corners of my brain for some sort of rationalization that makes sense as to why someone would feel compelled to do this, and I've always come up with "Well...it's not my car, so what do I care what they do?" But on this day, the memorial cling'em got me to thinking...and less than a mile later I had mind bloggled.

Over the years, I have been given lots of advice. Most of it I never follow, because usually one of two things happens. I'm either A. Way too stubborn to listen to anyone else, or B. people give stupid advice.

Example for Part A: "Don't get married. You deserve better." Need I say more?

Example for Part B: (After I had a miscarriage) "It's for the best. That child wouldn't have been right." Seriously? That's your pathetic attempt at consolation? Could you please not talk to me anymore? Ever.

But during the course of the last 29 years, there have been three pieces of advice that have stuck with me. The first came from the mouth of a woman that I worked with at a furniture store. She was older, overweight, and jolly. She wore her glasses on a chain around her neck, and I adored her. It was just prior to my marriage to Ex, and she pulled me aside to tell me the one thing that she had learned over the course of marriage, divorce, and marriage. She sat with me one afternoon on a viciously overpriced tufted sofa and said, "You will be in the mood to love at different times. That needs to be ok." She went on to clarify that she wasn't talking about sex, rather the mindset of loving someone. It was a simple piece of advice, but it carved out a place in my memory bank, because for the first time I processed the concept that loving wasn't about a feeling but an action. Over the years, this piece of wisdom has made more sense to me as my perspective on love has shifted and evolved. I get what she was trying to tell me now. Love fits differently from day to day. Some days it's a pair of ill fitting jeans, and some days it's a pair of flannel pajama pants. But each day you put it on one leg at a time and wear it the best way you know how.

The second piece of advice was given to me in a moment after my divorce from Ex. I was struggling with figuring out my new identity as a young, single, christian woman. It was difficult for me to mediate the bickering feud between "good christian" and "single horny female." Within the safety of friendships that left no room for judgement (which are few and far between, might I add) I bared all and shared the frustrating fact that I wanted to be a woman who could love God and have sex at the same time! For a while I navigated these muddy waters fairly easily by talking about dating with these "safe friends" and then going to church and worshipping God like a good little girl on Sunday mornings. It worked pretty well for awhile until the leader of the praise and worship team asked all of the team members to sign a "covenant." I knew as soon as he pulled out the c word I was in trouble. It was pretty much like I expected. Don't wear revealing clothing. Don't show up late to practice. Don't speak ill of church members. And then the scarlet A....Single members will not have sexual relations. Oh. Shit. I struggled for a full week about signing this covenant, because I didn't want to sign something knowing I was going against it. But I didn't want to step down either, because I loved singing on the praise team. The little angel and little devil argued loudly in my mind all week long, until finally one night I sat with my sister and my aunt at my grandmother's table and shared this struggle that had hounded me like a hungry dog for days. I expected a long drawn out discussion, something to assuage my fears or give me clarity on the issue. I needed a long intense discussion about the subject. And my aunt looked at me and said, "Just sign it and do whatever you want." Simple as that. And while many would argue that she was encouraging me to compromise my integrity, what I heard her say was "You are in charge of you." Period. It was the first time anyone had given me permission to think for myself and make my own rules. If I wanted to love God and date I could! If I wanted to worship in peace I could! And if I chose not to piss away my god given sexual peak on years of celibacy, it was MY decision and no one else's! And to this day, whenever life challenges me to own a choice that goes against my upbringing or social acceptance in general, I hear her voice in my head saying, "Just sign it and do whatever you want." And then, to the general fear and chagrin of all of those that love me....I go out and think for myself.

This last piece of advice is the oldest. It dates back to my high school days. I was struggling with feeling lonely and out of place, and as usual I poured my feelings out to my mentor who had heard all of my struggles and self doubts. And in the middle of vomiting up my emotional confusion, I realized I was pouring this grief onto a woman who was undergoing treatment for a recurrence of breast cancer. And in that moment it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was the most selfish human being on the planet. I immediately groveled at her feet for forgiveness. "Here you are dealing with cancer, and I'm whining to you because I'm lonely!?!?! I'm so sorry!" And this amazing woman took her hand and tilted my face up to look at hers, and said, "If it's a big deal to you, then it's a big deal." Her selflessness was almost as beautiful as she was, and this one sentence has made its home in my soul. It has since become part of my mission in working in the field of counseling, because no matter how trivial it sounds when it spills from your lips, if it's a big deal to you, then it's a big deal.

While driving down the street the other day, behind the mobile memorial, I was reminded of this piece of wisdom, given to my by my precious friend. Suddenly, the need for people to plaster their pain on the rear windshield of their car made perfect sense to me. Because it's not just a memorial cling'em to them. It's a reminder, every time they see their car, that there was someone in their life that took up part of their space and part of their being, and their absence has left a hole so big that it's necessary in their hearts to make other people, people driving to Wal Mart, or people on their way to the gas station, aware of the fact that yes, someone is missing.

I got it, because of a pine cone. E gave it to me in the parking lot of daycare one day. He "found" it for me. And we took great care to find the perfect home for it in my car. He gave it to me, because in that moment, he thought I was a pine cone kind of special. Much like I always did with the memorial window cling'ems, there are probably a lot of people that wander past my car, see a random pine cone baking on the dash and think "Why on earth would anyone do that?"

And about 15 years after she first said it, and 6 years after she died, I still rely on her wisdom.

If it's a big deal to you, then it's a big deal. Period.

In other words...You Matter.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thoughts about Paul

You're probably thinking this is some deep introspective blog about the guy in the Bible. I hate to disappoint you, but it's not that at all. Instead, it's about some guy in a bar.

It's safe to say that the past couple of years have worked overtime at killing the hopeless romantic within me. In fact, there is a budding skeptic trying feverishly to take her place. In recent months the skeptic has even been winning the battles. But the hopeless romantic is quietly waiting in the corner, holding her breath, with the hopes of winning the war.

For the past month, I have been working as a bartender at a local hotel that accommodates mainly business travelers. Any given night of the week, there are any number of them perched at the bar, drinking beer and scotch, and shouting at the TV behind me that is almost always broadcasting some sporting event. Through the weeks, I have gotten to know many of them as "regulars." I know their names, where they come from, what they drink, and often times, why they feel so compelled to drink it.

For example...

Kenny is the red head who drinks Coors Lite. He is quiet, but pleasant, and he cheers for the Cincinnati Reds, caring nothing at all about any other sport. Kenny is recently divorced, and no, he doesn't want to discuss it. So don't ask.

Stan is a divorced millionaire from Denver who drinks Dewars and water and looks like Gene Hackman. By his fourth glass of scotch he begins talking with an Italian accent. If I happen to talk in an Italian accent back to him, I get a $20 tip. I may or may not take advantage of this little bit of knowledge every Monday-Thursday night at 9PM.

Doug is from Philadelphia. He is loud, like a proud yankee should be, but he enjoys the quiet seduction of a good Cabernet. He hates every sport, and instead prefers Dancing with the Stars. He is very much opposed to Germans, although I have yet to understand why. However, it never fails that by the second glass of red, he has mentioned something about the "loud ass Germans" in our very strange conversations.

Sean is from Nebraska...a husker. He is here on business related to the May Flood, and is currently in his last week here. He is a skydiver, and sticks to a low carb diet. Except for liquor. Sean drinks Glenlivet, on the rocks with a side of rocks, and drinks a lot of it. He has a wife, Karen, patiently waiting for him back home, and every night at 8:30PM he gets out his iPhone to give her a call. Sweet, huh? Oh yeah....his girlfriend, Kasey, flew in from Atlanta last week to spend the week with him. She drinks Fuzzy Navels and has an affinity for Coach.

These men have done nothing to aid in the survival of the hopeless romantic.

