Monday, May 30, 2011

Being Anne

I wanted to be Anne.  I wanted to see the world through Raspberry Cordial and flaming orange braids.  I wanted to plow fields with Matthew and carry a cardboard suitcase and collect eggs for Marilla.  I longed for the red sands of Prince Edward Island and the romance of Avonlea.  I wanted a bosom friend, a kindred spirit and a Gilbert of my very own.  I wanted to live within the pages of Montgomery, hearing the 1908 scratch of quill on paper as she penned the words in the twilight hours, overlooking the meadows of Cavendish.  I wanted to be Anne with an 'E' because that was so much more dignified.

Hours of my childhood, tucked into the cozy nook of family, listening to the soft voice of my mother or the expressive timbre of my father - chapter after chapter with a daily chorus of 'please, just one more?'  And riding the ferry to the Island and standing on that green, green lawn and gazing upon the same green gables that inspired a story and touching the flowered wallpaper that she touched and it was perfect and beautiful.

And when she's old enough, I'll curl Noa into myself and we'll huddle under a quilt on the back porch and turn the pages and read the charming words that will make her wish for red hair and freckles and a dear friend like Dianna.

And when the boys run wild through grandpa's field, throwing sticks and chasing bugs I like to imagine them in suspenders and trousers and corduroy hats because it's somehow pure and delightful - that world without Pokemon or Playstation.

And when he comes in from the cold and slips those chilling fingers up the back of my shirt as I stand at the sink and I scream and he laughs I think, there he is.  There is my Gilbert.  Dipping my braids into the ink bottle.  Just because he loves me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Isn't Love Enough?

How do you walk away from more than thirty years?  How does that moment fall?  That instant when you firmly decide you're through with it all.  That all those good times - laughter, kisses, memories - are worth nothing, shadowed by dementia and aged eccentricities.  How can it come to that?

I am angry.

My heart hurts.

Has it really been so long since I've seen him?  That moment when I walked through the field, burdened heavy with unborn Liam, picking through thistles and daisies to where he lay on an old hay wagon - unmoving - my heart in my throat thinking he'd wandered out there alone to die.  And the relief, oh the relief that coursed through me when he stirred and pulled himself to sitting - I could hardly breath because of that relief - and he smiled that smile that cracked around his eyes and called me Sweet Girl and held my arm as we walked back together.  Has it really been so long?

And now, perched in the west, not knowing what day it is, he's telling the same story five times because he thinks it's fresh.  And she's leaving.  Leaving in the moment that it seems he needs her most.  Who will give him his medicine?  Who will sit beside him when he's ready to go home?  Will it be a ripe new hurt every day when his daughter has to tell him she's left?

I can't begin to know what it's like.  To watch the man you've loved shrink from vibrancy to dependancy.  To watch him loose zest.  To watch pieces of his mind fall to the ground - refuse of life.  But he still loves.  Can't that be enough?

I need it to be enough.  

Is that why her wedding dress was blue?  Because someday it would come to this sadness?  This abandonment?  This giving up that only looks like selfishness?

He stood by the first while cancer stole her from him.  Now who will stand by him when his own mind won't?

This is for better or for worse twisted into an ugly lie.

I am angry.

My heart hurts.

Dear HMC Youth

Listen, it's after midnight - that's how much I love you.

I missed The Office.  And Parks & Recreation.  And 30 Rock.  That's how much I love you.

I just gave you eight hours of my bug-eyed attention so that you can show up tomorrow night and watch a video about your long weekend.  That's how much I love you.

And that picture was taken two hours ago.  Just think how much more tired I am now.

Because I love you so much.

And my ears are aching because I had to wear headphones so the soundtrack wouldn't disturb my sleeping house.  What?  Toby Mac doesn't lullaby?  No, he doesn't.  Sorry.  That's how much I love you.

This is not me complaining.  This is me telling you that I love you.  That is all.  It's all for you.

Here's a tease:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Love Letter

It comes right when you need it.  Grace.  Comes like a warm rain that leaks down my cheeks as I sit on the porch swing and read the card my mother snail-mailed me.

And I know this is private and only meant for me but it's kind of refreshing to know that I still need those words of affirmation from my mother.  It still means worlds to me to know I make her proud.  And it helps me to think that when I blink and my kids are grown and gone they'll still need me too.

