Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Flying Away....

But only for a few days.

Yes, I shall be gone for awhile. I'm going to Florida with some of my family members-- to Disney World! I get to pretend to be a little kid for a few days, and just run around and have fun. Squee! :-)

Only... only... it will be my first lengthy separation from Tirithien! *sniffle* Five whole days without my beloved! (Yes, I sound like a lovestruck adolescent. No, I'm not the least bit ashamed of that fact!)

I will be back very late Saturday night, probably with all sorts of stories of comic misadventures. (That kind of thing tends to happen when I go places with my Baby Brother.)

Take good care of my blog while I'm gone. I'll be back soon! I'll try to bring some warm weather with me as a treat for all the Northerners. :-)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dreams of the Ordinary

Normally my dreams are very strange. I dream of myself as a hero or a seeker of lost truths, an explorer, a defender, or I dream of the magical child who may one day be my son. I dream of stories to be told, of myself as other beings, and of great triumphs. There's very often an epic feel to my dreams, a sense that my spirit has been wandering through an enchanted realm while my body slept peacefully.

Lately, though, my dreams have been most... ordinary. I have been dreaming dreams of children to raise, a dog to care for, a home and a garden to tend, and a loving and beloved husband to help me with all of it. Does it seem pedestrian? Dull? Far too ordinary when compared to my usual dreamset?

Oddly, it does not. In these dreams of what could be mundane, there are still stories to be told. There is still a sense of the epic. My dream-children have magic in their beings, and my dream-husband sees in me a weaver of enchantments, while I see in him a hero and warrior.

In this seemingly-ordinary dreamscape my subconscious has crafted for me, of cleaning spills, pulling weeds, and pushing the children on the swings, to my surprise and slight chagrin, I have found wonder-- strange and beautiful wonder where I never thought to see it.

So today, Thanksgiving Day, I offer my thanks for all the ordinary, beautiful things of my life-- the potatoes I will peel for dinner, the warmth of the water in my shower, my guinea pig's soft fur, my brother's laugh when we tell jokes the rest of the family doesn't understand, the gentle strength of my boyfriend's embrace, and all the other things that make up the words, melodies, and harmonies of the song my life sings.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Having Dinner with the Forces of Chaos

Last night Tirithien and I went to dinner with my baby brother. (Baby Brother is not-quite-14.)

I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I was when Tirithien met my mom, but I was still a little anxious. After all, a young teenage boy is a capricious thing, ever-changing in mood and word!

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried at all. They hit it off beautifully. I was thrilled! My brother and I are very close, in spite of our rather large age difference, or maybe because of it. So if he and the man I love become friends, that makes life so much the better for me. We can all enjoy each other’s company.

Of course, a large part of their non-stop conversation (I swear, you’d think they’d known each other for years) consisted of stories of pranks, strange ways of making people squirm, and other various forms of mischief. I’m quite sure that this is why the restaurant hostess seated us WAY back in the back corner, so we wouldn’t scare the other patrons. I’m also wondering how much chaos might ensue if my boyfriend and brother join forces. It could get messy! :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Honey, can we have a polar bear?

Last night was the University of Toledo’s last home football game for the season. Why did they have it on a Wednesday? That’s all ESPN’s fault. But anyway… I knew Tirithien would want to go, since if we go down to Wright State next year this would be the last game he sees in the Glass Bowl (wow, that makes the stadium sound like it’s an aquarium). And I’ve been to every home game this season, so why not finish it out? I agreed to this, of course, BEFORE I realized it would be -800 degrees out last night. But even after I realized this, I still said I’d go. I’d just bundle up properly, and be fine, right? So here is my travel journal for my trip to Toledo.

4:30- Leave work. Notice that it’s very cold and windy, and yes, those are snow flurries. Crap.
5:14- Arrive at home. Home is further south than work, so it should be warmer, but it isn’t.
5:16- Feed squeaky guinea pig.
5:18- Remove work clothes. Begin bundling up. Flannel pajama pants, then jeans over that. Hmm, should I wear tights under all this? Nah, I won’t need that. Tank top, thermal top, fleece sweatshirt. Ah, nice and toasty for the first time all day! I’m disguised as a college student for this event—the fleece is a yellow UT sweatshirt Tirithien gave me. No one will know I’m not really a student!
5:25- Walk out to get mail.
5:27- Conclude that wind cuts right through the denim and flannel on my legs. Go back in for the tights.
5:38- On the road to Toledo, making sure I also have my gloves, hat, and scarf to wear as I get colder.
6:23- Arrive at parking lot where Tirithien is waiting. Notice that he is much less bundled up than I am. For comparison, see the below artistic rendering. (If you click on the picture, you can see all the details of our bundled-up-ness.)

