Monday, February 28, 2011

Not Quite As Befuddled

Today I have no snark, or dry-wit, or pictures of me in horrible 80’s fashion.  I want to follow up on a post I wrote several months ago.  I don’t know if any one cares about this, but it is important and cathartic for me to write it.

It took me a LONG time to find God.

As a child, I was brought up in the Christian Science church (sans the whole "not going to doctors" thing.)  I stopped going when I was 13 or 14.  I didn’t get it.  I went to Sunday school, but I couldn’t make any sort of link between the Bible stories we learned and faith.  I figured that if there even was some sort of higher being, there was no way any one person could know for sure. 

By the time I moved to Minnesota this belief was firmly planted in my mind.  I joined a Unitarian church, as a place where I could just explore ideas of faith and goodness without having to adhere to any particular religion. 

For what it’s worth, the Unitarian church was good for me.  It was the first step out of cynicism and towards exploring other options.  But I staunchly refused to believe in a Christian God, or any deity for that matter.  Husband and I were married in the Unitarian church. Though there were many references to love and fate at my wedding ceremony, I made sure they didn’t use the word God.

I regret that now.

My life had many ups and downs in the following years.  Moves. Graduation. Pregnancies. Children. Depression.

After having my first child, depression was a shadow always lurking over my shoulder, ready to envelope me at any moment.  Sometimes it did.  It took 2 1/2 years for a proper diagnosis of bipolar depression, and proper medication. 

I was thankful for medication. The mood stabalizers helped more than any antidepressant did.  

But, as is inherent in the condition, there would still be occasional bouts of depression and mania.  And eventually, though I knew the medication helped incredibly, I needed something more to believe in than medication.  Something stronger than medication, to help hold me up. 

I knew it was probably God.  But I didn’t know how to look, and I was still had some disparagement. 

Still, walking into a building of worship is at least one way to start, so that’s what I did.  It is incredibly uncomfortable to walk into a church all alone when you don’t know any one, AND you aren’t sure you’re a part of that religion at all.  It was like everybody was already part of the club, and no one was really going out of their way to show you how to join, much less provide a forum where you could dissent and discover.  I tried several churches, but couldn’t stick around.  I wasn’t part of the club and I didn’t have the secret password.

I was ready to give up.  I knew there was a void in my life, but I started to believe there was nowhere I could fit in.  Maybe I just had to soldier on alone.

Around Thanksgiving something changed.  My cousin and her new husband showed up for the holiday.  Her husband is a pastor at the Vineyard Church.  He was so open to talking about religion, even though I had questions and doubts.  It was enough to encourage me to take one more shot at this church thing.

So the following Sunday, I went to the Vineyard Church in my city.  I have never felt so welcomed by a group of people I didn’t know in all my life.  The congrigation was small, but before I sat down, half of them had introduced themselves to me and had a short conversation.

As the sermon started, I felt so lost, and so tired. But the sermon was awesome.  At least, the sermon combined with a genuine warm welcome was enough to keep me going back.

I've been going regularly since December, and Husband since January.  It has been so good for our lives.  I am still breaking down a lot of the walls I built up over the years, but this is a safe place to do so.

I can't thank my readers, especially my cousin and her husband, for encouraging me along this journey. This might not work for others, but it's working for me.

I don't feel quite so alone and befuddled anymore.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maybe The Sandman Is Hiding Out At A Baitshop. That Lazy Bastard.

When I was fairly young, my family used to go to the video rental store (which also doubled as a bait shop) on Friday nights to rent movies.  Why yes, I’m old AND from from the sticks.

In addition to the movie, I got to rent a video game for our Atari, and later on, Nintendo game system.  No, not Super Nintendo. No, not Nintendo 64 (Hmmm...I just seem to be aging myself further, here.)  Nintendo.  And Atari.

 If you guessed the blobs were malignant tumors, you'd be almost right.

One of my fondest memories (besides the strange olfactory combination of electronics and fish), is waking up at 6:00 Saturday and Sunday mornings, and having the video game all to myself for a couple hours.  Even then, the quiet of the house in the morning before the other inhabitants awoke, was blissful.

That’s right. I used to be a morning person.  A REAL morning person.  At every sleepover party, I was the kid up at six am, talking to some one’s poor haggard mother while all the other girls slept until ten in the morning.  I had trouble waiting until an appropriate hour to run over to Best Friend’s house to play every day.  I saw the sun rise on a regular basis, for no reason at all.

