Monday, March 30, 2009

Odds and Ends

For those of you who are following my Topamax/weight loss journey, I had a doctor's appointment on Friday. In 4 months I have lost 7 pounds. I sat in the doctor's office after stepping off the scale terrified of what my doctor was going to say. That's not a lot of weight lost. Old scary doctor would have belittled me and told me I wasn't really trying. New doctor came in and congratulated me. I was stunned. He could tell I was stunned and asked me why. I told him that old doctor accused me of being lazy. To which he replied, "Your blood pressure is down to 100/70, so you are obviously exercising. You have no swelling in your ankles, so I know you are not eating salty or fatty foods, so that leads me to believe you are trying to eat a healthy diet and 7 pounds lost is no weight gained. You should be proud of yourself." And after all of the horrible battles I have had with my weight this past couple of years, when he put it that way...I was!

Now, onto why I hate Facebook. Yesterday, after I posted my little jaunt down memory lane, I checked my email and there, slapping me in my face was the name of the man who single-handedly caused me more pain than any other person...EVER! My first boyfriend tried to "friend" me. I have had 3 1/2 men in my life. I say 1/2 because one was a friend with benefits who is still a part of my life today and lasted longer than anyone except Hubby. But this guy, this guy caused me ANGUISH.

I was 19 and we met through a mutual friend. He was a nature guy who followed a lot of Native American religion. We hiked a lot and had a mutual love of the outdoors. We spent hours talking before we realized there was a relationship forming. Our relationship was short-lived, however, because he was just too immature. He played games and ignored me. When I would try to break-up he would say he loved me and he was sorry and I would fall for it. You know the drill. Finally I wised up and walked away. But my heart was broken. I did learn from it, however, and promised myself I would never let myself be treated that way again. I was true to that promise, which is why I think Hubby and I found each other. I knew what I had in him.

So anywho, flash forward almost 20 years and there's his name in my inbox. Now I know most people just 'friend' on FB for popularity reasons. Those with the most names win. But I don't. I only friend people I care about. I gasped when I saw his name. Hubby thought I was having a heart attack and got pretty mad at me when I truly couldn't talk for a few minutes as I sat grappling with a panic attack. That's how much power this name had over me. What did old boyfriend want? Was this just a popularity thing? Did he want to make contact and apologize for being an ass all those years ago? Was I overthinking? Should I delete?

So, after mulling it over for hours, I friended him and haven't heard a thing. So there you go. It meant nothing to him. Just like I really meant nothing to him all of those years ago. But you know what? I'm a lot older and wiser now and if he bugs me this time, I have the power of DELETE!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time LIMW was an actress. She wasn't a great actress, but she was decent. She was a good singer, though, and that got her by. She worked for a semi-professional theater company and there were a lot of good times, but there were a lot of bad as well. When she was acting, the theater company owner demanded she always maintain a persona that she was not, even in her everyday life. This persona was thin and outgoing and more than a little bit wild. Let's call her Sasha.

Sasha had a good run. She did some shows, drank too much, met some people, kissed every guy in a bar once and had a band that would play Purple Haze whenever she walked into the bar. She would drive off into the sunset without a second thought and even went to the Grand Canyon on the spur of the moment because she could. She was the life of the party. She was carefree and restless and not quite sure who she was because who she was...well, that wasn't really who she was.

Sasha met New Orleans. New Orleans swept her off her feet. He had a slow, Southern drawl and he was calm and patient, quiet and everything she wasn't. He followed her in her wild ways, but stood beside her, never in her way. She fell in love and Sasha started to fall away. She drank a little less, stopped looking to kiss strange men in bars, and realized the theater company's demand for thinness was slowly killing her. It took more than 1/2 a bagel and a can of Italian tomato soup a day to survive. She stopped being an actress and married New Orleans and grew up.

But as she grew up, she lost her way again. Life began to hit her hard. Bad things happened and instead of running at them full speed and jumping over them, she started to duck and cover and try to hide. She wasn't sure who she was or what she wanted anymore. She had a child and she loved that child, but sometimes it just made her feel even more lost. She couldn't just get in her car and seek out new places or search for new adventures. There were responsibilities. She had cares and worries to think about.

She tried to get back to her acting roots. She started a children's theater. It did well. She had fun. She traveled and made kids happy and was creative and writing plays and life seemed good. But she was the boss in all things and that was bad. She learned that she could not be the boss of other people because she was a control freak and could not stand the fact that other people did not take their work as seriously as she did. She missed her family when she was on the road. She hated bickering about money with clients who didn't value the arts . She wasn't the creative muse anymore, she was the financial boss. She was a business woman. She was miserable. She walked away and went back to being a mom, a wife and a teacher, lost again.

Now she is standing, once again on a precipice, looking at starting over, wondering who she is and who she wants to be. She can't stop being a wife and mom. She can't just get in the car and go on a wild adventure without consequences. But she can change. She can be whoever she choses this time. She just has to figure out who that is. And right now...well...I just don't know who I am. But I think I'm excited at finding out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Life Flashed Before My Eyes.....

