Monday, April 30, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: There and Back Again

Life has been, well, life-ish this past week. And by that, I mean that there has been a real mix of consolations and desolations. Here are the highlights and lowlights of my week:


I got back on the exercise wagon. In fact, after two fast-paced, long walks on Monday and Tuesday, I was pretty tired on Wednesday.

My friend Kym came to visit with her mom and baby, Kaleb. I've written about Kym before, so there may be some who might be getting tired of me talking about the daugher I had before I had a daughter. It is always a treat to spend time with her; I can't tell you what a treat it is.

Marley's birthday party was a resounding success. She had a great time and you know how much a parent loves seeing their child have a great time.


I have not been successful at getting back on the diet wagon. After my trip to Modesto, I've just struggled with tracking my points and making better food choices.

Physically, I was pretty tired. With the extra tiring walks, a mad dash to clean before Kym came, working in Marley's class on the same day as the party and then... well, this deserves its own bullet point...

The meltdown to beat all meltdowns with my daughter featuring a refusal to go to school and a battle of wills which might be said to resemble the mother/daughter equivalent of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

I had a visit to the dentist to begin the process of getting a crown. I used to deal with all things dental fairly well. Post sleep apnea diagnosis, though, I am more claustrophobic and panicky during the whole procedure.

But, if I look closely, there are some consolations in my desolations:

Exercise and not eating right is at least better than not exercising and not eating right.

Marley made it to school today. It was still a struggle, but she got there. I think she learned that I mean what I say about her attending school.

I made it through the whole dental procedure and only had to be asked once not to bite down so hard on the assistant's finger.

But yet, there are still thoughts that linger. More substantial bread to bake dealing with forgiveness and spiritual connection and relationships. I've been pressed for time on Mondays or too tired when I get around to my SWB. So, what I'm posting is real but there's more. I should do something about that. I will do something about that. But not tonight. It is time for bed and I think I'll take my bread with me.

Links to other Sleeping with Bread posts can be found here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Real Moms Meme: My Turn

Real moms have realizations...

...such as a few weeks ago when my daughter was in church with me. I love the worship time during our service. I have a hard time shutting down my brain and connecting in the moment. During worship however, that is not a problem. It is one very consistent place where I can "be" with God, present with my emotions, happy or sad and I just am: a mess, content, troubled, at peace, all of the above.

So, you can imagine the buzz kill my daughter was. She was pretty quiet but moving around. Up and down. Down and up. Every time she stood up, the movie theater style seat creaked. She'd tug on my arm. You know, fidgety kid stuff.

I kept trying to stay in my blissful worship moment, only to have to stop and encourage Marley to sit down, etc. "You're ruining my worship!" I wanted to say--may have said even. My interior monologue went something like this:

Why can't my kid just do what I tell her to? Is it so hard for her to just sit still? I've got something I'm doing here and...









And there I have it. A realization in the middle of worship that I am like a child who chafes at God's instruction. I don't listen to what he has to say. I won't sit still long enough to hear what he's saying. I don't tend to cooperate with his plan. Another instance of a child teaching her mother something profound.

Hmmm. Something to think about.

I was tagged by atypical of nonsensical text for this meme. And in turn, I tag the Ravin' Picture Maven, chickenone, Sheila and PeanutButtersMom. All you do is finish the thought: Real moms... You can do it with pictures and/or words. Whatever you like.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: Shared Consolation

Last week, just after hitting "Publish" on my weekly Sleeping with Bread post, I noticed the headline referring to the shootings at Virginia Tech. Today, one week later, the students returned to school. There were several remembrances throughout the day, from a sweatshirt draped over the chair of an injured student to the release of 1,000 balloons.

Although I have personal desolations and consolations this week, I thought I would leave you with those shared in the comments of a post I wrote the next day. In it, I asked people to answer the question of what gives them consolation in times like this and what causes them desolation in times like this.

Here are their replies:

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 2:31:00 PM, chickenone said…

    I find desolation in the fact that if someone wants to reap so much death and destruction, they can't really be stopped until they've killed or maimed several people.

    I find consolation in the goodness of people who extend genuine sympathy and all kinds of support and assistance to the families of those killed.

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 4:01:00 PM, allrileyedup said…

    At times like this, I find desolation in the thought that I have brought my children into a world where things like this happen.