And then there's Paul. Paul is from Texas, and his smile is as big as the state he calls home. He is a distinguished man, probably pushing 70, but his face wears the excitement of a frat boy on his 21st birthday. Paul wears neatly pressed button down shirts, nice dress pants, polished shoes, and the leftovers of a very pleasant cologne that has been working hard at professionalism since early that morning. He exudes pleasantness, and when he grins, his eyes dance and even his wrinkles smile. Paul wears joy as if it were a pair of Prada sunglasses, and I like my job better when he is on the other side of the bar. Paul's wife is an opera singer who travels frequently, but he smiles when he talks about her. When they have time, they like to go to their vacation home and drink wine and cut limbs of cedar for the fire place. He drinks Corona with a wedge of lime, and every night, he pulls up a seat at the bar, the far left one to be exact, I grab his first Corona and ask him what he would like to have for dinner that night. He always gets a lettuce wedge, and often accompanies it with a ribeye, medium, or a plate of crab cakes.

Over the weeks Paul has gotten to know me as well as I know him, and he asks to see the newest pictures of E and keeps tabs on my love life. This past week, the night before he would be flying back to Texas for the weekend, he asked what I had going on this weekend. I told him I had a few days off work and I planned to let a nice boy take me out on a date. (Stay tuned for a blog about that, I'm sure.) Upon hearing that I had romantic plans, Paul became grandfatherly protective, and he asked 10 kinds of questions about the "character of this young man." He wanted to know if he was good enough for me. I assured him that I felt positive that he was, and when he signed the tab for the evening, he looked at me and said, "I want to know all about it next week!"

Then, Sunday night, as I was putting my money in the hotel office and returning the bar keys to the front desk, I walked out of the door to see Paul checking in for the week, button down shirts on hangers in his hand. He saw me and his eyes lit up. "Sara! How was (lowering his voice) your date?" I replied that it was wonderful, and he said, "How about a date with me at the bar tomorrow night at 7PM? I want to hear all about it."

The next night, at 7PM, I pulled a Corona out of the cooler as Paul walked around the corner. He pulled up his usual seat, placed his dinner order, squeezed the lime into his beer, and leaned forward asking, "So?" I filled him in on the fun of my weekend, him smiling the entire time. And in that moment I was struck by his happiness and obvious joy. So I asked him, "Paul, why are you so happy?"

He looked at me like he was about to tell me a secret, so I leaned forward a little. "I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about. Loving my wife is the easiest thing on the planet. My world is better because of her, because everywhere she goes, she makes bright brighter. I am just damn lucky."

Silently, the hopeless romantic in me replied, "Wow. I hope someone talks about me like that someday."

And then as if Paul had heard me, he leaned in further, reached across the bar, took my hand, and met my eyes with his. "Do you know why I eat in the bar every night?"

"No...why?" I replied.

"Because you remind me of her. Some guy out there has no idea how lucky he is going to be one day."

And just like that, the hopeless romantic exhaled.

There was nothing left to do but reach for another Corona, and grab a wedge of lime.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Other G Spot

I have noticed a pattern in my life. I blog about something....post it for the world to see...and then completely abandon my blog for weeks at a time. The response to this is a deep sense of guilt, like I am an infidel to the blog gods, and my cousin posting on facebook that she is going to send the blog police after me. I wish I could blog more consistently, simply because when I gather up all of my thoughts and box them up nicely in my corner of the internet, I feel a little bit lighter. However, life, lately has not been conducive to sitting around boxing up thoughts. There's just been no time for that.

I have spent the last few weeks in the hasty throws of "I think my life might make me cry." Nothing terribly bad is happening. Nothing at all. In fact, many good things have come to light. It's just that I have been So. Terribly. Busy. I have started my internship for grad school, which means that about 15 hours a week I am getting paid absolutely nothing to sit in a counseling center and counsel mostly young woman who are also in some precarious stage of "I think my life might make me cry." And about 38 hours a week I am behind a bar making concoctions with Jack Daniels and dry vermouth that sound absolutely disgusting, but some 60 year old businessman from Denver thinks are worth $8 a pop. And another 5 or so hours are spent in supervision for my internship. And then a number of hours, which I hesitate to try and quantify for fear that the lowness of said number will make me actually want to slit my wrists, are spent mothering the most delightful little "shree year old" on the planet. Thankfully, he seems so happily distracted by the fullness of his life that he hasn't yet realized what a crap mom he has. He is too elated by the fact that he just found me an awesome shaped rock in the parking lot to care that yet again, he is getting dropped off somewhere. But I know...which is why I have numerous little treasures that E found in some parking lot somewhere in all of the little nooks and crannies of my car. And it is also exactly why they will stay there.

The past two weeks have been crammed full of busy-ness to the point that I was having to plan what time and where I would shower a couple of days ahead of time. The volcanic eruption of thoughts in my head sounded something like this: Ok...I'm leaving work now, so when I get home I need to put my clothes directly in the washer-don't forget to feed the cat while you're out there...you didn't feed her yesterday...and you won't be home tomorrow...so DON'T FORGET...-then take a shower, but don't wash your hair-your hair looks better when it's a day old-and don't forget to put the clothes in the dryer before you go to sleep because then you'll be fucked-and tomorrow you have to be in class at 8-and you were supposed to turn in that assignment, but since it didn't upload don't forget to tell your professor and leave him a copy-did you feed the cat?-Washer's not done yet, but don't forget to put your clothes in the dryer so that tomorrow you can get up and be out of the house by 7. Don't forget to put your work clothes in your car in the morning...because you'll only have 30 minutes between class and work, so you can change right before you leave. Then when you get off work go stay at your moms because E will be there and then the NEXT day you can wake up with him and take him to school. Don't forget it's Red Day at school...so make sure he has something red to wear. And he needs to take something for Show and Tell. And your mortgage is due by the end of the week, so if you don't spend any money between now and 4 days from now and you get your paycheck on Friday, you can send in your mortgage just in time. Ok...sounds good. Go to sleep. Two hours later....did you remember to put the clothes in the dryer???

My mind has been a madhouse. But this weekend, I hit a nice little spot of "good." A g-spot if you will. Everyone who needed to be counseled was counseled. E was sent off to school, items for show and tell in hand, to be picked up by his dad for the weekend. And I was OFF WORK. It was the first opportunity in two weeks to not run around bathed in my own insanity, to not feel like I was one "oh dear lord the sky is not as blue as it should be" away from tears, to not feel like I could breathe. So I spent time with my friend, slept in, did some laundry, took a long shower, cooked a nice meal, drank a bit of an adult beverage, painted my toenails, read a little of my book, went to see a movie...and blogged.

It may not sound like much...

...but I feel like God has dripped mercy, drop by precious drop into the marrow of my bones. I feel like life has paused just long enough for me to inhale and exhale deeply, and be aware again of the little benign noises of my home. I feel like normalcy has wrapped itself around me like a nice fuzzy blanket. I feel like I have been given the sweet reminder of what it feels like to sit on the couch and think long and hard about what I would like to do next...so I did it. And when the answer was "nothing" I put my book down, curled up with normalcy and took a freaking nap.

Dear Lord,
I am thankful for the direction of my life. I'm thankful for the path that I am on and that this time next year I will look back and say "it was so worth it." I'm thankful that my life has a purpose and that I am well on my way to experiencing it. I'm thankful for the busy-ness, because it means that I am going somewhere. But thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me a refreshing pocket of "good." Thank you for good company, a light movie, a tasty meal, a nice little buzz, freshly painted toes, and an updated blog. I am so very thankful for this time. Amen.

As g-spots go, this one was pretty easy to find.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Me and God

My blog is where I "put it all out there." Sometimes "it" is all pretty, and respectful, and unlikely to ruffle any feathers. And then sometimes I use "God" and "fuck" in the same sentence and someone takes offense.

In this case, the someone who spoke up about my previous blog, is someone that I love and respect and no matter what, I always will. But apparently when she read my most recent post, she "cringed" at my disrespect of God. In fact, had her cell phone not died in the middle of our conversation, I think she was about to politely request that I remove that one little line. And my immediate reaction was to feel really bad about myself for disappointing her. But then I got to thinking....

