31 March 2006

An Old Friend

As a quilter, I've developed quite a fabric stash. That is I've got a lot of fabric stashed away for future projects. I have it divided into different kinds of fabric. Probably the largest category is "Reproductions." I particularly collect and use fabrics that reproduce fabrics from before 1900. I even belong to a group where we exchange blocks and make quilts from the AnteBellum era to the late 1800's. Some of the fabrics in that part of my stash are "eh." I have them because they are useful and make good partners with others, etc. But some have become good friends. Some I love. I know that sounds silly, but I've really grown quite attached to them. And therein lies the problem. The evil fabric manufacturers only run fabrics for a season at best. So when you purchase fabric, you get it and then ... it's gone. Well, I'm down to the last bits and shreds of one of my favorites. And the problem was I have nothing that I've made with this fabric in it. I've given it all away. Then yesterday, completely by chance, I walked into a store that never has sales. And they were having a clearance sale. And ... there was my friend. On sale! For HALF price. So I indulged and bought a whole yard. We've been reunited, my friend and I. This time I'll be sure to make something for myself with this fabric. But I'm sure that I'll end up giving most of it away.

30 March 2006

Paying Up

I have to confess. I made a bet last night and I lost. LightHusband and I were shopping in a SuperTarget and I found the nirvana section: organizational products!! I found ... a "junk drawer organizer." I was very thrilled. But, I said, "I think it's too wide for our drawers." "No," said he, "Our drawers are standard width. It will fit." "I still think it's too wide." (aside: I should have known when to quit because, well, I'm spacially challenged) Says him, "I'll bet you six dollars and forty-nine cents it will fit." "You're on." I giggled ... because that was the price of the precious item. LightHusband was clearly displeased at the propect of organizing the junk drawer. Afterall, in his world that would take all the fun out of it. In my world that means you can find things when you need them.

So this morning I opened it up and discovered that ... it fit. So I owe LightHusband $6.49 (+tax??). AND discovered that what I thought was just advertising was in fact a labelling system so that you can put labels in the bottom of each little cubby so that everyone will know what goes where. Can you just believe it?!!! I'm in organizational heaven. LightHusband thinks I'm nuts.

But I just opened the door to my fabric closet (full of tidily organized tubs of fabric and projects all lined up on their shelves) and said to him, "My closet ... Organized." and went to his office closet and said, "Your closet ... Not so much." He said, with his chin in the air, "I don't have a closet. I have a dumpster." Well then, I rest my case. At least one person in this house is organized.

Now if I can just pass this on to the LightChildren ... hmmmm ....

29 March 2006

Lost and Found

I had another session with my counselor yesterday. I haven't spoken much about those sessions because they're private and I'm trying to process a lot of what goes on there. But I really like her, which is a good thing and I feel as though I'm "making progress," whatever that means.

Yesterday I said something that I'm still trying to figure out. It was this, "If I drew a picture of myself, I wouldn't have a mouth. I don't feel like anyone listens to me and I don't feel like I have anything to say." We talked about that for a quite a while and agreed that I need to think about it and try to figure it out. Because obviously (with this blog - which she reads) I do have a lot to say and I say it well and people do listen. But the statement came from somewhere ... there is some part of me that has lost it's voice.

Then this evening, I read this article about Perfect Girls. It's about the "third wave" of feminism and how our culture has created an unhealthy subculture for young women in which they must be perfect in order to be acceptable. I'm not sure how much of the article's premise I buy into. But I do know this, I remember that in my 30's I looked around one day and realized that I'd been told a big fat lie.

If the article is about the third wave of feminism, I guess I'm the second wave. I came of age in late 1970's when Annie Hall fashions were all the rage. You had to dress like a man in order to make it in a man's world. My mother and my teachers and the culture around me told my friends and me that we could do anything we wanted to AND be mothers too. In fact, we should do that in order to be good women. Successful women rose to the top of their careers AND had children ... they just popped 'em out in the board room instead of the potato patch. The less time off you took, the more manly (oops ... I mean womanly) you were. Of course, some women looked at that scenario and decided to not have children. And many put off childbearing for several years. But most hard core feministas will still tell you that a "real" woman is only fulfilled in having children AND working too. That all of our problems may be solved if only there were an adequate federal childcare policy.

So I dutifully went to college even though I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I got a degree in something that I still have no use for even though when I was really honest with myself and in my heart of hearts I wanted to be an artist. But a real woman cannot be an artist. Because that is not a career. A career is being a lawyer or a politician or a somebody-who-wears-a-suit-with-stockings-everyday. In the last letter I wrote to my beloved grandfather before he died, I promised him that I would go to law school and become an international lawyer. I never even sat for the LSAT's. One broken promise to myself after another, trying to measure up and be a real woman. Trying to be acceptable under these new rules which made things so much harder for women under the guise of making us freer.

I haven't yet found that part of my voice which is lost. But I will. I know it's buried somewhere under the lies I've believed. I'll find it soon.

Architectural Anachronisms

We went walking again this morning. Today we chose a different neighborhood. We've been staying in a neighborhood of older homes built in the early 1960's. Today we went a little further afield into a neighborhood built in the mid to late 1980's. And we saw some horrors. LightHusband observed that they looked as if the architectural features had been subjected to some mutating forces. Windows that were too long and too close together. But my personal favorite were the "widows walks" with no entrance in the middle of suburbia and no access to the sea.

I hail from seafaring folk in early Massaschusetts and early Maine who used the real widows walks much to their chagrin. To see them used so lightly and as an architectural "feature" seemed both funny and disrespectful all at the same time. My widowed, many greats grandmothers wouldn't think it was funny at all. Or .... maybe they would. Maybe they would double up with laughter to think that the rails they had spent many days and nights walking with worry and fear were now a costly architectural "feature" on a home many, many miles from the sea.

And then I got a picture in my mind's eye of someone up on top of these suburban homes, scanning the horizon for their husband's car amidst the sea of cars on I-66. Maybe it's not anachronistic at all ...

28 March 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

I'm sure this joke has made it's rounds of the internet many times over and you've all seen it before. But I just saw it today and it sure tickled my funny-bone! So I thought I'd share:

A man was stumbling through the woods totally drunk when he came upon a preacher baptizing people in the river.

He proceeded to walk into the water and subsequently bumped into the preacher. The preacher turned around and was almost overcome by the smell of alcohol, whereupon he asked the drunk, "Are you ready to find Jesus ?" The drunk answered, "Yes, I am." So the preacher grabbed him and dunked him in the water.

He pulled him up and asked the drunk, "Brother, have you found Jesus?" The drunk replied, "No, I haven't found Jesus"! The preacher shocked at the answer, dunked him into the water again for a little longer this time.

He again pulled him out of the water and asked, "Have you found Jesus, my brother?" The drunk again answered, "No, I haven't found Jesus."

By this time the preacher was at his wits end and dunked the drunk in the water again --- but this time helds him down for about 30 seconds and when he began kicking his arms and legs he pulled him up.