E and I went to Toys R' Us to get a birthday present for a party she's going to this weekend. She picked something out and, since it was a rainy day and we didn't have anything else to do, we wandered the aisles while she oohed and aahed. We came to the posters and of course, she had to stop to look at them. She is fanatical about High School Musical. At 7 she just can't get enough of it. Never underestimate the power of Disney. They really do rule the world.

Anywho, the posters were out of order, only I was completely zoned out and didn't notice that. She turned to a poster with the 3 guys from HSM and in her best LOUD redneck Southern twang she said:

"NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!"
As God is my witness my heart skipped a beat and I almost choked on my own vomit right there. I felt like a fish out of water gulping for air. I regained my wits and very slowly said, "Um, E, I think you're a little too young to be interested in boys, sweetheart." To which she replied, "No Mommy, the poster wasn't were it was supposed to be. I just found it."
Thank goodness. But when did my daughter become Flo from Alice?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So....What would YOU do for a Klondike Bar?

I am a trustworthy person. I can keep a secret. I believe you should pay for what you get and get what you pay for. I used to work for the Home Office of Bank One and the powers that be thought I was so honest and reliable that I routinely walked around outside the bank with a bag filled with $40,000.00 in cash. I never once thought of stealing it. I worked in credit card fraud. I know enough about identity theft to do some damage and never get caught. But I would never do that. It's just not how I am wired. I don't believe in easy money.

So lately, as I have been looking at my move ahead, knowing I am moving to a city that has 15% unemployment and a hiring freeze on all teacher positions, I keep thinking of other ways to make money. Ways that would still allow me to pick E up from school. What would you do for money? What would I do for money?

See, a while back a movie rented our church for a location shoot. This movie just happened to star a popular young male celebrity. Not as popular as Zac Efron, but I would say he was a high B-list star. Anywho, I was the church representative for the closed shoot. The crew and actors were supposed to stay upstairs, only this star felt a little claustrophobic at being kept with the extras/fans, so his handlers snuck him downstairs into our nursery. I didn't know he was there and walked in on him in a state of, shall we say, undress. Shall we say extreme undress? He had a pair of boxers on and nothing else. I was shocked. I really hadn't expected to see anyone in the nursery. He CLEARLY hadn't expected to see me. We both stared for a few seconds without saying a word and I turned on my heels and slunk out of there as fast as I could. But all I could think was, "Damn, I wish I had a camera!"

And I felt horrible for having that thought! That poor kid is stalked by fans and paparazzi and is trying to get a moments peace and here I am wishing I had a camera so I could take a picture that I assume would have been a money shot. I was so ashamed. I have had the opportunity to meet a few famous people in my time and never once have I wanted to exploit the situation. But just because I was poor at the time, I was willing to be weak.

So anyway, here I sit, wondering again what I will do for money. I know I will do a lot of things, but at least I think I know, I won't do that.

Although now that I think of it, I'm not quite sure why the guy was only in his boxer shorts. Hmm?

Monday, March 23, 2009

When a Game is Not Just a Game

My daughter is good at almost everything she does. She started taking ballet when she was 3 and was moved up into more advanced classes immediately because she has a very mature attention span and learned quickly. We let her take ice skating lessons over the summer because she loves to ice skate and we wanted to have her get some safety lessons under her belt. Her teachers took me aside and told me she should continue on because she has a natural talent. She's just really physically agile and athletic...almost.

The one thing she is not very good at is soccer, even though she has played that since she was 3 as well. She is just not agressive enough. When she was little, she didn't have the focus. She would be on the field and the high school marching band would be practicing on the next field. She would stop what she was doing and start dancing to the music and the ball would just go rolling right by her. She'll dribble the ball and another player will come up to her and steal it away and she'll just let them. She tries her hardest, listens to the coach and can run down the ball and force the opposite team out of the goal, so she's not bad...she's just not good.

So yesterday we were at her soccer game and she was doing her thing, trying her hardest and being a team player. Her coach kept her in the game a lot because they weren't playing the best team and she was getting a chance at playing a lot of offense that she doesn't normally get to play because she gets overwhelmed by better players. Now remember, this is a 6 and 7 year old team. They don't even keep score yet, nor do they have goalies. It's supposed to be about learning skills and teamwork. I was watching the game but I kept hearing one of our fathers grumbling about his daughter not getting to play. I dismissed it because, well, I didn't really care. E's had plenty of games where she didn't play as much and I didn't complain. That's the game.

So today at soccer practice I was watching the daughter of this father playing one of the "drill"games and she was cheating the entire time. The game was designed so that only one child could win at the end of the game. It was so important to her to win each time that she cheated each and every time. The coach had to force her to leave the game each and every time.

