Check out Owen Swain's artistic conceptualization of my bra conundrum. Thanks, Owen.
Don't forget to check out Owen's other art while you're in his neck of the blogosphere - excellent work.
Even off, the bra confounds me. This arch-nemesis of mine is full of surprises, so to speak.
When a bra comes out of the dryer, it takes great skill to unwind and untwist the strange Gordian knot of strings and cups. Alas, I have been forbidden to solve the puzzle as Alexander did. So I sit down and focus: I twist a string here; I duck a cup through there, until, Lord willing, I come out with a straightened bra.
Then, supposing that happens, I am faced with a new problem: How do you fold a bra? In the past, I've just balled them up and thrown them in the drawer with all the other unmentionables. Today, however, after years of allowing the problem to incubate in the back of my brain, I think I figured it out. I treated the bra as I would a fitted sheet. In essence, that is what a bra is, I reasoned. So I inverted one cup into the other and gingerly folded the strings underneath and within them. The folded bra is beautiful, artistic - Dare I say it? Voluptuous.
I beat my chest and roar.
It's raining again. Rain = Staying Indoors with Three Terrorists. Staying Indoors with Three Terrorists = Some Measure of Stress. Therefore, Rain = Some Measure of Stress. That's just good logic. Following Me?
However, it has been raining here for two days now. And, therefore, using our syllogism above to extrapolate my current state of mind would run something like what follows: Staying Indoors with Three Terrorists for Two Consecutive Days = God, Why Me? + Migraine.
Well, here goes. Instead of private offense, I am asking for public dialogue. If you believe in sola Scriptura and are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant, please skip this one. Otherwise, click here for today's CCDB post.
Today's confession: I love sweet pickles. Why does this make the list instead of pizza or ice cream or any number of excellent foods? Because sweet pickles were, at one time, a bane of my existence. Out of the many food banes in my life, it ranked Number 4.
How did the bane become boon? One of Laura's friends gave us a long weekend at her timeshare in Myrtle Beach in late September 2005. We don't go on many vacations. Some of that is due to not having the money and some of it is due to spending our vacation time with family, since we do not live near family.
Anyway, while we were at the house, Laura walked over to the nearby grocery store. She got back with bologna sandwich fixings, which included some dill-pickle sandwich stackers. I built my sandwich and took a bite. "Laura, you bought sweet pickles instead of dills!" I accused with my mouth full, as if she had slept with the neighbor's teenage son. The words had not gotten far past the bologna-pickle mash when they were immediately followed by the thought, "and I like them."
She came into the kitchen and said she didn't realize they even made sweet-pickle sandwich stackers. She, of course, had to fill in this part of the story later because I didn't hear a word she said. I was consumed with sandwich consumption and working on plans of making another.
I reminisce about that happy accident and it makes me think of the monk who mistakenly overcooked his soft pretzels only to produce the wonderful snack pretzels we enjoy today.
I liked the sweet pickles so much that once that jar was empty, I ran out to the grocery store and bought another jar of the sandwich stackers. I've been hooked on sweet pickles since. In fact, I just finished an egg-salad sandwich with sweet pickles in the egg salad. I hear the mocking oohs and ahs, but trust me here - I've been a strictly no-pickles-in-my-egg-salad-please kind of guy ever since I've been able to stomach egg salad.
Okay, so maybe it's not that big of a deal. But, even so, I'm grooving on it.
It's a typical muggy North Carolina day. It's only 79, but I'm sweating even though I'm sitting down. It's that close, that humid, that yucky. Oh, there's a small breeze now, but it's the exception. So my kids and I are outside. My daughters are in their panties and my son is in his diaper. I am sitting here, let all souls breathe a sigh of relief, more fully clothed. I'm tempted to strip down to my skivvies, but I know it would be wrong - wrong as all crimes against nature are wrong. Anyway, someone pray a decade or two of the rosary (or however it is you Protestants pray) for a better breeze here in central North Carolina.