A few months back, my city of Nashville was flooded with more rain than we have ever seen and will likely ever see again. Historic buildings were destroyed and an entire mall was submerged in 8 feet of e. coli ridden waters. When the waters receded, buildings all over town had to be stripped to their studs in order for repairs.

My spirituality has gone through a similar process in the last few years. Growing up I was a good little Christian girl, always dressing nicely for church, carrying my Bible to Sunday School, faithfully attending VBS, and being respectful of my parents. As I got older, I solidified my good Christian girl status by going on mission trips (ironically enough, this is where I first encountered Ex), singing solos in the youth choir, and white knuckling my virginity, even going so far as to pass judgement on "that slutty honor student who, rumor has it, gave her boyfriend a (gasp!) blow job!"

Then in college things got really interesting. I became involved in a Christian campus organization that was heavy on the evangelism. I made instant friends who, like me, had realized the importance of being a good Christian early in life. Together, we went to Bible study, had prayer group, practiced safe boy/girl interactions like group dating where no one was allowed to hold hands until they had properly defined the intentions of their relationship, and went on conferences to exotic places like Panama City Beach where I would wear my required one piece bathing suit and share the gospel with unsuspecting spring breakers who were still slightly hung over from last night's numerous shots of tequila.

Oh but wait. I haven't mentioned God in any of this. Well...that's because He wasn't really involved. At least, not for me. My life up to this point, though Christian, wasn't at all spiritual. It was a neverending row of hoops for me to jump through in order to keep up the facade of the Good Christian Girl. It was an exhaustive process of checking boxes, putting on appearances, walking the walk, and talking the talk....so that everyone else would be convinced that God and I were, in fact, in this together.

Fast forward a few years, and a few divorces, and a few grad school classes, and a few restless nights at the hands of a toddler, and I am sure of exactly two things.

1. God and I are in this together.


2. There is absolutely nothing I can say, do, write, or for that matter keep to myself, that will change that.

My friend who cringes at the very glimpse of me writing a phrase that puts the beautiful word "God" and the nasty word "fuck" so close together has every right to cringe if she feels led. She is a highly spiritual person, and I would never doubt her connection with God. But that's exactly what it is...HER connection with God. I can't understand how she relates to God, because I am not there. She has a healthy handful of years on me in the way of her relationship with him, and probably thousands upon thousands of prayers communicating both her needs and her praise. She is, understandably, in a different place with her Lord than I am with mine.

Because I have not so long ago, started my relationship with MY Lord from scratch. The knowledge is all still there. The experience is still firmly in place. The ability to read and study and tear apart the many intricacies of the Bible remain unscathed. But my communication with God left my many years of habit behind and started fresh with something along the lines of, "Ok God...I'm ready. Let's do this." And since then, my spirituality has been opened in such a way that I am no longer interested in putting on a show for the sake of others thinking I am a "good Christian." In all honesty, I have absolutely no interest in being a "good Christian." I have no interest in leading others in the way of the Bible. I have no desire to be anyone's spiritual compass. I simply have a desire to be REAL with God, and REAL with people about what that looks like. My friend's concern was that my quote was "disrespectful." And I'm sure that many will agree with her. It's not often that someone who proclaims to love God will be so blatantly irreverent. But I think she's missing the point.

My walk with God is MY walk with God. And sometimes it's holy and beautiful and loving, and yes, even respectful. And sometimes it is less than stellar, a mere nod of acknowledgement during my day. And then there are times when the depths of my humanity sneak up on me, and I don't understand the things in this world, and nothing feels right or makes sense or even churns inside of me with any real rhyme or reason, and the best I can do to include God in that moment of mine is to invite Him to stand by my side as I succomb to my own carnal nature and throw a big cussing fit.

But the beautiful thing about MY God, that I love and adore more than anything...more than the fact that he created the heavens and the earth, more than the fact that He calls the stars by name and counts the hairs on my head, more than the fact that He has the power in one breath to either heal or destroy this world....

...is that He loves me enough to want to be there for the good, the bad, and the ugly. He doesn't want me to put on a show, or pretend that I have it all figured out, or to try and sound respectful when really I'm just plain old angry. He just wants me to move myself aside in those moments,

just barely enough

for Him to fill in the gaps with his Grace.
So, because I respect and love this friend SO much, I did at least have a chat with God a little earlier. It sounded something like this:
Me: Ok God..I made people cringe with my brutal honesty. They think I am being disrepectful. That wasn't my intention....I don't mean anything I write to be disrespectful....it's just where I'm at. It's just that, God, sometimes I FEEL you so clearly. And everything FEELS amazing and wonderful and all I want to do is worship you. And sometimes I FEEL so strongly that I don't get you or understand what you are doing in my life, and NOTHING makes sense. And I just want to yell and cry and cuss. And I don't mean it to be disrespectful, really I don't. It's just that's where I'm at in that moment.
And God replied: I know your heart. I know you are emotional. Heck...I created you that way. You and I have a long way to go...but we will get there day by day...breath by breath. I'm not going anywhere.
Me: So you weren't caught off guard when I threw those venomous four letters into the ante of the universe?
God: Sara....we've been over this. I'm caught off guard by NOTHING. Not the things you have done or said....or the things you are GOING to do or say. I knew you were going to screw up so many times before you were ever even born. I'm not surprised by ANYTHING.
Me: Ok...so you aren't mad at me for the four letters then?
God: I will see your four letters and raise you one more...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Down and Dirty

My schedule in the last two weeks has been C*R*A*Z*Y! I finished Bartender College, started my grad school internship, juggled a new E schedule (thanking God for the best damn Ex husband EVER!) and have been on at least 5 dentist appointments thanks to a mistake by my dental professional. In this chaos I have done the following:

left my crock pot turned on for two days
forgotten to feed the cat for nearly three...
lost my name tag for my new bartending gig at a local business travel hotel...(yay!)
and completely forgotten that I have to take my grad school comprehensive exam tomorrow morning.

And the emotional result of all of this was my pharmacist telling me that my prescription hadn't come in yet which brought me dangerously close to bursting into tears right there in front of the shelf of condoms. I've just been slightly overwhelmed.

However, there has been a nice side effect of all of this chaos. My hair. You see, I've always been a "wash your hair at least every other day" girl so as to avoid anyone thinking that I am a total skank. But my scheduled insanity lately actually led me to push the envelope on this little rule. And by day 3 of "Operation Skank Head" I realized that my hair looks A-Mazing when it's completely covered in its own filth. So my new rule is now "Be a skank...who cares?!?! My hair kicks your hair's ASS."

Also, there has been a new theme in my life in the past two weeks that could basically be summed up by saying that God has brought a healthy amount of special people into my life. Some of them are delightful reruns from years passed, but some of them are new to me entirely. I found them in strange places. But the common thread between them all is that they have set up camp in a small wooded area in my soul, and I'm damn glad they are there.

AND....I've discovered a new passion in my life. For someone who enjoys writing like I do, I've never been much of a reader. My choice of literature has always been that book with the cartoonish cover about a woman who ALWAYS has an earth shattering orgasm whenever she has sex...which any (honest) woman will admit is obviously fiction. But thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love, I have discovered that I enjoy reading books by women about their lives. I'm currently on my fourth book of this kind, and every time I read one, I learn something about life, love, faith, and the question marks that often dance wildly next to each of these.

One day this week, just after reading a delightful email from one of my new treasured friends, and just after picking out my next book by a woman who loves Jesus but has been bitch slapped by life, I met up with my "rerun" friend for dinner, coffee, a chocolate cupcake with two forks, and a conversation that contained the quote "My comfort zone just isn't all that comfortable to me." I left this evening feeling overjoyed to have friends that "get me" and with a new realization that life is best lived with a down and dirty, reckless abandon.