But here's the rub: as E and I were leaving practice today, the girl's mom stopped us to apologize for the father's behavior. Had I been listening to the father, I would have heard him berating MY child and yelling at the coach telling him she didn't deserve to play so much when better players were sitting on the sidelines. I wish the mom hadn't chosen to say this in front of E, but E knows the other girls are better, that's why she practices at home almost every day. Thankfully she didn't take it to heart. And I appreciated the mom apologizing, even though she has no control over her husband. But all I could think was "Ah ha, that's why the daughter feels like she has to cheat to win!"

So, the coach apparently talked to the dad and the dad was not at practice tonight, so I suspect the coach let him have it. Our coach is a real soccer player and he doesn't take crap from the kids or the parents. He runs a tight ship. As far as I am concerned, if the dad says something about E that's his problem. She knows enough about the world to recognize an immature bulliy, even if it is coming from an adult. I feel bad for the daughter. If he's this bad now, she doesn't have a chance when it becomes serious in high school and college. But all I can really think is, "Geez, people, what happened to it just being a GAME?"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thoughts on my Brother

I woke up this morning with this incredible ball of sadness in my stomach and memories of my brother swirling in my head. My brother has been dead since 1992 so that doesn't normally happen. I've long since passed the grief stage. So as I was lingering in my high thread count sheets I was left to wonder why I had such vivid thoughts about him. I began to wonder if maybe someone in the blogosphere was struggling with a child and needed to hear his story. For you see, I believe in ghosts and I believe that people find things when they need them.

So here's my brother's story:

My grandmother was a non-treated bipolar manic-depressive. She would end up in the hospital every few years when it got really bad for electro-shock therapy treatments, but other then that, she was left to her own defenses. My mom grew up ducking and covering from her mom's strange behavior and developed her own coping devices which left her later in life coping with clinical depression. This background information is very important to my brother's story since bipolar depression can be genetic.

My brother came out of the womb as an unusual baby. He was high need and very withdrawn. As soon as he could talk he lied. He could not tell the truth if he was forced to. You could ask him what was in his hand and clearly see it was a banana, and yet he would say it was a baseball. At the age of three my mom found him in the bathroom trying to "shave" with a straight razor. He started on drugs at an extremely early age. He brought home a joint tucked into his 3rd grade report card. He skipped school starting in 5th grade and had trouble maintaining friendships. He was sullen, argumentative, cycled from either being very excitable or very lethargic and would go through long periods where all he wanted to do was sleep. My parents were beside themselves.

They sought help from counselors, doctors, psychologists, ANYONE, but no one helped them. No one believed at the time (and people still don't) that a child that young could suffer from bi-polar. I didn't realize my parents frustration until I had E (who suffers from anxiety). I took E to a psychologist and told him about my brother and he told me even today most doctors won't label a child as bipolar. Doctors are only now coming around to the fact that, yes, a child not yet a teen can be bipolar.

My brother ended up committing suicide at the age of 25. He had told me all of his life he would not live past 25, so it was not unexpected. In fact, it was much like that of a cancer patient's death. When he died, yes, my family felt grief, but we also felt a sense of relief. Our family had been set free from the waiting.

So anyway, as I was preparing to write this, thinking there was someone out there who needed to hear this, I looked up bipolar in kids. I read through the symptoms to refresh my memory of the things my brother exhibited. He only exhibited about a 3rd of them. BUT....I realized the person who needed to hear this was ME. I have a boy in my class who the lead teacher has washed her hands of. She can no longer manage him and to be honest, I am having great difficulties as well. I've only once had a child I couldn't connect with and he had severe Asperger's and we even managed, but this child is out of control. When I read through the list, he has about 75% of the symptoms. The one that really stuck out was the hypersexuality. This child is the most sexual 5 year old I have ever seen and it scares me. So now I am left to wonder...Do I fight my lead teacher's belief that I label children and take the chance and speak up? Or do I whisper in the ear of the child's teacher for next year my suspicions and pass the buck?

Anyway...maybe my brother is happier now.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Talk Me Down

I was doing so well.

I really was.

I was breathing and calm, trying to keep a level head about everything. But today...

TODAY I FEEL INSANE!!!!!

What's our new church going to be like? What's the parsonage going to be like? Are the people going to be supportive or mean and grumpy? Am I going to be able to find a new job? Hubby's not getting the huge raise we were promised, are we going to be able to make ends meet until I DO find a job? Will E adjust? Will my parents ever forgive me for moving 5 hours away when they just moved here to be closer to me? Is this all going to work out? Will our current church be able to pay Hubby his back salary or are his future paychecks in jeopardy now as well?

I know...I know...it will. It will all be okay and it will all be what I make of it. I know these things but that doesn't stop my head from spinning. I want to just pack up and leave now. I don't want to go through the process of telling my school parents. I don't want to finish out this school year being unhappy. I don't like long, drawn out goodbyes. Raise a margarita with me and send me off! Don't make me sit here for the next three months and listen to people bemoan the fact that we are leaving.

