Saturday, January 31, 2009

500 Thread Count=500 Pounds

Disclaimer: In the following post I am in no way demeaning, degrading or making fun of overweight people. I am overweight. I am taking medicine to try to curb my food addiction. I have tried and failed every diet possible and I struggle with weight control. So, just to be clear, this post is not meant to be cruel. It is just a stream of consciousness rambling looking at what makes me tick kind of thing.

So I think it is fair to say I have had a bad week this week. To recap and to add to what you didn't know: I told my boss off, one church member got arrested for breaking and entering, another got arrested for 1st degree murder, a friend's father died and another good friend threw a drink at her husband in a continuing downward spiral of their marriage in which I am trying so hard to NOT tell her what I really think and instead to just listen and be supportive right now. Our church had a meeting talking about changing its status (meaning it wouldn't keep Hubby and we will more than likely be moving) and I've been dealing with a bad cold. I know, wah for me. But there it is, a pretty crappy week. Every day this week I have told myself if I could just make it to Saturday, I would let myself wallow in bed a while and succumb to my lovely 500 thread count sheets. And yes, I know, an inability to get out of bed is a sign of depression, but this week kind of tips the scales, don't ya think?

So as I was wallowing in bed, I was thinking about a TV series I had watched while I was on the Wild Island and had access to cable (did you know I don't have cable?). The series focused on 1/2 ton people. One was called "1/2 Ton Mom" another was "1/2 Ton Dad", etc. I watched about 4 of these shows just flabbergasted with these people. I mean, come on. How in the world did these people let themselves get so fat that they ended up unable to lift themselves up off of a bed? Who has that little respect for themselves that they allowed themselves to become 1/2 ton of flesh? Hmm????

But all of these people had several things in common besides being bedridden. 1.) They all thought they ate less than they did. 2.) They all had someone in the household who enabled their behavior and 3.) they all suffered from some sort of depression or personality disorder. But more importantly, it all had to start somewhere. They weren't born at 800 pounds. They had to have a flashpoint in their life that turned into a downward spiral, a point where they just gave up and gave in. Realizing that today kind of scared me.

Because you see, all week, all I've wanted was to climb under the covers and hide. That's all I wanted. But I have a daughter...and a job...and a husband. I had to keep going. But I found myself needing to soothe myself. So instead of packing myself a lunch one day, I snuck out after work and got a Little Thickburger. Nothing else, no fries or sugar packed drink. But still, 600 or so calories laden with fat. I slipped because I needed comfort. But I told myself it wasn't that bad because it was still "just lunch." I rationalized it away. But then the next day my daughter asked me to stop and get her an ice cream. I haven't had ice cream in months. But I thought, "what the heck, how can one scoop hurt me?" So I succumbed. Different day, just a scoop, but still...Before my medication that burger would not have replaced a meal, it would have been on top of the meal and that scoop wouldn't have been a scoop, it would have been a sundae. I would have told myself I wasn't eating as much as I had. This time I knew exactly what I was eating and I felt guilty both times. But I admitted it. I am admitting it.

Then today, as I was wallowing, I realized I had the second part on the road to bedridden obesity. Hubby has always been a step away from being an enabler. He waits on me hand and foot. He is not all that great at communicating or listening to me. Those things he has to work really hard at, but he makes up for those shortfalls by being demonstrative and loving. If I have a headache, he gets me an ibuprofen. If I need a tissue, he gets up off the same couch I am on and gets one. If I want something to eat but it's not in the house, no matter how tired he is, he offers to go out and get me something. How many eggplant parmesan subs did he buy when I was pregnant? One every 3 days for 38 weeks? All week I've been telling him how much I just wanted to hide in bed all day today and he said that was okay with him. He said he would take E to the movies and just let me wallow. He was going to help me succumb. What if it was more than just a day? How many days would he support this need to hide?

Which leads me to number 3. I fully and wholeheartedly admit I suffer from depression. I cycle in and out of it. I've talked to "people" about it but never taken medication for it since it never lasts longer then two weeks. But it runs in my family. So while I was hidden under my covers this morning, snuggled in with my daughter, pretending I didn't exist, I got to wondering-is this the flashpoint? Is this the start of the downward spiral? Is this how the 1/2 ton people gain the first 20 pounds past morbidly obese? Because I see that happening to me. I can see me taking one week to just hide under my covers, say I don't feel well, let Hubby care for E while I sit in my bed and eat. My system doesn't metabolize food quickly. Even if I ate just 500 extra calories a day more(one little Thickburger), I would probably gain 5 to 10 pounds in that one week, which would depress me more, which would cause me to sneak food more, which would cause me to cycle again, which see what I am saying?

I get it. I get how these people get this way. Only now they're not just "these people." What if, ten years from now, I'm one of "these people?" Hubby told me he would leave me before he ever let me do that to myself. I hope he means it. But I hope I never have to find out.

Man, I have got to get off my damn chair!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fallen to statistics

He was just 6 years old when I met him. Our churches had joined together for an MLK function and his AME church was hosting us. He was just a slip of a boy, with the classic high water khakis and crisply ironed white, yet slightly yellowing short-sleeved shirt that all little boys seem to wear to southern churches. He had never seen so many white people ascend on his church and his eyes grew round and wide as he hid behind his relatives, peeking at me as I waggled a finger or winked an eye.

I found out his name was Dionne. The service began and he sat entrenched in the curve of a large woman's arm, afraid to move and shame his family. But I could see that he wanted to wiggle and run free. When I walked to to the front of the church and sang my solo, his jaw dropped in surprise. I had won him over at that moment and after the service I was able to get a shy, whispered "hello." Nothing more, but that was enough.