    At times like this, I find consolation in the hope that if I raise them right, my kids might help make the world a place where things like this won't happen.

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 4:40:00 PM, Aliki2006 said…

    I find terrible desolation in the fact that this world has become such a terrible place.

    I find consolation in the fact that it is still beautiful, even in the face of so much horror.

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 5:32:00 PM, Beck said…

    I find terrible desolation in the violent anarchy that seems to be creeping closer and closer.
    I find consolation in my faith, in my knowledge that so many other people want a good world too, in my family and friends.

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 5:38:00 PM, ECR said…

    I find desolation in the fact that nothing ever changes, and that destruction has befallen people since the beginning of time and will continue till the end.

    I find consolation in the fact that nothing ever changes, and that people are basically good.

Last week, like most of us, I felt a sense of loss and desolation in the tragedy of VA Tech, as well as the hostage situation at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. However, I took great consolation in the thoughts shared here. Thanks to all of you who shared your consolations and desolation with me.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

On difficulty taking a compliment...

My friend and I are walking through the park one beautiful day.

"Your kids are so lucky to have you for a mother, Mary."

My insides go on high alert, preparing for how to respond to this statement.

"How do you mean?" I say.

"Well, you are so good about showing your kids they need to think about others."

We had just been talking about how our family sponsors two children through Christian Children's Fund and about our Christmas tradition of a Jesus stocking in which we place notes with the things we do for others throughout the year.

Everything inside of me wants to protest. I feel a flush rising up in my body. I want to say No! I'm not a good mother. I'm a shrieking lunatic, inconsistent discipliner, selfish, lazy. . . I could go on and on. But I don't. I confess:

"This is very uncomfortable for me to listen to," I say as I'm fanning my face with my hands, "but... thank you."

"You're welcome," she says to me.

I take a deep breath and keep walking.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

And now for something completely different...

...except it is about me, a subject I think I focus on too much here. But this is fun. I actually think this is a good description of me. I just have one question? How do they do it? What a mystery!

Your Brain's Pattern

Your brain is always looking for the connections in life.
You always amaze your friends by figuring out things first.
You're also good at connecting people - and often play match maker.
You see the world in fluid, flexible terms. Nothing is black or white.

I don't really play match maker in a romantic sense, but I do make connections, at least in my head about people who can help each other or who I think would make great friends, etc. (Oh yeah, I think "amaze" might be too strong a word to describe the impact my brain has on my friends.)

Omigosh! I just had a realization, went to my posts to double check. Yup. This is the 200th post. Not exactly the most significant post for such a milestone, but hey, a post is a post is a post--or some such nonsense.

Oh! One more thing: I just did some reorganizing in my sidebar. Please take note of my new Women's Health Awareness section. Also, I just changed the Scenic View. This is a post I was led to my Julie Q of mental tesserae.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Justice v. Forgiveness: Which is of Greater Necessity?

Little did I know, when I heisted an interview question that my friend, chickenone, gave to Glyn of thoughtsbyglyn months ago, that it would lead to a blogosphere round table discussion of Justice versus Forgiveness. Maybe I should have known, though. After all, I asked that question of Julie. The word ravin' isn't in her blog title for nothing.

What I couldn't know, is that even if I had imagined that Julie would open this question up to her corner of the blog'verse, that it would come just a couple of days after the worst campus shooting, in fact the worst shooting rampage anywhere in the United States. 33 people dead, more than a dozen others wounded. The tragedy at V Tech makes a post like this both more difficult and more timely.

I saw the headline on Yahoo News just after I finished my Sleeping with Bread post for the week. My first response was one of emotional detachment. As they news reports began saying that this was the worst shooting rampage in American history, I found myself surprised. Surely there had been shootings where more than 33 people had died? I don't know exactly why I thought this. 33 people dead is 33 people too many. But either the nature of the world today-- with the number of tragedies that happen leading me to unconsciously start placing them on a continuum of the number of bodies, from a suicide down the street (1 body) to the 229,866 estimated killed in the 2004 tsunami which struck Indonesia--or, I've seen too many movies with rampant bloodshed and carnage and I've confused fiction with real life.

