Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ty Goes to Church.

I am writing, currently, because I am supposed to be cleaning. Worse yet, I'm supposed to be forcing the boys to clean. As much as I dislike cleaning personally, I've found that it's usually easier to do it myself than it is to try to make the boys do it. X is actually a good cleaner by nature, and Kobe is usually pretty obedient if not overly thrilled it's cleaning time. The Boy is just...The Boy about these things though.

When you take three boys who are quite comfortable with each other, and force them to do something that they don't like at all, you get screaming and fussing and squawking and fist fighting. I've yet to discover why an hour-long cleaning job is better for having been drawn out into a four hour job, between the slacking and intermittent time-outs; but the boys have continually assured me through their behavior that it is in fact superior to draw things out as long as humanly possible.

Nevertheless, today will be spent cleaning and sorting through old toys that need to be given away.

I don't think I can be blamed for taking a few minutes to gather my thoughts before the deluge.

I spent yesterday with the boys and with Ty. I was stoked because Ty was going to spend the night with me. I haven't had him much at all lately, and it's been months since he spent a proper night with me. He's getting so big now and learning so much.

I guess it's not really that impressive that, at a year-and-a-half he can count to ten. But damn! That's my smart boy!

I took him to church for the first time last night. Well, to church while services were actually going on for the first time. He loved it. He stayed in the nursery for the first part and had a blast. There was another baby in there - Matt's niece, actually - who is a week younger than Ty and they've played together before. They had a blast, I guess. They fought over who got to push the little babies in the swing. And K., the other baby, learned how to say "TyTy!" and would chase him around saying his name and trying to give him food.

Ty has a way with the ladies. He has this Bad Boy image that comes from his absolute fearlessness at the prospect of climbing up anything as soon as the grown ups backs are turned. Not to mention his minimal crying after the ensuing falling off of said anything. The little girls always chase him and he pretends not to notice. They're like "TyTy! TyTy! ::googly eyes::" and he's all: "One...Two...Nine...Five ::cool, feigned non-interest::"

For reasons I don't totally understand, the church opened up the kitchen and started passing out free cookies after service. I was happy; Ty was elated. I think he ate like three icing coating, sugar-filled cookies all by himself. He then ran around the tables for about forty-five minutes, before collapsing, exhausted at my feet. We went home and slept. Yay!

Anyway, I think he liked church. I think he'll like to go again sometime. I hope I can keep him on Wednesdays and Sundays more often.

Damn, I've got to go and clean. Blah. More when I'm done maybe.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas.

Hope everyone had a good Christmas. Mine was great. I don't have much time to update.

I got good presents this year: a juicer; a wireless router for Jas' house; some dvds of old cartoons, etc. Jasmin bought me clothes. I had to wear them to church. That was embarassing. I survived it though. Amazing, I think, but perhaps not so impressive to people who wear sweaters more than once a year.

I gave good presents this year. Ty and Tristan got a crocodile thingy, filled with megablocs. When the kids are done playing with the blocks, the crocodile becomes like a sweeper and eats them up. Ty and Mystery Baby got one of those sit n' spin dealys. This one plays Simon Says with them. They're too young for it still, but by this time next year I can tell it will be a favorite.

I hadn't seen TyTy since the day before Thanksgiving, so seeing him again was sort of my favorite Christmas present. I get to have him again on Wednesday and next Tuesday too. This makes me very happy. It was nice to know that he missed me too. He covered me in huge, drooly baby kisses. There's no better kind. Except maybe, dry baby kisses. But I never seem to get those.

Anyway, the past few weeks have been crazy because I've had nursery duty at church while folks practice for choir and the Christmas play. This is fun, but surprisingly labor intensive. I did get to go with Mystery Baby to look at holiday lights, and I did way too much Christmas shopping.

I'm reorganizing all my stuff. It'll be nice to have a place for everything again. It will be annoying to not be able to remember where that place is for the first few weeks post reorganization. It will be all good.

I'm happy. I hope you're happy too.

Hopefully I'll get some time tomorrow to write more.

Happy holidays! (That's right, you buggers, I said it! And I won't take it back either!)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Between wakefulness and dreams.

This week has been sort of bittersweet. It seems like my priorities are out of balance. Maybe I’m being tested.