Fast forward ten years, and things started to change.  Every sixteen year old can sleep in, at least until 9:00, without too much effort. 

And by the time I got to college, I was a normal human being.  I had to set the alarm to be up before 8:00 am.  And I could nap - anywhere and everywhere.  The rules of napping in public don’t seem to apply to college students, at least not in my college town.

If they didn’t want people sleeping in their shops, they should 
take away the comfy armchairs and anything decaf.

All of this just to say, Toddler doesn’t sleep any more.  She used to sleep through the night, maybe waking up for a bottle if she wasn’t feeling so good, or if she failed to eat her bedtime snack.

But since she started getting her molars, she’s been up several times a night, usually insisting on a sippy cup of milk before going back down.  And by insisting, I mean screaming.  No, making that SCREAMING.

Worst part is, though this has been going on for a month or two, there’s no end in sight.  Homegirl is the slowest teether ever.  Seriously, she’s eighteen months, and only has nine teeth.

We’ve tried replacing milk in the sippy with water, and good old “cry-it-out.”  All this results in nothing but night after night of screaming so loud it wakes up the entire household.

So, faithful readers, any suggestions?  Because the Sandman has gon' fishin' and doesn’t seem to be returning any time soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'd Read Her War And Peace, But There Aren't Enough Pictures Of Ambulances

As of late, Preschooler’s bedtime story of choice is Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.

The bad part of this book is that every single picture is labeled, resulting in a book with a word count rivaling War and Peace.

The good part of this book is that I don’t have to actually read any of those words, because all Preschooler wants to do is find Goldbug on each page.  Thus, things move rather quickly until we get to the page with the ambulance.

It's on the same page as the hot dog car.

EVERY SINGLE TIME Preschooler sees that ambulance, she and I get to have the following conversation....

.....Mama, remember when you fell down the escalator at the mall and bumped your head and we had to ride in the ambulance so you could go to the doctor and get all better?

Yes, this is apparently going to be my child’s earliest memory.  That fall occurred nearly six months ago, when Preschooler was still technically Toddler, but she still brings it up. Mind like a steel trap, that girl.

Anyhow, seeing as one of my most embarrassing moments is also one of my daughter’s earliest memories, I’m now subconsciously paranoid that EVERY stupid thing I do (and I seem to be pretty adept at doing stupid things) will be recorded in Preschooler’s impressionable mind. 

So, Preschooler, please don’t think less of Mama just because she pulled a Tupperware full of spaghetti sauce out of the freezer only to have it thaw and turn out to be chili instead.  Also, don’t think less of Mama the second time this happens.  Or the third.


Note to self: Chili is not, and will never be, spaghetti sauce.  
Even when it’s that bizarro Cincinnati chili that sits atop a pile of spaghetti noodles.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jane Austin Had Little To Say About Subatomic Particles. Also, Writing Is Hard.

Lately my brain has been as dynamic as a brick electron.*  As a frozen waterfall.  As a corpse at a wake.  That is to say, I’ve got nuthin’.

This has happened before.

For me, writing is like going to the gym.  When you do it every day, you become stronger, toned, more proficient.  Once you stop going, you grow sluggish and unresponsive.  For what it’s worth, I haven’t been at the gym lately either.

It’s been more than writer’s block, although that is playing a part.  Lately I’ve felt compelled to write for the entertainment of others, rather than the entertainment of myself. 

Blogging can be a very egocentric activity.  Unlike a lot of writers, I enjoy reading my own works, mainly because I write about things that are entertaining or insightful to me, without worrying too much about whether others find those things entertaining or insightful as well. 

And when I focus too much on what others find interesting about my writing, I run out of ideas, because I’ve lost sight of what I find to be worthy of writing about.

Another part of this brain freeze is just life.  Toddler is getting her molars, and I spend many a night awake on the couch with a very fussy girl.  I recently realized that when the kids are older and I go back to work, I’ll never feel I made the most of my time as a stay-at-home mom.  Thus, I’ve made a concerted effort to play more with my kids, and find enriching activities for them.  And the piles of dirty dishes and laundry seem to multiply with each passing minute. Long story short, I’ve been busy in addition to uninspired. 

A third issue is current events.  With all the political unrest going on around the world, not to mention my home state, it seems insipid to write about things like sour cream and Cyndi Lauper.  And while part of me would LOVE to hash over these issues, this is not a political blog.