I then moved to my usual irritation at the initial news coverage. In the first hours of any major event, there is very little to be known, but the News is there, desperately looking for an angle, hashing out theories based on little information, looking for "what went wrong," etc. I knew, though, underneath it all, that once I started hearing personal stories, the impact of it all would hit me. And it did:

  • A news reporter chokes up as he, a father of what I assumed to be college-age children, described the emergency personnel hearing the cell phones of the victims ringing over and over again. He could not help but imagine a parent on the other end of the line, hoping to reach their child to reassure himself that his daughter was okay.
  • The crowd at the convocation held the next day spontaneously bursts into the school cheer as the service ends.
  • One young man, who survived the shootings without physical injury, describes how he and a couple of others, blocked the door to their classroom after the shooter left. He returned and tried to reenter the classroom. Their barricade worked. The student retains him composure throughout the interview until asked how he feels at being described as a hero. His face crumples, he struggles to find words. He can't. Mercifully, the reporter ends the interview.
  • A 76 year old professor, a Holocaust survivor, dies because he is blocking the door into the classroom with his own body. When tragedy becomes personal, when those stories are shared, the larger impact becomes known.

All of this is just to say, that if you add the emotional impact of this tragedy with some raging hormones and an intense discussion with my son yesterday, I am feeling the need to treat my soul gingerly. I'd love nothing better than to go to bed, watch Firefly episodes and snack my way into oblivion. And I have no obligation to contribute to the round table discussion or I could do it in a few days. But, I am an ENFP--with an emphasis on the P. If I don't do it now, I won't do it at all. And I do want to participate.

But first, in the midst of what will be a number of posts on this subject, I want to manage everyone's expectations.

A) I am not an original thinker. I work best in the back and forth of discussion or the response to someone else's thoughts. I'm not sure how good I will be at setting forth any sort of complete, coherent, cogent position on Justice v. Forgiveness. Put me in a room with a group of reasonable people to discuss something like this and I would be great. A situation like that is where I do my best work.

B) I have, as an underlying belief, the idea that we humans are flawed--some of us more than others ;), but all flawed, nonetheless. I believe in objectivity but I don't believe there is a person on the planet who can truly be objective. I believe in Truth, Beauty, Love. These ideas do not just exist in the eye of the beholder. But I think we look through a glass darkly, to borrow a metaphor from Scripture and that only the Creator of all things sees, with accuracy and clarity, what real Truth, Beauty and Love are. Instead, we get glimpses of the real thing. We wrestle and grasp with the meaning of these ideas and we see little bits. I think it is important that you understand that as I say whatever it is I'm going to next. (Being an extremely unstructured extrovert, I haven't planned what I'm going write. I'm just going to start and that's how I'll know what I think.)

I began life as a lover of Justice. As my brain developed, I found myself advocating the cause of Justice At All Costs. Nothing was ever more important. Granted, I think I often confused justice with fairness, but on any multiple choice test, I would always have picked justice as being more important than mercy. This inherent love for justice was the reason I believe that the movies The Killing Fields and Glory ripped me to shreds. More than any tragic romance, those two movies stirred up a primal response in me. Tears flowed. I became mute with the inability to describe the why of my response. But, I know it was because of the injustice portrayed in the true stories of these films.

This led to me being a very vocal critic and self-appointed judge of things I deemed unjust. A minister has an affair? Drop kick him to the curb. He cannot be redeemed. Move on. A student cheats on a school paper. Show no mercy. Give him an 'F'. Kick him out of school. (There's was an awful lot of kicking going on back then.) You screw up, you pay the penalty. (And yes, I was a Christian even then. I just thought that I was capable of having righteous anger. I had discernment. I knew better than anyone else. You are right to recognize the hubris of youth here.)

Then life started smacking me in the face. I can't go into all the details of my laundry list of personal tragedy, but let's just say, some things sucked for me. And, in working through those issues, surviving them, growing through them, God did a wondrous thing: he showed me my mistakes, my imperfections, my screw ups. Slowly but surely, I started paying more attention to the Forgiveness side of things. I began to have an appreciation and some compassion for all those people out there--now identified as people and not just idiots.

Let me interrupt with a caveat here that I am focusing on justice and forgiveness at a personal level right now. Murder, Sexual Abuse, Tyranny. . . I'm not addressing things at that level--yet. (Or maybe not at all today. I'm not sure where this is going still.)