It's days like this that I wish I had a vice stronger than Diet Coke. Speaking of which, someone STOLE my diet coke out of our work refrigerator yesterday, drank HALF of it and put it back in the fridge! They couldn't even be bothered to drink the whole thing and hide the evidence! Bastards!

Okay, meltdown over, time to get it together and go back to being the totally together SUPERWOMAN! Thanks for noticing me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Questionable for Work Place Material!!!!

BE WARNED...I'M GOING TO USE THE "V" WORD!



Okay, now that you've looked around to make sure no boss or child is about, I just wanted to share my odd thought for the day. So I had my yearly OB appointment today. And no, I am not going to regale you with lovely intimate or gory details of the appointment. If you're a woman, you know; if you're a man, you don't want to know. But, what I do want to talk about is all of the vaginas running around the office.

There were pictures of vaginas, models of vaginas, advertisements with little vagina pen holders (no phallic symbol there). There was a little day calendar that had a cervix that you could touch that supposedly felt like a real cervix. They were everywhere! So this is my thought. I used to work in a bakery. By the end of the day I could not stand the sight of donuts. Even today, the smell can make me either very happy or VERY sick depending on my mood because I made so many damn donuts. I also work with kids. By the end of the day I need a little time where I am kidless. That means no E, no neighborhood kids, no hugs, no touching, no projectile body mucus anywhere near me. I get tired of seeing, smelling, hearing or touching kids.

SO: Do Ob's feel the same way? Do they walk out of their offices at the end of the day and go "NO MORE!!! No more vaginas!" Do the husbands ever go home and just say "Thanks but no thanks, Honey, I need a break from work." I mean, really, I was overwhelmed with all of the stuff. Vaginal paraphernalia is a big business in the medical world.

Hmm...what does that say about proctologists?

Monday, March 16, 2009

One More and Then I've Got to Stop

So the last story about our old church is, to me, the most painful to tell. As a pastor's wife there are things you expect and accept. I have had to return early from vacations because a church member had died and Hubby had to come back to do the funeral. I have lost entire holidays because Hubby has been sitting in the hospital with a sick congregant. I, myself, have been called on to take people to their chemo sessions or to babysit in an emergency when a family member falls through. As the pastor and family, a lot of times, we are the last line of defense for a family in need. And I accept that willingly and usually humbly. But I do ask that it be reciprocated in my times of need.

Something else you need to know about this church is WHY they didn't like me. There are two reasons. The first was that everyone in the church was related to everyone else. Really. And I was doing my best to make the church grow and bring in "outsiders". The second was that when we first got there, the church shared Hubby with another, smaller, blue-collar church. Up until our arrival, the pastor's wife had always just stayed at the larger church and left the blue-collar church alone. I adored the blue-collar church people and spent a lot of time there. I broke the rules.

So E had just turned 1 year old and Hubby was having a tough go as a part-time pastor, fairly new dad and trying to get through his 2nd year at the Most Expensive Seminary in the World. He was closing in on finals and writing papers all the while fighting off a bad chest cold. About this time one of our congregants was diagnosed with end-stage cancer. The man chose to bow out gracefully and not take chemo or radiation, so the death process went fairly quickly. But Hubby spent about a week trying to balance everything AND spend nights at the hospital. He would come home thinking the man was going to make it through the night but just as he walked in the door, the hospital would call and Hubby would have to go back. This happened for 4 or 5 days and Hubby's chest cold got worse. The man died on Thanksgiving day and Hubby finally made it to the doctor after the funeral. He got some antibiotics and we thought everything was fine.

But everything wasn't fine. About a week after Hubby had finished the antibiotics he woke up one night with horrible chest pains. He thought he was having a heart attack. I called EMS and they arrived and started checking him out. One EMS took me aside and said that although they didn't think he was having a heart attack, something "was showing up" and they were going to take him to the hospital. Did I have someone to watch my baby (who was now wide awake at 2:00 AM)? My family was in the Midwest and his family was 10 hours aways farther south so I had no family nearby. I didn't have any friends. I had Christi, but she lived 45 minutes away, that was too far. I knew people at work, but I didn't have their numbers. I had all these church people who I had forgone friendships for to try to make the church prosper. We had helped them out so many times. Surely someone from church would help us. So I started to call.

I called the first woman I thought of. The widow whom Hubby had sat with so many nights as her husband lay dying. She said no. She told me she just couldn't do it right now. I was stunned. Here I was with my own husband possibly having a heart attack and this woman couldn't even help me?

I called the second woman. She said no because she had to work in the morning. She would just be too tired. What? This is your pastor. I made you a meal when you were sick. I need help. You're too tired?

The third woman told me no because she had to watch her own grand-daughter early in the morning and since I didn't know how long I would be, she just couldn't take the chance. Oh, I'm sorry my husband's heart pain is inconvenient for you!