I woke up this morning to my wife's, "Scott, it's almost 7:00!" (She has to be at work at 7:30 and it takes 40 minutes to get to work. At that point, what can you do?) She said it as if I were some guard who had fallen asleep on duty and our prisoner had escaped. Now sure, I forgot to set the alarm when I came to bed. And sure, it's my job. But you see, I stumbled to bed last night in a stupor of exhaustion. I thought the alarm was on.
I told her to go start the Jeep. I finished dressing Sophie, she went potty, and then I pushed her through the door.
So I was feeling blue this morning. I don't know, maybe it's just all the gray. The clouds are parting, though perhaps only for a minute or two, and I see that there is light in this world. Why is that so easy for some of us to forget? I don't have a clue. But I know there is light in this world.
The yellow-haired child is wearing her angel nightgown outside, with her black heels. An empty teddy-bear backpack hangs on her back with an old childcare tag from our old church attached to its handle. This one, she's got gumption.
The boy is wearing a bright orange T-shirt with a plane on his front pocket. He's wearing a diaper, but nothing else - Donald Duck would approve. The boy's chasing the yellow-haired child with a black plastic bat. But I figure it's okay since she's wagging her butt at him and singing the Oompa-Loompa song.
Anna is wearing her 101 Dalmatians nightgown. She's not outside with the rest of us, but is drawing on the computer. She figures she's got daylight to waste. I hope she's right.
I have no where to go today, especially with the price of fuel. I may have to throw them all in our moth-infested van and run up the hill to get some diapers; I believe the boy only has one more. Of course, I might find an extra one under the bed or lying around somewhere. And these diapers, nowadays, they hold a lot.
So I read this morning, "This is the day the Lord has made." It's hard to rejoice in that truth some mornings. Some mornings I'm more likely to say, "And?" than to rejoice. But today I'm going to choose light and rejoicing. Because, honestly, depression sucks. And I wasn't made for depression.
I also read about a fisherman who had denied his Lord. He is in his boat fishing with some others when he hears a familiar command from a stranger on the shore. A net is cast in obedience. 153 fish are caught. An excited whisper, "It is the Lord," prompts the fisherman to dive into the water and swim to shore.
It is the Lord.
I get this big fisherman. I think if it were up to just him and me, the fish would have gone free that day, all 153 of them.
On Saturday, we received the quarterly magazine from our alma mater. Because of some of our family's reactions, my wife was wondering, broodingly, about how our old friends would respond to us when they discovered we had become/were becoming Catholic.
On Monday, last night, my wife's best friend from college called. They hadn't seen each other in thirteen years, but she happened to be in North Carolina visiting her mother, who has been undergoing some long-term cancer treatments at Duke University. She wondered if Laura was available to get together. They met halfway at Chick-fil-A so the kids could play in the playland. Inevitably, our decision to become Catholic came up. Laura's friend just nodded and said that she had three close friends in Ohio who were Catholics. She told Laura that a lot of what she had once believed had changed in the past decade as well. She was comfortable with our decision because she knows my wife, and because she knows my wife loves the Lord.
On the way home, my wife was struck with the proximity of her wondering about her friends' reactions to our decision and her actual discovery of one of her closest friend's acceptance of it. It was a profound and intimate moment, a recognition of God's hand showing kindness to us.
It floors me how He, in His great mercy, answers the prayers of our hearts even when we forget to pray them. What a show-off.
Eleven months ago today, I began this humble little blog. My first post was a simple explanation of why I chose the title "Swept Over." Well, yesterday I was feeling a little down and beat up, and, as I do, I wrote about it here. Occasionally, I am overwhelmed by all y'all (occasionally). Yesterday was one of those days. I have to confess that I was crying before I finished Dan's intervention. Yes, crying. Because I'm a nancy-boy, that's why. Now shut-up. (Yes, I said the S word - give me some quiet here!)
I began this blog for a number of reasons. One reason was to practice writing and to give me the freedom to experiment without fear. One reason was to help me remember. And here is my second confession of the day: I love reading over my old blog entries and remembering. I read them and say to my yesterday self, "Damn, you're good!" or "What the hell were you thinking?!" or, as it concerns the kids, "Thank you for writing about that." Regardless, it's a wonderful tool to help me remember.