The preacher again asks the drunk, "For the love of God have you found Jesus?" The drunk wiped his eyes and caught his breath and said to the preacher, "Are you sure this is where he fell in?

25 March 2006


One of my favorite movies of all time is Braveheart. We saw it when it first came out and LightGirl was a tiny baby. It was (I think) our first "date" after she was born. We left her with a family we trusted and respected and went to the theater to see this movie. To be really honest, I was going to see Mel Gibson with long hair in a kilt (three of my favorite things all in one place). Come to think of it, the family we left her with had a daughter who was 12 at the time. Wow ... time flies when you're living. I remember when we came out of the theater it felt like we had time traveled and nothing seemed right. The movie had seemed so real that we felt that we were somehow in the wrong time and place. The car seemed strange. I can remember the feeling and still can't describe it very well, but it was profound.

The next thing we did (being us) was go to Barnes & Noble and pick up a few books on Scottish-English history and discovered that very little in movie was correct. Well, it was correct, it was just out of chronological order. There really was a William Wallace and he lived and died doing the things that he was depicted as doing, just not during the time that he was shown in the movie. Oh well. And yes, Edward the Longshanks really was that nasty, etc. My favorite line from the movie still comes from the Irishman Steven as they're preparing for one of the battles and he turned to William and said ... well ... I'm trying to keep profanity off my blog. If you know the movie well enough, you'll know the line.

The main message of the movie (at least in the world according to me) is that you have a choice in this world. You can either be safe or you can be free. And actually it is when you choose freedom that you become safe. But when you choose safety, you are never actually safe from evil. It's counter-intuitive. But choosing safety means that those who peddle fear and hold power get to use it more and more. I'm thinking here of the rights of prima nocte as well as the many other tools that Edward I had at his disposal to keep in subjects under control. But the more the Highlanders chose freedom and to live their own lives the safer they actually became.

Yes, I get that it's just a movie and Mel (and the producers had some say in how things ended).
But Jesus had somethings to say about this too. Things like: if you try to save your life, you'll lose it, but if you give it away, you'll find it.

So, yesterday I snarkily ended one of my comments with something like "people who are smarter than I think that this country is in trouble too. But only time will tell." And today I was out browsing the news and found several news items relating to a speech given at Georgetown University on March 9 by none other than retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. There are no transcripts published of the speech on-line (at least that I could find). I purchased a transcript of Nina Totenburg's (from NPR) report about the speech. And here's the link to an editorial from the Boston Globe about it. If you'd like to see Nina Totenburg's report, you can go to NPR and purchase a copy of it (for about $4.00). But suffice it to say that I've hardly ever agreed with Sandra Day O'Connor on anything, so I was somewhat taken aback to find what strange bedfellows I now have.

The Army used to have as an advertising slogan, "Freedom isn't free." That's true. It's not. Safety isn't safe either. And apathy isn't getting us anywhere. Despite what some may think we are living in dangerous times. We are wandering on the knife edge of loosing our freedom. It is only our freedom which keeps us truly safe from tyranny and evil ... both without and within.

It's worth taking a few minutes to remind yourself of what we do have and why it's worth defending ... even with a phone call or letter to your Representative or Senator. Here's a link to the Bill of Rights. This has been gutted by the Patriot Act .... when the CIA and/or the FBI can get a hold of your reading list from the local library without warrants; that constitutes unreasonable search and seizure. It's a slippery slope. The government has already been caught illegally wiretapping it's own citizens. We are torturing prisoners.

In the wake of 9/11 we were told to choose safety. But I ask you ... are we really safe?

24 March 2006

Lighter News

In other lighter news, I faced down both my parents last night and won a Scrabble challenge even though I wasn't playing in the game. Even though the game was from the night before. Everyone who had been playing the game decided (WITHOUT looking it up) that the word "yeti" (for abominable snowman) was capitalized. I said, "No, it's a creature. It's mythological to be sure, but like all creatures it should not be capitalized." All three players (LightParents ... who think they're so smart and usually are ... and LightHusband) all said, "Oh, no, Yeti must be capitalized. It's a proper noun."

So LightHusband hauled out our granddaddy of all dictionaries The Oxford Unabridged Dictionary. It's all in one volume and you have to use a special magnifying glass to see the words. But when we found yeti .... let it be known here first. I .... was .... right!!!!


LightParents should know when to listen to me.

Free Press?

Update: What?! An update already? Yes ... because I don't think any of you saw this link to this article yesterday. Read this article. As you read, know this ... Jim Douglas is the current governor of Vermont, he is a very right wing Republican. Patrick Leahy is a long term first Representative and now US Senator and is a Democrat. Marselis Parsons has been the anchorman on the only local news worth watching in the state since I can remember and is very conservative. ... Now read on for today's post.

Update 2: Here's a link to the **frighteningly** "unbalanced" piece written by US Senator Patrick Leahy. It was pulled because no one had written an opposing point of view. Hmmm ... would that be something like "Down With the Freedom of Information" ... who is going to write that?

In a comment on my earlier post my BrickFriend made the following point:

I hardly believe that one cannot be critical of the Administration. There is not a day, it seems, upon which at least two very critical editorials are NOT printed in the WAPost or NYT. I hope and believe that things are not quite as bad as you fear. We will see.

I'll grant him that. Editorials are printed. My point was that a fine and long standing (in point of fact, the longest standing) bureau chief for the Associated Press wire service was let go in a dispute over a column written by a U.S. Senator from his own state that was critical of the administration. Newspapers receiving that column were free to use or not use that column in any manner they saw fit.

Another tiny factoid, Chris Graff's (the bureau chief) son was the first blogger ever to be invited to participate in a White House press briefing. That happened last March (2005) ... but that's an aside.

Now I'm going to use my BrickFriend's favorite technique and take us straight to the Nazi's. Let's take a look at the Nazi rise to power. It didn't happen overnight. In fact, Hitler spent a year in jail before he really came into his own. That's when he wrote Mein Kampf. Visit this website for a nicely put together timeline of how things went down in Germany between the two world wars. It's a quick read and will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

I don't think that our present administration is anything like Nazi Germany (at least I hope not). My problem is that they have no problems abrogating powers to themselves that are not contained in the Constitution. And having Congress enshrine it in law (see the Patriot Act). It's not that I'm some rabid left-winger who can't stand to live under a right-wing administration. I lived happily under 12 years of Reagan and GHWBush and never felt the level of distrust that I feel now. No matter what crazy whacked policies they tried to take this country on, I always knew that they and their administrations knew and would uphold the Constitution. This administration uses the Constitution as toilet paper.

No my problem is that evil does not start out looking evil. It begins looking rational. And when people like me say something is wrong, most people say "calm down, it's really not so bad." By the time most of the rest of you realize it really is evil, it's too late. I'll just end with a (now) well known quote by Hermann Goering from his jail cell in 1946:

"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

22 March 2006

Dammit Janet!

Okay, I hope none of you out there is named Janet ... this isn't aimed at you. Some of you might remember that line from SNL of the early 80's (and thus I'm dating myself).