So there I sat with my baby in my arms, my husband being given morphine and prepared for transport to the hospital for who knows what and I was totally and utterly alone in the world. If he died that night I would have nothing and no one. I was angry and hurt and terrified. How could these people just leave me here? But I had to find someone to take her.

So I made one more call and a very gentle voice answered. By this time I was hysterical and not even sure I made sense but the woman, who later became one of the few allies I had, told me just to bring her over, which I did.

Hubby turned out to be fine. He had pleurisy and was ordered to rest. I, however was, not fine. I have always been a loner, but up until that moment in my life I had never felt alone. And I was made to feel alone by my church, which was even worse.

There are some bright spots to this story. When our home church heard the story (the church where we are now) of Hubby's illness and how the medical bills were overwhelming us, they took up a collection and put it into Hubby's student account that had matching funds. Essentially we received 1,000.00 during a very dark financial time. And I promised myself I would never let myself be so wrapped up in my role as a pastor's wife that I would fail to make friends. Here I have two really close friends and then 3 or 4 friends who I can call anytime and ask for anything. I will never feel that sense of loss or loneliness again.

I have never been able to overcome my anger at that church. It became even worse after Christi died. Christi and I had sat together and been shunned "outsiders" together in church. We worked together to welcome the families with kids and make the church grow (which irritated the old-timers). When Christi died I sat by myself at the funeral. Not one church member offered to sit with me. I sat in the back in case E, who was 3 at the time, got fussy and had to leave. But no one even offered. And they all said how much they loved her. But I knew the truth. And that day kind of sealed my heart against them.

So thus endeth "Tales from the Parsonage." There's a lot more I could tell, but that's the worst of it. And truthfully, I've got to take some time to prepare myself for our move. I can't go in with a negative attitude anticipating the worst. But I will tell you, our move couldn't come a moment too soon. Our church doesn't have the money to pay all of Hubby's paycheck this month. Thanks goodness we're not living from paycheck to paycheck right now. This time last year we were.

And for the people who think I'm not telling the truth...Andie, back me up. You were around when I had the pneumonia, weren't you?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Update

We interrupt "Tales from the Parsonage" for a brief news break. THE PHONE RANG! We finally are now 95% sure where our next placement will be. I am not allowed to say anything or give any clues at this time since I do have church people who read this blog (sorry Assassin), but I can say...I'm in for an adventure and I don't have to leave the ocean behind!

Now though, I am ready to just get on with it and start the new chapter in my life. Although remembering and writing about all the bad things that happened at my former church has kind of scared me all over. But I shall keep telling myself....Life is what you make of it!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More Tales from the Parsonage

There were a few things that happened the very first month at our old church that should have tipped me off right away that things were not going to go well. Most pastors receive a stipend for utilities as part of their salary. A smart church has the utilities in the church name, pays the utilities and then seeks reimbursement from the pastor when the stipend has been spent. This protects the church's credit rating. This also prevents some of the confusion about who owes what when a new pastor enters the parsonage because there is no name changing or start-up fees. Our old church didn't do that. They paid the utility money directly to the pastor. Well, the outgoing pastor took the money but failed to pay the utilities. We came into the parsonage with accounts in arrears and an empty oil tank that the company refused to fill until last year's bill was paid. Now, Hubby and I were younger and stupider about money back then (if that's possible) and decided we would be nice and discreet, so we simply paid the arrears and back-owed amounts out of our own pocket and kept our mouths shut. But that should have been our first foreshadowing of what was to come. No, the church had no control over how the pastor paid the bills, but someone in the church should have been aware of the fact that church bills weren't being paid!

So, we spent about two days unpacking our boxes when we first moved into the parsonage. Whenever I opened a cabinet to put something away in the kitchen, I would see a giant gaping hole in the back wall. It was, I thought, where someone had started and stopped a very bad hole for a water pipe. Why did they have jagged holes throughout the kitchen? I wondered. Well, on day three I decided I wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And this I will never EVER forget. We always keep our bread on top of the refrigerator. I don't know why. There's no reason for it, we just do. So I reached up, took out two slices of bread without looking and put the bread out on the counter. Then I went to get the pb and j. When I returned to the bread I noticed that both pieces had a huge bite taken out of them. I was tired from unpacking and cleaning and not in the mood for Hubby's games, so I turned and yelled at him.

"Hubby, if you had wanted a sandwich, you could have just said so. You didn't need to eat my bread!"

"I didn't eat your bread!"

"Well, I didn't eat my bread and there's a great big bite missing from both pieces!"

And then everything started to happen in slow motion as the reality of what had really happened hit me. I flashed on the gaping holes in my mind. I reached for the loaf of bread off of the refrigerator and saw that the bag had been bitten to pieces and was surrounded by mouse droppings. My house was infested with mice. And, dear readers, this was made all the more disgusting by the fact that I had TOAST for breakfast that morning.

