Archive for October, 2009

People Like Us

People like us have conversations with ourselves in our heads all the time. I think that’s why we refer to ourselves in the third person plural.

People like us wake up with sore ears every morning because our pillows are too hard and don’t allow room for our ears to sink in a little. We lay there with it plastered against the side of our head all night and then wake up sore for a little while, while it adjusts to sticking back out again. We wonder if there’s such a thing as a pillow with ear holes.

Along the same lines, people like us sit at our work desk all day, every day of the year with our space heaters turned up on high because our feet are so cold. But when we’re sleeping at night, we have to stick our bare feet out of the covers because they get so hot. You know how newborn babies sometimes have their days and nights mixed up? Well, people like us have that too. But only as far as our feet are concerned.

People like us are typically pretty responsible but also incredibly forgetful. Like me, for instance. I do the budget for our family and I pay our bills and I do it really well. But the other day someone asked me what our gas budget must be for the month with all of the driving that we do. I responded, “Yeah, it’s pretty high. I don’t know – somewhere around $500 a month?” Ha! I just looked up what we spend on gas a month and it’s between $165 and $195. Not really anywhere near $500. See, people like us love to spend all this time setting things up and planning and organizing for the sole purpose of forgetting about it. Because there’s only just room for so much in there.

People like us hate Halloween and can’t wait for it to be over. Not because we think it’s evil, but because we think it’s too much darn work.

People like us live inside of ourselves and sometimes can’t find the way out. Like just this week I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that most of my memories of childhood are from times spent alone. I had a loving family and the world’s cutest little brothers and a mom and dad who created wonderful memories for us and yet everything I’ve ever been profoundly affected by has been from a time when I was not with other people, but by myself. This has got me to thinking about my own children and how they might be the same as me, therefore rendering everything I do for them…what? Forgettable? Worthless? Or worse yet, they might be the exact opposite of me and therefore I am failing them by not making enough “together” memories. You just can’t win, as a parent. You just can’t win.

People like us say things in blogs like these that we’ll make a list of our top ten favorite books (or movies, or songs…) but in reality, we’re paralyzed by the thought and it will probably never happen. First of all we can’t order things into favorites when everything in the universe stands alone, as is, on its own merit. We don’t see lines or orders. We see rivers that flow into one another and sometimes run backwards. Second of all, more than anything in the world, we can’t tolerate somebody not loving something that we love. It sends us into a tailspin. So we don’t share and we just have our own little private tornado in our soul.

People like us love rainy, cloudy days and we feel sad for people who don’t. We also feel a little put out, because we don’t sit around talking about how bad the weather is on the sunny days that make those people come alive. But on the days that make us come alive, the world seems determined to bring us down. I don’t think news anchors should complain about rainy weather. It’s not fair and balanced reporting. And it makes me hate them.

And yes, people like us love sad songs. We love emotion and we love to cry. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love happy songs too.

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Transitory Ambulation

Monday Morning.

The place where all things begin again. The place where hope lives. The place where quiet reigns and Sunday dishes stay unwashed on the kitchen counter. The place where I sit at my computer and dream. The place where the rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling down, down, down.

I’m never sure how to hold on to it though.

Right now all kids everywhere are sweet. They quietly find their corners of the world and they do homework. Some of them spend more time making their corners than actually doing their homework. Because we all know that atmosphere is of utmost importance. Sometimes atmosphere involves four dining room chairs dragged into the living room with one queen-sized comforter draped over the top of them, and one long, white extension cord running across the floor, powering a little purply, fluffy night light inside the homework castle. Yes, I said fluffy and I said purply.

And it stays dark outside, so all lights stay on inside all day.

And sometimes the rain makes rivers on the windows.

I’ve been at my new church for a year now. I’ve come to the end of my standing still and my soaking in. I am done soaking and now I am walking. I am walking forward and I am feeling the wind blow my hair back as I walk. It’s good to walk. It’s good to be here on this Monday morning. It’s good that God sends the rain to wash this earth and make rivers on my heart.

To quote a song I can’t get enough of right now:

It makes a difference
That I’m feeling this way
With plenty to think about
And so little to say

Except for this confession
That is poised on my lips
I’m not letting go of God
I’m just losing my grip

I want to know
I want to know
Will it make a difference
When I go?

I love the rain on the windows and I love the reign of the quiet.

Happy Monday.

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Air and Water (Breathing and Living)

Last weekend was pretty full. Callie and I were confirmed at church, along with five other people. Chris and I became godparents for the first time to a beautiful baby girl who was baptized. And we danced our calves off at an English Country Dance. And I do mean my calves hurt something fierce after that dance. It was Saturday night and today is Thursday and I can still feel the strain. If you’re like me and you think “English Country Dance? Hmmmm. Sounds quite slow and proper with long skirts and buttoned-up shirts. Probably not much fun for a high-kicking woman like me”….well, you would be flat wrong. Like I was. I couldn’t catch my breath all night. In fact, I am fairly certain that I have developed a pretty severe case of adult-onset asthma due to last Saturday night. I’ll probably never get full use of my lungs back because I worked them too hard that night. And my calves? Suffice it to say OUCH. It was some serious hard work and a lot of fun. I can’t wait until the next one at Christmas.