We met up again a few years later. This time he was a member of our church. He was a budding teenager with a brain too big for his life's position. He was stuck in the worst of the worst Projects. But he stayed away from the gangs and he tried to rise out of the muck. He has the IQ of a doctor or a scientist and knew what he could achieve, but over the years he had developed a huge distrust of anyone white. He was after all, a black, poor teenager with braids. He looked the part and he got in trouble with the law. The judge wouldn't listen to his side. The judge believed the illegal immigrant felon drug dealer who wasn't even supposed to be in the country over the word of a 15 year old boy. He went to juvie. He came out lost. Hubby tried to reach him over and over and over, he pulled farther and farther away.

Yesterday, that sweet little shy boy who could have gotten out, didn't. He should have gotten out, he asked for help to get out. We tried to get him out, but no one from our church would help us. We gave him rides, tried to get him a job. They turned a deaf ear to our plea. So the pull of the gangs and the despair of the Projects won in the end. Yesterday that sweet little boy was arrested for 1st degree murder. He was an accomplice, not the actual murderer, but he is still going away for a long time. I'm sorry for the family of the dead man. I'm sorry for their loss. And I know that Dionne was wrong and has committed a grave sin. But society and our church has committed just as grievous a sin against Dionne. We created this system and we perpetuate it. We turn away because we are scared or it is not our problem or someone else will take care of it. We don't get involved. And we reap what we sow.

Today I cried as if my heart had broken.

He is not a picture on the news or a person to cross the street to avoid. I trusted him with my daughter when she was 3!

He is the Joseph from my Christmas pageant.

He is the kid who gave up food so his sister got enough to eat.

He is the kid who made his baby niece laugh for the first time.

But he is a murderer.

And now he is a number.

May the Universe help us all for not helping him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And the meek shall inherit the earth...

I guess I have a last straw...and it was found today.

My boss did what she does and hung me out to dry yesterday. Same old stuff, no need to rehash it. But by last night I just really felt as if my soul had been sucked out of my nose with a straw. I dreaded going into work today and I was so tired. I still have nothing to give. So when I walked into work and my boss wanted to "check in" with me about what happened, I just let it all out. I told her that for the past several months I have been extremely uncomfortable, that she had made it quite obvious that she doesn't like me, that she tells me I am too serious but if I try to be more light-hearted that she feels that I am "too much" and essentially she has left me with nowhere to be. I also said that I feel as if I am working under a microscope and she watches my every move and expression on my face and analyzes everything.

To say she was upset with me is an understatement. She put it all back on me and said it was my problem and that I have made her feel like a monster. But you know what? For the first time in months I feel free. As soon as I said it, this vise that was forcing my eyes into a mask of pain let go and my jaw unclenched and I just didn't care that I may have just lost my job. She can be unhappy with me all she wants. I didn't yell at her. I didn't say my piece in an unacceptable way. I calmly and in an adult manner stated the facts and put them out there. Now, according to my faculty handbook, if we can't come to a resolution, I have a right to go above her head and seek help from the school director. I have spoken.

Or, to bastardize a Haven Kimmel title, I Got Up off the Chair!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Feeling Stumpy.

I am sitting here typing away on my brand new Toshiba. Readers, remember, you get what you pay for. Hubby and I bought a cheap Acer last year and the thing was a piece of crap. We wasted our money on it. But we are now back to the brand we know and love. It was a lot of money we don't have right now, but at least I don't have to hold the screen with my left hand just to keep it from fuzzing up!

Many years ago when I was working at my first Montessori school, I came across the book, The Giving Tree. I remembered reading that book over and over as a child and really loving it. I thought the idea of having a friend that you were willing to share everything with was worthwhile and comforting. But when I came across it in the library at the school, the director of the school informed me that I was NEVER to read it to any of the children there, that it was a horrible book and taught a bad lesson. I remember looking at the woman like she was crazy, but she was in charge, so I agreed and I never thought very much more about it- until recently.

But now I think I am beginning to understand. I think I am kind of like that tree. I am a mom so I provide branches to protect my child. I am a wife, so I provide shade to comfort my husband. I am the pastor's wife so I provide apples to try to keep the church fruitful. I have friends who are going through some rough patches so I offer them my branches to keep their homelives strong. My parents live near so I give up my leaves of time to satisfy their need to see my child. I am a teacher so I give up my trunk and leave my home and child to give other people's kids a better start in this world. I give and give and give and give....and the past few days I feel like there is very little left. I "have nothing left to give." Just like the tree.

But here's the kicker, even when the tree says "I have nothing left to give," the boy still asks for one more thing, a quiet place to sit. And this is where I see why the director of my school hated that book. Instead of telling the boy to get his own damn chair, the tree "happily" let the boy sit on its stump. In that instant the tree goes from self-sacrificing to martyr. And if I'm remembering right, the tree was a woman, I think. But anywho, I have decided (and told Hubby) that I can do no more right now. I am tapped out and tired and enough is enough. Someone called me late last night and asked me to babysit his child (for free) all day today (even though I work) and I actually said no. Meetings are being held at our church right now as I type to discuss how to save the church and I have warned Hubby with a threat to his life that he is to insist that any cockamamie plan that they come up with does not include a need to utilize him! No extra services, no fundraiser concerts that HE is expected to plan, nothing that adds even a single hour more to our plate.