I have many friends, most of them of the facebook variety, that have neat little lives. They got married, bought a house, picked out a dog, had a baby, and then repeated something in the sequence. Many times, I've found myself watching them post on their status update something along the lines of "I have the best husband on the planet, and my child actually just pooped a pretty little bow for me to place on top of my pretty little life." Ok...that's not true. That's my own ugliness peaking out from the corner of my blog....and possibly a little bit of that second glass of wine talking. But in all honesty, I have often wondered how these wonderful women (who I adore and mean absolutely no offense to) managed to scrape together such neatly packaged lives when mine feels like it's just an insane mess of misfires. Why did they get the house, the dog, the 2.5 kids, and the doting husband, and I got the "Best Damn Ex Husband Ever," the crazy insane "other one" and a cat that insists on chewing on my skank nasty hair and shitting in that one little pile of litter that she managed to throw from her box?

But then my friends, the new BFF and the delightful rerun, showed up without even a bit of warning and reminded me that my life is different. Like my friend, my comfort zone is anything but comfortable. I was designed to thrive on change, maybe just for this season, but maybe for life. My path, my purpose, my desires...hell....even my address....they never stay the same for long. My foundation remains the same. I always know who has my back, and I never forget who I am. My faith never waivers. I always know who my God is. But everything else shuffles like the quick feet of a skilled tap dancer. I am in constant ebb and flow, feeling out the bumps of my life as if they are braille. Even my communication with my ever faithful God oscillates wildly between "My Lord, you amaze me" and "Ok God, What the fuck?"

The conclusion that I've come to in all of this, is that life, at least MY life, like MY hair, looks its best when it's just a bit dirty. There's something beautiful that happens when you allow life to fall naturally where it will, after all of the dirt and all of the oil and all of the grime have had their way with it. My life may not ever be neatly packaged, but it's also not dulled by a daily routine of wash, rinse, repeat. In a moment of mercy, God has brought me to that place, just on the edge of my comfort zone, where the dirt, oil, and grime of an unwrapped life, a life fully flung open to its core, they win. And for just that one moment of mercy,at the end of another day, I think to myself, "I've got at least one good day left in me."

And the next day, I wake up to something beautiful.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Good Stuff

E's new favorite game is to pick things up throughout the house and deposit them into a completely different spot. He does this with everything. His toys. My shoes. The remote controls. My yankee candles. The marbles in the tray on top of my dining room table. EVERYTHING. The other night, I went to plug my phone into the charger before bed only to find that it was missing. I looked everywhere that I could possibly think that I may have put my phone charger, and then realized that I needed to be looking everywhere that my son could possibly think to put my phone charger. I found it about 30 minutes later. In the tupperware cabinet. In the deviled egg tray. Where, as any three year old full well understands, IS in fact the best possible place to put a phone charger that someone just haphazardly left plugged into the outlet beside her nightstand.

During the course of one of his trips through the house to collect all things not nailed to the wall, he picked up the yellow box from my bedroom and asked me if he could use it. I told him no, because it had all of my special stuff in it. "You can move anything else, but don't take this box. I don't want to lose the special stuff inside."

This is how I know E is my child. (Well...this, AND the fact that my weight topped 200 lbs the day they cut him from my belly...anyway...I digress...) Upon hearing that there was "special stuff" in that box, a look came across his face that plainly communicated, "I MUST KNOW WHAT IS IN THAT BOX. Like, I might possibly DIE if I don't know right this second." I know this look well. It's the same face my dog used to make when she spotted something dead that she just HAD to roll in....and it's the same face I make when someone says, "Oh, remind me to tell you about this guy I want to fix you up with..." The emotional response to any of these things can be summed up in one word: Urgency.

So I sat with E in my bedroom floor and showed him the Special Stuff. And as I opened the box, I explained that this box is where I keep the good stuff. The first picture he brought home from Mother's Day Out. An envelope of hair from his first haircut. The picture they gave us from his first trip to the dentist. A picture of me and my beloved Nana. A couple of sweet cards from my two most treasured girlfriends. You know....THE GOOD STUFF. And while I waxed nostalgic about each precious item I pulled out of the box, E looked up at me with his big blue eyes, and sweetly asked, "can you put that hair somewhere else so I can put my dinosaurs in this box?" Apparently a three year is not quite capable of sentiment. Who knew?

As I placed things back in the box and E ran off to find another home for his dinosaurs, I began thinking about the good stuff. And I realized that lately, there's not enough good stuff in my life. I am exhausted with grad school, because the end is SO CLOSE...but SO FAR AWAY. I don't enjoy my job, because it's just a way to pay my bills and not something that I actually WANT to do. And then I come home, too tired and, frankly, too boring to do anything besides take a bubble bath and watch Chopped. Add to that my recent disenchantment with dating, and you have one disgruntled chick in a really sassy sundress.

I grew up with a goal: Get Married. Make Babies. Be Traditionally Happy. It didn't seem like too much to ask of the universe, because I was THAT GIRL, the one that everyone expected to grow up and, in the words of an old high school friend, marry a pharmacist. But we all know that things didn't quite work out that way. And I've recently realized that I have wasted years (YEARS!) on pining for a dream that my life is just not set up for at the moment. I have spent a generous amount of time being sad about the fact that the Universe didn't cooperate with my ambitions to be the next Donna Reed, to the point that I am missing out on what my life IS set up for now.

So in the last two weeks, I have taken an inventory of my situation and then sifted out The Good Stuff from the bad, and have decided to rebuild my life in a way that makes the most of where God has me. This means that I have a new found focus on being "in the moment" instead of worrying so much about what may or may not happen 3, 6, or 12 months from now. Which if you know me and my neurosis, you understand is a challenge. When I asked myself the question "what do you want to do NOW" the answer kind of surprised me, because it's never been my focus before. The answer?


And what, you ask, does enjoying life look like for the girl in the sassy sundress?


Yep. I am quitting my boring, frustrating, feast or famine day job and becoming a bartender. For the past two weeks I have been attending a Bartender training school and learning to make drinks with hilariously inappropriate names like Purple Hooter, Sloe Comfortable Screw Against the Wall, and Screaming Orgasm. My hope is that by the end of the month I will be gainfully employed slinging drinks in the city, which is to say the least, quite a departure from anything...well, EVERYTHING...that I have ever done.

It's not going to be a new career. I'm still in grad school and will begin my internship next month. But it's a giant step out of the box that I have forced my life into, and the thought of embracing life outside of the traditional parameters that I have struggled to live in for the last few years makes me SO EXCITED about where God has me. Throwing away the rules that I have always set for myself feels incredible, and for the first time, maybe ever!, I am just loving today!

The response to this change in my life has been interesting. One friend asked me if I had lost my mind. Another asked if she should have her panic attack now or could it please wait until after she had completed her stressful upcoming exam. And another said with a huge sigh of relief, "Oh good. I thought you were about to tell me you were going to be a stripper." But on the whole, the most important people in my life have heard the news and simply smiled....because they A. know that I am rather unpredictable and change my path as often as I change my nail polish, and B. they have all wanted for so long for me to just be happy with where I'm at. You know....because they love me. If I could wrap all of these people up in an envelope and shove them into my yellow box I would. But for now...

Who knew that behind the bar was where they kept the Good Stuff?!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bit Crabby

I love crab legs. There's just nothing like pulling a piece of juicy crab meat from the shell, dipping it in hot butter, and tasting a little bit of heaven. It's just yummy.


crab legs are a lot of work. They require an insane amount of effort...and energy...and tools. And they are messy...and frustrating....and very often disappointing.


I started dating again pretty quickly after I got my house back from the evil clutches of The One That Shall No Longer Be Named. I didn't mean to, really. In fact, I had decided that I wasn't going to get involved with anyone at all for a while. I was going to date myself. And people seemed to think that was a great idea! In fact, there was talk of binding me up in a straight jacket and forcing me into my room so I could think about what I had done. My family, in particular, felt this was the only option. They have gotten tired of watching me muck up my life in such a way that they have to swoop in and count the pieces of me that are left scattered on the floor. And in all honesty, they have earned their right to feel this exhaustion with me. They have, unfailingly, been available in all of my darkest hours, and for that I am thankful.