This morning I crawled into the tiny toddler bed beside Noa and squeezed her against me.  She hugged my neck and in her sleepy sweetness said, "I dot ya, Mummy!"
"I got you too, Noa.  Never grow up, okay?"
"O-tay, Mummy.  I won't."
"You funny!"

And she will grow up.  And she'll love me and she'll hate me and she'll call me to ask how to cook the chicken and I will always and forever be her mother and hopefully I'll be able to tell her how proud I am.  I'll send her a letter the old fashioned way and she'll cry on her own back porch amazed that someone could ever love her so much.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Being Extraordinary

Life gets to a point where everything is reduced to Mommy Do.  Breakfast.  Lunches.  Dinner.  Toilets.  I had lost myself, drowning in the ordinary every day and missing colour.  Because it was there.  COLOUR.  I just wasn't seeing it past the pile of dirty dishes in the sink or the laundry I didn't have time to do or that spot by the fridge where my sock stuck to the floor because Liam spilled the juice when he thought he was big enough to pour his own.

When I started writing it down it was more for the discipline of writing than because I thought I had anything worth saying but, in taking that moment to record a moment, something beautiful began to happen.  I began to see.  Really see.  I live an extraordinary life, so saturated in colour that it strains the lines and drips rainbow dollops of dye onto anyone that gets close enough to care.  What I was mistaking for dull was just a misunderstanding - a temporary blindness.  Because behind it all I'm living in this little house bursting with love and laughter and frustrations and LIFE and to anyone looking in this is a thing to be coveted.

When she sat across the table from me and asked me why I put it all out there this was my answer:  Because every drowning woman needs to take a moment and come up for air and look at what surrounds her and thank God that she is so lucky.  There will never be enough time in the day to get it all done - to have a spotless house and make sure the kids don't have chocolate on their chins before you go to the grocery store - but there is time for thankfulness and for remembering and for reminding yourself that you are anything but ordinary in the midst of what feels like anything but extraordinary.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Castrate the Pickup

He appeared in my rearview, a roaring black monster of chrome and fresh-washed paint, gunning near my bumper while I mumbled something to the radio about over-compensation.  At the first opportunity he flew past me, dragon wings slapping me in a powerful rip-wind that buffed and knocked, gliding back across the solid yellow with strange, masculine grace and shooting down Highway 6 - a violent shadow disappearing over the Allan Park hill.  But not before I saw his business.  And by his business I mean the testicles that hung from the trailer hitch, bouncing in spring winds and potholes as he bee-lined from my offense.

I think I have a good, well-rounded sense of humor.  I enjoy irony and sarcasm and witty banter.  This is tasteless and revolting.  Has a woman ever stuck plastic breasts to her Volvo's headlights?

Part of me wanted to follow him home.  Know where he tucked his token manhood to sleep.  Sneak back at night in full ninja gear and jackknife and castrate that poor truck right there in his driveway.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Evfur an Evfur

that microphone was the best $1 Aunt Heidi ever spent!
She is he and me rolled into a beautiful flower of mischief and precocious magic.  When she dances the kitchen linoleum might as well be a ballroom floor and her torn overalls might as well be a princess dress as she twirls with silly grace and giggles.  She holds the pink sparkly Dollorama microphone against her lips and paces from living room to entryway and back again.  "Sfinkol, sfinkol wittol tawr, uptabuva wurd so hi," or "Tum on Bawrbee, wets dough pawtee - o, o, ooo, yeah!"  And never has Twinkle Twinkle shone so bright or Aqua performed Barbie Girl with more passion.  And when she squeezes my neck and pats my hair and says, "you be my gurl!" I am a puddle and she owns me.  "I not beebee, I wittol gurl."

"How much do you love me, Noa?"
"I yuv you two minutes, mummy."  Hug.  Kiss.  "You be my gurl.  Evfur an evfur."

As if I could argue with that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nothing To Get Hung About

I just can't wrap my mind around it.  Men on their knees.  Women bent over the WeedHound they bought online.  They are intentional and dedicated to green.

You know what I'm intentional and dedicated to?  Dandelions.  Little discs of sunshine.  Wee dollops of chaos.  Sweet lollipops of warm breeze joy.  And you know which house I live in?  THE ONE SURROUNDED IN DANDELIONS!  Let me take you down to dandelion fields.  Let me show you how to make a chain with their stems.  Let's make it long enough to string the whole house with garland.  Let's lay down amoung them and not care about staining our clothes.  Let's "Momma had a baby and her head popped off."  Let's blow the seeds onto the neighbours immaculate green and start pickets for the Yellow Party.  Let's play.  Let's not worry about what doesn't warrant worry.  Let's embrace them for what they are: Irish daisies, granters of wishes, healers of dullness...