I’ve wanted something for a very long time. I’ve begged for it, and wept over it, and suffered miserably so I could have it. And maybe now it’s mine. But I just don’t know if it’s worth it. Not if it hurts someone I love.

There’s a problem with basing your joy in temporal things: they pass. It’s easily recognized in material objects. They rust; they break; they turn to dust. But human love is temporal too. Fathers die eventually; a husband will leave you; children move away once they’re raised; and, best friends grow apart.

How can love ever be happy when you and I are not the same? When you need me in a way that’s different from the way that I need you?

All I’ve ever wanted is stability. To love and be loved. To sacrifice for another and to find a sacrifice in return. I haven’t found that here on Earth. Maybe it’s not here on Earth at all.

A perfect love is only satisfied with perfect reciprocation. How can an imperfect love ever be satisfied? Can I be happy forever giving, forever sacrificing and expecting – and usually finding - nothing in return? Is it enough to play a part in your life, always supporting you and never creating my own?

My own. What is my own? I’ve found that my own can be smothered. My own can disappear into you and your concerns and your needs. My own can wait a little longer, if it must. My own is not yet born, and maybe I will choose not to bring it forth.

But if I do, what will it be? My world has always been distant and dreamy. I have always lived in dreams and fantasies, in obscure philosophy and imaginary moments frozen in time. What is the ethereal manifest in carbon-based creation?

I’m so tired. I’ve been run gloriously ragged. I don’t sleep much. I don’t rest much. I desire neither sleep nor rest. When will it all come crashing down?

Friday, December 16, 2005


Oops. Didn't mean to remove links from my sidebar. If you were there before, and suddenly found yourself gone, sorry! I didn't stop liking you. I'm just notoriously unobservant. All better now, I think!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I had a nice weekend.

Thursday night I spent at Jasmin's because we had a crazy winter storm. It actually wasn't as crazy as we were told it would be. They predicted like seven inches of snow, I think we got closer to three or four. In any case, it set me up for spending Friday at Jasmin's by myself, which was really, really nice. After a week of writing papers and related craziness, it was nice to just watch tv and sleep all day.

Saturday, my mom and I went to pick out a Christmas tree. Then we went to my brother's house, ate pizza and set up his tree. I got to play with Mystery Baby. She's getting so smart. The other day, I walked in with a McDonald's bag, and her eyes lit up. She was like: "Madonnas?" It melted my heart. Crazy kid won't say "mom," "dad," or "drink," but she knows McDonald's. That's a true American.

Today was busy. I went to church early. It's funny to me that I'm starting to know so many people there. Or rather, that so many people there are kind of getting to know me. As I was walking in, I was talking to one girl about the clothes I gave her for her baby. They were clothes that I'd gotten for Mystery Baby when she was that age, that she'd never got around to wearing.

Then a lady that usually sits behind me walked in, and, finding someone else in her usual seat, moved two rows in front of me. She turned around and told me: "Hey, don't you worry, hun, when it comes time to hold hands I'll run back and grab yours!" I like that total strangers are made happy by my immense discomfort with unnecessary displays of affection toward strangers.

There were other people too. It's funny to think of myself in church without Jasmin. But somehow I do all right. It's taken me a year, but people are getting to know me. That's a funny thing; and ultimately a good thing, I think.

Damn, I'm tired.

After church, I had nursery duty while folks practiced for the Christmas play. The kids and I played hide and seek for like an hour. It was a blast. I was, surprisingly, perhaps the best hider. While I guess I can't brag too much about beating out a bunch of kids, especially the four and six year-olds, I must say that I was quite impressive for being way too big to hide under, erm, anything.

Then, when it came time for the kids to practice their part in the play, I got to help, too. One of the real actors didn't show, so I got to play the part of Tom. It was fun being a dad named Tom in a play. I mean, I wouldn't really want to gender-bend in a church play. But you know, for pretend, it was good times.

Then the kids and I played house. I haven't played house since I was probably seven years-old. I was never a big fan of it then. I usually played the dog or the mailman or something, so I wasn't involved in very much. Today I was the mom, turned robber, turned queen of the world.

