Same job, different uniform.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Fly Your Freak Flag

We're ringing in the new year at girlfriday by launching this open thread.

What plagues you?

You know. Those internal conversations you've been having all your life.

You've got 'em, and, hey, so do I. Demons. Private pains. Secret fears. Counter-intuitively, we discover that when we say them out loud we find out we're not the only freaks on this terrestrial globe.

JEB started it.
I'll go next.

Guilt and fear: constant companions these 31 years, with varying degrees of strength. Fear of failure (getting it wrong, facing God's judgement, disappointing friends and family) tops the list.

Your turn.
Don't be ashamed.

Happy New Year. Fellow freak.

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Whenever I say your name, let there be no mistake
that day will last forever

For thinking, for humming, for singing to yourself about God.
Courtesy of those great theologians Mary J. Blige and Sting.*

Whenever I say your name, whenever I call to mind your face
Whatever bread's in my mouth, whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Whenever your memory feeds my soul, whatever got broken becomes whole
Whenever I'm filled with doubts that we will be together

Wherever I lay me down, wherever I put my head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I kneel to pray, whenever I need to find a way
I'm calling out your name

Whenever those dark clouds hide the moon
Whenever this world has gotten so strange
I know that something's gonna change
Something's gonna change

Whenever I say your name, I'm already praying,
I'm already filled with a joy that I can't explain
Wherever I lay me down, wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I'm on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I'm already praying

Whenever this world has got me down, whenever I shed a tear
Whenever the TV makes me mad, whenever I'm paralyzed with fear
Whenever those dark clouds fill the sky, whenever I lose the reason why
Whenever I'm filled with doubts that we will be together

Whenever the sun refuse to shine, whenever the skies are pouring rain
Whatever I lost I thought was mine whenever I close my eyes in pain
Whenever I kneel to pray, whenever I need to find a way
I'm calling out your name

Whenever this dark begins to fall
Whenever I'm vulnerable and small
Whenever I feel like I could die
Whenever I'm holding back the tears that I cry

Whenever I say your name,
No matter how long it takes,
One day we'll be together

Whenever I say your name,
let there be no mistake
that day will last forever

*This version stinks. Buy the real thing for 99c on iTunes. It's a thing of beauty.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

An Open Letter to My Husband

Dear One,

There's no need to review the grim circumstances of last night. We both know what happened.

I suppose it was inevitable, but I had begun to hope we'd never have to go through this. Now we have, and nothing will ever be the same.

With no small amount of anxiety, I look to you to perform the solemn duty of protector.

If you're willing and able to make it so--alas I cannot help at all!--this will be an isolated incident. A dirty chapter in the otherwise happy story we're writing here.

With all the vigor and energy you can muster, defend me! If you suspect anything, suppress your suspcisions. Avert my eyes. Discard the evidence. Trap, kill, bury, poison. Leave no stone unturned, no garbage bin unsealed, no corner neglected in your battle to keep the horrid little rodents away!

If you love me, I will never dig through another garbage can where a bundle of frozen fur lies inert at the bottom.

If you love me, you will do this for me.

Your own otherwise fearless,

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Friday, December 21, 2007

On Faith

As long as I've been a born again Christian I have thought faith was believeing in God. Which I do. It's not that hard. I mean, really, there are not many Christopher Hitchens out there, are there? I don't think I can name anyone off the top of my head that I know, who believes, as the American Atheists do that "nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units." Arguably, I think, most people believe there is a God. Maybe they don't believe in the Trinity, or the resurrection, but probably most humans the world over believe in some entity with a force beyond nature who exerts some sort of otherworldly power at will.

So then true faith is beyond that. It is believing that God will do what he says he will do. It is believing that he is good. That his purposes are good. That he will protect you. And that is a much harder beast to wrestle to the ground.

The other morning, out in the dark cold, playing with my dog and saying prayers, asking God to give me the strength to be the better person I don't want to be, to give me the grace to let go of bitterness, to protect my children, to give me the wisdom to raise them to be loving men and warriors besides, it occurred to me that I do not have that kind of faith.

I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ. I accept him as my Saviour. And there are some things that I can and do release right up to him. But there are quite a few I do not.

Though I think I hide it well, I do not let go of bitterness easily. I can go around muttering under my breath about personal slights or injuries for YEARS. I believe God gives wisdom, but you have to be receptive and I'm not. My own will and desires carry too much weight.

But the biggest struggle I have is believing that God is always going to protect my children. They are healthy, happy little boys. They don't want for anything. They are surrounded almost daily, and I mean literally, by loving family and friends. But there are many, many, many children who it seems were thrust out into this world without even the barest protection and no love at all. And I wonder: "Why are mine so blessed?" The blessings God has showered on my own children shakes my faith in his goodness because it seems so random and I wonder if it will end for them and how.

I know in my head that I need to let this go. I should stop worrying if the baseball bat under our bed would be easy to grab and wield should someone break into our home. I should be okay with sleeping with our door closed and not worrying if the dog can see the top of the stairs and how fast she could make it to an intruder before he entered my kids' rooms.

So, while I have faith that there IS a God who is part of the Trinity and who died for my sins and who loves me, I do not yet have faith IN him. I am guessing now that only prayer will get me to this point. I have thus far not managed it on my own. I want to feel that joy that can come without happiness. I want it to be well with my soul.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Join the Rebellion

Because girlfriday loves my shameless here.


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Monday, December 17, 2007


Exactly what message is the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" supposed to be sending to believing children?

"So, basically you're Mom's a ho and Santa's a homewrecker. Merry Christmas, kid."