6:24- Decide to go get pizza before the game, since kickoff is not until 7:30. (I’d thought it was at 7:00.
6:36- Arrive at pizza restaurant. Place order. Gaze at each other lovingly across the table, annoying nearby patrons in the process.
7:02- Wonder if annoyed patrons somehow sabotaged our order, since it wasn’t there yet.
7:05- Receive pizza. Yum! I’m sure that the eating of pizza is also helping my college student disguise.
7:30- Keep trying to flag down server to get a box for the leftovers. Hello, we’re missing the kickoff here!
7:35- Get box, get check. Go to bathroom while Tirithien is paying the check. (Thank you, sweetie!)
7:36- Realize that going to the bathroom while wearing so many layers is a tricky sort of maneuver.
7:39- On the road to UT.
7:58- In the stadium looking for seats. It’s snowing. This is a bit more than flurries. Tirithien looks up at the falling snow and says, “Now this is football weather!” I look at him like he’s crazy. There is no snow in football. Football is played in the fall. It does not snow in the fall. It snows in the winter. Snow means hockey weather, not football weather!
7:59- Sit on metal bleacher (okay, we had a blanket to spread out on it). Okay, it’s cold, but not intolerable. I can handle it.
8:14- Realize that since the game is on ESPN, there are going to be far too many media breaks and they’re going to be far too long.
8:20- Realize that ESPN must have brought their own referees, because these guys are obviously blind, much like the standard ESPN play-by-play announcer. Find common ground with similarities between ESPN’s abuse of hockey and abuse of football.
8:30- Realize that my toes are a little numb. Think longingly of my warm apartment and my TV on which I could be watching my Red Wings… nah, they were playing in Calgary. That would make me cold just to think about it.
8:40- Halftime show. Apparently the opposing team’s band does not do well in the cold. The opposing team’s band wears marching band capes. How embarrassing, they all look like they’re trying to be superheroes!
8:49- The Rocket band takes over. Wow, they must have saved their best show for the last game, because they were on step and sounded great!
9:15- Game resumes. It’s getting colder.
9:18- Realize that my coat is covered in snow.
9:38- Referees make phantom penalty calls that result in a touchdown for the other team. Decide that referees’ brains are frostbitten because they didn’t wear fancy knit caps like mine.
9:39- Try to tell Tirithien of this theory. Realize that my face is numb enough that I can no longer talk properly.
9:52- Notice that one referee has a big “F” on the back of his jersey. Ask if there’s also one with a big “U.” There is. Laugh at the idea of the F and the U standing next to each other. Note that maturity level is dropping with temperature.
10:20- More interminable referee bungling resulting in another score for the other team. Stand on the metal bleacher in front of me and shout, “Kill the refs!” as best I can with my numb mouth.
10:20:15- Tirithien decides it’s time to get inside before either (a) I freeze into a solid icicle, or (b) he feels the need to throttle a referee or two.
10:25- Go into campus library to thaw before heading back to vehicle.
11:15- Head back to Tirithien’s car, so he can kindly port me back to my own car. (I didn’t park on campus because they’d have charged me money to park there on a game day. I guess my student disguise isn’t that good.)
11:35- Head back north. Hope that I don’t encounter caribou or polar bears on my journey. It feels cold enough for them to be around, and hitting one of those would really damage my car. Besides, polar bears are cute.
12:16- Arrive home. No polar bears or caribou in sight.
12:17- Wonder if I raised a polar bear from infancy, if it would still be tame when it was grown.
12:18- Go inside and make hot cocoa. Thaw self. Put on warmest pajamas. Fall asleep.

I am glad this was the last game, even though it was a loss. I can’t handle this kind of cold! At least in hockey the ice is on the rink, not falling from the sky!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Spontaneous Storytime

On the road between home and Dayton, we crossed a river whose green highway sign proclaimed its name to be Mad River. How very strange a name for a body of water! It didn't look the least bit mad, or even slightly perturbed. It flowed gently and placidly southwards-- probably a tributary of the Ohio. But why would such a calm and pastoral river be named the Mad River? My muse whispered this story spontaneously to me.