But, look at this article. It's from my hometown newspaper. The head of Vermont's AP bureau was fired (or did he "resign"?) over a column he ran last week. What was so controversial about this column you might ask? Well, it was a column written by our Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) criticizing the administration's secretive policies vis a vis the press. A column written by a Senator for heaven's sake ... now Senators are being censored.

Update: Check out this article for more details

Update 2: Just thought I'd mention that we (my parents and I) originally learned about this in an article in the print version of yesterday's NYTimes. But I can't access that because I don't subscribe to it. But if you want to you can browse it and find the article yourself.

Now first of all the column got pulled before it hit the national wire.

Then, Chris Graff got fired ... or maybe he resigned. In any case, he's gone from 25+ years as AP bureau chief. He's the only bureau chief I can remember.

That all spells censorship to me ...

So ... what exactly is left of our democracy that we're trying so hard to "spread like a flower" throughout the Middle East?

**We don't have a verifiable voting system.

**We don't have a free press.

**We do have rampant jerrymandering.

**The system of checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government is in tatters.

We'd better hope for some good strong candidates in 2008 or our ship is well and truly sunk.

21 March 2006


We're all sick. All four of us. I should have known something was up when I couldn't get warm yesterday. I should have known something was wrong when LightGirl and LightBoy refused dinner (what?! not eat ... my children never miss a meal). So we included in our farewells some episodes of reverse peristalsis from both of my children. These episodes continued long into the night. LightHusband and I both now have this dread stomach illness ... but (to put it delicately) in it's "other" form. All are running slight fevers and are achy and crabby. I'm in bed to avoid the yelling television.

UGH ... it's all I can say.

Jesus Is a Communist

So I was at a meeting last night and I threw down the glove. It was the meeting where we plan our church services. I mentioned that I got in trouble one time for telling a bunch of kids that "Jesus was the original communist." LightGirl happened to be present when I told the story and wanted to know what communism is. So I told her ... to each according to need, from each according to ability. Another friend gave a more complete explanation. But my BrickFriend wasn't having any of it. He fumed, "It doesn't work!" I said, "Well, it's never been tried." He sputtered, "Just go tell that to the Nazis." "Nazis?!" I said. "They were totalitarian. And so were the Russians. You can't say that Communism doesn't work, because real communism hasn't been tried on large government level. No large government has actually put into effect the writings of Karl Marx." and then he did agree with me on that.

But we never did get around to talking about whether or not Jesus was a communist. And I still say He is.

20 March 2006


Yesterday was a difficult day for me. It was emotional and yet I had to be happy all day for LightBoy. It was, you see, his 9th birthday. I did not want to let my sadness and worry impact his joy. Birthdays are a joyous event for children, even those which are not their own.

So at the same time as I had to celebrate and remember his birth. I was commemorating and grieving the loss of another child far away. Rania's funeral was Saturday and we memorialized her in church on Sunday. I know that all over the world other children died yesterday, but this was a personal loss. I am angry that God has chosen to take yet one more piece of Hosnea's life away from her. Who am I to know what His purposes are? But at this particular moment, this seems mean. Perhaps, as
my friend P3T3 says, I will come to learn that it was necessary, but I am struck now with the loss.

And, this year, as for the last three years, I have had to commemorate and grieve the general loss of Iraqi and American lives in a war which I believe to be wrong. This year was a bit different however. My church has taken an Iraqi refugee family under it's wing. This family is destitute and has come here as a result of the war. They invited us all to lunch yesterday. So a bunch of us went. The food was delicious. The conversation was interesting and turned (of course) to the war. Their perspective was very interesting. As Shia Muslims in a Sunni country run by the Baath party they had been subjected to torture and shakedowns and all sorts of horror. They were grateful for the release of their country from the fist of Saddam Hussein. They had tears in their eyes when they spoke of this. I sort of felt ashamed of myself sitting here in my easy life, with my soft pacifism. It's easy for me to be pacifist. There is no one holding a gun to my head. No one burning my brother with an iron for not "paying up." I love this family and enjoy getting to know them. The woman of the house stood and gave an impassioned speech about what it means to be Muslim. It was beautiful.

I'm still against the war. I think there were probably other ways of "dethroning" Hussein. Afterall, we put him in power ourselves in the late-70's or early 80's. He was there under our steam if you want the truth. What really galls me lately as I think about it is the very idea that we, a country of 200+ years are going to tell this people how to govern themselves. This is the people who (does anyone remember this?) gave us Hammurabi's Code. Every single industrialized nation on the planet can trace the roots of it's legal code back to Hammurabi. Even the 10 Commandments are based on this ... if you take God out of the mix. Then there's Utnapishtim ... that's right. You do know him. But you probably know him better as Noah. Abram brought this story with him when he came out of Ur (in what is now modern day Iraq)*. The oldest written myth in the world is the story of Gilgamesh .... yes, it came from Ur as well. Thousands and thousands of years ago. Most of our legal and moral codes can be traced in one way or another back to these people, yet we think that we have something to teach them? I think that's the definition of arrogance.

So ... yesterday I was very conflicted and I'm glad I can just be myself today.

*You can read more about this in The Gifts of the Jews by Thomas Cahill

18 March 2006

Got Plans?

Hey! Watchya doin' today? Got anything fun planned? If you don't, I've got an option for you. There's a quilt show out here at the Fairgrounds (here's a link to a Google Map) today.

I have 4 quilts displayed in it. One is the quilt that we made at the
baby shower in September. Remember that? Another is a quilt I made that LightGirl usually has on her bed. Another is an antique quilt that goes in my guest room. The fourth is another baby quilt I made with a friend. Then there are about 200 other quilts there. AND ... you get to meet some of my favorite people. My quilting buddies and see some of their artistry too. I'll be working at various booths til 3 so you can see me there til then. Or if you come in the mid-afternoon I can walk around too. But I'll be really into the quilts and will probably go slower than you might want to.

Here's a picture of one of my quilts that I couldn't bear to part with long enough to have it in the show. It's called "Cakestands for Charlotte Evelyn." The quiltblock pattern is called "cakestands". Charlotte Evelyn is a compilation of both of my grandmothers' names, because the fabrics remind me of one grandmother and it was pieced on my other grandmother's old Singer Featherweight 221 (which is a highly prized machine among quilters). I finished this quilt with enough time to start sleeping under it before it was time to put it in the show and then ... I fell off the cliff in the Mines of Moria. And I needed my grandmothers with me at night. So ... it stayed home and became "my blankie." It can go in next year.

17 March 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I've always loved St. Patrick's Day. I'm not Irish. No, not one little bit. Altho, my Grampy O used to claim it. His claim was thin. It rested on this: His grandmother's maiden name was Kelly and he had green eyes. I will tell you this tho, LightBoy did not fall far from this tree, if you know what I mean.

In any case, I can never wear green. First, because, well ... I'm not Irish. Second, I look terrible in green. It makes me look sick. And, really, because I'm Protestant, if I were to be "Irish" for a day, I'd have to wear orange and that has the same problem ... makes me look sick.