There is a parable in the New Testament that was always problematic for me. A man hires workers. As the day goes on, he hires more workers. He pays all the workers the same wage, even though some of them didn't work as long as the others. That story always rubbed me the wrong way. How is that right, I would ask. But now, even though I am still perplexed by the story, I recognize that it is yet another example of my own ideas about Life, the Universe and Everything not lining up with God's. This issue of Justice, what it is and how is justice meted out, is similar. I still believe in justice and that it is a necessary component of Life. I have just realized that my ability to determine what justice is is impaired. My own biases and lack of perspective, my humanity, mean that I could not always know what is just and what is not. Also, I realized that I had not always received the justice my actions warranted. I have been the recipient of mercy and grace on both the real world and cosmic level.

This place where I stand now does not mean that I don't believe there are greater things to fight for. The movie Amazing Grace is one recent inspiration to me. The fight, led by a small group--many of them evangelicals--to abolish the slave trade through the existing legal system spurs me on. I examine my own sense of futility at having an impact on the greater world around me and I want to pay more attention to how I can fight for justice in this world. But I still believe that the ultimate determiner of what is just and is not just is God. The imperfect vision I have may lead me to question at times what happens in this world. It may lead me to become angry at those who seem to be getting away with the evils they are inflicting upon the world. However, I do not see all things and know all things. I am not Lord of the universe. And I believe that God does see all and know all. Not bound by Time as I am, he will make right what needs to be made right--in the fullness of time.

And Forgiveness? Well, that is intellectually easy for me but personally difficult. Because I have been forgiven by God, I am grateful. I believe I am told to forgive others for the wrongs they do to me. I am to go to others to ask for forgiveness for the wrongs I do to them. But to do that, in reality, oh, that is so hard. I often have to forgive in principle and then hope that I am able to forgive in my heart as time goes on. And so on the personal level, the idea of forgiveness is settled for me, what do I think about forgiveness on a societal level? I'm not sure. I believe in mercy in society. I believe in discernment. All crimes are not equal. I'm hesitant to preach civil forgiveness for a child molester or a murderer. Whether or not the victim makes a choice to forgive, it is such a risk to trust the criminal will not commit another serious crime. I think my difficulty in addressing this part of the question comes because I don't know how to define forgiveness at a level greater than an individual one. So maybe it is best just leave this post open-ended on that point.

Ultimately, my answer to the question of which is of greater necessity, justice or forgiveness? I think it is clear that I don't believe you can pick one over the other. Justice and forgiveness are both necessary and both bigger than any one human mind can wrap itself around. But I do think it is a good thing to do, this examining of these big ideas. You never know when you are going to need to use your beliefs and apply them to your life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A quote which gives me comfort is the following from Lord of the Rings:

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

I had just posted my Sleeping with Bread post yesterday when I saw the news headline about the shootings at Virginia Tech. I am sure I am experiencing a lot of the same emotions as others.

I was thinking that now might be a good time to do a group version of Sleeping with Bread. I thought that anyone who wanted to, could leave their response in the comments of this post (or post on their own blog). So, if you would like, you can answer the following questions. It might be a place to come together and remember the good along with the bad:

At a time like this, I find desolation in:

At a time like this, I find consolation in:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: the Caffeine-challenged Version

I sit and stare at the Sleeping with Bread questions.

I've got a little caffeine high going and it is hard to stop. Breathe. Reflect.


Slowly though, one thought bubbles up inside.

What caused a sense of desolation for me this week was money: the lack of, the overspending of, the years-long struggle to be a wise, disciplined steward of the generousness of God. A struggle which feels more like the proverbial "one step forward, two steps back" than the "slow and steady wins the race" turtle-like determination.


I breathe. Yes. That is a true desolation for me this week.

Another thought drifts to the surface, frees itself and pops.

What has give me great consolation this week is my children. The ones I complain about constantly. The ones I refer to as Wild Thing One and Wild Thing Two. The ones who wear me down, sometimes with the drip, drip, drip of the Chinese water torture, sometimes with the rushing torrent of a flash flood.

God help me, I love those kids.