That said, when a nice guy who I had known through family friends, unexpectedly turned up in my life and struck up an interesting conversation, I went along with it. And soon, we were dating. I enjoyed his company, he made me laugh, and it was a bright spot in my life when everything else was shrouded in introspection and regret. Moving on with someone like him on the sidelines was a more appealing option than going to my room and thinking about what I had done. But dating him didn't stop the mental and emotional processing that needed to take place. In fact, for a good chunk of time, he was a great sounding board for the thoughts that invaded my brain. But for the last few weeks, circumstances, or life, or age, or maturity, or WHATEVER, have changed things, and we are no longer seeing each other. As endings go, it was about as low key as you can get...which, if you are going to have an "ending," that's surely the better route to choose.

And here's the "dating is like eating crab legs" part. In the past few weeks, men have come out of the woodwork like starving little cockroaches, to show some level of interest in me that extends beyond, "hey, let me get that door for you." I'm not saying this to brag. And here's why....

Three, count them...one, two THREE of them are MARRIED. Which to me means NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT AN OPTION. But there was a week in recent recollection where my phone blew up all day long, because three different men with three different unsuspecting wives, woke up thinking it was a good idea to text me all of the reasons they wished not to be married. It did absolutely nothing but PISS. ME. OFF.

One of the guys is engaged...although I think he wishes not to be engaged and is just too damn nice to say that out loud. But still...not an option that can be entertained.

One of the guys is super nice...and super old. So....no.

One guy confuses me because I think we would have a really good time, but I don't think we would have a really good future. So do I really want to waste the effort?

And then, yesterday, a guy whose facebook friend request I accepted only because we had 52 friends in common, literally out of nowhere sends me a chat message and asks me out. It turns out we went to high school together and never really interacted. I don't remember him at all. But he remembers me and would like to "take me to dinner one day next week." The verdict on this one is pending.

I'm tired of dating. It's just like eating crab legs. The plate looks all exciting. But then there is an insane amount of effort put into the process. It's next to impossible to do it with any grace or style, because, like men, crab legs are not always cooperative. It's messy and frustrating, and in the end you have spent so much time trying to get to the good parts, that by the time you get to them, they usually weren't really as good as you expected them to be.

So while I'm not going to throw in the towel completely, (because EVERY NOW AND THEN, you get a good piece of crab that was worth every ounce of effort) I am not interested in getting serious about anyone right now. If someone wants to be with me, it's their turn to do the work. My crab cracker and teeny tiny fork are taking an effing break, and I believe I will have the soup and salad.

On a happier note, I'm going to take a pottery class. I have wanted to for a long time, and since I have just finished my last night class (PRAISE JESUS!!!) and will have my evenings free again, I decided to start dating myself while learning to throw pottery! I am super excited!

At least after all of that time, effort, and mess, I will have a wobbly shaped bowl to show for it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Just Know

E and I have a bedtime ritual. He takes a bubble bath with his sea animals, we brush his teeth with his battery powered Wall-E toothbrush and wild berry Spongebob Toothpaste, we read The Berenstein Bears and Too Much Junk Food, we say our prayers, and then every night I kiss him on the forehead and tuck him in. And if I forget any part of this ritual, or do any part of it differently than normal, E will let me know about it. The other night, I kissed his cheek, tucked him in, and began to walk out of the room only to hear,


In anticipation of the upcoming Julia Roberts film, Eat Pray Love, I have been re-reading my favorite author's memoir. If you haven't read "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, you should do so immediately. She is kind of my hero.

While doing this, I found a quote that I liked. "Everybody has a crack (or cracks). This is how the light of God gets in." I loved it when I read it, so yesterday I posted in on my facebook page. About an hour after I posted it, the little red notification bubble showed up on my mailbox. I went to my inbox and found a message from an old high school friend. This friend found my quote funny, because he has a dirty mind. I'll let you use your imagination on that one.

This friend has also been the source of many spiritual conversations over the years. This is the case, not because he is always so deep in thought (which he is), and not because he is a student of the Bible (which he is NOT), but because he is a self-proclaimed atheist. In high school, it was my mission to convert him to Christianity and save his burning soul. In college, we went on a few friendly dates, which again led to me trying to save him from himself. And in our adult lives, we have come to respect each other as "someone I will never agree with but whom I will always adore." It's a happy place for us, and the result of this mutual respect is a lot of witty facebook banter and an occasional reminder that "you are one of my favorite people."

Our spiritual conversations were always frustrating for me. He is someone who chooses not to believe in something that he can't see. In his eyes, science in no way supports evidence of a higher power, and he obviously can't SEE God, so his question for me was always, "how do you know God exists?" And after many failed attempts at demonstrating God's connection to the miracles of life and the universe in general, the conversation always ended with me huffing, "I just KNOW."

And I did just know. There has never been a time where I questioned the existence of a higher power. Now, over the years, my particular relationship with this higher power has been pulled and stretched like a piece of silly putty, but the relationship itself has never failed. In some form or fashion, I can always see God in my life. He's in my son, and every time E smiles, I'm reminded that God loves me. He's in my school work, and every day that I get closer to finishing this master's program, I'm reminded that He has a purpose for me. He's in my life, and every day that I find peace after the storms of recent years, I'm reminded that He rebuilds the things that are broken. So yes, when it comes to the question of the existence of God, I JUST KNOW is a sufficient answer for me.

But one night, when I was an RA in McCormack Hall at the college on the hill, something happened. I had recently moved to one of the coveted rooms by the elevator. These rooms were reserved for Resident Advisers, because they had a walk in closet space that was situated behind the elevator shaft, and (insert chorus of angels here) a sink in the room. This was a HUGE perk of being an RA, because in any of the other rooms in the dorm, you had to put on your robe and shower shoes and trek a mile down the hall to brush your teeth. The only drawback to this room at all was the fact that it did sit right by the elevators, so all night long you'd here dinging and clattering as drunk sorority girls made their way home. But I didn't care. I had closet space and a convenient teeth brushing experience. It was totally worth a little drunk girl clattering.

In recent weeks in this period in my life, I had been having a hard time sleeping. A lot of this was school stress, as I had come to discover I was most definitely majoring in something that I knew I would HATE. And also at this time, there was a boy that I was losing sleep over. Imagine that. So one night, I lay awake in my bed, and for no reason at all began to cry. And after a few moments, the crying led to praying. And then, something happened to me that I will never forget.

In the midst of my scattered prayer, I felt myself lifted out of the dim funk I was in. My eyes were seemingly glued shut, and at some point the words stopped flowing from my mouth. And in that moment, the spirit of God joined me, right there, beside the elevators, in the room with a sink. It wasn't that He was just there with me. He WAS INSIDE ME. His very energy and power ran through my veins where once there had been blood. His presence washed over me in such a way, that all noise and distraction melted away like hot butter. I ceased praying, because for the first time, a deeper level of communication was taking place. I wasn't talking TO God. I was talking WITH God. There was an intimate exchange between us of hearing the heart of the other. There were no words. There were no sounds. But I heard Him speaking to me. I felt the magnitude of his majesty. I tasted the goodness of His grace. I JUST KNEW.

After a moment, the energy began to soften, and slowly I was dropped back into my bed in the room beside the elevator with a sink in it. I looked at the clock. An hour had passed. Physically, I was completely exhausted, like I had been running up hill for miles, but spiritually I was peacefully still. I drifted off to sleep almost immediately.

Before that night, I believed in my relationship with God because I had had a Christian experience. After that night, I believe in my relationship with God because I have experienced HIM.