The Mad River is so named because in days of old, people who felt madness come upon them would go and pray to the spirit of that river. They would wash in the water, and the water would take their madness from them-- or at least enough of it that they could function. The creative part of the madness was left them, and the destructive part was taken away.

However, when the spring floods came, the Mad River would rage uncontrollably over its banks, all the madness in the water churned up and set loose, no longer held bound by winter’s ice, and vast was the damage that rushing water would cause.

At last a wise shaman was able to speak with the river god and cure him of his madness so that the river rages no more—yet she also angered the river god with her presumption in daring to speak with authority to an immortal spirit and work her healing arts upon him.

Because of this, the river god will wash the madness from the people no longer, and the people of the valley must bear their own ills as best they may.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Confusion, fear, and longing

This weekend, Tirithien and I went on a short road trip. To Dayton. Ah, beautiful Dayton. :-P

The reason we went, of course, is that Dayton (actually Fairborn, one of the Dayton suburbs) is the location of Wright State University, where Tirithien had a very favorable med school interview a few weeks ago. It’s his top choice school right now, so he wanted me to see the campus and the city and all. I had Friday off from work for Veteran’s Day, so I figured, why not?

The campus was lovely. Quite a lot bigger than the school I attended, but then, most colleges are. Dayton is just far enough south that it’s starting to get into the Appalachian foothills, and it actually does seem like a nice enough place.

Now, the thing is, I’ve been wanting to go to grad school for quite some time. Really, I’ve been trying to arrange it ever since I finished my undergrad degree. The trick has been deciding what sort of degree I really want.

English. I want an English degree. I want a Master of Arts in English. And maybe one in History for good measure.

Am I brave enough to do such a thing? If I were being sensible, I would get an MBA or a degree in some sort of administration or in social work or something like that. Maybe teaching, maybe health care, but something to increase my employability.

The problem I’ve found with trying to do this is the sheer vagueness of it. Maybe this, maybe that, maybe whatever. None of it jumps out at me, none of it possesses me and seizes my heart as The Thing I should be doing.

English? History? Every bit of it. Bring it on.

Wright State happens to have an English program which has an emphasis in creative writing. Most schools’ Master level English programs are literature only, or linguistics if one is lucky. I can picture myself in my most secret dreams, 3 or 4 years from now, graduating with a double MA in English and History. Just think of the background this would give me for the stories that want to be told!

But... Wright State is 3 hours away from home. Can I even contemplate such a thing, such a leap of faith? I’d have to leave everything I know—my secure (but unfulfilling) job, my home, my family, taking this chance that may or may not ever pay off for me. An advanced degree is certainly no guarantee of becoming published!

But… I want to go. I want to learn. God, for the first time in years, I truly want something for myself, something that actually shines brightly enough for me to recognize it.

I’m afraid of going and taking that chance. I’m afraid of staying home and missing that chance.

And so my heart whispers to me to look southward to the bright hills.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Old Poetry

This is an old poem of mine, which seemed appropriate to share today. It's one of my rare experiments with things like "rhyme" and "meter." Most of my poetry is more or less stream of consciousness free verse. This is from..... gah! It's from 1997! I feel old now. Oh well. Enjoy!

All the mist is on the mountain,
all the secrets there are hidden.
Twist of fate, drop of rain;
then the leaves begin to turn.

All the stars are in the sky,
all the tears within my eyes.
Words of pain, hurt of heart;
then the leaves begin to turn.

On the mountain there I roam,
seeking shelter and a home.
Flash of dart, borne of mind;
then the leaves begin to turn.

No true place for me to go;
surrounding me the voice of crow.
Peace of sleep, warmth of home;
when the leaves begin to turn.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Meeting of Mama and Boyfriend

Since some of you will be curious….

It went quite well. :-)

Tirithien made dinner. (I made things like salad and dessert—like I’ve said, he’s a much better cook than I am!) My mom came over, and we all had a nice time. It went surprisingly well. Much conversation about many varied things.

I’m still not sure why I was so horribly nervous, and I’ll probably go through the same thing again when it’s time for him to meet my other family members, but at least now I know it’s a survivable event! Mom didn’t run away screaming, and Tirithien didn’t run away screaming after Mom left, so I think I’m okay. :-)

I guess next it will be his turn to be nerve-wracked when I meet HIS family!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hey, I won an award!