My daughter has had lots of hugs for me lately. On Saturday, she kept climbing into my lap while we were at a friend's house. I asked her why I was getting all these hugs. She shrugged her shoulders, leaned in for some more cuddling and then said, "Because you bought me a hamster." She is in the midst of developmental and physical change right now. I look at her and her face looks different. Her words are different. She is really too big for me to carry, although sometimes I will lean over, put my hands under her arms, say "One, two, three!" so she will jump up at the same time I lift her up. By doing so I get enjoy--for the minute or so I can manage to carry her--her arms being wrapped around my neck, her legs around my body.

My son, as much as he resists being labeled, is in some ways the stereotypical teen. But he is so much more than that also. I forget sometimes how self-sufficient he is. I forget that if I stop and take time to explain what I am feeling, or to apologize for my rantings, he is gracious with me. He has long been a kid who wants his own space and is very adamant that his mother not touch him. I sneaked in back pats and hair rubs and sideways hugs for as long as I could. No more. I miss being able to express my love for him physically. But I know that it is more loving for me to respect his wishes in this area than to force it on him. So, I soak in his smiles, enjoy our shared interests in certain television shows and movies and remember the days when he was small enough to be held, his head resting just under my chin.


Other Sleeping with Bread posts can be found here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Secret Identity: A Sunday Scribblings

I have a decent life filled with the ever present joys and irritations so integral to human relations. BUT. I wonder sometimes how to reach deeper within and touch the passionate spark of essential me-ness in order to let it run free, even amid the triviality of dirty laundry and midnight cries.
atypical, me... again? 04/11/07

A blogger who I've become friends with wrote these words recently. These words which resonated in me like a tuning fork, something that I didn't even know needed to be articulated--an identity which is not so much a secret to others but to myself.

And so, along with my other selves which I am continually exploring, wife, mother, Christian, I also have this self--my secret self--to find and get to know.

If I only had a map.

A Crossroads Update

Since this is the most fascinating subject ever to be written about on a blog and since I know you are dying to know, here is what I did with my time yesterday:

Began watching last episode of Bones, Season One, Disc 7.

Am interrupted by phone call from chickenone and happily talk for quite a while. (45-60 minutes, I'm not sure.)

Finish watching Bones. (Love, love, love that show!)

Think about cleaning up, then decide that three extra kids are going to be hanging out so a) why clean before they come to mess the place up (Great minds, T., great minds.) and b) I don't have any food to feed them, so at least a quick trip to the grocery store is in order.

Run to Trader Joe's and buy fresh fruit and miscellaneous snacks plus a few meal supplies.

Zig over to the regular grocery store to buy sodas.

Zag over to pet store to pick up bedding supplies for Bobby the hamster and to ask if our guinea pigs, which we signed over for adoption, have been adopted yet. It is busy in the store and personnel are scarce but, what do you know, I see Smokey in a cage, for sale at $32.99.

I decide not to confront someone in the store, because I'm weird about not wanting to embarrass the store employees by pointing out that the animal I gave them to adopt out is being sold. Instead, I walk out of the store, get in the car and CALL the store to ask if my guinea pigs were adopted. I'm told that there are no guinea pigs in the back, so they must have been taken. Hmmm... Smokey was very distinctive and I have no doubts about his identity.

I'm not all that upset by this. I wanted the guinea pigs gone because they were too much work and cost too much to feed and bed (although they were too, too cute). But, I would hope that this isn't a regular practice of this store which makes a point of doing small pet adoptions on Saturdays. I am giving the benefit of the doubt that Nibbler was adopted out and rather than leave Smokey alone (which guinea pigs hate), they put him in with the "for sale" piggies.

Jet home.

Colin is home and he and I unload the groceries. I still have about an hour before the kids are delivered.

Waste time Interact meaningfully with the blog'verse in front of the computer.

Whoops! There they are. Let the chaos begin!


atypical, Julie and daisies, thank you for your suggestions. I loved reading how you would approach the same circumstance. Daisies' response made complete sense to me although I might not have guessed it beforehand. The other two responses were spot on what I might have guessed based on atypical's and Julie's writing. I like that the personalities revealed in a person's post are so authentic and true to self that you can begin to know how they might respond Inreallife.

Aliki, I got to go on the walk and to Starbucks and I'm still envious. It was that good!