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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Off to Boise


Christmas party. Huge success. Pictures to come.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Very Merry Unbirthday To You!

I'm going to convince Jane to do this for her 5th birthday.

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Music and Movies

Does the name Sondre Lerche mean anything to anyone except those of us who were lent his CDs or drink Starbucks coffee?

At any rate, I suspect this article, written, it appears, by Adam Sandler (but not that one), will appeal to only a few of you.

But we all know what they're talking about: how music is changing movies. I remember a couple years ago the VT Mrs. wrote a guest article here about Elizabethtown. While Cameron Crowe's music isn't usually original to the soundtrack, he still uses it in a powerful way, making it part of the storytelling.

Or something like that. This article says it better.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Full belly, warm slippers, funny dog, nothing to do that I don't want to do.

Evenings are the time I experience to the fullest degree that I live a life of abundance.

I hope I make it count.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Pick Your Poison

If you had choose your menace, which would it be:



or Werewolf?

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

An offer I couldn't refuse

I had an overnight babysitting gig last night with a three-year-old boy (we'll call him Jeff, the name of his favorite Wiggle) and his two-year-old sister. I brought a few of my Christmas CDs over and told Jeff he could listen to A Charlie Brown Christmas as he fell asleep. Listening through the monitor upstairs, I heard him carry on a fictitious conversation with his mom explaining to her that I let him borrow one of my CDs so he should let me borrow one. He has 30 of them, he said, the highest number he can currently count to.

When he awoke this morning, he promptly ran to the living room, pulled out his CD wallet and handed me The Wiggles Toot Toot album.

The exchange will last until I babysit him on Thursday and we return the CDs to their rightful owners.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

This is a First

We just returned from dinner and a movie.

At the stop light, while we waited for an endless train, I glanced at the temperature gauge:


I let that sink in for a half a moment, then said, "Negative Two. I think this is the first time I've ever been in negative two weather."

This image here: this is what you wear in a fake winter.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Oh my gosh!

Will Elizabeth end up with Mr. Darcy?

What happens to the Family Robinson?

Will Middle Earth survive?

Do the children conquer the White Witch?

I Am Legend is a book, people. If they want to know the ending, they can read the book.

Don't wait for the movie, as the song goes.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Hat tip Friday

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Beyond Kindness

Isn't God like a tazer sometimes? Or, if you don't believe in God, think of the people who love you, the ones who would risk their reputation, their career--or much more--to protect you from your worst enemy.


Drunk, half-crazed with grief, this man had a knife to his throat. And this officer* tazered him, talked him down, saved his life.

Thank God for Himself, and for people who know it's their duty to hurt you a little to help you a lot.

*brother of a friend. She sent it to me

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Don't want to make a big deal of it, but...

Sometimes, we speak past each other. In making our points, we hear, incompletely, what the other person was saying before we spoke, and we only catch the part of the response that lines up with our predispositions or the most defensible portion of our arguments. And so we talk without communicating, a blaze of sound and fury signifying nothing.

I have always wanted to use that phrase, by the by.

But there is a deeper form of speaking past one another that comes from an inability or unwillingness to examine an issue from the perspective of the other person. In so doing, we utterly invalidate their thinking; we do not accept it as a perspective that bears consideration. Now, while I can understand a blanket unwillingness to consider the viewpoint of, say, Holocaust apologists or deniers, the idea that the concerns of honest, committed, caring individuals should be ignored or marginalized because we do not want to argue on their turf is, I believe, indefensible.

What is wrong with a pro-choice woman being willing to argue the question of abortion from the viewpoint of morality, of higher value? Obviously, the answers we uncover have effects on society as a whole, and whether is more or less humane and livable. Likewise, I find it absolutely reasonable to examine the issue from the perspective of individual women in deep distress and pain, who are searching for a way to move beyond the present circumstances into lives of promise and meaning. I believe the issue, as abstract and individual-specific as we might care to talk it through, deserves more concentrated and honest discussion than we usually are willing to give it. We know the arguments on a basic level; we also know the ways we dismiss those with whom we virulently disagree. Neither does us any damn good at all.

I stepped into that pit to point out that middle ground exists, or, at the very least, that there is room for conversation. On one hand, I am sure I was dismissed as either naive or insufficiently willing to understand that women get hurt when abortions are illegal. And they do, mostly because, desperately, they seek to change their circumstances however they can. On the other hand, I discovered that my dear friend girlfriday is entirely aware of BOTH sides of the question. I can attest to her intelligence, her humanity, and her empathy. I can also say, without equivocation, that having deeply understood the issue from any angle you might be willing to toss in, she has concluded, in her mind and heart, that abortion is not merely a bad choice; it is wrong.

She does not demonize those women who have chosen to abort. I do not believe she is capable of it. But she also believes, I think correctly, that women must take full responsibility for their choices, and that it is irresponsible to have sex without taking precautions if the intent is NOT to get pregnant. And as I read her, a woman's choice of abortion, even within the context of dire circumstances, is more deeply harmful to her in an emotional and spiritual sense than carrying the child to term would be. These are, I believe, honest and entirely defensible viewpoints.

I guess my larger point within the context of my endless series of digressions is simple willingness to admit that the other side might have a valid point or two. It happens. And if we do not see that, we fall victim to a form of hubris that is as arrogant as it is wrongheaded.

Worse, there is this: we all have someone in our life who is a pompous, ignorant know-it-all. We all know some jackass who bloviates to frightening degrees about things of which he is only tangentially aware, and whom, if possible, we would like to send far, far away. Well. Given the people you interact with on a day to day basis and the circles within which you operate, the chances are excellent to prohibitive that, for someone you know, you are that jackass.

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