And there will be cockamamie plans...and a rush to implement them....and people will say they will take charge and they will help. But I know what will happen. It will be a repeat of what happened this weekend. We have just started a new children's program. 4 or 5 people said they would help. But I am leading it. My "helper" for the week decided 10 minutes before she was to help that she wasn't going to. Her reason? Oh, it is a doozey. She was "tired." She only had to be a body in the room for safety reasons. She didn't have to say a word or manage a single child. She just had to sit and observe. But she couldn't be bothered. Because she was tired. So I broke the rules and did the program by myself, because I was too tired to deal with her crap.

I have nothing more to give but for now, everyone can go get their own damn chair!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Small Town Life

Hubby has done something to our old computer to get it back up and running...for now at least. I have to type very gently so as not to disturb or anger it lest the screen starts fuzzing up and loses its vertical hold again like it is won't to do.

Thinking about our former small town, pop. 259, reminded me of something else that happened while we lived there that I witnessed. Hubby was the county life insurance man at the time and when we moved into the town, I started working at the little town pharmacy. Normally small southern towns have a tendency to be suspicious of outsiders, especially ones with midwestern accents (although I have now lived in the south so much that I draw my A's out with the best of them.) However, because of Hubby's job, and because people were able to see first hand that I could be trusted to keep their medical secrets, we were accepted fairly quickly into the community. The local moonshiner was a customer of Hubby's, so we always had a jar sitting around just to show off to visitors as if to say "Hey, look at us now, we're one of the chosen ones!" But we loved it there and would live there still if Hubby hadn't gotten The Call.

Anyway, one day while I was at work at the drug store, a mom came rushing into the pharmacy with her little boy who had been badly burned on his arm. The little boy, about two, was wailing away pitifully and the mom was practically tearing her hair out in fear and her own mental anguish. Our local doctor's office was closed and this mom did not have any insurance to take her son to the hospital. Even if she did have insurance, I'm not sure she would have taken him since a lot of the country folks in the area just didn't trust doctors they didn't know. So she came to the pharmacist, who was possibly the most respected man in our town.

The pharmacist took one look at the burn and realized it was beyond any medicine, prescription or otherwise, that he had to offer. He then went to the phone and made a call. I thought he was making a call to an EMS until I heard him say my name. Then he said "Yeah, she's the Insurance man's wife." He hung up and whispered something to the mom and the mom sat down to wait. By this time the child had given in to the pain and was sobbing quietly into his mom's shoulder.

About 20 minutes later this very old, rheumy eyed, dark-skinned black woman pulled up in a beat up old car and got out. She looked around to see if anyone was in the parking lot and, when she was satisfied that no one was around, she came in and walked straight up to the mom and child. I heard her talk quietly to the mom and then the mom moved the boys arm to expose the burn. Suddenly the old woman closed her eyes and started speaking in what I thought was tongues. I had no idea what she was saying and I was a little scared. Now remember, I grew up with a Pagan best friend, so I am not ignorant of chants and spells. Plus, Hubby was ultra-religious even before being a pastor, so I was used to people praying and being prayed "over." But this was different. This was completely foreign to me.

The woman finished and told the mom just to let the boy sleep. She looked over at my boss and me and said "Make sure she don't say nothin'." Then she walked out of the store, back into her car and drove away. By then the child was so worn out that he had fallen into a deep sleep and the pharmacist gave the mom some burn medicine and gauze and she left. When all was quiet I asked what in the hell I had just witnessed. My boss explained that this woman was one of the last firetalkers. Apparently it is a gift that is passed down through a family and the person prays a verse of the bible over a burn and the burn is "talked" out of the victim. I just kind of looked at him in disbelief and shock that he wouldn't have convinced that woman to take her son to the hospital, but I had already learned by then that you couldn't change the minds of some of these small-town people, so I went back to work. But not before my boss swore me to secrecy about the woman's identity. Sadly, she felt that this gift was a curse, actually a sin, since she was an extremely religious woman.

Several days later, the mom and child came in to pay my boss for the cream he had given them. My boss showed me the boys arm where the burn had been. The arm was smooth and perfect as a young child's arm should be. There was not even a change of color showing any sort of residual burn. It was as if the burn had never happened. Occasionally in books I come across stories about firetalkers, but I never actually thought I would witness one in real life.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I destroyed another computer. Sending Hubby out for new one this week. Will be back soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Making Fun of Hubby

I haven't made fun of Hubby in a while, but I was very good to him on our snow day. Most of you may or may not believe this, but I am a very traditional kind of wife. That does not mean I am a traditional thinker. I am most definitely NOT a traditional thinker, but I do take a certain pleasure in cooking for my Hubby, mainly because that is one simple thing that really makes him feel loved. So before I tell a story about him, just let me share how well he was treated today.

I woke up and cooked blueberry pancakes with REAL blueberries. Sadly they are from Chile, but still, tranportation miles don't count on snow days. I also cooked REAL bacon. We have real bacon maybe...MAYBE...once a year. Then, after playing in the snow, I made his favorite winter comfort food lunch of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. Not just any tomato soup, but tomato soup made with milk. I really can't stand it that way, but...Finally, for dinner, I made baked sweet potatoes, homemade applesauce and ham steaks. To say he was a happy camper was an understatement. Normally I make him eat spinach salad and roast chicken, occasionally baked eggplant if he's lucky, but today we splurged! (Hmm, I also just realized we eat a lot of pig when we splurge. I guess that's why they call it feast or famine.)

So, I hope you agree, his tummy is too full to notice that I am about to, once again, reveal his gift of hindsight. I was reading Freedragon's post about her troubles with her heater and it reminded me of this story, so thanks for being my muse today.

