Monthly Archives: March 2011

Men and Women and the Curse of the Want

During spring break we stayed a night with dear friends. Their eldest Eliza, nearly four, was thrilled to have our Theo, age six, as a play date.

mighty engine

Theo was thrilled to have Eliza’s massive wooden train set and open family room where he, my husband and Eliza’s dad could build the mother of all tracks.

Eliza played trains too, for about three minutes. Then the wooing began.

“Feo,” she said. Most preschoolers cannot yet pronounce the th sound, so they replace it with the f sound.

“Feo, let’s play veterinarian.”

Feo did not answer. He was busy fashioning a railroad crossing.

Eliza was undeterred. She stood near the stuffed animals calling. “Feo. Feo? Play veterinarian with me.”

Still no answer. She tried another approach.

Lodging herself in her younger sibling’s walker, she pretended to be stuck.

“Feo, help! Feo, help me get out! Feo! FEO!” Ah, the damsel in distress.

Feo, now engrossed in bridge building, could not be bothered.

Eliza’s mom chimed in. “Eliza,” she said. “You can get yourself out.”

“Feo, help me!” said Eliza.

“Theo, Eliza needs you,” I said. “Will you help her get out of the walker, please?”

My little prince obeyed his queen mum, dutifully leaving his venture to assist. Once Eliza was freed from peril, he marched back to resume construction.

Eliza did not give up. “Feo,” she said. “Feo, let’s play dolls now. Feo?”

Silence down the line, except for the muffled clinking of wooden tracks fitted together over carpet on the trek to the other side of the family room.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Eliza grabbed none other than Cinderella. She shoved the doll right between Theo’s eyes and said, “Feo! Cinderella needs to tell you something!”

Her mother and I shook our heads, both understanding all too clearly the plight of this little princess.

“She’s sooo relational,” said her mother. Aren’t we all, ladies?

In Genesis God lays out the consequences for Adam and Eve’s willful disobedience. The overarching consequence is death, but there is other fallout.

For example, right after God tells Eve she will have pain in childbirth, He says she will want for her husband and he will rule over her. The usual interpretation I’ve heard umpteen times in church is that women will want to dominate men, while God requires men to lead.

I get that. But I wonder. Maybe the woman’s want for the man is really a want for the man. Not to lord over him, but to relate to him.

It’s my gorgeous friend describing how she undressed and danced in front of the TV, unsuccessful in her attempt to tear her husband away from the football game.

It’s Scarlett realizing her love for Rhett in Gone With the Wind when he slams the door in her face. (Correction: Rhett walks out the open door and disappears into the foggy night. It’s a slam all the same.)

It’s Eliza’s unrelenting calls to Feo.

Men, pay attention. This one’s free. Throw your woman a bone of interaction and you’ll chip away at the curse in your house.

Give her your undivided attention as you would a dearly loved treasure, and watch the curse shatter like glass on the tracks of a mighty engine.

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. Genesis 3:16 NIV

Sanctus Real’s powerful song Lead Me is not to be missed. Click here to listen.

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Filed under family & friends, women's studies

Everyday Q&A

Two weeks and 10 states later, we’re home from spring break. Wonderful trip. Never enough time to see everyone or do everything. Returned with more material than I can write.

My crazy blog experiment came up in conversations along the way. Based on the questions I got, it’s time to make good on my vow from Dangerous Liaisons that we’ll conquer the blog together. Scroll down to find your favorite Q&A.

blog hog

Q: What pray tell is a blog?

A: Blog is short for web log. It’s a type of website.

Anyone can blog. Platforms like WordPress and Blogger let you create blogs for free. Heartfelt thanks to my friend Nicole for showing me the ropes.

There are blogs for all manner of subjects and products. Blogs run the gamut from personal and private to public and highly marketed.

This one is open to the public 24-7 and covers lots of topics.

Q: No offense but why would anyone read this?

A: Beats me. To empathize, normalize, relate? To be entertained or inspired?

I like to think someone would read my posts for the same intangible reasons people read the greats like Erma Bombeck, Peggy Noonan and Anna Quindlen.

I can dream, can’t I?

Community is another reason. Bloggers and readers connect in the blogosphere.

Q: Is it always snowing in St. Louis?

snow route

A: No, though my posts may lead you to believe otherwise.

I started blogging in February 2011 (Maiden Flight) during a winter of heavy snowfall. Hence the ubiquitous ice and snow in my posts (Ice Ice Baby, Life on the Slippery Slope and Bad Boys).

St. Louis summers are as hot and humid as any city south of the Mason Dixon.