But it is not just my writing that has helped me remember what I need to remember. You help me remember. Dan, True, Anon, John, and Sherry - you helped me remember yesterday and today what I needed to remember. Thank you for that gift. Forgive me for my ingratitude that I sometimes express here; and thank you for coming along side me, even so, and encouraging me as you do.
"No, you will sit in your chairs until you listen to me when I tell you not to jump on me," I say to the girls, somewhat coherently, lying on the couch.
"We just wanted to sleep on you," Anna says.
"No, you want to jump on me, and I don't want to be jumped on right now," I say.
Anna pleads with me: "But we love to because you're so squishy."
The first day back from a break is always the worst. It's forcing yourself back into those old, stiff clothes when you've felt so free without them. Not that I'm advocating the nudist lifestyle. Lord knows, I would have no friends as a nudist. Hell, I wouldn't even like myself. But I'll save that old bit of self-loathing for my OA meeting.
Laura and Sophie went back to school today. I know their first days back from break are difficult. I've done both of those first days as student and as teacher. And let me tell you, I don't envy them. But first days after break are hard for us house spouses too. The kids are still in break mode - which includes the attention of two parents rather than one. Daddy struggles to bear with their high-octane emotions and their pitiable breakdowns. I struggle to love them as they are, because I am too busy wanting to be who I think I am. In reality, I am simply Daddy. Why don't I get that? Why can't I rest in that? I am no writer-extraordinaire for whom the world breathlessly awaits publication. The world has writers enough. I do not have fans who lap up my words as kittens lap up cream. I am meowed for by no one.
Except, of course, my children. My children meow for me. They cry for me. I am their daddy. I wish I were creamier, but they still don't know any better. They still think I'm double cream.
And yet I continue to struggle with who I am. Because there is something within me that pulls me Elsewhere, something that thinks I need to be Elsewhere. It's difficult resting in the knowledge that you are a stay-at-home dad when you can't escape feeling as if it is by default alone. It's difficult being a failure in a world that so prizes success. After nearly two years, I still can't reconcile who I am into peace. I love being home with my children, but, at the same time, there is something in me that dies every day my wife leaves for work. I've often wished, as Reb Tevya does, for God to smite me with wealth in order to free me from this too-great strain. But he won't. He's too double-cream.
I wish I knew me.
I wish my feet were more calloused for this road.
I wish all my illicit wishing were drowned in peace.
(The high-octane emotions and the pitiable breakdowns? My kids get it honest.)
The Catholic Catechism Dialog Blog opens today. About 16 of us have committed to reading through the catechism in the next year and writing through our reading. Our goal is to become more familiar with the teaching of the Catholic Church and to, as the title of the blog states, create dialog about the sacred tradition of the Church. There is a lot of confusion about this teaching, and a lot of error about it has been and is propagated, well, erroneously. We hope to be able to begin a godly and gracious conversation about what the Church truly believes. Most of us are not experts. Many of us are recent converts or reverts to Catholicism. But perhaps through our excitement about what we consider to be the fullness of faith, others can grow in their own love and respect for the Church. And, in so doing, become more intimate with our Lord Jesus Christ, to follow him more closely, to become covered in the dust from his sandals. (I got a little nooma there, my apologies.)
As I've already said, it's odd coming home from a long weekend to find a newly planted mailbox in your yard. Yes, it would have been nice for them to speak with us about it before doing so. But, unfortunately, it is their right to have a mailbox, and to have it in our yard. And yet yesterday as I was mowing around it, I was still struggling in my spirit. I felt as if someone had legally stolen some of my property out from under me while I was visiting my in-laws. I felt as if someone had trespassed onto my property without permission.
And no sooner had I had that thought, that I remembered, ". . . as we forgive those who trespass against us."
And so I gave this mailbox and this yard and this house back to God. I asked and continue to ask that he redeems it, and that through it, our neighbors can understand our love for them and for Christ.
I am aware of how ridiculous that sounds. I am aware of how ridiculous all of this sounds. But I am also aware of how necessary it is for this situation to be redeemed in light of our past week. It took us off guard; it presented itself when we had no strength to carry another burden, however small.