For my friend, who asks me "How do you know God exists?" I say, I just know, because one night, at the college on the hill, in McCormack Hall, in the room beside the elevator with the sink in it,

God kissed me on the forehead, and then He tucked me in.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


***In the last 5 days, I have been encouraged by two different readers of my blog to update this thing. It still amazes me, given my incredible insanity, that anyone dares to venture back to my little corner of the internet with any level of measurable interest. That said, this blog is dedicated to J and L. Thanks for coming back.***

I went to the first grade at a small country school house that was nested nicely between two cow pastures. Even without looking out of the window of the car on the morning ride, I could tell when we were almost to the school. There is nothing like the smell of a field of freshly deposited manure early in the morning to get you in the mood to do some learnin'. To this day, when the odor of a cow pasture wafts through my nostrils for even the briefest of moments, I am struck with the insatiable need to do addition in my head.

The first grade is a murky blur with the exception of two incidents. The first was the time that Mrs. Wheeler put my name on the board, because I failed to put my pencil down when she instructed the class to do so. This was emotionally scarring to me, because in all two years of my professional classroom experience I had not once gotten in trouble. For anything. And I SWEAR I DID NOT HEAR HER SAY TO PUT YOUR PENCILS DOWN. But that wasn't really a good explanation in her eyes, and the bitch went and scrawled my name on the board anyway, forever blemishing my record of excellence and thrusting me, pencil in hand, into the clutches of inadequacy. (I bet, if I try really, really hard, I can blame Big Mistake 2009 aka Divorce #2 on her. Later, in the privacy of my own head, I shall try this.)

The second incident happened in the middle of the year. Every week in the first grade, we would get back a packet of papers that she had graded. Worksheets, tests, and page upon page of wide ruled, recycled paper with sentences printed in my first grade handwriting. We were supposed to take these papers home to our parents to be relegated to either the refrigerator or the trash can, depending on the demonstrated level of achievement. However, I had a better idea. Of course. My plan was to store these packets in the bottom of my school desk chair. The goal, obviously, was to create a huge stack of old papers so that I could use them at home later when I played "office" on the piano bench. If I took them home, they would be thrown out. My mother was not one to put multiple pages of recycled, wide ruled paper on her refrigerator. I was simply saving my precious "office work" from the stinky old trash can. So I left them there in the bottom of my desk chair. For months. I was so proud. The stack piled higher and higher.

And I couldn't wait to take them home and turn them into important executive documents.

But then, Mrs. "Put Your Pencil Down" Wheeler, called me to her desk one day and told me I would have to stay in at recess and clean out my desk. "The papers have to be thrown out. Your desk is a cluttered mess."

I probably could have explained why I was saving this mess of papers. And if I had, she might have even let me take them home. But I didn't. I was 6 years old. And for what may possibly be the first time in my life, which obviously later would become one of my most damaging themes, I betrayed my own desires in order to make someone else happy. She stood over me as I sat on the floor and dug through 3 months of papers, placing them into the trash can she provided for me. Not once did I try to explain myself. Not for a single moment did I attempt to speak my mind. I just jumped through the hoop that she held out for me, and threw away something so seemingly simple that made me just as simply happy. And 23 years later, I still feel sorry for that little girl sitting on the floor by her desk, because I want so badly for her to have the courage to stand up for herself. And I know she won't.

All of this to say, that I have attempted to write multiple blogs in recent weeks, only to be stopped in my tracks by the worst case of writer's block that I have ever experienced. It took me a while to pinpoint why I was having such a hard time sharing my thoughts. Usually, they pour out of me like a steady flow of maple syrup. But lately, I have been having a hard time getting my fingers to peck out an entry that doesn't sound like I'm "trying." My writing has a distinctly different voice when I'm "trying" versus when I'm "inspired." The voice isn't real. It isn't me. And it isn't anything that deserves an infinite home in a corner of the internet.

I have realized that the reason that I haven't been able to blog is because my brain, like my school desk chair, is a cluttered mess. There are so many snippets of conversations and blogs stirring in my head all day, every day lately. The heights of introspection that I have climbed to in recent months are at nose bleed altitudes, and the swirls of issues, goals, and thoughts that have set up residency there have resulted in my ability to actually write or speak about them being undeniably crippled. The bright side to this is that I have applied for my handicapped decal, so in 4-6 weeks parking will be much easier.

In an effort to continue on in my goal of vulnerability with you all, here are some of the snippets:

How did I manage to get myself HERE. Divorced twice before my 30th birthday. My second chance wasted. How many chances do I get before God decides that I have simply wasted too much of his time? My brain knows God well enough to know that He will never give up on me. But my heart aches at the realization that deep down, I feel like if I were God I would have given up on me a long while ago. It's a good thing I'm not God. (The flip side to this is that if I WERE God...they would still be taping new episodes of FRIENDS.)

Why is love so damn disappointing? I have spent the whole of my 20's putting all of my effort and energy into men who were too childish in their emotions to put any of that effort and energy back into me. The result of this is that my best date ever has been with a pint of Ben and Jerry's. This is depressing. But it's REALLY good ice cream.

The amount of shame that makes its home on your shoulders when you find yourself in a spot like mine is HEAVY. I have discovered that it isn't so much about what I am afraid that others might think of me. The scarier truth lies within the belly of what I have come to realize I think about myself. Shame is a strange bedfellow. He takes up too much space. He hogs the covers. And He breathes foulness onto my countenance. And sadly, I feel stuck in this relationship with him. He climbs into bed with me every night, and every night I can hear him planning what we will do tomorrow.

I am confused by dating. It both excites me and nauseates me in the same instant. I do it, and I still feel naggingly unsatisfied. I think about not doing it, and I feel vaguely hopeless. Loneliness isn't a bedfellow that I care to invite into my room either. I avoid him by dating, but he always shows up like a squeaky third wheel anyway.

I'm tired of trying to make my family happy. It seems to be an impossible task that has culminated in complete emotional exhaustion. Regardless of what decision I make, someone disagrees that I should have made it. And hearing about it, or not hearing about it because I'm "in trouble," has made me tired. I want to live completely and totally for myself and E...yet I still feel the need to get my passport of approval stamped by my family of origin, and I have stood in customs waiting to enter Russia. That seemed easier...

I'm almost there. I know I'm almost there...wherever "there" is. I'm on the cusp of living God's purpose for my life. But some days "the cusp" just feels like loosing your footing and falling off the edge.

I'm not sure that "falling in love" can ever look like it did that first time. Now I know exactly how many pieces of my heart have to be picked up when it gets broken and exactly how much of my soul that requires. And once you know that, I'm not sure that you can "fall" with the same reckless abandon and the same wide eyed innocence. But how I wish you could! To allow my heart to seek out life and love the way it did before I knew just how much risk that involves is a naivety that I long for.

So there you have it, just a SMALL amount of the clutter sitting in the bottom of my brain like a stack of haphazardly collected papers. To many, it would seem time to clean house. Obviously this magnitude of clutter is screaming for some therapeutic intervention. And while this may well be true, I firmly believe that there is some value in everything firing in my brain at the moment. I am in this place for a reason, and I am experiencing these introspections because they have a purpose.

I may not have been strong enough to say it when I was 6, but to the Mrs. "Put Your Pencils Down" Wheelers of the world...

Back off Bitch...This mess is mine, and I'M DOING SOMETHING WITH IT.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Sting of Cultural Submersion

***There's no life lesson or spiritual parallel in this entry....just thought I'd lighten this thing up a bit.***

A handful of years ago, when I was an undergraduate at the college on the hill, I was Super Christian! Ok, well, that's not true. But I WAS involved in a campus organization that was evangelical in nature, and I must say, a little bit like being in a cult. I don't say that to belittle their mission or anyone who works for this ministry, because it IS a ministry, and the staff are incredibly devoted to their cause. However, after several years of involvement with this group, I learned that they had their own way of doing things that differed from pretty much everyone else on campus. They had their own "language," and, in all honesty, if you didn't act or think like them, then you were labeled "carnal" and a group of them would gather to pray for your soul. I know this, because at different points during my college career, I was both in the group doing the praying...and in the carnal lot of souls being prayed for.