When I was in college I really loved St. Patrick's day for all the green beer involved. I also had a friend from Lebanon who was albino and he would dye his hair green. He was the cousin of my Arabic teacher. My Arabic teacher didn't drink and was a practicing Muslim. Hussein was not. He fully participated in St. Patrick's Day and all it meant to us inebriated Americans.

Now, however, I love St. Patrick's Day for entirely different reasons. St. Patrick brought Christianity to the Celts of Ireland. There is some truth to the statement that in so doing he may have saved our sacred books during the Dark Ages. He helped create the Celtic Church. Of course, the legends about him are many. Any famous Irish person gathers legends the way a leprechaun gathers clover. But this one is my favorite I think.

St. Patrick had been invited to a meeting with the High King of Ireland at the time. The High King was a Druid and not particularly interested in this Christian God. The reason for the meeting was to draw Patrick and his followers into an ambush where they could be killed. However, Patrick and his followers were chanting what has since become known as "The Lorica" or Breastplate of St. Patrick. And as they passed through the valley where they were to be ambushed the attackers saw only a doe followed by 20 deer.

So here in it's full glory is:

"The Lorica" or "Deer's Cry of St. Patrick"

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ with his Baptism, through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension, through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim in obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels, in hope of resurrection to meet with reward, in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets, in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors, in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven; light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendor of Fire, speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea, stability of Earth, firmness of Rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to secure me: against snares of devils, against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature, against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils): against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and my soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of heathenry, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of witches, smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul. Christ to protect me today against poisoning, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so that there may come abundance in reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us. Amen.

16 March 2006

A Grief Revisited

I remember well the day LightGirl was born. There are all sorts of details that are o so clear in my memory from that day. But this is the clearest of all. When she was finally clear of me and they had put her in the little basinette (this was a military facility, so no huggy-kissy stuff til she'd been fully cleaned and tested and etc.), and I was persistently asking after her gender, because it seemed that while everyone else had had a clear view of the important genitalia, I had not. And no one would answer the question. Finally, after hours of my asking, and only seconds of them not responding someone told me it was a girl. "Well, then," I said, "Hello, Lily." and I started talking to her. She was in the basinette by then and turned herself into a small backwards pretzel in order to look me in the eye and did for a full minute to reassure herself that her mom was in the house. She stole my heart in that moment and has had it ever since. To this very day when she needs reassurance that her mom is in the house she will look for me, find my eyes and stare me down. It's not a challenge, it's reassurance. Yes, I'm still here, yes, I still love her, yes, we're still connected.

It's been 12 years, 2 months and 16 days since then. Not all of them have been wonderful. Her first months were perfectly dreadful because she was colicky. UGH. Is all I have to say. But once we got through that she was the happiest little girl and has in general remained so to this day. The toddler years were demanding as all toddlers are. Preschool was preschool. I've chosen the burden of homeschooling and that has presented it's own set of challenges.

But now she is on the cusp of womanhood. And what a grand adventure it is going to be. Some days are perfectly horrid and I find myself gritting my teeth. Other days, I find us sitting at the table after LightBoy and LightHusband have gone off to other pursuits and she'll ask some question or other and it lights a great conversation ... one between two friends. And I see the glimpses of things to come. That as she grows, I will need to parent less and guide more and befriend more. That we will become peers in some odd way. Not exactly friends, not equals, but the relationship will even out somehow and we will find our way into each other's lives where our love for each other can fit without harming. Where we can dance together and sometimes she can lead, sometimes I can.

I'm not doing an especially good job of this, but having a daughter is one of the very great joys of my life. When I was first pregnant I was absolutely certain that God would never give me girls, because I did so badly with them. But then along came LightGirl. And as I approach middle age and look around and see what I want for her to get out of life and what I want to pass along to her, what is important and what is not, I know that in her is my greatest gift.

Perhaps it is for all these reasons and then for some that I cannot yet articulate that Rania's death has hit me so hard. I know what Hosnea will be missing. That she was just beginning to have a small woman in the house with whom to have an ocassional conversation. That Hosnea had dreams for her daughter breaking out of the paths of abuse and hatred that coming to the US represented and they are now gone. Having sons is nice and they fill a certain hole too. But a daughter ... well ... it's a grief beyond words.

I know that God has a plan in all of this. I know all the scripture that speaks to it. But if anyone trys to quote it to me right now I will throw my Bible across the room and break the window. Why did the hatred of Sudan have to reach across two continents and keep the bonds in place? Just when we thought they were broken?

Hosnea, my friend, my heart breaks for you. I have wept til my bed is wet with tears.
With love ...


Update - I should have been counting earlier ... but this is my 200th post. How grim!

I know I've missed "List Tuesday" ... but so what. I know I'm supposed to "count my blessings." But this has been a bad week and isn't promising to get much better. So I'm not counting blessings today. I'm not sure what I'm counting here. I'm counting the things that are bugging me I guess. So ... here they are and not in any particular order.

1. The day that that I celebrate and remember my son's birth, I also have to remember and mourn Iraqi and American death (Sunday, this year).

2. That pain and suffering is not doled out in equal doses. Some people get far more than their share. And even when you think they've had enough and have turned a corner ... they get more.

3. That despite the fact that we're trying, we're really trying, to unleash God's Kingdom ... it still seems far away and will never come.

4. That a man like Tom Fox with sincere heart gets butchered and a man like George Bush who's heart seems anything but sincere gets to sleep peacefully in a well protected bed every night. I know it's not for me to judge and that judgement will come from God, but it makes me angry.

5. Read Christy's blog (Dry Bones Dance) for more injustice in L.A. Some Latino farmers have been working public land in a community garden for over 10 years. Now some guy wants (in his right of first refusal) to buy the land back. The farmers have managed to scrape together $9M which will give the guy a $4M profit. But no ... this is not enough. He wants $18M. Greed ... it makes me angry.

6. That 9 years and one month ago my cousin and his wife lost their little boy to something mysterious. One day he was alive and had a stomach virus. A few days later he was dead. His liver had failed and (from the autopsy report) it looked as tho he had overdosed on acetominophen ... which they didn't have in the house. And since it was one month before my son was born, our relationship has not ever been able to be quite the same. It sucks and I understand, but this was a cousin/brother. And I miss him.

7. That grandparents are really special; they are a reflection of how completely and fully God loves us. But we don't realize this til they're gone. Well ... my grandparents were anyway. Even my Grandpa Naylor who used to say to me, "Eat thy dinner and let thy food stop thy mouth." But he also used to take me out to do the daily shopping with him and we'd end up chasing fire trucks. We also watched "Ironsides" together, so I blame him for my "Law & Order" addiction.

8. That a country which appears to be so concerned with spreading "democracy" could also still practice the "art" of jerrymandering. That the person who spread it is not in prison, but is still holding office and continues to be held in high esteem. We fool ourselves when we think that we are a democracy of any sort at all when we allow this practice within our borders.