Anywho, before Hubby decided to be a pastor, Hubby and I bought a house in a very small town (pop, 259). We bought the house for $53,000 but got a special kind of loan that gave us $22,000 to renovate it. And it needed renovation. The house was a catalog house that old-timers still remembered being brought in on the train in pieces. The train stopped running to that town in the early 30's. If you ever watched the sitcom, Roseanne, when they showed her house, there was a house right next door...that was almost exactly like our house. We loved it and poured our hearts, soul and sweat into it. The house had an old plug fuse-box, oil-burning heaters and hand-hewn knotty pine paneling. We did a lot of the renovation work ourselves, but one thing we could not do was take out the oil heaters and install a modern day HVAC unit.

We were very careful in our search for contractors and workers. For the most part we found really good people (although our electrician disappeared halfway through the process and never returned). But a man working for one of the big factories in town was starting a new HVAC business and was having trouble finding clients since he didn't have a reputation. He approached us about doing our HVAC work and giving us a reduced price if he could use us afterwards as references. Our town was very small, but the county was huge and close knit. This man knew all the people would be watching him. If we liked him, he was in. We made the deal and it was a great partnership. He installed the system and the new ductwork and we had an air conditioner, which was good, since it was August in the tropical south.

About this time, my parents were living in Houston and asked me to come home for a weekend visit. I was ready for a break, so I left Hubby to work in the yard with strict instructions not to do anymore housework. He needed a break from it, too. He enjoys yard work and I thought that would be good for him to just spend some time getting our new yard in shape. Silly me.

I was safely in Houston when I got lonely for his voice, so I decided to call home. Only, he didn't answer the phone. Instead I got the answering machine. But the outgoing message on the machine had been changed. Instead of saying "Hi, you have reached..." It said, "If this is Bryan (our HVAC guy), I left a message for you, it seems I have cut the electrical cord to the compressor, could you please come and fix it as soon as possible?" Remember, it was August...30 miles inland...we actually lived in the middle of a swamp. It was hot without AC.

I started to panic. How had Hubby cut the cord? I knew he was okay because I had heard his voice. But had he been hurt? Had he been shocked? I called and called for several hours before I reached him. I was frothing at the mouth by the time I finally found out what had happened. Hubby had been outside with the garden clippers, cutting away at vines and branches. When he came to the A/C unit, which was a good 4 feet tall, he failed to stop and think, "Hey, this thing has to have an electrical cord attaching it to the house." Instead he saw the cord, thought to himself "this is a weird vine," picked up said cord with his clippers and...SNIP...out went the air-conditioning. He's lucky he didn't kill himself cutting an electrical cord with metal clippers. Nice Bryan came by and fixed the cord, thankfully, since Hubby was obviously suffering from heat stroke.

But like I've said, that's why Hubby is well-insured. Oh, by the way, I have a wonderful braised lamb with vegetables already marinating for tomorrow's dinner, Hubby.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not a funny post...

If you are not a church goer, this post will mean nothing to you, so you might want to come back tomorrow. I also need to tell you my husband and I went out for these huge $10.99 margaritas tonight, so my typing is a little wonky. Bear with me. But something happened today and I need to get it out.

Today was a normal Sunday. I got to church, did my preschool Sunday school class, ran to choir practice, went to church, left in the middle to help with the children's church and then left children's church early to go and set up food for the coffee/cookie time after the service. Ideally a family signs up every week to offer food to the church members each week, but as is often the case, no one had signed up for this week and one of our lifers was having a birthday, so Hubby asked me to take care of it.

I have had too much tequila to figure out how to put this into this post, but I need to let you know that Hubby, who has NO secretary or office help, really messed up the bulletin for the church service this week. Remember that...I'll come back to it.

Hubby had set the coffee up to brew before he went in to the service and I was setting the food out when church let out early. I was caught in the midst of putting the food out when congregants started coming into the Fellowship Hall. They swooped down on the food and I could barely get the replacement food on the table when people started fussing at me that there was no coffee. Where was the coffee? What was this? Just cookie? Where the HELL was the coffee? No one could be bothered to say thank you for spending our own hard-earned money on coffee/cookie. No one could be bothered to offer to help me put stuff out. They just complained that there was no coffee.

But you see, Hubby had MADE coffee, the coffee maker malfunctioned, but nobody could be bothered to look at it. And nobody could be bothered to take my place and put plates of goodies out so I could look at it. All they could do was complain. And there I was with a knife in my hand taking the heat. And let me tell you, I was pissed.

So afterwards I called the Assassin, a fellow church member who normally understands me and supports me...and she blew me off. I was stunned. I was devastated. I was saddened ( I can't type saddened). But I realize she sees the writing on the wall.

Something has gone dreadfully wrong at our church. It started happening way before we came to our church. The church has a long history of being hard on pastors and being in decline and today was a good example of why. Today was a prime example of all of these people complaining about something that wasn't done, but not lifting a finger to get it done. And the was like a drain pan on an air-conditioner. The bulletin is something that is normally done by a secretary or a volunteer. But Hubby has no secretary and no one has volunteered to help. This week I needed Hubby to cut short his hours to watch E because I had meetings and open-houses at work. Something had to give and he rushed through the bulletins and there were a lot of mistakes. Drips, like in a drain pan, but there is no drain pan to catch them in this case.