Bonus anecdote:

After a few days up at Vegas and then spending the night and most of the next day with friends, Marley came home exhausted. She was terribly crabby while her friends were here and then she passed out at 7:00 in the bonus room. Paul and I have not done the co-sleeping thing with Marley. Colin was a frequent visitor to our bed, but little Miss Wild Thing, as young as six months would not go to sleep with us. If we tried, she just tortured us. There was no other option but the Cry It Out for her. However, during Paul's last couple of trips, I had some success making the bedtime transition more pleasant by offering to let her go to sleep in my bed. Initially I assumed that I would end up moving her back to her bed during the night. I was quite surprised to find that finally, FINALLY!, she would sleep through the night. In fact, she would sleep in later than when she is in her room. At the tender age of practically seven, I have started letting my daughter sleep with me. So around 7:30, I hoisted her up off the couch and deposited her in my bed.

This is what I found when I came to bed a few hours later (just ignore how fabulously decorated my boudoir is):

How am I supposed to sleep around that?

(I had her get up to use the restroom and then repositioned her accordingly. On this particular night, she woke up and went back to her room on her own.)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I'm at a crossroads... an interactive post.

Okay people, I have 4 - 6 hours to myself. Paul is still in Vegas on business. He Who Wishes Not To Be Mentioned is participating in a grassroots quintathlon with some friends, and Marley is hanging out at a friend's house (a favor which I will reciprocate later today).

So, I need your advice. I have this chunk of time and I'm not sure how to spend it. Here's are my options:

Straighten the house and do some laundry. School is back in session on Monday and Paul is gone until Friday. If I get the house in shape today, it will make life easier for the next seven days.

Grocery shopping. I've been taking something of a vacation from my diet. A combination of circumstances has led to this. One circumstance has been the lack of proper foods stocked in my cupboards. Grocery shopping will help me get back on track quickly.

Watch TV. I have one more episode on my Netflix rental of Bones, Season One, Disc 7. It will take almost an hour to watch. This is just a feel good for me.

Journaling/Scripture Reading/Spiritual Reading. I have to say this is the one I feel like I most ought to do. Watching TV is just for me, this category is for me and good for me. It is also an area I've not been intentional about for weeks and weeks and weeks--which is another way of saying months, but months sounds way more negligent than weeks.

I have already done my exericse. A nice long walk up and down hills with a stop at Starbucks. I was joined by two friends and so I killed two birds with one stone there. It was good for my body and my soul.

So, I doubt I'll get enough input before my time is up. I'm curious, however, as to what you will all recommend. And, if it doesn't help me out this time, I'll have the advice at the ready the next time I find myself in these circumstances--probably not for another year or so, but I can always hope it is sooner!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sleeping with Bread: Viva Las Vegas!

Well, here I am, a day late and (if you're lucky) a few words shorter than usual. ;) After my epic post from the Conniption Zone, I'll be be as brief as possible. We joined Paul on a business trip to Las Vegas as it is the kids' Spring break. He always has a 10 or 11 day trip here in April and for the last few years, we've made it up here for a few days. I have very mixed feelings about Las Vegas, so perhaps I can tie my weekly bread baking in with this trip.

What about Las Vegas gives me consolation? Truly, truly, truly, there is little about Las Vegas that gives me consolation. That said, making this annual trip has its life-giving points. Similar to tornado season or hurricane season, the LUE family has convention season. Starting in April, Paul will be gone over 21 days between now and mid-June. That doesn't include any extra travel he may have to make between this Vegas trip and InfoComm in June. It has been this way for years and it will be for the foreseeable future. By joining him here for a few days, we alleviate some of the separation. The kids look forward to the trip and that, I can tell you, is pretty much of a miracle. Getting two kids who are eight years apart in age excited about the same place is a beautiful thing. They'll play for hours in the pool and every day we are here is a day I'm not NOT cleaning my house at home. Also, Paul has a home office and works on the opposite side of the country from most of his co-workers, some of whom we have known since before we got married. I usually get a chance to catch up with a couple of these guys here (and sometimes we get a free meal--whoopee!)