This is not to say I’m taking a break from blogging.  Quite the opposite.  I’ll be posting more often, in effort to prod my lackadaisical brain cells into to their former tone and efficiency.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

*I majored in English literature, not Physics, so this comparison may not be apt.  Jane Austin had little to say about subatomic particles. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spaced Out

I’m no stranger to the pen and paper.  Or keyboard and monitor.  So imagine my surprise when it came to my attention that it is neither appropriate nor necessary to put two spaces between sentences. 

Now, I’m old enough to remember when neat cursive writing in blue or black ink was a viable alternative to typing.  But as long as I’ve been typing, I’ve been typing two spaces after the end of each sentence.  See?  Two spaces.  

The thing is, I don’t recall actually being taught to type two spaces at the end of each sentence.  Some one along the way must have instructed me to do so, or I wouldn’t be doing it. As Steve, a blogger more eloquent than I put it in his post Double spacing between sentences, my early typing lessons probably sounded something like this:

First shalt thou end each sentence with an appropriate punctuation mark. Then, shalt    thou add two, no more, no less, spaces. Two shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the  number of the counting shall be two. Three shalt thou not count, nor either count thou    one, excepting that thou then proceed to two. Four is right out. Once the number two,    being the second number, be reached, then proceedest  thou to begin a subsequent    sentence.

But it doesn't really matter, since no one bothered to correct me along the way.  I earned a B.A. in English and a J.D. all while ending my sentences with two spaces, with nary a word from anybody.

However, apparently every manual of grammar - MLA Style Manual, Chicago Manual of Style, APA Style - all proclaim that you should put just one space between sentences.  Only the MLA is so forgiving as to state, “As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.”


So now I’m left with a couple nagging questions....was I doing it wrong all these years, but no one bothered to tell me?  It would be like the writer’s equivalent of having a piece of food stuck between your teeth.

The larger question, though, is this: why the hell does this ruffle my feathers so?  I doubt any one notices how many spaces I type between sentences, much less cares, other than me, my English professors, and my mother the English teacher (hi, Mom!) 

But it does ruffle my feathers.  I don't like this rule.  And I'm not going to follow it.  Which apparently makes me a rebel.  A grammar rebel.  Who makes up her own rules of grammar, a practice I normally despise.

We have rules of grammar for a reason - standardized grammar makes it possible for every one to read and be understood (at least from a language standpoint.)  I don't care whether some one breaks the rules of grammar in informal writing, such as a blog.  Heck, I readily admit I don't follow all the rules of grammar on this blog.

But the double-space rule is extremely relevant in formal writing, where following the rules of grammar counts the most.   And they changed it.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Failed The Quiz, But I'll Probably Still Get An 'A' For Effort

Preschooler was an early talker.  I was so proud. 

Now it has come to bite me in the ass. I feel like I've been sprung with a pop-quiz.

Question 1: You attempt to telepathically channel the Cheerful Fairy, and give Preschooler her bedtime snack.

You: Let’s go get your snack!

Preschooler: Ok,ok, I’m coming.

Preschooler stares at the snack cupboard for several minutes.

You: Ok, I’ll count down from 10, then choose your snack. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.  Ok, what do you want for a snack?

Preschooler: Just a min-ute.

What do you do?

A) Tell the child, “Either choose now, or no snack.” 

B) Choose the snack for the child.

C) Close the pantry door, explaining that the child had a chance for a snack, but didn’t choose, so she must not be hungry.

D) Nothing. Your head exploded due to the sheer force of unanticipated sass emanating from your once polite Preschooler’s mouth.

The answer is probably not D.  Oops.

Question 2: Your Preschooler is honing her new role as a master tattle-tale. For example:

Preschooler: Mom! Toddler is touching that toy!

You: It’s ok hon, it’s HER toy.

Preschooler: But she’s touching it!

What do you do?

A) Explain, “It’s not nice to tattle.”

B) Remind, “We’re the boss of Toddler, not you.”

C) Blink several times. So what???!!?!

Uh-oh. I don’t think C is necessarily productive.

In my defense, I never gave Preschooler permission to learn how to sass.  Fortunately, these scenarios will replay themselves approximately 64,453 more times.  So I have plenty of opportunities for a re-do.

I'll study harder next time, I promise. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

How Could I NOT Write About Pajama Jeans?!