I always teach the children awful things. Today, with my cast of mother, child, dog, monkey and ghost-that-can-turn-into-anything, I started an international crime ring. I trained my monkey to rob banks, and my dog to maul the FedEx guy, so that monkey could go out and grab his presents. Then we managed to take out the cops, the bomb squad and the United States military, in quick succession. We then built a castle and defended it against those who dared rise against us.

Yes, folks, this is what your children learn when you leave them in the church nursery. Muahahahahaha!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Desire of My Heart.

It's sort of strange how you can miss people you see all of the time. As busy as everyone is, and as full of our own concerns as we all are, it's easy to just sort of pass each other in the hall without ever really connecting.

It's an awful feeling to miss someone. The only comfort there is in missing someone, is knowing that someone else is missing you too.

It's misery to find out that they're not; that all your comfort has been cold. What a lonesome place to be in life, loving someone who only loves you back most casually.

I know that only God is capable of loving us in the way that we yearn to be loved. I know that perfection is impossible for humanity. I know that it is only possible to perfectly love someone who perfectly loves you back. On Earth, perfect reciprocation is an impossibility. And our loves, our silly little loves, are limited things - full of anxiety and anguish.

I have two opposing desires in my heart. The first, to leave this world of attachment. To remove myself from my temptations and my misery. To go where I am alone with myself and with God. To love from afar, without attachment and without deception.

The other, to emerse myself in humanity. To go where the suffering are. To make them my own. To love them and to make them love me. To be in the midst of God's people, overcome by emotion, embracing suffering.

Which desire shall I follow?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Super Heros of the Faith

Many things about the Christian life are strange. I don’t think I ever fully appreciated that aspect of Christianity until recently. I was always awed by the theology; sometimes awed because it seemed so damned naive and stupid, other times because it was so majestic and wondrous. But the Christian life, the real Christian life, was even more obscure to me than the most archaic books of exegesis.

I have always thought about real Christianity as being lived out by monks and nuns, priests and bishops. I have this bizarre childhood holdover of thinking of those sorts like Christian super-heros. As if a robe and a crucifix endows someone with sacred, mystical powers unparalleled by mortal men. As if, upon meeting just any random priest at all, he could look deep into your soul, divine your darkest secrets and instantly shed the light of God upon them. Of course, it would take place in a dramatic fashion, with tears and kneeling and beams of light sent from heaven.

When I was younger, I followed a Greek Orthodox priest all over a grocery store, hoping some great blessing or gem of wisdom would be bestowed upon me because I was standing in his shadow. Don’t bother telling me that the theology of that is off; I know it is, and I didn’t learn to teleport because of my mini-pilgrimage either, darn it. The trip wasn’t entirely wasted, however, as I did discover that a certain Greek Orthodox priest in my neighborhood has a weakness for chocolate; that information may become useful for me someday in the future.

Great protestant apologists will be quick to tell me how duped I’ve been by the trappings of the Roman Catholic worldview. Vestments do not impress God, they’d say. God is no respecter of persons; clothes do not endear you to God. And then they’d give me a dirty look for wearing jeans and a t-shirt in their church on Sunday.

I think that’s a lot of what got in my way about Protestant Christianity all these years. All the railing against mystery and wonder. All the attempts to boil God’s miracles down to science and numbers. Maybe I just have a mystic’s temperament, but I am much more impressed by Jesus multiplying the fish and loaves than I am some modern argument that he simply convinced them to share.

Oh, the latter would be a great miracle too, no doubt. But you’ll never convince my heart that that’s what happened.

I’m very bad at explaining my feelings on this. As a matter of fact, just generally, I’m very bad at explaining my feelings. So much of my life I’ve wasted trying to control things! I have always been taught this very scientific worldview. As if love can be quantified and wonder reduced to numbers and flow charts.

But science be damned, to be honest with you.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I guess I’m just amazed with how two seemingly opposite realizations have been operating in my soul as late. Christianity is full of paradox, and somehow that’s how I know it’s true.

On the one hand, priests and nuns, I have found, are just ordinary people. They do not generally heal you with a mere touch of their garments. To walk in their shadow will generally bring no great blessing. In fact, priests and monastics struggle as much as ordinary people do. Perhaps more so because of the depth of their calling.