At church this morning, I found out that one of the monthly articles I write for the parish newsletter had been chosen for an award in a competition for the whole diocese-- and we have a big diocese! It's the Red Ribbon Award for Excellence in Religious Journalism, in the category of Theological Reflection. So I had to get my picture taken, and the article and picture will be printed in December's issue of the diocesan newspaper. Not bad for a layperson! Here is the article. It was in January's newsletter.

Grace, Faith, and “Worthiness”

Someone asked me recently how we can presume to participate in the Eucharist week after week. She couldn’t deal with it, she said. She didn’t feel she could approach the altar at all, because she was not worthy. It really threw me off trying to come up with an answer for her. Worthiness and unworthiness don’t really seem to be issues for us in the Episcopal Church, so a person’s suitability to receive the Eucharist wasn’t something I had thought much about. “Everyone is invited to receive Holy Communion,” it says in our bulletin, and that was good enough for me.

To me, that’s part of the nature of God’s grace. None of us are worthy on our own. The Eucharistic Feast is freely given by God to all who are willing to accept it. It’s a gift, not a loan or something we can “earn.” Nothing we can do could possibly be enough to make ourselves worthy of that incredible gift God gave us through the sacrifice of Jesus, that gift of salvation that allows us to make the spiritual journey to reunite with God.

The Eucharist is a sacrament given to us to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Its physical presence reminds us of the body which died and the blood which was shed, and its spiritual presence becomes the spirit of that body and blood, touching our own souls to strengthen our union with Jesus.

It is also a way of strengthening our union with each other. It is a meal we share together, an outward way of acknowledging that we have all accepted this wondrous gift of grace God has given to us, as unworthy as we are, to transform us into something better than what we had been.

I have been blessed enough to occasionally serve as a Eucharistic Minister. I was surprised to realize, as I carried the chalice to those who waited at the rail, that serving as EM is a ministry of hospitality. Offering the chalice is a welcoming act, an act of inviting others to share in this union. Through the sharing of bread and wine, body and blood, we are together given the chance to reaffirm our acceptance of God’s great love. The realization that my hands were among the ones helping to distribute this gift was a vastly humbling experience. Am I worthy to do this? Absolutely not. But I am grateful beyond measure that God has chosen to sometimes use me in this way.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” It is not our works which make us worthy of receiving God’s grace, but God’s grace which makes us worthy and willing to do good works.

May we never forget to be thankful for God’s grace and love, as we pray that one day all of the world will be able to accept it and shelter in its warmth.

A Nerve-Wracking Meeting!

On Sunday evening, Tirithien is going to meet my mama. Yes, that vaunted tradition in a new relationship, the boyfriend-mom meeting. Yikes!

Now, I should have nothing to worry about. They've been talking via email for weeks and they seem to be getting on famously! I mean, it's only going to be my mom, not my brother or stepdad or various other extended family members who are close. It's just going to be dinner, and I'm not even cooking it-- Tirithien is. Plus I've got a stronger sense of myself than I had last time I was in the boyfriend-meeting-parents situation. Let me explain that.

Every past time I've had a boyfriend meet my family, I was either nervous that the boy would say something to embarrass me in front of the family or that the family would say something to embarrass me in front of the boy. Not that they'd do it on purpose, just that there would be some sort of clash, and I'd be "tainted" by association. This time, I don't have that fear at all. I'm not sure if it's that I've grown up enough to realize that other people's "embarrassing" words and deeds are not my responsibility, or what, but I'm feeling pretty confident in that respect.

So I've got all this good stuff in my corner, but I'm STILL nervous! Would someone like to tell me why? Gah!

(Half laughing, half meaning it!)

Thursday, November 03, 2005


My prankful adventure with Tirithien got me to thinking about other pranks I’ve played over time. It’s normally kind of hard for me to pull off a very good prank, because I’m likely to start giggling and give the whole thing away. It’s like keeping a happy secret to myself. I just can’t do it! But still, I’ve managed some good ones in my time.

For example, back in my college days, I was on the speech and forensics team. The first overnight trip I went on, I wound up rooming with the coach, who had extremely long blonde hair. Amazingly long. The next morning when I got in the van with everyone else, while the coach was paying the team’s bill, I informed my teammates that the coach’s hair was really a wig, and that when she thought I was asleep she had taken it off for the night. I made the story completely ridiculous by saying that she’d forgotten her wig head, so she set it on the lampshade instead! I wasn’t really intending to be believed, you see; it was early morning and I was feeling more than a little punchy. Most of the team took this as the silliness I’d intended, but one guy actually believed it. Back on campus, he started telling it to people in earnest, lampshade and all! Then various people would come talk to me and ask me to confirm the story. Well, why not go with it? “Sure, I did see it,” I’d say. As late as my senior year, people would come ask me about this story and whether or not it was true. Stephen can confirm this.