Ever since I was a teenager, jeans have been the mainstay of my wardrobe.  I wear them everywhere.  Grocery store = jeans.  Office = jeans.  Party = jeans.  The only times I will not wear jeans are at court (something about the idea of competent representation) and weddings (something about not wanting to look like everybody’s redneck cousin.)

My love of jeans is buttressed by my love of yoga pants.  I wear yoga pants while cleaning, lounging around the house, and exercising - pretty much anywhere I can get away with not wearing jeans.

But, I also wear my yoga pants as pajamas.  And the longer I stay at home, the harder it is to walk the line between wearing yoga pants during the day, and just plain staying in my pajamas all day. 

Apparently I’m not the only one with this problem.

Enter....Pajama Jeans!!

Wow, it's jeans and yoga pants all in one!  I’d never have to change my pants again! And for only $39.95? How can I NOT buy these? 

But then....what if their website is internet version of buying jeans out of someone’s trunk? I’d better look for some reviews.

Oh look! Pajama Jeans thought of that too!  They created a website just for reviews of their product!  Annndddd...there’s one review.

Sara says: I don't even own a pair and already I think these are wonderful.WOW!!!”

Thanks Sara, but I feel like I need to get some more information.  I’ll click this link called “contact” to find out how to get in touch with a customer service representative.

Oh dear.  There is no customer service number.  There’s only a mysterious form email.  Who exactly am I contacting here? It probably doesn’t matter.  I’m sure Pajama Jeans, like God, are all-knowing and ever-present.

I guess that settles that.  I’ll just go get my credit card, and....

Wait a minute!  Why should I pay $39.95 for Pajama Jeans...

...When I can pay $59.99 for the same Pajama Jeans!!

Heyyyy.... Why should I buy Pajama Jeans at all when I can get a hooded sweatshirt that ends in footie pajamas?

No - wait -


Note: I am in no way affiliated with the fine folks at Pajama Jeans, even though I should be, because my giant ass would be a great testimony to the rugged durability of their dermasoft denim.  Their loss. 

Edited to add: I attempted to close the Pajama Jeans Review window, and was met with the following message: 

If I clicked "ok" I simply got the same message over and over.  So I clicked "cancel" and was led to...a blank page.  Stay classy, Pajama Jeans!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

PSA: Baby = Toddler

Forward: There is absolutely nothing entertaining about this post.  It is purely informative.

Baby will be 18 months soon.  She will be a Toddler.

From hereon, I’m referring to her on this blog as Toddler.

Even though Preschooler was referred to as Toddler earlier in this blog. 

To conclude: My children will now be referred to as Preschooler and Toddler. 

Thank you for your attention.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Can't Talk Now, I'm Awaiting The Four Horsemen And Their Eight Tiny Reindeer. Or Something Like That.

Thus accounts my survival of Snowpocolypse 2011...

Sunday:  What? There’s a major weather system passing through southern Wisconsin this week?  They didn’t say ANYTHING about this on Nick Jr.

More Sunday:  We go grocery shopping after supper.  We usually grocery shop Sunday evenings anyhow, because the store is slow, and there’s less of a chance my children will attach themselves to some one else’s cart and go home to a household where they’re allowed to eat white bread.

I'm dismayed to see 500 people roaming the aisles in search of sustenance.  There is plenty of milk and bread to go around, but the store is strangely devoid of whole chickens.

Monday: A small weather system rolls through.  There’s several inches of snow on the ground. Life goes on as usual, because it's Wisconsin.

Tuesday evening:  I'm shredding cheese for supper.  Preschooler asks for some, so I break a piece off the block of cheese for her.  She exclaims the cheese is big, just like my butt.  You can’t make this shit up.

Later Tuesday evening: The larger weather system rolls through. We now have a foot or two of snow on the ground, with 3-4 foot high drifts.  It is pretty, but not life-threatening.  Biggest casualty: Our outdoor thermometer got knocked down and buried in snow. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday: The bus system is down, so Husband is home from work.  I'm secretly glad, since now I’ll be able to clean the bathrooms.  Hooray?

Even More Wednesday: We're still awaiting the Four Horsemen the media predicted will follow this storm, heralding the end of the world. Unless Death replaced his pale horse with a snow plow, I don’t think they’re coming. I'm strangely disappointed.

In conclusion: I'm always let down by every little snow the media hypes up.  Apparently, I subconsciously believe that the world will end due to a blizzard, sometime during my lifetime.

I'm not sure what this says about my dreams in life.  Probably that they're very cold, and feed to my inner desire to remain a hermit forever.