There are a very few and select group of people (like the Assassin) who are working really hard...trying to make the church prosper...but are they doing it because they like my Hubby and me, and they want to see us stay? They are spending all of their energy trying to make the church look like it is alive, when a lot of other church members are just attending on Sunday and not lifting a finger to help. Somewhere along the line, I feel as if Hubby and I have BECOME the church. And that's not right.

And I think it might be time for us to set them free.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just a few updates

I failed to mention several weeks ago that Uncle Junior died suddenly of a massive heart attack while he was still in he hospital. It took everybody by surprise and therefore was that much more devastating, but at least he was not alone. We did not attend the funeral because we were already on the Wild Island and committed to follow the course once there.

Whack job Ex-fiance has not called, although we have received several blocked calls that have gone unanswered. I received a lot of comments stating that I should not have insisted she call the house. I guess I just was marking my territory and showing her that my balls were bigger. I seriously doubt she will have the nerve to call the house.

For those of you who followed my old blog, Pregnant Partner and I have actually managed to form a gentle friendship again. We are never going to be more then superficial friends, but it is easy and nice and her son loves me, so she is happy. I am sorry for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, but it is TOO long to go into again.

E's teacher spent all week teaching her that MLK, Jr would have been 81 this year. At first I just rolled my eyes and phftted at it. I'm obviously not going to fight that battle. But then I got to thinking, am I willing to overlook the mistake because I am a middle class white American who never had any relative who had to sit in the back of the bus? What would I do if she were teaching the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1777 (and yes, I know it finished up being signed in 1777, but that's besides the point)? I just need to get E through this year.

Lastly, Evil Genius Neighbor's daughter is in the hospital with pneumonia and I am livid... judgmental and livid. This poor girl is a pawn in her parent's divorce and neither parent truly cares about her well-being. She has horrible asthma and her doctor and JUDGE has ordered the pets be removed from the houses, but her mom has a dog and a cat and her dad has a bird. She is behind in reading, but neither parent believes in reading to her at night. She has a learning disabilty and struggles in school, but that is partially because she goes to bed at 10:30 every night in both households. She was diagnosed with pneumonia on Monday and landed in the hospital on Friday. I wish they had just given her to me for the week and let me take care of her. And yes, I know any child can get sick and then sicker, but I know her situation and I have to believe she's in the hospital now because of the dogs and the cats and the lack of rest and probably because mom couldn't be bothered to give her her medicine consistently. Argh.

Usually I err on the side that we as parents are all just doing the best we can and sometimes we are great but most times we're lucky if our kids our dressed and they make it through childhood with half of their teeth in their head. But I have watched these parents fight over and around this child and...just...ARGH!!!

And for those of you who feel like I never stand up and speak up when things are bothering me , I stand up and speak up for this girl all the time and tell her dad off all the time. He knows how I feel, I don't pussy foot around the situation. So double ARGH!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm Rising....I'm Rising....Must Rise....ERRRR!!!

I so desperately want to share my week of ducking and covering from constant criticism from my Lead Teacher. It was non-stop and amazingly insane. Can I share just one example, please? We were having a night time open house, so she told me to take a student's work, cover it with a mat and put it on the cubbies out in the hallway so it wouldn't get messed with. I did exactly as she asked. But when I went back to get it the next day, it was gone. She huffed at me and said, AND I QUOTE ,"I know you meant well, but it was just too much stuff in the hallway." I meant well? I didn't mean well. I was following orders. And I know it seems like petty nothing stuff, but imagine 20 or 30 of those petty nothing things EVERY DAY!! BUT....I will rise...I will rise... I will let it go and tell you about the joys of being a pastor's wife.

Because something else happened this week that really tweaked me in all the wrong places. I will be the first to admit I am not the world's best pastor's wife. I am someone who struggles daily with a crisis in faith. I was not raised in a church and my family was not particularly religious. So you can imagine what a large adjustment it was for me to go from NO church to being the woman behind the leader OF the church. I make mistakes and I fight desperately to maintain my small corner of myself. But I am still involved.

So I was very surprised by a conversation I had the other day as I was driving a church member to church choir practice. Remember that sentence because I will repeat it in a minute. The CM was telling me about another woman she is friends with who is the wife of a Lutheran minister. And she said, "And she's just like you, she takes a hand's off approach with the church and makes sure the church knows that she is not part of a package deal. Her husband is the pastor but she doesn't want to have anything to do with the church." I just about slammed on the brakes and dropped her out of the still rolling car right then and there. I couldn't believe she was comparing me to this woman! Did I mention I was driving her to CHURCH CHOIR PRACTICE?!! Let me check. Why yes...yes I did. I almost screamed at the top of my lungs "*&*&*&HOW DARE YOU SAY I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE CHURCH%$%^#$?" Boy, that would have been the story that got bandied around the conference meetings for years to come: Pastor's wife goes insane, throws congregant from moving car while screaming obscenities. Yep, it will happen one day. I just hope it won't be me.

So dear readers, I'm going to let you be the judge and tell me if you think I take a hand's off approach with my church and list the things I do:

Sing in the choir
Sing solos at funerals and weddings upon request FOR FREE!
Teach a Sunday School Class
Teach Children's Church
Teach VBS for all 5 days in the summer
Make goodies for all of the shut-ins several times a year
Organize and do everything for the children's Christmas program
Sing in the Christmas Cantata
Fold bulletins
Sit in the building as the church rep when an outside group rents the space
Organize Family Nights several times a year
Visit people in the hospital in emergency situations when Hubby is out of town
Prepare food for our cookie hour after the service several times a year
Step in wherever Hubby asks me whenever he asks me
Act as official greeter in the summer
And, oh yes, I drive church members around who don't have cars!!!!