And on the other, they really are quite amazing people. They give all that they have to God, forsaking the comfort to which the rest of us are so madly clinging. And priests can heal you. The people of God can perform miracles. They can cast out demons. They can call down fire from heaven.

A priest may not be able to glance at you, narrow his eyes and cleave your very soul. But then again, it may be that he can.

There’s a lot spinning around in me right now. It’s a strange thing to think that I’m not aware of it all. I can feel that something’s happening, but I don’t know what that something is. I know that the Holy Spirit is healing me and strengthening me. I don’t know why. I think it may be better not to think of it in those terms actually. I will know when it’s time to know, and not before, and it will probably be a blessing. It’s wrong to dread God’s plans for you. Though ordinarily, that is the normal human response. God is always forcing us to do more than makes us comfortable; to give more, to sacrifice more, to receive more. The harvest is great, but the laborers few.

In any case, I still have two final exams to write. And while I’d much rather be here writing about whatever something it is that it feels like it’s in me to write, I would be wise to hustle off to my homework.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Final Exams

I write amidst a sea of final exams.

I think my grades may suck this quarter. It's sort of a first for me. In college at least.

Oh, by suck I guess I still mean As and Bs.

But low As and Bs.

I have mental problems.

I've hardly slept since last Thursday. I'm getting to the point where I put the cereal box in the refrigerator and the milk in the cabinet, and then forget to eat the cereal. I should probably not be driving.

But I am. And will.

I hope I sleep tonight.

More later.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now...

I keep changing my mind about things.

This blog, for instance. I intended it for a certain audience, which is not always the audience I get. I've watched my sister get in all manner of trouble for stuff she puts on her website, and I don't want to have to deal with all that pressure. So I considered shutting this down.

But I like my blog. I miss it when it's gone. It's public access, so I can't control who comes here. And, while I generally consider myself pretty responsible about what content I post, I'm still super paranoid that somebody will get upset about something. I'm not worried about defending myself; I don't post anything here that I wouldn't say to someone's face. But I don't like to think that someone will confront my mom about something I've written, and she'll be in the bad position of having to defend me. My mom isn't responsible for my opinions, and she shouldn't be the person anyone complains to if they don't like my blog.

So, long story short: I'm going to continue to blog. I don't intend to intentionally hurt/offend/upset anyone with what I post. But if it so happens that you don't like my content, my only request is that you take it up with me without turning it into a family wide fiasco. I'm not a gossip. I won't gossip about anyone in this space; I would appreciate it if you would refrain from gossiping about my blog to other family members. I think it's a fair request.

Unpleasantness aside, this week has been miserable. I had to attend a relative's funeral and it was maybe the most miserable thing I've ever had to do. Babies aren't supposed to die. Violence is not supposed to be a part of any baby's life. I can't sleep thinking about all of the misery of the situation. A baby is dead; his father will probably be spending the most substantial part of the rest of his life in prison; our family, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, will have to wrestle with the ramifications of the event for the rest of our lives.

It's unfair. It seems like too much misery for one family to bear; like too much misery for one world to have to bear. And I think that it is. It's too much.

I have a lot of thoughts banging around in my head. The suffering of an innocent child - not just this child, any child - is enough to make me stop believing in goodness. A child's suffering and death is enough to make anyone question meaning. What the hell sort of world is this, where babies can suffer and die?

I know that Jesus is the answer to all questions. I know that Jesus was the ultimate innocent. I know that He was born, and lived, and suffered and died, and that He didn't deserve any of it. I know that his suffering was worse than anyone's suffering - that, in fact, it was everyone's suferring. I know that somehow it was even more unfair than the death of this baby, who wasn't even given a month of real life on this Earth.

But all of the things I know aside, questions continue to nag. God gave up His only son, but even God's sacrificial son was allowed to grow up.

That's the wrong way to think. That's the devil worming in on my misery. And I refuse to give it more credence than it deserves. All things work together for the glory of God. It's true; it's a fact. My lack of understanding is my deficiency alone and not the deficiency of God.

I will not give way to despair. Despair is pride perverted to the degree that it has abandoned even God. Instead, we must look to Jesus to comfort us in our suffering.

I don't understand this world. I don't agree. But this universe is God's universe, and God's universe is not without meaning. There is no such thing as senseless violence; only the working of an omnibenevolent God in a fallen world.