I’ll start with some pictures from the dance:

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The group of us who received confirmation Sunday morning, along with Bishop Riches in the middle, Father John on the right Deacon Andrew in the back and Father Jim on the left (That’s me and Callie in the front on the right. I’m wearing heels and Callie’s not and she’s still taller than me):

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And here we are with our new goddaughter, Priscilla, her parents and Father John, right after baptism:

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Here’s a picture I took of Priscilla a little over a year ago:

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And here she is with her parents today:

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What a beautiful, precious life this is.

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Times

These times are mostly filled with homework, driving, school, driving, church, homework, driving, driving, work, driving, homework, school, homework, homework, driving. It’s nice when the times get broken up by storms that bring in cooler weather or other some such exciting events. I don’t think it’s legal to say some such together like that, but I’m pleased by the feel of it, so in honor of these times, I’m leaving it be. Here’s a glimpse into my times:

Most days are spent doing homework (and lots of it):

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Sometimes Pilgrim helps out, since she’s our resident Latin expert:

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When storm clouds roll in, it can get a little crazy:

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And when the storm’s gone, some of us like to dress up in our best clothes with our best friends and go for a “run”:

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And when we go outside to take pictures of the “running” girls, sometimes we have to grab the closest available shoes to keep our socks from getting wet. Sometimes those shoes are a men’s size 12:

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Good times!

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So Long, Flannery

My mom taught me to never start a new book before finishing the last one. For some reason, this was very important to her and for some reason, I listened. For my whole life, I’ve had extreme discipline when it comes to books. They are meant to be finished when started and I usually do it, no matter how much I regret it. I find myself feeling strangely indebted to the characters no matter how much I hate them. I feel like I owe it to them to find out how their story ends. It doesn’t matter that I know they’re not real. I tell myself they’re not real over and over and that just makes me feel more guilty. It’s like they’re the Whos in Whoville and I am their last hope for protection so that they’re not wiped into oblivion forever. I mean, somebody has to believe in them, right?

But there have been a couple books I just couldn’t see to completion. I can count them on one hand. And I don’t feel guilty either. I mean, don’t get me wrong….the weeks leading up to making the decision to quit reading were laden with guilt. But once I finally made the decision, I felt great about it. FREEDOM! Here’s the list of books I have been freed from:

The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky
Cold Mountain, Frazier
Dreams of My Russian Summers, Makine
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Dillard

And now I’m giving up on Flannery O’Connor. I’ve been working my way through her complete stories and I’ve gotten about 2/3 of the way through them. But I’ve had enough. I do not deny that she’s brilliant. And interesting. And that she has an incredible grasp on the depth of human depravity. But I just can’t handle any more depravity. There is no hope in her stories. They are just disturbingly, depressingly dark. And I hate the characters. Every last one of them.

So I’m done.

I may give Annie Dillard another shot. I love her novels but can’t seem to focus on her prose. Prose? Is that what it’s called? Did I just say that? Where did it come from? I don’t know but I like it. At least her prose is beautiful and I don’t mind filling my mind with it. If I could only make my mind stay with it…

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At Least You Can Plant Flowers in Them

We have this game we play in our family called The Alphabet Game. Everybody writes the alphabet vertically on a piece of paper, then somebody reads a random sentence from a random book and we all write that sentence vertically right next to the alphabet – just the first twenty-six letters of the random sentence. For instance, if the sentence begins “Up yonder, just over the ridge…” your paper would look like this:

AU
BP
CY
DO
EN
FD
GE
HR

…and so on. Then we set a timer for eight minutes and we all have that amount of time to think of famous people with those twenty-six initials. The only rules are that they have to be real people, they have to be famous, and somebody in the room has to have heard of them.

About a year or so ago, Grace was playing this game and she encountered the initials BP, as in the example above. Immediately, the name that has been indoctrinated into her little head since the time she was born came to mind: Bono. But does he have a last name? She just wasn’t sure that she had ever heard it. So, in the interest of trying to get the most points possible, she decided to just make up a last name for him and see if anybody challenged her on it. When it came her turn to read aloud her list of names, she very confidently proclaimed, “Bono Potcot.”

It didn’t fly. But the name stuck. We’ve called her Potcot ever since.

Last week I took a Facebook personality quiz. It was basically the standard Myers-Briggs test, which I’ve taken millions of times. I came out exactly what I think I am: ISFP. But there was a twist to this particular Facebook quiz. There were these cute little names given to each personality type. The name given to me? The Crackpot.

I just don’t know what it is with pots in the Linebarger home.

The other day Chris asked me a question and I responded by shaking my hips, spinning in a circle and jumping. He sighed and said “Why can’t I have a wife that just acts normal? And how come the only time you ever act normal is at church?”

Kind of makes you question all things normal.

Sorry, honey. This pot done cracked.

Happy Birthday.

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