What about Las Vegas causes me desolation? Where to begin? Las Vegas brings out my hyper-idealistic nature. While I have aged enough that a lot of my idealism has been tempered, it flares up like a sun spot causing interference in my rationality and I usually end up with an underlying feeling of heaviness while I am here. I remember the first time I brought the kids up. Marley was just beginning to walk, so Colin would have been just 9 years old. Vegas has in previous years made a concerted effort to bring families to town, adding attractions for the kiddos as well as the adults. We walked down the street one night and there were all these men passing out cards to everyone who passed by. When they would see we had children with us, they would turn the card over so the kids wouldn't see the naked woman on it. The ground, though, was littered with the cards that others had discarded. Cards advertising clubs with shows featuring nudity or something similar, I'm sure. I didn't like my children being exposed to this seamier side of the city.

I see every woman on every billboard, bus or playbill and think about whether or not this life is the one her parents dreamed of for her. I look at my daughter, my beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed firecracker and my heart breaks to think of her making a living by dancing, posing, modeling in Las Vegas. (I am not judging women who do this. I do not know their circumstances or the journey which brought them here. They may be perfectly content. In my ideal world, however, no woman would have to make this choice.) It doesn't take too long for my mind to wander from the women dancers and models to the other women here in Vegas. The women who sell more than their image.

For a long time, I thought that was my main issue with Vegas and then last year, Paul and I were at a buffet for breakfast. I sat, eating my crepes and potatoes and what not. I looked around and saw people with their plates heaping. It occurred to me that pounds and pounds of this food was all going to be thrown away once it was time for the lunch buffet. I felt sick, thinking about all the hungry people in the world and all the waste here.

Do you see what I mean about hyper-idealism? I know that the money spent in Vegas provides salaries for a lot of people. Children's parents feed them, clothe them, send them to college with the money they make here. I'm sure the state of Nevada's budget owes no small part to the taxes paid by business owners, etc. I can see all that, but deep in my heart, I am saddened by what lies beneath the dancing waters, bright lights and lively atmosphere. Instead of the world being supported on the backs of turtles, as in the Hindu myth, I imagine Las Vegas supported on the backs of those whose lives are not what they imagined they would be.

And so, in choosing to come to Vegas, I have made a choice. Paul has to be here, no matter what I feel/think about the place. He doesn't have the same response to the place that I do. I could, on principle, never come here, but then I would miss out on a few days of not having to be on my own, the kids getting to have some fun and their seeing a little more of their dad than they would otherwise. So, I choose to be here and to live with my discomfort. At least for now. There may come a day when I can't do it any more. I'll have to wait and see.

I hope I haven't completely bummed everyone out. :/

If you are interested in other Sleeping with Bread posts, you can click here. I don't have the links up yet, but if you look on the sidebar, you will see the regular bakers listed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Because you asked. . .

I've had a couple of requests to share the story of my seven hour trip back home last week. I knew when I said not to ask that someone would. (COUGH! Alpha DogMa, atypical, Meredith) So now, how to relate the tale without a) alienating my husband (It wasn't his fault); and b) putting you all to sleep--this is a long story. To set the mood, watch this clip:

Imagine if you will, a woman. Mary-LUE, your average Everywoman. There is nothing to suggest she is anything other than your ordinary suburban, SAHM, grad school-wannabe. But that's all about to change. Returning from a trip to visit with a friend, she's about to take a wrong turn...

...into the Conniption Zone. (Cue music.)

It's Tuesday afternoon. The sky is clear and blue. Mary-LUE travels down the highway. After receiving a phone call from her husband, she agrees to stop in Bakersfield to pick up guitar parts he is hoping to win within the hour in an Ebay auction. It will only take her an hour or so and it will save a few dollars on shipping costs (plus, he'll get the parts sooner). She runs a few errands while she waits for the auction to close and then settles in at Barnes and Noble to await Guitar Guy.

As she waits, she takes advantage of the wireless connection to get her blog fix. Time passes and although she is within the expected time she knew the errand would run, she begins to realize that this delay will put her into the LA area during the evening rush hour. During a phone call with her husband she mentions this concern. He generously offers to make sure all the arrangements for the evening are handled: babysitter, dinner, etc. He suggests that if the traffic gets bad she can pull over and have a leisurely dinner and wait out traffic.

There is only one problem. She is not a leisurely traveler. Mary-LUE, once on the road, likes to get where she is going with as few stops as possible. Her mood begins to sour. She doesn't see the warning signs that the Conniption Zone is near. Guitar Guy shows up and the Fender guitar neck and body are promptly delivered. Mary-LUE hops into the car and calls her husband to announce she is on her way.