So, I immediately got on the phone and called the "committee" and told them about our mouse problem. He told me this was the first he had ever heard of it. (UM, with those holes, I beg to differ) It was probably just one mouse and that we should stuff some brillo pads in the holes and put duct tape over it, that would solve our problem.

"But what about calling an exterminator?"

"You don't need an exterminator. This is the country. All houses have a mouse or two."

"NOT MY HOUSE!"

I did go through and put the brillo pads/ duct tape solution in place. An exterminator DID come out but all he brought was sticky trap and I could have done that. We didn't see any more signs of mice after that, but that was the start of my tense relationship with the church.

But that's not all, oh no, that's not all....

To be cont.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tales from the Parsonage Cont.

So we lived in our former parsonage for 4 years. From the first day there was something wrong. We would walk through the house in bare feet and the carpet always felt damp. Our towels hanging in the bathroom always felt wet, even if they had just been hung fresh from the dryer. It was just so moist. We never knew why. Whenever we would mention it to the "committee" they would say it was just the area and just deal with it. Our house was surrounded by trees and it made it cooler, that's what we were feeling, they said. The bathroom wallpaper was peeling off when we first moved in, so I finished taking it all of the way off and then put new wall paper up.

Our last year there, about January, I developed cold-like symptoms. They lingered through my annual physical so I mentioned them to my GP and he said they were just allergies. He prescribed some allergy medicine, which I took, but I still got worse. Hubby told the "committee" that something in the house was making me sick. Would they please have the duct work looked at? Of course, they said no. By March I was miserable, went to my doctor again and he still insisted I had nothing more than allergies. By this time, my wallpaper in my bathroom was falling off again. That had never happened to me before. I'm good at home improvement projects. Hubby mentioned that to the "committee." They said I did a bad job, it wasn't the house.

Well, the first week of April I was taking my elementary kids on a field trip to a living museum where there was a lot of soot and fireplaces burning. Our class parent went along and she just happened to be the wife of the chief of cardiology at the hospital system. I say system because you need to think bigger than just a small town hospital. You need to think BIG BIG man. I was struggling to breathe and coughing and hacking and she got on the phone with him and told him what was happening. He told her I had to get to a doctor. I told him I had gone several times and been told it was just allergies. That's when he said he was sure I had pneumonia and he told me he would flag my records and told me to go to a specific Urgent Care. Of course, I'm stubborn, but sure enough, two days later I was there when I couldn't breathe. He had flagged my account because a PA walked into the room with my file looking a little overwhelmed and said, "It says here that you are only supposed to be seen by a doctor but we just had a major emergency walk in. I promise you I will take you seriously." And she did.

She asked me questions, took x-rays, poked, prodded, tested and talked to me about my house. She discovered that yes, I did indeed have pneumonia. Not just pneumonia, but Legionella pneumonia. More and more is being discovered about black mold and the toxins associated with it, but essentially it appears that the dampness in the house contained Legionella bacteria and the toxins in the mold weakened my immune system. She couldn't let me out of the Urgent Care until she got my oxygen levels up but she couldn't move me to the hospital because I wasn't sick enough. I spent a long time at that place.

When I finally got home I came home furious. We had been telling the church that the house had been making me sick and they had been blowing me off. But now I had the test results and a whole bunch of medical bills to prove it. Finally the head of the committee came over and looked at the bathroom. He discovered that the vent in the bathroom, which is supposed to vent out of the house, just stopped in the attic. It went NOWHERE. So black mold was EVERYWHERE. It was in thick layers throughout the bathroom ceiling and attic. So the solution: remove the vent altogether. They told us just to keep the bathroom window open. Bastards.

We moved out in June and the next family could afford to buy a high-powered dehumidifier which continues to pull out several GALLONS of water A DAY out of the house even today.

And I wish I wish I could say that that was all. But that's NOT all, no that's not all!

To be cont.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tales from the Parsonage

As I am still recovering from the flu and finding it difficult not to stare at the phone and yell "RING DAMNIT!", I thought I would write about something easy tonight. Why I hated our last church. There were many reasons why I hated our last church, but this is truly symbolic of how they felt about us and I felt about them. Welcome to my world of sludge.

Hubby was attending the World's Most Expensive Seminary and working as a part-time pastor at a small country church just outside a major metropolitan area. It was quite a weird environment. The area was beautiful. We lived surrounded by farms, apples trees, fishing ponds and rolling hills, but were within 5 minutes of 3 interstates. Our house was on a well and septic tank system. We had just moved from Pop. 259 and had the same arrangement there, so we didn't mind that...at least, until E was born.

Sometime right after E was born we began to notice a unique odor when we would walk out to our cars. Kind of like paper mill but with a little bit of sewer thrown in. Only we didn't have a paper mill in that part of the state. But we did have a sewer of sort. One day I took a blanket out to my front yard to get E some sun. I spread the blanket out and E and I were watching the cars go by but I couldn't get over the smell. Where was the smell coming from? E rolled over a little on the blanket and I looked past the edge into the grass and that's when I saw it. The lovely bubbling crude seeping up out of the ground. Our septic tank was leaking!