9. That a country so concerned with "democracy" but refuses to come up with an electronic voting system that doesn't also include a paper trail that will establish the veracity of the votes is no democracy.

10. That despite all this suffering and death, I must still look up and out and see that God is and will always be, good. And tho the road is dark, in times past He has led me. So, today ... I believe.

14 March 2006

For Hosnayya and Jackie

For Hosnayya (a Caim or encircling prayer)

This night and every night
seems infinite with questions,
and sleep as elusive
as answers.

Pain and longing are always present,
dulled only a little
by the distractions of day
I am weary; I am angry.
I am confused.

Circle Hosnayya, Lord.
Keep despair and disillusion without.
Bring a glimmer of hope within.

Circle Hosnayya, Lord.
keep nightmare without.
Bring moments of rest within.

Circle Hosnayya, Lord
keep bitterness, without.
Bring an occasional sense
of Your presence within.

For Jackie as she travels to comfort and strengthen Hosnayya:

Christ as a light
illumine and guide you.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow you.
Christ under you;
Christ over you;
Christ beside you
on your left and your right.
This day be within and without you,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom you speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto you.
Christ as as light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside you
on your left and on your right.

Go with God my friend ... Amen.

(from The Book of Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community)

A Confession ...

I suck at laundry.

No that's not quite right. I suck at the process of laundry. I like the washing and the drying. But I hate the folding. And so in the vain hope that it will just go away, I avoid laundry; like the plague. Until I (or someone else) runs out of something critical. I'll allow you to imagine what critical might be. We have in this process gained far too many clothes.

Today was a day when we ran out of something critical. So I just sorted **all** of our dirty laundry. It took me far too long. Leading me (once again) to vow that I will never let it get this bad again. It never does get this bad again.

It almost always gets worse.

I Wonder ...

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

I wondered today, as we walked in the early morning, what Jesus would have to say about worms. In His day they didn't have sidewalks for worms to die on. But the worms are dying in abundance on the sidewalks of my neighborhood. They crawl up out of the soil at night to find other places to go and end up on the unforgiving concrete of the sidewalk as the heat of the sun rises and they shrivel and die. I want to take some sort of implement with me to get the worms back to the soil so they can live. But there are too many of them.

Worms are necessary for good healthy soil. If you turn over your soil and don't find any worms, nice healthy ones, you've got a problem. I explained all of this to a teenager once. He wasn't interested. I was paying him to dig up the clay that I wanted to turn into a flower garden and he didn't want to hear about worms. But, because I don't use a lot of chemical fertilizers on my lawn, I do have a lot of worms in my soil. I have an affinity for worms. They are an important part of the eco-system. And I don't like to see them dying on the sidewalks

So I wondered if God is so concerned about the sparrows and all of the other creatures He has created, what must He be thinking of the killer sidewalks we've created for His worms?

13 March 2006

Psalm 6

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. According to sheminith.
A psalm of David.

1O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.

2 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;
O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.

3 My soul is in anguish.
How long, O LORD, how long?

4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.

5 No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from Sheol?

6 I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping

and drench my couch with tears.

7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.

8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.

9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy;
the LORD accepts my prayer.

10 All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace.

For how long will this continue? Men like Tom Fox are butchered and George Bush sleeps peacefully in his heavily protected soft bed.

Woman who has suffered the loss home, of dignity, of husbands and parents and now must suffer the loss of a child as well. A beautiful, laughing eyed daughter. The one who most represented her way out of the past. Of breaking the cycles that she had come out of. Who would not bear her burdens, nor live her shame, but grow up free and educated in a place where she was wanted.

I grow so weary of this world. When ... oh when will you come, Lord? And in the meantime, what shall I do?


If you haven't done it yet, click on the Google icon for today ... or just click here and see what those gurus at Google have done. It's just the coolest ever.

10 March 2006

Grid Blog for Internation Women's Day - Revisited

So ... this whole subject has raised a lot of discussion both here in our small circle (see my BrickFriend) and out in the larger blogosphere (visit the Urban Abbess - there are a lot of stories right on her blog or go here for the list of blogs that posted themselves ... you'll find little ol' me there too!) City Girl posted her own thoughts and has a unique hammer of her own.

But .... some of the comments at the Brickwall got me thinking. And I may be guilty of taking them out of context (so whack me upside the head if I am). But a lot of them sounded a lot like this, "Well, I personally haven't experienced discrimination (and/or I don't know anyone who has) and there's a lot to quibble about with the studies, so really ... it must be overblown and not quite real."

Before I go on, I want to make a couple of disclaimers. The first is this. Our church is so NOT like most churches (I know that sounds cliche). But it's really true. Our leadership really does practice equity in all the ways that count. They practice humility and grace and it's wonderful to behold. We are led by a woman AND a man and a second man. But that third position could just as easily be a woman and I don't think anyone would argue with it. It just happens to be a man right now. But our paid staff is a woman and a man and they are both equal.

Okay, I can't remember my other disclaimer. Hopefully I will before I finish this piece .... otherwise you only get one disclaimer.

But the problem is that discrimination in the workplace, in schools, in marriages, in church, in the playground, in every facet of life is real. Four out of every 10 murders of women are the result of a sex crime. Sex crimes are not about sex, they are about male dominance over women. If discrimination were not still a problem, we would not need shelters for abused wives and children. The second largest segment of the homeless population after the mentally ill are divorced mothers and children who are unable to care for themselves because the fathers refuse to pay their woefully inadequate child support.

Then there's this: up until the first quarter of the 20th century women took their husband's last name not because of some quaint social custom, but because she was his property. Do you understand the full meaning of that? He OWNED his wife. There are still places in this very country where those laws are on the books. They are (for the most part) ignored, but they are there. Children took their father's name, because he also owned them. They were his property. Why do you think it has been such a fight to get spousal and child abuse laws both on the books and then enforced?

Here's the problem, all of this is part and parcel of the patriarchal system that has been handed to us by The Church. Those of you who are white men are fortunate to have never had a conversation with someone who refused to look you in the eye because of your skin color or your gender, or perhaps both. But I will tell you ... it's humiliating. I have had that experience. I have had the experience of not even being interviewed for a job for which I was THE MOST QUALIFIED candidate because I was not a man who could coach football.

Then there is the quaint tribal practice in Africa of genital mutilation of girls, in which the all or part of the clitoris is removed and the lips of the labia are sewn together leaving just a small opening for menstrual flow until marriage. This is done no matter the religion ... Christian, Muslim, tribal ... women are evil and will commit adultery and cause men to commit adultery unless sex is made painful for them.

Worldwide women are seen as disposable, second class, second rate citizens. And tho The Church would like to deny it, Jesus came to turn that idea on it's head. He died for all the sins in the world; not all the sins, except Eve's. Just like he turned so many other ideas around. In a day and society when women were unable to stand in court and be witnesses, he unfailingly used them as witnesses (Samaria, the tomb, etc.). They were his primary means of support. While Peter may have been the rock, women were the architects of His church. Read Latina Liz for more on this ...