In the summer of 2002, before I was engulfed by my own carnality, I took part in an extended mission trip to Russia. A group of college students from several different universities all converged on the streets of Perm, and we took up residence in the Ural Hotel. Our mission was to work with Perm University students. We were there to wrestle as many of them to Christ as possible, shrouded under the clever rouse of teaching them English. Since many of the Russian students already spoke an impressive bit of English, and almost none of the American students spoke a single syllable of Russian, our disguise was comical to say the least. I think the cat was undeniably out of the bag as soon as any of us Americans tried to order food. We would stand at the counter, look helplessly at the overhead menu, and then sort of point and grunt until the clerk realized that we were, in fact, complete Russian illiterates. She would then take mercy on us, sometimes while rolling her eyes, and give us whatever food there was a picture of. I like to call this little maneuver the "American Point and Purchase."

We spent the next few weeks building relationships with the Russians, and I learned very quickly that while our lifestyles were very different, the heart of a woman remains the same regardless of her nationality. These young women struggled with how they looked, what boys thought of them, and what their futures held. They were, in many respects, just like me. And they had such an intense desire to show us the very depths and heart of their culture. We ate their food, accompanied them to their homes, learned some of their favorite hangouts, and took part in a traditional Russian experience that I will NEVER forget.

I had heard about Russian bath houses. Our group of American students had been talking about it the entire time we were in Perm. However, this concept was somewhat similar to the city of Atlantis. It was interesting to talk about....intriguing to imagine going there even....but I was certain I would never end up there.

I was wrong.

On a hot summer day, the young Russian women decided it was time to introduce us to the bath house, the pinnacle of cultural submersion. A Russian bath house is similar to an American group of women spending a day at the spa. Only different. At a Russian bath house, the men go in one side and the women go in the other, so you are safely sequestered there with only your same sex. The first room is a changing room. And what do you change into, you ask?


That's right. You walk into a room full of 60 other people. Half of them are people you know, because they are your American or Russian friends. The other half, you don't so much know, but you CAN so much see their aged, sagging breasts tickling the floor tiles. And there, in front of God and the sagging breasts, you disrobe. Every stitch of clothing that you own comes off, and you stand in this room with all of your friends, who have also removed their clothing. And everyone collectively looks for a safe place to divert their eyeballs, because when you agreed to do ministry together, you didn't realize that meant getting up close and personal with the who-whos of your ministry partners.

From there, you walk into the shower room. This is a huge room, full of open shower stalls that continuously spew cool water. In a last ditch attempt at modesty, most of the American students had one hand placed firmly on their exposed breasts, and the other hand shielding the aforementioned who-who. The Russians are not so modest. Their breasts and who-whos are right there, out in the open, for anyone and everyone to see. Because there are many more people in the shower room than there are actual showers, you take turns standing under one of the shower heads and rinsing yourself with chilly water. The purpose of the bathhouse, or bano (pronounced bon-yo), isn't to scrub with soap. In fact, I don't recall there being a bar of soap anywhere in the shower room. The purpose, I was told by my naked, cone boobed, Russian friend, is to improve your circulation.

The next stage in the Russian bath house experience is to move from chilly shower water to the small room that is heated to what felt like 200 degrees. When you walk in to this heat, from the cool of the shower, your nose hairs literally feel like they have been set aflame, and it's honestly difficult to breathe. There was a long wooden bench in the hot room. I didn't sit down. All I could think of at this point was my father, who religiously wears his shower shoes in even the fanciest of hotels for fear of the funk that might be growing on the floor. I could only imagine how much respect he would lose for me if he knew that I had sat my buck naked ass on a sweaty wooden bench in a public bath house deep in the mountains of Russia. So I declined my Russian friends offer of a seat, and stood there trying to breathe through the heat and the steam and the sweat.

And that is when the old naked lady started beating me with sticks.

Apparently this is the part of the experience that is "good for the circulation." In the heat of the sauna, an old, stark naked, Russian grandmother, with deflated balloons for breasts, takes a bunch of sticks tied into a lot, and beats you with them.


And these aren't special sticks. They aren't sticks that are designed for bath house use. They are in fact, twigs of green wood that someone gathered from the grounds outside the bath house, similar to what you used to go rip from a tree when your grandmother told you to "get a switch." They are strapped together, leaves still on them, and then used to beat any naked body and every naked body that enters that hot room. And my turn had come. This old lady snuck up behind me, seemingly from nowhere, and began beating me from my feet to my head, her saggy boobs flying to and fro with every lashing and leaves leaping off the angry twigs, sticking to my damp skin. I was too stunned to even protest, although I think my hands instinctively went to my face, as I endured...

the culturally appropriate lashing of my life.
After that the rest of the bath house experience is simply "Rinse and Repeat." I did partake in the "rinsing" part, because...well....I was covered in leaves...but I left the "repeating" to the Russians. I'm all for cultural submersion. In fact, I even encourage it, as it obviously leads to an educational and memorable experience. Eat their food! Drink their ale! Speak their language!
However...I draw the line at being beaten with sticks by a wet, naked, woman. Once was enough.
But maybe that's my carnality talking. I dunno. Pray for me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Real Deal

At 1AM in the morning, in the dorm room of my friend, in the Spring of 2002, I changed my undergraduate major. I realized, after nearly 3 years of classes, that I did not, in fact, wish to teach children how to read and write. So with all of the thought and consideration that one can muster at 1 in the morning, I hopped online and changed my major from Elementary Education to, of all things, Interior Design. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Looking back on it, I realize that this particular degree was about as useful as if I had never attended college at all.
But...well.....as we've firmly established recently, I don't always make the best decisions.

During the course of my Interior Design studies I took a class called "Fibers and Finishes." Stop laughing...I'm serious. Part of the course was to use a microscope to identify the various types of fibers, natural and man made. (Interesting Note: This skill actually came in handy a few years later when I was selling yellow pages, and working tirelessly to sell an ad to a carpet cleaner. He literally purchased a half page ad from me simply because I could intelligently speak of the differences between the fibers of a wool rug and one made of nylon. True Story.) Anyway, the most interesting part of this class was the timed test we had to take. We each had our own microscope and a sampling of fabric swatches. We had 10 minutes to use a pair of tweezers to pluck a single fiber from each swatch, place it under the microscope and identify it's origin. Rayon...nylon...wool...cotton. Then we attached the swatch to a piece of paper and wrote our answer underneath.

Do you want to know how to identify a wool fiber from a nylon fiber? WELL OF COURSE YOU DO!!!! I'm sure you have spent your whole life walking around thinking, "Wow...how long am I going to live on this earth before someone clears up this mind boggling question that nags daily at my soul?!?!" Well, good news, my friend. That day has come! A nylon fiber is perfectly smooth and round, because before it was a fiber, it was a liquid. The fibers are formed by being squeezed through a machine with tiny round holes. Therefore, under a microscope they look smooth and shiny and perfect. A wool fiber, however, looks disgusting. When you magnify a single wool fiber, you will see an abundance of tiny scales, each one wrapping itself around the next. It is not uniform. It is not smooth. It is not pretty. In fact, it looks rough, like the mangled bark of an aged tree.

What is the point?

I almost deleted my blog this week.

A lot of people use blogging to keep their families updated on the happenings of their kids, or as a general day in the life journal. My blog isn't really for that. It's my way of processing all of the things that are in my head. It's a release. It's me, being 100% transparent, behind the safety of my computer screen. And up to this point, that safety hasn't really ever been compromised. I know a lot of the people that read my blog make judgements about me. It's hard not to! But those of you that comment regularly, though I've never met some of you (and STILL owe others of you an introductory walk!) have been a real encouragement to me through this journey. If I never meet you on earth, I plan to know you in Heaven.