Far and wide, hear the call:


Monday, May 16, 2011

Massacre at 212 Queen Street

I told you about The First One.  It's violent death amoung the coffee grinds.  My absolute lack of remorse.  My horror at becoming one of those homes...infested.

Let me begin my saying this:  Rats are evil incarnate.  They are the cold fingers on the back of my neck.  They are the shiver of disgust when I see that thick, naked tail, slipping through the hole beneath my sink.  I do not accept them as part of God's plan and I believe in the complete annihilation of the entire demonic race.

Dear Animal Rights Activists, I dare you to challenge me!

There is no sweetness in ink black eyes, nor beauty in pointed noses and squirrelly talons.  No grace in matted fur nor manners in garbage can theft.  They are ugly and bold and absolutely expendable.

And we have knowingly murdered twelve since that first day.  Twelve rodents who have met timely ends beneath the kitchen sink.  Spines crushed.  Heads crushed.  Yellow teeth frozen in a forever grin of 'at least I got to taste your pot roast, lady!'

When our phones stopped working we were sure they had chewed through the wires.  Worse was to discover that they had peed all over the box and shorted it out.  God bless the poor Eastlink man who had to journey into our dungeon and fix it.  I'm sure he went home and showered until he was raw.
Twenty dollars worth of poison.  Scott manned up and took it down himself (and I'm sure it was all he could do to keep from sobbing) and spread all of it through the crawl space before terror could force him back into the light.

That was five days ago.  I haven't heard a rustle for twenty-four hours.

Now, I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch but I kind of feel like cock-a-doodle-do-ing.  We're winning this war.  Reclaiming our home.  Sending those beasts straight back to where they came from - birthed in the womb of hell.

And yes, I'll dance on their graves.  To Motorhead.  And I'll love it.

Take this as a lesson.  Never pee on my phone box!

 More rat stories?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Day Four

One guitar.  One keyboard.  One djembe.  One shaker.  Five voices.  Inspired words.  What a beautiful thing. 
Emotions were thick in the little chapel - lights dim, instruments on the floor, nerves highened and then calm as practicum became something real...
I leave, overwhelmed with information.  But encouraged. 
I did it.
I’m better.
Change is coming...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day Three

We’re in it now.  I haven’t written by hand so much since highschool.  My pages are covered in notes and ideas and tidbits of wisdom I couldn’t let escape into the next thought that falls on us like unrelenting rain.  BE THE CHANGE.  A MIST IN THE PULPIT IS A FOG IN THE PEW.  IT’S NOT JUST ANOTHER SUNDAY.  GET OUT OF THE BOX!  PLAN DILLIGENTLY BUT HOLD IT LOSELY.  SING FROM THE HEART, NOT FROM THE CHART.  Books to read (on top of the already assigned reading):  “The Hole in our Gospel”, “Valley of Vision”, “It’s Not About Me”,  “Unlimiting God”, “A Heart Exposed”.  MAKE WORSHIPPERS OUT OF REBELS.  Ensure the following are requested in next years budget: DB 90, in-ear monitors.  Check out the following: Dancing Guy on YouTube.  YOUTUBE IS YOUR DEAREST FRIEND - USE IT OFTEN, USE IT WELL.  COMPLEXITY BREEDS COMPLEXITY.  TESTED, TIMELY, TIMELESS. 
An extra two hours after class to work on the practicum.  I’m lucky I like these people.
We eat late.  Kelsey’s.  We deserve it.
Back to ugly rooms.  Pajamas.  Finish Ted Dekker.  Begin James Rollins.  Lights out before ten-thirty.
And breathe.  