The sad thing is, I do all of this stuff quietly, so of course she doesn't know I am doing it. All she sees is that I refuse to be part of the women's group (something's gotta give) so she thinks I don't do anything. And normally the only affirmation I need is the affirmation I get from my Hubby. But I guess it all goes back to all of the criticism I am taking lately. Now it's bleeding into my life in other areas. This CM is a woman who has always had my back and in no way meant to offend me or hurt my feelings. She probably didn't even mean it the way it sounded. But damnit, I DO STUFF!

So if you are a church goer and you are reading this blog, go up to your pastor's spouse this weekend and say "Thanks." We're a much maligned bunch and need a little love, too, you know.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Woman Scorned

Many people find it hard to believe, but pastors weren't born pastors. Most of them lived lives prior to receiving their call into ministry and more than a few of them lived their lives "in sin" before becoming pastors. Hubby was no exception.

We met in 1994 by chance. We started dating on a whim and agreed we were just going to have a brief fling and then go our separate ways. Hubby was in my town for a few short weeks and was then being sent back to whence he came. I was never supposed to see him again because his home was clear across the country and we agreed neither of us wanted a long-distance romance. We had a torrid, passionate, exciting affair and then he got in his car and drove away. It was an amazing time in in my life, the kind that books are written about and people relive for years to come; but it was also the most painful time in my life. As he drove away I was heartbroken and empty, unable to cry because I had done this to myself. I had agreed to this short time of bliss, knowing it would end with me alone. But I had thought it better to love and lose...

For you see, Hubby was engaged. I didn't know that the first night I met him or I would have never allowed the relationship to come about. I'm not that kind of person. I take vows and oaths very seriously. But Hubby was young and out of his element and, well, he had been engaged for three years, so he was more than a little frustrated (and you can take that any way you want). Three years is a long time to be engaged, but she just kept putting off the date for one reason or another. She wanted to finish college. She wanted to get her Masters. She wanted to move and get her life established. She wanted him to be willing to follow her career. She wanted him to give up a lot to wait on her. He would have done all of that, if she would have just gone ahead and married him. She was the daughter of a pastor and had very strict rules and expectations for their life together.

And then he met me. The me of then was much different from the me of now. I was bold, outgoing, wild, artistic, singing in a band and acting with a theater company, and everything she was not. I was taking my little corner of the world by storm and I swept him into my circle in the dead of winter. We fell in love and he knew he had to make a decision about her.

So he left me to go back to his home and we discovered we couldn't just let things be. We called each other at a time when calls were not free. We had phone bills in the 100's of dollars. We travelled to see each other several times a month. We would not be kept apart. She hadn't seen him in months and finally made arrangements to visit him and he broke the news to her that their relationship was over. To say she did not take it well was an understatement. She threw a glass, they both cried, she made him feel like a cad. And maybe he was, but we all have bad break-ups. We all make mistakes in relationships. We are all young once.

Anywho, for years Hubby felt bad about the way he broke things off with her. He felt that he should have told her about me right from the very beginning (I think he should have told ME about her right from the very beginning, but...bygones). Apparently sometime in the past she contacted him and told him she deserved or needed an apology. So 2 years ago, as part of a Lenten observance of writing letters to people in his past, he wrote her a letter of apology.

Fast forward to this week. This week she CALLS the church and leaves a whacked out message for him asking him to call regarding some correspondence, yadda yadda yadda. She also stalked him via his Facebook page and emailed him stating she needed to talk to him about the letter he sent. Let me say again, he sent the letter TWO YEARS AGO. Now, I trust my husband implicitly. He may break a vow to me, but he would never break a vow with God and that's what our marriage vows are. So I am not jealous, per se, of this woman contacting him. What I don't like is the way she went about it. I told him she needs to call the house if she needs to talk to him. I won't pick it up, she never has to talk to me and he can take the call upstairs in private, but she MAY NOT sneak around and try to talk to him.

I do this because something about the tone of her message makes me think she is out to drag him around and make him suffer. I know Hubby. It's easy to make him suffer. I also know women. This one is out to do some damage. And I'll tell you, I may be a mild mannered pastor's wife by day, but you mess with my family and you better come into the ring wearing a WWF belt because it is going DOWN!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Great Shrimp Scampi Debacle

I have always thought that I suffered from the House of Usher disease. You know the story by Poe, Fall of the House of Usher? The main character has a hypersensitivity to sights, sound, SMELL, taste and touch. That is me to a tee. I can't walk through a clothing store because I can smell the petroleum in the fabrics. I certainly can't touch any of the clothing because when I reach for something that I think is going to feel soft, it turns out to have some sort of strange, unnaturally-created dye that stays on my fingers and irritates me the rest of the day. Bright lights send me running for sun glasses at all hours of the day and people who sing, if they're even just a hair off-pitch, well, my eyes cross and I lose my sense of balance when that happens. I'm just that sensitive to things. But I must say, of all of these things, the smell thing gets me the most. I can handle all of the other sensory overloads, but not THE SMELL!

This became worse when I was pregnant. Something happened to me and I was rendered incapable of eating anything at all. I was a lousy pregnant person. There was not a day of my pregnancy that I enjoyed, nor was there a day when I was not miserably sick. Only, if you remember, I have an iron stomach, so even though I wanted to throw up every single day for 38 solid weeks, I never could. It wasn't the fact that I wasn't hungry, I was. I just couldn't get past the smell of the food. I was truly living on three things: oatmeal, grits and (believe it or not) eggplant parmesan subs. But they had to be subs, not just eggplant parmesan on a plate. I guess I needed the bread to soak up the smell.