How weak am I? How little am I to think of the many things that I could do to get back at my neighbors, to make them understand my hurt? How unlike Christ to let something so insignificant create division between me and my neighbor, to create division between me and my Lord.
But it is being redeemed now, becoming a blessing rather than a curse. So that when I look on this wood and aluminum, my soul is no longer troubled. Rather, my soul is filled with peace and love for my neighbor. Because when I look upon it, I see only Christ forgiving me.
We got back from the beach today. I'm exhausted, for many reasons. And I've got to let you know that no one took anything from our house. There was, however, a new mailbox in our yard - the house across the street decided they needed one and so planted it there. I'm not that happy about it at the moment, to be honest. But I'm sure I'll change my mind when I'm mowing around it tomorrow.
We're driving to Virginia Beach tonight to stay with Laura's parents over Palm Sunday weekend. It's not too bad of a drive, probably five hours. The little people are crazy excited. And Laura is crazy excited to be away from the kids (her class, not the little people).
I'm working on a poem. You'll probably have the misfortune of seeing it here sometime in the future. But, Hey, sometimes life sucks. I also want to get some writing and reading done this weekend. And attend an anticipatory Mass Saturday evening so I can attend my father-in-law's church on Sunday morning.
Gotta run put in another load of laundry and do one more turn in the dishwasher before DW gets home.
And to any thieves who live nearby and who now know we'll be gone - just don't take the iMac, okay? Anything else is yours. Well, I kind of like the TV and DVD player as well. But anything else you can have. Oh, and leave the books alone (not that you are literate, which I suppose makes this paragraph completely unnecessary).
If Laura and I die on the trip - keep the kids together. Call my brother or my sister. And, by all means, get them baptized and catechized. And make sure they know how much we love them.
Sorry about the whole macabre death thing - just textual drool. We'll be fine.
Peace be with you.
I feel ten again.
Fr. Jack says that he would like me to go through the HOSEA class (Hope Of Seeing Everyone Again - Protestants don't have a corner on goofy acronyms) before my confirmation. So here I am, a 35-year-old man with four children taking communion as a child of the Church.
"Have you been baptized?"'
"Yes, I was baptized as a Catholic."
"Have you received the sacrament of Reconciliation?"
I stand with the others in my pew and make my way toward the altar, with a silly grin on my face. Self-conscious, I know that my wife is watching me as I stand in my second line of the weekend. The first line in which I stood, I waited patiently to tell a man things about myself that I hoped no one would ever know. My sins urged me to turn and run out the door. But I didn't. So now I stand in this line to receive Christ, to participate in his life.
I try to look Catholic. The body of Christ. Amen. I receive the Body, and I cross myself. The blood of Christ. (I forget the second Amen, though I mean it.) I receive the Blood, and I cross myself. I walk back to my family. And in the nervousness of the moment, of trying to do it right, I have forgotten what I am doing, I have forgotten Whom I have received. And as I remember, joy pours into my desperate heart. I am both needy and filled, like a newborn at her mother's breast.
"Do you believe the Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ?"
I pause for a minute, smile, and say, "I do."
Celebration, clarity, and peace - I wish the feeling would last, but I know that it will not. There is pain outside those doors. Messes and noise and brokenness await me. But I am washed, graced, and Christed. I am a child of the Church. And at ten, the world is full of wonder.
I went to my first confession today (Reconciliation). I chose to sit face to face with the priest, a man with whom I've talked twice, mostly because I did not know what to do with the ornate confessional screen. I bumbled my way through, a fool on a fool's day. I managed to spit out intermittent, unconnected words that told a shameful story - one like yours, I suppose, only worse. And Christ took my story and he edited it, substantively. He made it beautiful again. He gave me perfect rhythm for shabby rhymes. He gave me new pages and told me to write new words.
You see, he believes in me still.
Today my sin and my shame were washed away, shame that was heavy, sins that accused. I woke to a day long anticipated: the first day of vacation, the beginning of the holidays, Christmas morning.
I know what you're thinking, and it's okay; I've thought it myself. But grant me this one thing, if you will: Rejoice with one who rejoices. Set aside your prejudice, your prejudgment, and rejoice with me. For I have found, at last, pardon and peace.