This patriarchal system of the church needs to be revamped and revisited. I don't like the idea of smashing it or replacing it with a matriarchy because that will bring it's own set of problems. But I do like a vision that looks kinda like what we've got going on at our church. Men and women working together, shoulder to shoulder, in equity. Able to look each other in the eye as friends, brothers and sisters.

However, my brothers and sisters, patriarchy still does exist, it is firmly in place and it is exacting a horrible price on women everywhere. AND it is also doing damage to the men who are perpetuating it.

09 March 2006

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

So those of you who know what a whole-hearted U2 fan I am are now expecting a paean to my four prophets of Irish fame. But ... you will be disappointed. That is not what this post is about.

It’s about things much more mundane. It’s about a box of very suburban cloth-lined wicker baskets which I purchased from Costco sometime last year. Early last year. I NEEDED those cloth-lined wicker baskets to beautify my home ... all three of them in their perfectly cascading sizes. In fact, I needed them so badly that I NEVER even opened the box. I could never quite get my mind around how I was going to beautify my home with their perfectly cascading sizes. So I left them in their box and their perfection. For I did not want to ruin them.

Until yesterday when I finally worked up the courage to take them out of the box and make use of them. Perfectly cascading sizes be damned. I had the kernel of an idea and thought that just perhaps the pictures on the box might be ignored for once and I might use them as I pleased. I might even break the box picture rules.

So ... I went in search of the box. I began in the garage for that is where I last remembered seeing them. The garage (as most of you know, is full of a combination of our AwakeFriend’s worldly possessions which are important and long outused things of ours which might more appropriately be referred to as “crap”). The box was not there. I did find some other things and (since the trash men had not yet cometh) we were able to get rid of several large empty boxes and other large trash items. Some of which spilled those vile packing peanuts all over the yard. We made the kids (it was Latin day so there were about 7 of them) clean them up. They looked like a midget chain gang out there picking up packing peanuts that had scattered in the wind.

Next I went to the unfinished storage room. There were still more empty boxes here and corpses of old computers in various stages of decomp. But ... no box of cloth-lined wicker boxes in perfectly cascading sizes.

I went to my fabric storage closet. Nope.

The closet that contains all of LightHusband’s old uniforms which we keep and he will NEVER wear again, because he will NEVER be that skinny again and really why would he want to. Nope ... no box there.

LightHusband’s office ... I won’t tell you what a disaster that was.

LightChildren’s playroom for which I could barely open the door. But still ... no box of cloth-lined wicker baskets in perfectly cascading sizes.

Up the stairs went I to the guest room which at the moment looks like a clutter barn off a small side road somewhere in the nether regions of southwestern Virginia. No box.

To our closet; our large walk-in closet in which I found shoes long since unworn. Pictures which should hang on other walls than ours. But .... no box.

In short, over the course of several opportunities and probably 3 hours I searched every nook and cranny this house has several times over. But I did not find the box. No ... it remains hanging in my vision like a Klingon talking to Captain Kirk via teleconferencing on the bridge of the Enterprise. Hanging out there in space with nothing around it to give it context.

However .... here is what I did find:

A LOT of crap that we need to give away or sell at a yard sale. I prefer the give away option because it doesn’t involve so much organization.

We definitely have a lot of little boys and girls clothes so those of you with small boys and girls need to come over go through some fo this stuff.

LightGirls old doll cradle which made me nostalgic for precisely one moment, then I got mad again because I couldn’t find the box.

Another long forgotten Costco purchase of a “3-Tier Market Basket” which I will put to use to help organize my sewing area.

A bath towel that’s missingness had been making me slightly nutty.

My tupperware cereal container - and the fact that it was missing made buying cereal in large boxes from Costco slightly unwieldy.

More fabric stashed in more places than I think is healthy for any one person. I think it’s just possible that I have an illness.

I think there were a couple of other things but they are slipping my mind right now.

But consarnit ... I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. So if any of you have been to my house in the last what ever amount of time and you remember seeing that box with the cloth-lined wicker baskets in perfect cascading order and you remember where they are? Would you please tell me? Pretty please ... I really don’t need anything else making me nuts these days.

08 March 2006

International Women's Day

Update and Hat Tip to Rachelle - The Urban Abbesse, for gathering us all together and making this happen. Check this link to see all of the stories.

Apparently women theo-bloggers are uniting and writing about their experiences today. So I thought I'd join in (for a change) and tell my story of my experiences with "the church."

Warning ... this is not pretty. But it does end well.

Most of you who know me, know I was raised in an atheist home, but had grandparents who had strong faith roots. So I've always believed in God, but didn't know a whole lot about him. I taught myself the Lord's Prayer, but didn't quite know why it was important. I just thought it sounded cool.

As a young adult, I superficially investigated a lot of religions. Mormonism, native americans, ancient feminism/paganism among others. I finally landed for good in an evangelical church when I was about 28 or 29 and "gave my life" to Jesus and learned a lot. Taught Sunday School for a while and then got involved in youth ministry. My calling has always been to teach. I don't think I'm being arrogant when I say that I'm good at it. So I was teaching a lot in the youth ministry program and I was blessed to serve under a youth pastor who believes in equality. So I didn't pay much attention to what was going on around me in the larger church. I should have been.

There were things that happened that should have caught my attention and didn't. Like when I had to "share" the teaching of the Senior High Sunday School class with the youth pastor. He clearly didn't want to teach it. He wanted to let it go, because he had other things he wanted to spend his time on. I know now, that it was necessary to say that he was the teacher and I was the assistant. Or when graduated young men came back and wanted to sit in the class on days when I was teaching, they were politely told to leave. I thought it curious at the time. But I also believed in the separate roles for men and women, but we're all equal in the eyes of God crap.

Then at about the same time, the youth pastor left the church to begin a new para-church ministry and my husband suffered a debilitating back injury so I had to leave my ministry work for several years. During that time I began to look around the church with new eyes. My husband and I were leading a small home group and studying issues of community and I often took the lead, although he was still technically leading. But as I said, I have the gift of teaching, he has other gifts.

During this time the youth ministry program went in a direction that we were not comfortable with and were not welcome to participate in. So ... that was okay especially in light of his back injury. He began to recover and I began to be able to look around and see where I might fit back into ministry within the church again. At that time the elder in charge of Adult Christian Education put forth a plea for teachers for Adult Sunday School. They were in desperate need of teachers he said. Would someone, anyone, be willing to teach Adult Sunday School. Well ... that's right up my alley, thought I. So I sent him an e-mail letting him know that not only was I willing to teach, but here was the list of three books I thought might be appropriate for study and gave him links to where he could find out more about them.

His response: "Thank you very much for your interest, but at this time we do not have space for a women's only Sunday School class."