We immediately called the people in our church who were responsible for the upkeep of the house. The head of the committee came over, looked at the sludge and said "Yup, your tank is leaking." Umm...DUH!!!! He promised he would call someone to take care of it. So we sat back and prepared to wait. Things don't happen fast in churches, so we thought it would take at least a week. After 2 weeks, he hadn't called us, so we checked with him. He had forgotten. One thing led to another and TEN MONTHS later our septic tank was still leaking. By this time E was walking and she couldn't play in the front yard. Our requests to have it fixed had fallen on deaf ears. I was getting pissed, pun intended.

Pastors are neither renters nor owners of their houses. We can't do any repair work or major changing to the house without permission from the church. We legally couldn't do anything about the septic tank. We were stuck. The church didn't like me anyway and as far as I was concerned it was a safety issue, so I sent a scathing letter to the powers that be and reported our church. No one ever does that. No one. It goes against a secret code. But I did. Our septic tank was fixed within 2 weeks. And the church people....from then on they went from the "bless your heart" Secret Southern disapproval of me to the openly shunning me and refusing to even greet me during the passing of the peace. I was an outcast. But it just got worse from there....

To be cont.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Going on Record

Okay, I'm going to go to go record and say that before this month is over, there is going to be a lot more discussion regarding this year's flu reports. We have been hearing all flu season how the flu vaccinations given this year "hit the mark" and did "pretty well" at fighting it off. Tell that to my school. We had someone come in and vaccinate the whole school in November and today we had a less than 40% attendance rate. The culprit, the flu. And it's starting to trickle out into our community. This may be the worst season in a long time.

Yes, that's what I had. Not lung cancer...not some strange illness. The doctor I saw yesterday said my allergen levels are showing high and my white blood counts are showing virus, but other than that I look normal, so I must just try to find some time to rest. But could someone please tell that to my laundry...my dirty kitchen floor...my daughter's soccer team...the church choir and sunday school classes...my afterschool program....my preschool class prep....my groceries...ummm...MY LIFE!!! Everyone tells you to rest, but here's the thing, what do you give up to rest? You can't give up your work, because you have to make money. You can't give up your child, because she needs you to be a mom whether you feel good or not. You may be sick, but you still need clean clothes. What gives so you can rest? And yes, you can tell me lots of things I can cut out, but it'll fall on a deaf ear because I am the ALWAYS IN CHARGE AND TOTALLY ON TOP OF THINGS MOM/PASTOR'S WIFE/TEACHER WHO MUST NOT FAIL!

So for now I'll just be a martyr and whimper and suffer and make you all suffer with me. And no, we haven't heard where we're going yet.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

If by Rudyard Kipling

"If you can keep your head when all about you


Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,


If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you


But make allowance for their doubting too,


If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,


Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,


Or being hated, don't give way to hating,


And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise...."

I have a doctor's appointment today. I have officially been sick now since Christmas Eve. I have varying degrees of sickness, but I have felt bad for too long. Last night I ended up with at high fever and chills. I know that was the flu since 11 of my 20 kids were out today with the flu, but the other stuff has been lingering too long.

So why haven't I gone to the doctor before this you ask? Because I am scared. I have three nodules in my lungs. They have been x-rayed three times and each time they have been determined to be fibrous, most likely scar tissue from my accident or the severe Legionella pneumonia I had from the Black Mold at our last parsonage. Each doctor tells me not to worry. But I do. What if? I haven't talked to my new doctor about my fears, and unfortunately I am not seeing him today, but I am seeing him for my yearly physical at the end of this month. I am seeing someone in his practice who will probably give me an antibiotic for this crud I have had and I'll be fine. But those nodules are still there...taunting me.

And the poem, that's just there for me. I feel like I am in some strange alternate reality right now. We're leaving, but the church is begging the powers that be to keep us. We can't say anything to people because they try to interpret hidden meanings in what we say or, worse yet, they hear what they want to hear and cling so desperately to it, that we can cause real damage if we mispeak. I didn't grow up in the church. I am struggling to understand this hysteria at losing a pastor. I love my husband (even if he did make me sit outside with a 101 degree fever watching E so he could watch a basketball game) and I think he's a good pastor, but he's not the only pastor in the world. People are acting like, well, like he's...if I say it he'll get mad but it starts with a capital G. It's just all too bizarre.

I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully full of meds that make me feel human again and I'll be able to write something more upbeat and fun.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

That Which Doesn't Kill You....

I suspect some of you have been wondering why I haven't followed up with what happened after Hubby broke the news to our church on Sunday. To tell you the truth, this has been an incredibly painful past few days and I just haven't had the energy to sit down and put it into words. I'm finding it hard to write this even now, so I will give you what I can.