Stephen and I would occasionally tell people we were twins, but for some reason no one believed that. Can’t imagine why… ;-) We had more success, though, in convincing people that he was a Black Muslim and that’s why he couldn’t eat chicken. Now, I don’t know if Black Muslims can eat chicken or not, but Stephen didn’t back then, so it got tossed into the story. Hey, it seemed plausible. And with him in his crocheted skullcap, calling me his “strong white sister,” no one questioned it. Never mind that we were at a Baptist college!

The past two April Fool’s Days I’ve accidentally pulled good ones on my family. In 2004, when I was planning my wedding, I sent my mom an email to tell her we were giving up on the whole thing and going to Vegas instead. I figured my brother would have done some prank or another that morning, so she’d already be on guard against such pranks. Nope. She fell for it. She even called my aunt to tell her, and my aunt emailed me to tell me what a good idea she thought it was! Oops.

This year, my now-ex and I were playing around with the idea of buying a house. So on April 1st, I found a listing for the shoddiest, nastiest, most run-down house in the nastiest part of Detroit. It cost $13,000. I sent this listing to my mom and aunt, gushing about this great house and what a great deal it was, it just needed a little cleaning up, and so on, and how friendly the neighbors seemed because they’d been looking at us so intently. I figured it was WAY too over the top for them to believe.

Nope. They played along with what they thought I was doing and pretended to be excited for us. Later I found out they’d been panicking and wondering how to convince me not to move to such a dangerous neighborhood. They didn’t catch on that it was a prank until I sent a follow-up email to tell them that the most dangerous part of living in that neighborhood was the frequent alien abductions.

I kind of hope that the timing will work out well enough that when I become pregnant some day down the line, the announcement to the family would be perfectly appropriate on April 1st. Then I’d get to laugh all day at my family not believing me until the next day!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hollow Halloween

Halloween is usually a huge deal for my family. We actually get together at my aunt’s house, since she is in the neighborhood most conducive to trick-or-treating. (There are actual sidewalks!) Usually I will take my brother trick-or-treating around the neighborhood for awhile, and he will split the candy with me. (Last year he thought he was too old to go, but this year he decided he didn’t like that and he was going to go again!)

My mom and brother are absolutely mad about Halloween. They usually have very elaborate decorations up, they will have sound effects tapes playing to scare the trick-or-treaters, and they just enjoy themselves thoroughly.

This year, though, my mom was too injured to play. She fell in the garage and really messed up her back and knees, so she couldn’t even make it to my aunt’s.

My brother did have a very cool costume—he and his friend dressed up as “Living Dead Dolls,” which I think are hugely creepy, but they love them, so I guess that’s the important thing. I took them around the neighborhood in search of treats—no tricks on MY watch, thank you very much!

We made it about two blocks from home base before I tripped on a gigantic root in someone’s yard. I stepped with my left foot part on and part off this root I hadn’t seen. My foot twisted up, my ankle gave out, and I fell. Couldn’t just stumble and rebalance, oh, no, I had to actually fall, right splat on my knees. It was such a sudden sharp pain that I felt a wave of dizziness and nausea hit me, but I was able to shake that off and not puke in this stranger’s yard.

My brother was slightly panicky. “Are you all right???? Should we go get help????”

I was muttering curses at my clumsiness in German. (I guess I hoped they wouldn’t realize I was swearing.) But I told him to calm down, I’d be fine, I just needed to stretch the ankle out some. And that did work enough for me to hobble back to my aunt’s house. My uncle took over the chaperone duties, and I sat on the porch to hand out candy to the little ghosties and goblins.

There were hardly any kids out at all. It was actually kind of eerie. I remember when I was a kid (and it wasn’t really THAT long ago!) that there would have been TONS of kids out. We’d have been tripping over each other instead of over roots. But there were just a few. The weather was nice enough—a few raindrops, but it was warm out.

So all-in-all, kind of a disappointing Halloween. My ankle is sore and my knees are bruised up.

Maybe I’d feel better if I went and got some of the Reeses Cups out of my brother’s candy stash.