Now, what you need to know here, is that nowhere is it written in the constitution, or the by-laws or any other piece of church literature that women cannot teach men. In fact, tho I had heard whispers, this was the first time (in FOURTEEN years) I had heard the words spoken out loud. My feeling is that if you're going to have such a policy, you better at least have the balls to write it down and make it known to people as they join the church.

So I wrote back to him that I didn't necessarily think that these topics were meant for women only and that certainly men could benefit from them as well. They were books that I'd already taught in our small group, so I was familiar with them and was going to use them to help foster a sense of community in our church which was in line with what our church was doing at the time.

That was when he dropped the hammer about women not being able to teach men and suggested that we talk on the phone. Of course, long before this ever happened I had become curious about the subject and read something in the nature of 10 books on the subject, so I was and am quite well versed (if you'll pardon the pun) on all of the arguments for and against. He's a lawyer, so I expected that I was going to have to be able to argue hard with him. As it turned out, he didn't know his subject matter well and has just taken it on faith all these years. What's even funnier is that (knowing his family) his wife is clearly in charge. He tried very hard to explain the notion of separate but equal to me. I dispensed that with, "You can't possibly understand that, because you are not being forced to sit at the back of the bus." He was very offended by that statement. I had made it precisely to be provocative.

But that's my point ... when you get to pick your seat anywhere, the back of the bus doesn't look so bad. But when you're forced to sit back there everytime all the time, then it becomes onerous. And it's not justice, it's not freedom. And God calls down rivers of justice for ALL ... black and white, men AND women, slave AND free. When will we stop making distinctions? He does not draw the lines, we do. I go back to that vision that Peter had about the all the food that was now available to him, showing him who he was to take the gospel to ... everyone. In all places, in all times, all genders, all colors. That when God looks down or across or whereever, he just sees us all: His created children whom He loves. We are those who pick the fights.

I see God as man. I see God as woman. That we are all a reflection of Him. That He is not less in either gender. He or She says as much in Genesis. In the Psalms, He describes Himself as both an eagle and as a mother hen gathering her chicks. I think it takes both men and women leading any organization for it to be a healthy organization. I said as much to my mother the other day. We were speaking of how some feminists talk of how much better the world would be if women were in charge. But my mother and I agreed, that we would just swap out a different set of problems. We decided that a proper balance takes both. That men bring a set of strengths and weaknesses to the table, and women bring their counter-balance. If we were to allow both at the table in true equality, we would then be able to begin to bring about answers to the big problems our world faces. When we raise one, and desecrate the other we do great damage to both.

I live more generously now. In the midst of my hassels with that elder, God spoke to me and reminded me that that church was but one place to teach. That my calling and gifting came from Him. That He would put me in a place where I could use it for His glory ... and He did. I am so fortunate to be in a church where my gifts and talents are not only recognized but they are tended and nurtured. I am loved because I am one of God's children. I get to teach and I get do it in all the ways that I love. And it makes that painful memory worth it.

04 March 2006

On Letting Go

So today is 4-H Project Day in our county. LightGirl and LightBoy are participating and they'll be learning some new things. But the big moment for LightGirl is Fashion Revue. She has been working on a pair of capris all year in her sewing club and today she will be judged on them. And I will not be there. It's important that she do this without me, but it feels very lonely. I know that my beautiful daughter is going to be fine and she is with my best friends who think of her as a daughter as well. I am very proud of her work on these pants and her perserverance on the rattin' frattin' pockets. But I will not get to see her in her outfit, struttin' her stuff. This is another first. One of many more to come as she grows up and away from us her parents. It is good. But no one told me that it would be hard, and lonely and kind of sad too. Here are some pictures of the pants that she made so beautifully and of our prep this morning.

Update: So .... she didn't need me and she won a blue ribbon to boot!!! I''m glad I let her go alone, even if it was hard. She learned so much and gained so much confidence. It was all worth it.

03 March 2006

Word Cloud

Well this was a fun little exercise. HT to Mike at Rude Armchair Theology. You can try it too at Snap Shirts and see what kind of word cloud your blog will build!

02 March 2006

All the Jobs I Never Loved

When I was in high school I baby sat. That's it. Just baby sat. For a lot of different people and only $0.75 an hour. The most outstanding memories I have were of the couple who had first adopted an adorable little boy named Ben. The father was from Vermont and the mother was the first person I'd ever known from further south than Connecticut. She was from Georgia and had a delightful southern accent. Just like in the movies. Anyway, they spoiled Ben rotten and loved him to death. Until he was about 4 or 5 years old. Then she got pregnant with a child of their own. And Ben got forgotten. It was heartbreaking. I'm also fairly certain that the dad was an alcoholic. My parents hated it when they called for me to babysit in the winter, because it was pretty likely that my dad was going to have to pull him out of the snowbank when he dropped me off at the end of the evening (usually after midnight). I almost always ate popcorn and watched "Love Boat" when I babysat at their house.

During the summers when I was in high school, I taught Red Cross swimming lessons and was a "life guard" (I use that term loosely) at the local swimming area at the local pond. And continued with baby sitting. I could walk to work and walk home on the dirt road. I was always given the problem children ... the children who didn't want to put their faces in the water!

Then some very rich folks moved to town for the summers and asked me to be their mother's helper. So I became the au pair for four children for three summers. I made good money and could still walk to and from work. And keep babysitting some evenings when I wanted to.

All of this and I still didn't need a driver's license!! By this time, I was in college and had started to work at my work study jobs there. I was one of the few really impoverished students at my very snotty private liberal-arts campus and so there were very few work-study jobs. I had one of them.

My first job was as an assistant in the Chemistry Lab. I got to put together the potions, I mean formulas, for the lab experiments and test the experiments to make sure they worked. That was a lot of fun. My boss was the guy in charge of the Lab and while he wasn't a professor, he had that typical absent-minded professorial mien. This was one of my favorite jobs, but when I came back to school my sophomore year, they had to give it to someone who was an actual science major and I was political science. It made sense, but I mourned the loss.

They gave me a job working as a waitress and short order cook in the campus snack bar.
It wasn't bad. I liked the short order cook part and learned how to make a mean grilled cheese and tuna. I had a circle of friends who worked there and we all slipped each other free food. Which was technically stealing, but we rationalized it at the time. It was, after all, mostly free Cokes.

During my sophomore year, I decided I needed to have a real job that summer. So I applied for a job as a counselor at a summer camp in the Berkshires. Oh the horrors. I was the head counselor for a cabin full of 8 year old Jewish girls from New York City. There were about 12 of them. Every single one of them had a better wardrobe then than I do now. I have only one good thing to say about that summer. One of my days off I took the bus to West Springfield, Mass to visit my grandmother and my favorite uncle was there too. He sat for a while and listened to me whine and cry about how miserable my life was. Then he said this, "When you get to the end of your life and you're writing the story, how many pages do you think you'll give this summer?" Which stopped me cold and did then and continues to give me perspective. Thanks, Uncle Ralph.