But this week someone, who chose to remain anonymous, left me a comment (which was not published) that basically boiled down to their judgement that I needed therapy. It was delivered in such a way that the tone didn't seem to be of a particularly helpful or encouraging nature...more of a "Good Lord You Are F****D Up!" judgement. It stung. And the result was the realization that there are mean people out there who will read some stranger's (at least I think we're strangers...) deepest heartache and feel it appropriate to point fingers, make judgements, and then share them without care or concern for others' feelings. And THEN, I realized that it's not just the mean people that do this....everyone does it. Whether they share their judgements with me or not...they are making them all the same. And suddenly, my little corner of the internet didn't feel so safe. So for about a day and a half, I decided to throw it away.

But the thought of deleting my blog made me cranky. And sad. And angry. So I didn't do it.

And here's why.

I already know I need therapy. Good lord, anyone who's ever read this thing knows I need therapy! Thank you, Captain Obvious! But I also know that my circumstances and the results of my bad decisions have absolutely no impact on the fact that God has a distinct purpose for me, and that He will use all of this....this time of rebuilding....this place of shame....this spirit of introspection....this season of confusion....for the good. Because He's just that kind of GOOD...and He's just that kind of GOD.

I have felt lately, more than ever, that I am under a microscope. Even though I'm the only one on this planet that is living my life, everyone seems to have an opinion about how I'm doing it. And granted, I've made it awfully easy for them to feel licensed to do so. I mean, honestly, I have made some REALLY BAD DECISIONS. And then I went and blogged about them.

What I've discovered during this period of intense scrutiny, is something that just doesn't look pretty. Me under a microscope looks an awful lot like a wool fiber. I'm not smooth or polished. I am rough around the edges, a scale to scale mess of imperfection. I look like something that needs to be stripped down to its core, because the appearance of what IS....just looks like it's come undone. It looks broken. It looks torn. It looks like it is in need of healing....like time and the tender hand of the seamstress have their work cut out for them.

But it's the very roughness, the very brokenness, of the wool fiber that sets it apart from it's man made nylon friend. Nylon isn't natural, which is why its fibers appear smooth and polished when held under intense magnification. Wool fibers, God made fibers, are easily identifiable...

because of their brokenness.

They are rough.
They are raw.
They are REAL.

Kind of like me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Bad Words

Recently, I gave E a bath, and in the middle of playing with his bubble covered sea animals, he stood up, buck naked and dripping cucumber melon suds, made a very loud proclamation.

"Mama....I am going to tell you ALL OF THE BAD WORDS, and you NOT put me in time out!"

He looked determined, so I sat in front of the tub hiding a smile and told him to go for it. And this is what he said...loudly...

"Well....STUPID IS NOT GOOOOOOOD......and BUTT IS NOT GOOOOOOOD.......and (lowering his voice to a whisper) what the hell is really not good (head shaking). "

I was trying really hard not to laugh at this point, but I asked, "are there any more?"

"Ummmm......I think Cowboy is not good.....but I don't know why."

At this point, I busted out laughing. He sat back down in the foamy water while I explained to him that cowboy was a perfectly acceptable word that he could say any old time he wanted. And then he went on playing with his sea animals.

I'm not really sure what inspired him to stand up and recite all of the words that his short little history has taught him get him a good finger pointing or a lengthy time out. But whatever spurred it on, it gave me a hearty laugh on an otherwise boring evening of watching Aladdin 4 times in a row.

After this exchange, I began thinking about the bad words. There are obvious ones...ones that I was brought up never to say, yet somehow they creep into my blog from time to time. But then there are the words that you don't realize are bad until you find yourself in the depths of their clutches. Words like defeat.....shame......hopelessness....and the one that I have been held captive by recently, obligation.

And then, as I have up to this point only painfully experienced, there is Obligation's more well dressed twin: Marriage.

About 6 years ago I entered into a legally and, what I believed to be a spiritually binding contractual agreement with The One. We got married. And then, for nearly the next 4 years, we, the sickly, ill-equipped pair of us, did everything in our power to suck every ounce of joy out of marriage that we possibly could, until all that was left was Obligation. And then, not even Obligation was a strong enough glue to seal the cracks within our union. And in the space of a couple of hours, life was thrown into an empty suitcase and The One became The First One....known to you as Ex. A mistake? Hard to say. A learning experience? Definitely. Crushingly painful both before and after that suitcase filled up? Ummm....yeah.

THEN.....after dating a bunch of free dinners, a couple of really nice guys that I treated like disposable contact lenses (ahem...sorry about that Super Man), and one REALLY BIG LOSER, I fell in love again. Recklessly, and wildly in love. In love so much so that I ignored, and, might I add, even obliterated EVERY SINGLE RED FLAG (and believe me there were MANY) waving insanely in my face, because it felt

so damn good to no longer feel like my insides were dying from the weight of crushing pain.
So I did the thing that seemed the most logical in my warped brain....I stood up on a hill and legally OBLIGATED myself to The One. It seemed like the only way to ensure immunity from the crushing pain of heartbreak and failure that I had experienced from the person who had previously proclaimed love for me.
However, we all know how the story goes. It was mere months into this fresh union that I looked at The One and thought, "I don't like you." It wasn't because I can't commit. It wasn't because I am even bad at the basics of marriage. In fact, and I know this sounds somewhat insane coming from the fingertips of the woman who has been divorced twice, but I would venture to say that I am a GOOD WIFE. It wasn't any of that.
It was because I slipped out of the reckless throws of passion as easily as I slipped into them...and found myself in the death grip of obligation. And this time, I was obligated to someone who exhibited VERY FEW redeeming qualities....qualities such as mutual respect and general regard for others that make obligation livable, if not enjoyable. I stayed for many months after my family started saying things like, "How long exactly are you going to live like this?" I stayed, because of a bad word...because I was obligated to stay....obligated to give it a fair shake....to hope for the best.....to do something besides tuck tail and run.
So all of this to say, obligation has left a bad taste in my mouth. And now, like "cowboy" it has made it to the list of bad words....even if I'm not quite sure it actually is one. When we begin to do things out of obligation as opposed to a genuine desire to serve someone else, or uphold the commitments that are so important to our integrity, WHY ARE WE REALLY DOING IT? In marriage, I have learned, that the place where you begin to continually function, day in and day out, solely because you obligated yourself to do so, is also the location of a very fine line. It's the line between the dreams you allowed yourself to have with your partner, and the possibilities that you begin to see you could have without them. A scary place to find yourself, to say the least, because once you have reached this very fine line, the life on either side of the crevice seems to leave something within you vaguely unsatisfied. I know this...because I have now fallen on both sides.
So the question becomes, at what point are you free from Obligation? At what point, after being introduced to the clammy hand of Obligation grasping your life, are you allowed to walk down the path that you willingly chose, with some degree of resolve about choosing it? For months in my second marriage, I struggled with this question. But as it turns out, there is a force out there that is stronger than Obligation. And at just the right moment that force, Self Respect, came seemingly from out of nowhere.
For me, Self Respect showed up just as the chewing tobacco can was whizzing past my face, hurled at my by The One.....who henceforth will be The One Who Shall No Longer Be Named. And in that instance, just after I got chewing tobacco in my eye...but just before The One Who Shall No Longer Be Named attempted repeatedly to bar my exit from my home, Self Respect kicked Obligation's sorry little (bad word alert!) ass....and I landed solidly on the side of the fence where possibilities run rampant.
I guess if it took two failed marriages for Self Respect to finally show up, then we can call it good. However, I can't help thinking that it would have been so much more convenient if Self Respect had also practiced punctuality, but I'm clinging to the belief that lessons learned will continually cancel out mistakes made.
Regardless of the pain and the shame, and regardless of the fact that Obligation has been my bedmate for many years now, Self Respect is decidedly the companion that I wish to invite along for this journey. This journey into, what can only be described as a
very good word...
the possibilities.
(Now if something will just come along and kick the ass of Impulsivity, I think my family and friends will rest a bit easier and be less likely to kill me.)