See the splash of red shadow my alarm clock paints across my quilt.  Hear sweet Angela beside me as she sings through our practicum - voice soft and airy and hidden from us in rehearsal...beautiful one, I adore...
Lullably to a sleepy head.  
One more day to go.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day Two

I’m easing in.  One of the things I loved about an old favorite teacher was his posture - his humble really-I’m-just-like-you attitude.  That’s how I’d describe Dr. Jody Cross.  He speaks to us, not above us.  He has a casual gentleness about him that makes it easy to listen and absorb information.  And with the heavy theology study out of the way we get to the dirt and this is where I am being filled.  This is where I sense change.  This is where I begin to say, okay, I get it, I see why I am here.  
He enters with a backpack slung over his shoulder, half a bag of microwave popcorn, jeans.  We talk of planning, preparation, prayer.  His authentic passion is inspiring.  And terrifying.  How am I ever going to make these changes?  How will I ever get from A to B?  How could there possibly be two more days of this much more information?  
My brain is melting.
A whole semester crammed into four days.
Who’s idea was this anyway?
Work has begun on the group practicum.  I love my group.  All women.  All sweet.  All feeling as insecure and inadequte as myself and there’s something beautiful in that symmertry.  
A movie theatre dinner and a big screen distraction to rest our brains. 
And back to the dorm.  To the ugly walls.  To the plastic mattress.  To the leaking tap and ticking baseboards.  I can’t imagine that people really call this place home for years.  
I miss my kitchen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day One

Next door, the eccentric hippie has already fallen asleep - so sweet in her abundance of middle-age strangeness; dreaming of new pathways to add to her backyard, surrounded in the beauty she brought from home - it’s like a fairytale cottage in there, fresh flowers and baskets and bistro chairs.  It never occurred to me to pack beauty along with my shampoo and I stare sadly at these scarred, bare walls and miss the chaos of the they-just-went-to-bed-and-left-their-clothes-all-over-the-place living room.  But in the same breath, I don’t.  Here there is no constant nagging need, no whine, no dishes.  And no goodnight hug - stolen or otherwise.  I am first a mom.  Always.  It’s clearer here.
So, I’ve survived my first day of classes.  Eight intensive hours and I’m left feeling less equipped than when I started.  Overwhelmed by the task of ‘worship leader’ and the three more days I have before me.  The class is small - only nine of us - with a lot of pressure to contribute.  I am not a contributor.  I am a slow processor.  I want to ruminate.  I want to sit quietly and listen.  I am far removed from my comfort zone.
I’m in the basement - a cell block of women in the same class.  Someone’s playing the piano and singing and it’s beautiful and lonely.  I’ve kept my door open so I can listen.  The carpet’s clean.  The furniture is scarred.  The air is stuffy - my window has been painted shut - but it’s warm and grandma’s quilt makes it feel a little bit like home.  I’m full from a lovely dinner of chicken and storytelling with my partner in crime.  Exhausted from what I’m not used to.
And now I have a two hour, UNINTERRUPTED date with Ted Dekker and that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing! 
I was that second bottom window to the left of the middle entrance doors, Lehman Hall Rm 8

To School

I am a college student.  For the next four days.  No kids.  No husband.  No laundry.  And I'm slightly terrified.

But what scares me most is the state of the toilets when I get home.

Thank goodness I'll be there with a friend.  We'll tackle this beast together.  With a butt load of coffee.  And laughter.  And it will be like a vacation.  A vacation piled in assigned readings and we-probably-should-do-them papers and satisfaction because we're both over-achievers.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Death of Evil

It feels like grief.  This joy over the death of evil.  Seeing spontaneous cheering crowds.  Drunk college kids punching the sky, elating into the night.  New York firemen, wiping tears and speaking of closure, standing on the stage from which a near decade of pain has radiated.  Mothers holding photographs, speaking of hell, speaking of peace, speaking of gratitude.  Soldiers waving flags upon an American overpass.  "We did it!"  VICTORY.

But at what cost?

The dust settles and there he is.  Ugly in all his hate.  Ugly in philosophy.  Ugly in his humanity.  Alien.  Dead.  And we dance on his grave.  But, in celebrating his murder, don't we loose just a little bit of our own humanity?

And this is where I find my grief.  Bubbling up from the deep, leaking around my lashes as I sit at the breakfast table, coffee tasting like dust, stomach rolling around like sickness, heart cracking for a world bent on blood - for the producer already deciding between Nicolas Cage or Daniel Craig as the assault leader, for the school children who, today, will finger-paint war in colours of sunshine, for the newest hate that has, without a doubt, already taken his place on the iron throne of atrocity, for his mother...

And I have nothing left but a lingering dream of the world John Lennon sketched through lyric and piano and I will cling to that like a life preserver - an optimistic buoyancy - as we struggle to stay afloat in this violent ocean of war.