My junior year of college I spent at two different universities doing off-campus programs. I went to Drew University because they have a program where you study at the United Nations two days a week. That semester I got to work at a tiny little diner in Paramus, NJ as a waitress for a really crabby boss because my work-study money didn't transfer. But I also got to go to Simon & Garfunkel's reunion concert at Central Park so it kind of balanced out. And I had a suite mate that everyone else thought was my twin, but she was from Chile, so we both thought that was very funny. The second half of the year I was at American University here in DC and didn't have any job. It was the only time I was in college and didn't work. I didn't do much but schoolwork, but it was still fun because school involved going around to all of these foreign policy think tanks and interviewing high ranking people. I also volunteered at the American Society for International Justice and helped organize their moot court competition. That was a lot of fun, especially since the competition was held at the same time that my major paper was due. My research paper was about the viability of the Camp David Peace Accords.

That summer I was one of two paid interns in my senator's office here in Washington DC. I worked for Senator Robert T. Stafford, (R) of Vermont. Yes, I worked for a Republican. You heard it here first. But he wasn't a Republican like they are now.

Then I went back to my small private college for my senior year. Back to being a short order cook. Back to parochial, snotty small college blues.

Then I graduated and moved back to DC. My first job was as a canvasser for US Public Interest Research Group. I raised money to get this left wing Nader group off the ground. There was a core group of us who stuck with it through that summer and into the fall. Pounding the pavement and knocking on doors. I still hate knocking on doors ... even of people I know. Some stuck with this shorter and some longer and we hung together for a couple of years. One of our number went on to become a lobbyist for the NRA. Go figure. A regular feature of this job was Wednesday nights at Millie & Al's, a bar down at 18th and Columbia Road, NW. We'd have pizza with jalapeno peppers in the middle of them and drink beer peppered with shots of ouzo.

My next job, since I needed actual money to survive, was as a secretary at a construction company on Wisconsin Avenue. I rode my bicycle to work from Mt. Pleasant. I learned a lot at this job. Things like never use regular dish soap in a dishwasher. And, I should never eat candy bars in the middle of the afternoon because first I get really, really silly for a brief period of time, then I get really, really sleepy. The Vice President in charge of new construction smoked Captain Black in the white pack and sometimes I went out to purchase his tobacco for him. The scion of Donohoe worked in the department and besides being devastatingly handsome, he was one of the nicest people to work for ever. My supervisor dated his brother. That was weird. Our offices were in the basement of a hotel (Holiday Inn on Wisconsin Avenue). After learning good office skills and how to back up computers with back up disks the size of a cookie sheet, I left that job in under a year.

Then I finally landed the one and only job I ever had that .... "used my degree." I worked for an organization that administered educational grants to from the U.S. government to college students studying here from the Middle East. Woo hoo ... using my degree. I loved it. I used my tiny little bits of Arabic that I still remembered. Unfortunately I had two bosses. One I adored. One I could not get along with. There was no pleasing her. It didn't matter the subject, we did not see eye to eye. For every 10 things I did correctly, she could only see the 1 I did incorrectly. So, after two years, I decided to move along and take another career path.

Banking. That's right. I decided to try the corporate route. And go for corporate banking. So I got a job with a fairly prestigious bank as a secretary in the corporate banking department. One of my bosses was named Byrd. This person was a man. One of the other secretaries was a Jehovah's Witness. She was very nice, but totally unreliable because she was always getting sick and couldn't take full advantage of modern medicine. I felt badly for her children too because whenever there was a party in their classroom she phoned the school and made sure they got sent to the library or something else so they didn't participate in anything fun. It was here that I started to really learn about personal computers, decide that the corporate life was not for me, and that I wanted to go back to graduate school for a masters in Education.

While I was in graduate school, I temped. I had many assignments. There were a few that stand out in my memory. One was for a private institute. Those ladies sucked me into soap operas. They had lunch hours organized around the soap opera schedule so that someone was always taking lunch when a soap was happening, so that it could be watched and then reported on to everyone else. They watched the line-up on ABC. One of the ladies saved all her dimes, so did her husband. Together, one year, they saved enough dimes to repave their driveway. Another assignment was for a warranty organization. I had hardly any work to do. I did all my homework at work, including writing research papers. I was very open about this. They didn't care as long as I looked busy. Eventually they offered to make the job permanent. But I told them I was in graduate school, they needed to look for someone who wanted this job.

Then I had a seizure while we were out in Colorado. And my whole life changed. Mostly because some nasty uneducated lady at DMV in Manassas grabbed my drivers license from me when she shouldn't have. But ... there you have it. We were living in house we'd just bought out in the burbs where there was no public transportation and I had no drivers license. So ... I got seriously depressed. We almost declared bankruptcy. But somehow we made it through and I didn't commit suicide, even tho it was seriously considered more than once. I've since discovered that this was partially a side effect of getting used to the new drugs I was taking.

Then I did my student teaching. That was tons of fun. I love teaching. LOVE it. There is nothing that jazzes me more than teaching anyone, anything. Well ... except really little children. I don't do so well with little, little children unless I'm one on one with them. But boy oh boy, did I love being the classroom with those high school kids. Once I was allowed to drive again, I had a 1967 midnight blue Mustang and I loved life. I was doing some cool things with the kids and they were having fun learning. My mentor teacher loved me.

But it's very nearly impossible to get a job teaching social studies in this county unless you also coach football. So the next fall we tried to make it while I substitute taught. But ... we couldn't. So it was back to a place I'd worked for a short period of time while temping. A persian carpet auction house. Very shady. When you see ads in the Post for auctions selling stuff that has been released from customs ... don't believe a word of those ads. They are lies. I know because I've written those ads and placed them. I've worked the auctions. I've been a shill in the auctions. I've signed the insurance appraisal forms for persian carpets about which I know nothing. I lasted about 4 months here. I did nothing illegal but nothing that was terribly ethical either.

Back to the temp agency and I ended up in the HR department of a defense contractor in Tyson's Corner. Eventually here I ended up as a systems administrator of a resume processing system that ran on a UNIX processor in a Sun computer system. I learned how to write code in UNIX. I taught the rest of the HR department how to use the system and oversaw inputting/uploading/sorting/blah blah blah thousands of resumes that no one but no one ever used or wanted as anything but fodder to say "See what we can do." After about a year they did away with my position and ....

... I got the same job for a small subsidiary for a Ma Bell that put in phone systems overseas. This was a contract job. My contract lasted for exactly 3 months. At 4:50 p.m. on the day my contract should have been renewed I was told it wouldn't. I was not unhappy except that I wanted to tell them, not have them tell me.

Back to the temp agency for my last job. I ended up with the best job I ever had. I worked as a typist in the word processing pool at at a prison ministry. I loved that job. My boss was the best. We had a good relationship with the computer department and whenever they wanted to try out new software, I was their guinea pig. I always got to type up Chuck Colson's BreakPoints. It really was the best job ever (except for teaching). I had no worries. I just got there on time, did a good job and went home every day and they loved me and I loved them. But then I had LightGirl and all my priorities changed. So I stopped working ... at least for pay.

Ever since then I've worked really hard and not earned one red cent.