Q: You wrote about Scrabble and your Ford F-150? How did I miss this?

A: The best way to guarantee you will not miss a post is to subscribe.

Subscribing is free. Look for the menu labeled Subscribe near the top of the right column. Go. Do it now.

For those of you who like a challenge, one bonus to subscribing is that you receive the original version with the elusive typo or misspell. There’s at least one in every post. Subscribe to catch it before I do.

Q: What about Facebook?

A: I announce new posts to friends on Facebook. But if it’s an active day on your News Feed, I may be buried in the traffic. Another reason to subscribe.

read, respond, recycle

Q: RSS feeds?

A: If you want to subscribe via RSS feed, use the large button in the right column. RSS feed readers fly below the radar, unidentified to me and unreported in stats.

Q: Twitter?

A: No, I’m not tweeting yet. But you can call my posts tweets if you’ll read them. (Update: I starting tweeting for the blog’s first birthday. Connect with me @everydayepistle.)

Q: Can I comment on your posts or share them with others?

A: Yes, please do as often as you like. Look for the menus at the end of each post.

Q: Do you post every day?

A: No, twice a week, sometimes more.

The word everyday is used here to mean commonness rather than frequency. Like the lyrics in Arrested Development’s People Everyday, not Elvis Costello’s Everyday I Write the Book.

Q: Why do you include links to songs and Bible verses?

sit up get God

A: The songs are for fun. To borrow a concept from my friend Sue, if this were a movie these songs would make up the soundtrack.

The Bible verses are for life. Do not mistake them as a flippant means to stamp God on my blog. Each verse applies to the story in its post.

Q: How do you work with your photographer?

A: My photographer, the uber-talented Kristin Scully, is responsible for the headshots of yours truly. I take the snapshots featured in the posts myself.

Q: Are you being paid?

A: I wish. Are you offering?

No, I am not being paid to do this. And I hesitate to open up to ads. I have a few ideas up my sleeve for other ventures. Stay tuned.

Q: Why don’t you get a real job?

A: Good question. This is a real job requiring concentration, effort, time and ability. It’s non-paid work, but that’s nothing new.

I’ve been a non-paid, full-time mother of a busy little boy since he was born, not to mention several non-paid volunteer stints. Real jobs, no moolah.

I’m learning social media from the ground up by building and managing my site. I’m sharpening marketable skills like organization, creativity, communication, problem-solving. Should count for something.

keep calm and carry on

Q: How long do you plan to blog?

A: Until it’s not fun anymore.

A year seems like a good first step. My friend Shannon blogged every day for five years while raising four children. She’s a superstar.

She’s slowed down the frequency of her posts, but retains a loyal following. That kind of audience takes time and talent to build, so we’ll see.

Q: Seriously why are you doing this?

A: To make friends and influence people, to exercise some gifts before they atrophy beyond use, to say what I need to say before I die, and because I’m having the time of my life.

Q: Julie or Julia?

A: Both Julie and Julia. I am Julie, but oh, to be more Julia. Bon appétit!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

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Had a Good Mammo Grama, Just as Fine as It Can Be

Recently had my mammogram. I have these cysts my OB/GYN wants to watch, bless her heart.

The tech at the breast health center told me the cysts are harmless fluid-filled sacks embeddedin my fibrous tissue. She said this as she wrenched my flesh into the giant panini maker.

Terrific. My lovelies are small and sagging already. Now they’ll be flat too.

I’m thankful for the screening and relieved for the benign results. I’m also poignantly reminded that some in Washington consider it a drain of resources to screen these harmless cysts. Thank you, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

These cysts don’t pose a risk to me now. Why waste the money?

Problem is, like some politicians, disease can be random and unpredictable.

Mammograms exist to identify abnormalities early. And early is when you may still have a chance to survive them.

True proponents of life-saving quality healthcare would throw the full force of their support behind preventive technologies. Then they would get to work figuring out how to make them affordable.

But the capitalist option is unfair, whines the left. But the socialist option is evil, whines the right.

Come on, people. Is that the best you can do?

This is America. We invent things here.

Nobody likes President Obama’s healthcare plan except the folks who wrote it. Lord knows no one else read it.

Repeal it already and come up with something better.

Because if there’s one thing I hate more than mammograms and short-sighted politicians, it’s cancer.

So bring on the pokers, the prodders, the scans. The cultures, the ultrasounds and the mammograms. I’ll pay for them out of my own pocket if I must.

But don’t stand in the way of the tests and treatments that could save my life. Don’t ration, diminish and dumb down my care.