So anywho, Hubby was well aware of what was going on with my olfactory system, because he was making a sub run every 3 or 4 days when oatmeal and grits just wouldn't cut it. AND he sat with me in the emergency room for 12 solid hours when I was 17 weeks pregnant with dehydration because even the subs failed me at that point and I couldn't force myself to drink our water. For you see, at that time, we lived in the country and we were on a well and well water has minerals and, well, minerals have a SMELL! And I couldn't drink bottles water, because the bottles have a smell and...I was a mess.

But the worst offender of all at this time was garlic. I couldn't be in the same room with garlic. It was my nemesis. It offended me. It had the power to send me crying into a fetal position if I entered a restaurant that had just a little bit too much of the smell of it hanging in the air. And yes, I know, eggplant parmesan subs have garlic. I said I was pregnant, not sane!

Well one day I came home from work and Hubby had been home all day (Fridays are his day off instead of Sunday.) I opened the door and was immediately accosted by this horrible, monstrous visibly lingering aroma of garlic hanging in the air. Hubby, being happy to see me, came right over to where I was still hanging precariously in the doorway and tried to give me a kiss. I say tried because you know what happens to garlic once a person eats it, right? It comes out their pores and over their breath. Hubby got within 3 feet of me and I started screaming like an insane banshee, "WHAT DID YOU COOK IN THIS HOUSE? WHAT DID YOU EAT THAT HAS GARLIC IN IT? WHAT DID YOU DO?" I could not be calmed down and I was crying inconsolably. He was so baffled by my behavior and the only thing he could think to say was, "I ate the shrimp scampi that you bought me."

Now let me tell you. When your very sick and pregnant wife asks you a question that involves "WHAT DID YOU DO?" It is best not to respond with the words "...that you..." I was livid. I was sick and nauseated and out of my mind with this odor that was threatening to take me down and my husband was the root of all evil at that moment in my life. So I made him leave the house. And it wasn't in a joking "don't come back until you're clean" kind of way. It was a "get the hell out my sight, you evil beast, and don't come back until every last drop of garlic has been eliminated from your body and you are prepared to grovel for hours and accommodate my every need" kind of way. I believe he slept in his office at the church that night while I slept with every single window in the house open.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I had bought the shrimp scampi, but I had bought it before I had ever gotten pregnant. It had sat in our fridge for several months. Why he chose that day to eat it, I'll never know. But to this day, I still can't stand the smell of garlic.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Clergy Family Conversations

In case you haven't been able to tell, my family is very liberal. So I was greatly distressed when my dad told me E had called something he did "gay." Now I know there is a lot of internet discussion back and forth about whether or not using the term "gay" as slang is appropriate or not, but I don't want my daughter using it unless she is describing Christmas ornaments or same-sex couples. After all, our church has several gay members and I have several life long gay friends. I don't want her to slip up in their presence and cause a riot.

So today Hubby, E and I were in the car and I asked her if she knew what gay meant. She said no, so I told her. The conversation degraded from there:

ME: Gay means when a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman like mommy and daddy love each other.

E: Like your friend A is gay. Because she's married to a woman.

ME: Yes. Just like that.

E: But she's a witch, too. (She practices paganism)

ME: Yes, she's a gay witch.

E: But how did she learn to be a witch?

ME: Well, I think her mom and her grandma taught her.

Hubby: But I thought she was raised Catholic?

Me: Her dad is Catholic.

E: So she's a Gay Catholic Witch?

I wasn't about to get into the ramifications of all that, but if you ever wonder what your clergy talk about, it's probably not that. But then again, we're not your normal clergy family.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Update

I wasn't going to put any more energy into my situation with my boss this week, but an anonymous commenter struck a nerve with me and I wanted to clarify a few things. The commenter suggested I try to make myself available to my boss, befriend her, and treat her as I would my kids, repeat what she says and make sure she feels heard. I totally agree with this. But... I have tried all of these things. My boss was singing in a choir concert and I spent $20 to go to her concert to hear her sing. She said she had always wanted to Christmas carol, so I arranged a group caroling session. Every time she criticizes me, I repeat what she says to her and I try to let her know I have listened. But what happens is that she tells me to do something and I do it, but then she gets mad at me and criticizes me in front of the kids for doing what she asked.

Case in point- we have a boy who is very high need and immature. He pushes all of her buttons and she becomes very irritated very fast with him. She was giving him a lesson and he refused to work by himself. If she left him to continue working, he stopped and started distracting other children. She came over to me and said, "I am getting irritated with (child). Will you please sit with him and get him to finish his work?" He had one math problem that he had to do. Remember, this is with Montessori materials, so one problem can be pretty intensive. So I sat down and started doing just that. About 5 minutes later she came over and told me she didn't want me just sitting with him. He was taking up too much of my time and was going to start to rely on me working with him. I stood up and told her that I thought she had asked me to sit down and get him to finish his work. She said that is NOT what she said. But she did, it's kind of hard to misunderstand 8 or 9 words....

So, in the end, there is only one answer for me in this situation. And I hate it and I run from it every time. But I just have to rise. I always have to rise like frigging cream. I realized in reading my own stuff that I am getting sucked into her negative energy and being turned into something I am not. She frowns and tsks and clucks and belittles the kids. That's not me. She thinks it is completely inappropriate that I provide opportunities for the kids to laugh AT me during lessons, it encourages chaos. So what? If she puts me in charge of circle, then I will run the circle in the way I am comfortable. I will continue to do silly accents and tickle and hug my kids. I will not try to overrun her authority, after all, she is the lead teacher and so be it. But if I don't get hired back, I will be thankful, I think.