Hubby announced at the end of the service that we would be relocated and that the church would be losing its full-time status. You could have heard a pin drop. People started crying and one woman even stood up, lost her balance and fell and broke her wrist. Then people swarmed, looking for answers I couldn't give. People at our church love my husband and now that they realize they are losing him, they feel that the church is going to die. My husband purposely set about to create a home for religious misfits, a place where the people who had no place felt comfortable. So you can imagine how much more keenly they felt a sense of loss.

But then things became surreal. The staff committee started telling people they had no idea this was coming. Even though they had met for over 90 minutes with Hubby's boss to discuss this very thing. Even though they had set goals in the fall that had to be reached by January or else. They just refused to tell the truth as a whole. Not only did they refuse to be honest, they have been trying to rally everyone into coming to a closed meeting with Hubby's boss to try to convince him to keep Hubby here. It's just making it worse. There's not a chance of us staying now, so they're just making it look like Hubby can't control his own congregation.

On top of that, the woman I work for announced this week that she would not be returning in the fall. The announcement is going out to parents on Sunday. So I get to go through this whole situation again when MY announcement is made, because parents are going to be FURIOUS at losing both teaching partners for a Montessori classroom (we keep kids in each classroom for 3 years). Of course, I'm going to take the heat because my announcement's going to come last.

And lastly, Hubby and I aren't working too well together in all of this. We're both just a tad out of step in our relationship for some reason and it's making all of this seem so much bigger. I just feel really unable to deal with everything after how rough this year has been. I want to cry and kick and scream but I just feel really dull inside.

But I keep telling myself, this too shall pass. People need to grieve. But all I want to do is tuck my head under the covers and not come out until June!

Monday, March 2, 2009

GO READ WIDE LAWNS AND NARROW MINDS

I order everyone today to go and read WLNM post today. Read what she says about gay couples adopting kids and the chaos in kids lives causing a lot of their issues.

GO....NOW...Oh, wait.

And Wide Lawns....THANKS! I don't know if you meant to take up my cause or just felt like writing that today, but after all the crap that hit the fan in my life yesterday and my pants splitting wide open in a classroom full of 20 preschoolers today, I needed some back-up.

You're the best!

Now go.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cause you've gotta have faith....

Dear Readers,

I have posted this story before, but someone posted a comment anonymously and I think it is something he or she needs to hear. Yes, for all of my questions and rants and refusals to name my higher being, I do have faith...and this is why:

When E was 2 1/2 and we had just moved back to this town, Hubby came down with a nasty bacterial infection. Because we hadn't been here but a month or two, we hadn't found a general practitioner, so he decided he would go to an Urgent Care. Quite coincidentally that afternoon I took E to the Death-Defying Playground across the street from the Urgent Care. He was stuck there for several hours while E and I were spending a pleasant evening playing away.

Just as we were packing up to leave, Hubby finally escaped and decided he would meet us at the park. E was tired and it was late, so we weren't going to stay. Hubby jokingly asked E who she would like to drive home with. I say jokingly because she had never, EVER, when given that option, chosen him. She was 2, she was very mommy-centered and she always chose to come home in my car.

But that day, for the very first time, she chose to go home in Daddy's car. I was bereft. I felt like the last kid chosen in elementary school for kick ball. I even tried to talk her out of it. But she was insistent. She wanted to ride home with Daddy. So off they went, ahead of me.

As I was driving home, I came to a stop at a red light on the busiest road in our town. I looked in my rearview mirror just in time to see an old 1988 Chevy truck barrelling towards me at 70 mph. The man was eating a hamburger and talking on his cell phone and never even saw me. He plowed into me. My driver's seat broke as my body was pulled back. My back seat was pushed forward and crumpled as all of the back windows shattered around me. My car was destroyed. A nice man who had been in the car in front of me (who I managed to steer around and avoid) got out and told me to say still while he called EMT's.

When the EMT's arrived, they surveyed the scene and the very first question they asked (after seeing my daughter's car seat) was "Ma'am, where is your child?" I looked around, unable to answer that immediately. Where was my child? I had just had her at the park. She always came home with me. Suddenly, like a high pitched waterfall bursting from my mouth, I screamed, "SHE'S WITH HER DADDY!!!! SHE'S SUPPOSED TO BE WITH ME BUT SHE WANTED TO RIDE HOME WITH HER DADDY!!!!" The EMT just looked at me and said "Ma'am, I hope you say a prayer of thanks today."

I said many prayers that day, and still do today. So yes, anon, I do have faith. And I do pray. Just in my own way and without labels or laws. I don't know where I am in this religious world, but I do believe a Higher Power told my daughter to ride home with her Daddy that day. Because the EMT told me she would have died had she been in the car. Just to tie up loose ends, the driver of the truck had been on drugs and tried to sue me after my claim had been closed because he claimed I hit him, but all in all no one was injured and all was resolved.

And on a side note, today is the day Hubby is telling the church we will be leaving. Keep us in your thoughts. Our road is about to get rocky.