Battered as it may be, and in some places flattened, the length of my life is not for any government to decide.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16 NIV

Thanks to Carl Carlton whose 1981 hit She’s a Bad Mama Jama inspired the title. Click here to listen on YouTube and start your weekend dancing.

 

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Blog

I have a confession. I am not funny.

Oops. There goes half my readership. Those of you remaining are thinking yeah, lady, we know you’re not funny. Make with the real confession already.

Serious, sensitive, intense. The most common words teachers and guidance counselors used to describe me from second grade through high school graduation. Oh, and emotional. A regular barrel of laughs.

Give me a break. I had a lot on my mind.

Faculty also described me as enthusiastic, creative and smart. And I was smart enough to befriend fun people. Surrounded by them, I looked like I knew how to have a good time.

lol

I’m still surrounded by many friends who are hilarious. At least one needs to do stand up comedy. She’s that good.

I’ve told her this repeatedly over the years. She’s in denial, but one day I expect to be sitting in her audience crying from laughing so hard. (You know who you are. It’s a gift, woman. Use it.)

I also married a funny guy and we have a quick-witted child who is funnier than both of us combined. Good-Time Charlie, my husband calls him.

Like a talent scout for humor, I can’t do it myself, but I can recognize it. And I can write about it.

Take for example, Scrabbled. It’s funny, but not because I’m funny. It’s because of all these funny people and the funny things that happen.

My blogging for public consumption is just 12 posts fresh. Already I have ascertained everyone responds best to humor. Write more, they plead.

I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything. Remember who you’re reading here. Serious, sensitive, intense.

Quieter feedback has revealed the not-as-funny posts speak to people too.

Life is, after all, bittersweet.

But there’s purpose in it. There are smiles to be had. And on a very good day there are lots and lots of laughs.

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

spring harvest

To hear Bittersweet by Big Head Todd and the Monsters, one of the best songs ever, click here for the Vimeo link. Laugh, cry, be mellow and moved.

You Baby Boomers out there expected me to link to Turn! Turn! Turn! from Pete Seeger’s album The Bitter and the Sweet made famous as a 1965 cover by The Byrds, didn’t you? Well, I’m Gen-X. But just for you, click here for the Byrds’ rendition on YouTube. You can thank me later.

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Almost Famous

Feeling lucky?

Ordinary Saturday, stuck at the dealership while the truck’s being serviced.

One final shuffle through the magazines brings me face to face with an old issue of Fast Company. The guy on the cover looks vaguely familiar.

Then it hits me. A classmate from undergrad has made the cover.

Now I haven’t seen him since graduation. We were friends, but we didn’t date or even talk to each other that much. I may have invited him to a social at my sorority once.

Okay. I did do that. He declined because he had a girlfriend. He’s a good guy, handsome to this day. No wonder he made the cover.

Anyway, he was in my program. We competed in class. Often I won.

But not today. After I picked myself up off the floor, I read the article.

Welcome to my lair.

If my eyes were green they would have turned three shades deeper and glowed.

I might have sprouted horns and a tail too. Imagine an X-Men transformation right there in the Ford waiting room.

Thankfully, my eyes are brown so only God and I knew what was happening.

Ivy League MBA, internet commerce, gazillion dollars, CEO. Somebody stop me.

Still in shock later that evening, I recounted the event to my husband.

“He was on the cover!” I said. “Of Fast Company! He is the CEO of @#$%!”

That wasn’t a curse word. I chose to use symbols instead of the company’s name for fear of embarrassing us both.

“He sat next to me in our advertising campaigns class. He’s not all that!”

Well apparently neither am I.

This brush with fame stalks me. Let me brag on my friends for a moment. One of my best friends from college advises presidents of the United States and not as an intern.

I told you she knows Robin Williams.

Another has a brother-in-law who is arguably the greatest athlete of our generation. She hobknobs with Robin Williams.

Then there’s my friend who’s a regular on Squawk Box. My several friends who are published authors, esteemed professors, powerful attorneys, brilliant surgeons.

My husband the optimist, who incidentally has logged a nice set of accomplishments in his industry, says I’m using the wrong standards to measure success.

When I keep my eyes fixed on doing the best I can with what I’ve been given, this stuff doesn’t faze me. When I compare myself, I’m in trouble.

God help me, I will live another day to slay the green-eyed dragon.

So what if my dashing classmate enjoys well-deserved success? I can be happy for him. There’s plenty to go around.

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”

Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” John 21:20-22 The Message

To watch Hey Jealousy by Gin Blossoms on YouTube click here. I had to include this video because 1) the title and 2) it’s the only music video I know that includes rolling a tree (giggle).

Special thanks to Cameron Crowe for Almost Famous.