I just hate that it takes me so long in my life to accept that in each difficult encounter I have, I must rise above the situation and be the bigger person. Some small part of me always wants to stick my tongue out and just give a great big "Nya-nya-nya," at these things. But that being said, I hope to be able to take a break from writing about my situation with my boss and go back to writing about other, more interesting and fun things. Like the day I kicked Hubby out of the house just for eating shrimp scampi.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

YOU KNOW.........

I told myself that I was going to start this new year with a good attitude. I was going to come back from my two week break from work with fresh eyes and a hopeful new approach. Things with my lead teacher were just strained because the kids had Christmas Fever in December. I was going to turn over a new leaf and make things right! Right?

As I was driving to work yesterday morning I had a full blown, knock down, drag out panic attack. It was so bad my finger tips went numb. I couldn't breathe and had to call the Assassin AND Hubby to try to talk me down just so I could get myself to work. I managed to force myself in the doors and kept a low profile. My boss was watching my every move and slightly critical, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Good, I thought. I've got a handle on this. It's going to be better now. Right? RIGHT?

I should have known better. I saw the trap. I walked around the trap once, but then I just jumped right into it. My boss has told me several times she feels that I label children too easily and that I shouldn't do that. Even if I say something is developmental, she says I am labeling them. But here's the thing, I have a right to label some children. I have experience working with special needs kids. I know of what I speak. Parents of special needs kids have thanked me and sought me out to work with their kids. I just "get" kids with quirks. To me it's just what makes the child unique, it's not a life curse to have something different with your child.

Anywho, remember my OCD child, the Perler bead child? She also has a tendency to wet her pants several times a day, every day. My boss got really fed up with it today and asked me point blank if I had a opinion on why she did this. I didn't know what to say. I knew if I said, "Why, yes, I think it is a manifestation of her OCD and we need to find something else that soothes that need," she would say I was labeling her. But I also knew if I didn't say anything, I would get in trouble. So I took a clinical approach. I simply said, "Well, I know in children this age it is a symptom of diabetes. I don't think she has it, but I just don't know." This didn't sit well with my boss, so I added, "I also think she enjoys being in the bathroom, it's her safe place. She spends twenty minutes at a time singing or playing the drums in there. Maybe that's just how she gets in there." No labeling. There was NO LABELING THERE!

Unfotunately, we had a meeting later on this afternoon and she brought it up again. I thought she was really asking me, giving me permission to say something, so I suggested we try an experiment where the child would receive a reward if she went one day without having an accident. The teacher kaibashed that idea because, "she'll harass us every other day about getting a reward and never let it go." (Umm, my point on OCD, maybe?) So then I said that I just wanted to know if the child COULD control her bladder or if maybe she wasn't developmentally ready to be potty trained. The lead teacher exploded all over the place and told me that she has already spoken to me about labeling children and that I am not a psychologist and...and...and....and I walked right into it, didn't I?

The thing is, I am beginning to realize that this person does this to make herself feel better. She belittles me to soothe herself. If I can say this to myself, why can't I just let it go and get through my work day without wanting to poke my eyes out? Why...why...WHY? If I talk to the division head, she's just going to talk to my boss and things will be a real mess. If I ignore the problem, I have 5 more months of this and then I have to try to find a job in a really messed up economy. If I talk back to my boss, well, I risk my job and a good reference. I just don't know what to do.

Rock, meet hard place.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Commissioner Gordon is gone!

You may not know the name Pat Hingle, but he was a long-time actor and you have probably seen his face a million times. His most famous role was that of Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies. But he was so much more than an actor. He was a very nice man, never tainted by fame and wealth. I had the great fortune to know him in my younger and wilder days. He was always so nice to me and made me smile whenever our paths crossed.

Today he passed away from cancer.

The world has lost one of the last, great motion picture actors.

Goodbye, Pat.

Four Years Tomorrow

On the way to church last week, E and I had the misfortune of passing a recreational lake as they were pulling a dead body out of the spillway area. The body had been covered, but of course, E had a lot of questions about how the person died. Not knowing anything about the person, but knowing the area, I told her it was probably a homeless person.

We talked a little about the perils that might befall a homeless person and cause his or her death. After a moment of silence, E let out a big sigh and said, "Mommy, there is just so much sadness in my life." I didn't know what to say. She is after all, 7, how much sadness can there be? So I asked her why she said that. To which she replied, "Because Mommy, how am I going to help ALL of these people?"

I thought about that. She's 7. Have I really put the weight of the world on her shoulders? Should she be worried about these things at this age? Can she help "all of these people?" In the end I simply answered, "E, you help one person at a time and you never assume someone else is going to do it." And she seemed to be okay with that answer. But I also realized, my daughter really is in this world to change it. And I guess she's going to drag me along, too.

On that note, tomorrow is Epiphany. It is also the fourth anniversary of my friend, Christi's death. She was a great person who lived her life in such a manner as to change the world. It didn't matter to her if you were gay, straight, black, white, rich or poor. If you needed her, she was there. She lived simply so that she could afford to help others. She quietly provided Christmas to 3 other families each year. She spoke out when people were being treated poorly and she would give her coat away to a homeless person saying she could always buy another one, even if it was 20 degrees at the time. I don't think I'll ever get over her death. So each year on Epiphany I try to do one small thing to change the world. This year, will you join me?