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Keep on Truckin’

my ride

I’m driving a truck through the recession that seems to have no end.

A 2001 Ford F-150 Laredo Super Crew. Complete with a bed extender, a paint scrape on the rear wheel thingy, and until recently a cracked windshield.

Still has less than 100,000 miles, and we bought it new as my husband’s first baby. The next year we bought a puppy as my first baby, but that’s another post.

When the lease was up on our spiffy little SUV just more than a year ago, my husband and I decided not to renew or buy, but to share.

Such a nice word, share. We shared a car before. When we lived in Chicago where there is ample public transportation and absolutely no free parking.

We shared a car when we first moved to St. Louis. Of course we lived within walking distance of work then and had no children.

Sharing seemed like a great idea to save money. Only temporary until we get our house sold and our budget balanced, right?

Our environmentally-concerned friends applauded. Their eyes glazed over calculating the waves of greenhouse gases stymied by our one-vehicle family conversion.

I have nothing against the truck. We bought it. We own it. But driving it is another thing. It is a full body experience for me. And oh, the looks I get.

Look. I can parallel park it too. Pretty!

Like the time I drove it to Goodwill to deliver some items we’d outgrown. The manager handling donations that day had the physique of a professional football player.

He watched me pull in, slowly bank a wide left around the lot and finally dock. I could see the wheels turning in his head as all five feet four inches,125 pounds of me dismounted to unload my cargo.

“What’s a little woman like you doing with a big truck like that?” he said.

“It’s my husband’s truck,” I said.

“He must have the city car today,” he said.

“Actually, we’re sharing,” I said.

“Oh,” he said, rendered speechless.

My kindergartner expressed it best one day in the carpool line. After the arduous climb up, he buckled himself in and said, “Why? Why are we still driving this vehicle?”

Driving the truck is not an earth-friendly choice. It is not a symptom of my bout with mid-life crisis. It is not an attempt to show how tough I am, how Southern I am, or how syrupy sweet we-share-everything with my spouse I am.

the recession that has no end

Bottom line, it is a financial decision.

Best I can figure, the truck is a generous provision from God to meet our needs.

Best I can hope, our days as a one-truck family will only last until my country and I can get back to business as usual.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV

Keep on Truckin’ by Nev Nicholls. This is a classic, folks.

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Scrabbled: How to Beat the Queen

loser queen

This year, for the first time in 15 years of marriage, my husband beat me in Scrabble. Twice.

You must understand, I am the Scrabble Queen. Trained from childhood to vanquish challengers, I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. A spelling bee.

Alas, I’ve been dethroned in my own castle by a mere mortal. A man who only learned to play Scrabble because it’s my favorite game.

How, you ask? How did this injustice happen?

My husband has discovered a secret weapon. An Achilles heel.

He invites our six-year-old son to play Scrabble with us.

“MYFILT,” says the child. “I have myfilt. M-Y-F-I-L-T.”

“Honey, that’s not a word,” I say. “You have to make a word.”

“FLIMTY,” he says. “How about flimty?”

“No, that’s not a word either.”

My husband remains silent, part of his diabolical strategy.

“Mom, how about MILE? That’s a word!” he says, “I can put down mile.”

He reaches across the board. Only it isn’t his turn. And there is no place to put mile.

tile pile

“Baby, it has to fit in with the other words on the board. Like a crossword puzzle. And you have to wait your turn,” I say. “It’s mommy’s turn now.”

I look at my slate. I look at the board. All I can see are tiny, no point words. AND, BUT, OR. It’s Conjunction Junction in my head.

“Can it go diagonal?” the child says. “I could put it right here diagonal.” Letters slide askew across the table.

“Let me help you put this back together,” I say. “And I’m sorry but you can’t put a word on the board diagonally.”

Not a peep from my husband. He is deep in stealth concentration, planning his next move.

“T-Y-L-I-F. TYLIF. Tylif, tylif, tylif!”

“Honey, let momma see what you have,” I say. “We’ll come up with something.”

At this point, I get up from my seat, leave my slate, go around to where my child is sitting, and analyze the letters on his slate. We form words. Wonderful words like tile, file, lime, time, elf, my…

Hey, wait a minute. It’s my turn.

An hour later, my husband breaks 200 points, my son breaks 100 and I’m stuck around 59. Stunned, I leave the table reeling with defeat. What happened?

the cub

My husband knows the one thing the queen cannot resist.

Want to distract her? Throw her off game? Beat her at Scrabble?

Bring in her cub. Works every time.

He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 NIV

To see School House Rock’s Conjunction Junction on YouTube click here.

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