Beep! Beep!

Her cell phone begins to signal that the battery is low. She can't find the phone charger and she still has a two and a half to four hour drive depending on traffic. She relays this information to her husband. He recommends that she save battery power by turning the phone off. She can just turn it on to check messages, but she doesn't like the idea of being on the road for that long without her phone available. Besides, she knows how to conserve a phone battery. She doesn't need him to tell her.

The conniption has begun.

Mary-LUE gets back on the highway, looking in all the same places, over and over again for her phone charger--while barreling down the highway at 70 miles per hour. It's always in the driver side map pocket. Not there. She sweeps under the driver seat, the sides of the arm rest between the front seats. Not there. A driver passing by her on the road might have noticed a woman talking to herself, hitting her palm on the steering wheel looking otherwise agitated on the road. Such a driver would have been wise to steer clear of Mary-LUE. She was definitely driving under the influence of a temper tantrum.

The miles pass and Mary-LUE's bile recedes from her throat. She approaches Magic Mountain. Feeling a need to answer Mother Nature's call, she pulls off the highway and notices a Starbucks AND a Verizon Wireless store. This trip is turning around. . . or so she thinks. At Starbucks, she turns on her phone to check messages. Her husband has texted her:

No see yr plugger here. map pocket by left leg is my only idea.

(Frequent visitors to the Conniption Zone will know that there is very little in the way of useful things that can be said by the spouse of someone trapped in the CZ.) Mary-LUE's thoughts at reading this message runs along the lines of "Does he really think I haven't already looked there 20 times!!!!!"

The very helpful Dude Verizon helps Mary-LUE find the right car charger and she's back on her journey. At least if she was going to be stuck in traffic, she would have phone access the whole way. (Are you as hopeful as she is about this?) Within minutes of being on the road, it becomes clear the car charger is not working. When she can get it to connect at all, it gives her an "Unauthorized" message.


Mary-LUE's head starts to pound. She seriously considers whether or not she might have a stroke from the frustration. She takes deep breaths, trying, mentally, to cut her losses. The thirty dollars she just spent on the car charger is almost as much as the shipping charges would have been on the guitar parts. Those blank-i-ty-blank guitar parts that her blank-i-ty blank, darling husband of 19 years just haaaaaaad to have.

This interior monologue continues until. . . she hits traffic. Granted, it isn't the worst traffic she has ever encountered. It probably doesn't delay her trip by more than 45 minutes. The major delay was already experienced in Bakersfield. But Mary-LUE is deep into the Conniption Zone.


As she approaches her So-So Cal hometown, she decides to stop at the local Verizon Wireless store to return the car charger. She turns on the phone to check for messages:

we b at Kfc 5pm if u can/want

"NO!" Mary-LUE does not "can/want b at Kfc 5pm." (It is already 5:30 p.m.) Mary-LUE is going to return the charger now or it won't get done at all and the thirty dollars will be completely wasted. The only problem is, she bought the charger at a Verizon AUTHORIZED dealer, not a Verizon store. The Verizon store cannot exchange the car charger.

GGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!! (This is the modern day equivalent of shaking your fists at the gods.)

Her head is really hurting now. She wouldn't be surprised if her eyes started twitching or something. She drives the last mile or two home. Number One son is the only one home. He meets her at the door with news of his day. She listens to his story and then heads straight to the phone. She calls the Verizon AUTHORIZED dealer and explains the situation.

"Are you going to be coming back this way anytime soon, ma'am?"

"NO I AM NOT GOING TO BE COMING BACK THAT WAY ANYTIME SOON. May I please speak with the manager."

Sadly, the manager is unable to suggest anything useful.

"If I mail a copy of the receipt, along with the car charger, would you credit my account?"

Yes, he assures here that won't be a problem, just make sure you include the original packing. That won't be a problem. Mary-LUE has the packaging. Or at least she thinks she does.

(In the meantime, her husband and daughter return home. Her husband, unaware of his wife's presence in the Conniption Zone asks her how she is doing. A flurry of words are spoken, some of which include Not, Good, Two, Hours, Wasted, Thirty, Dollars, Shipping, Costs, Time, Back, Not, Worth, It.)

Mary-LUE starts to put together the receipt, car charger and. . . packaging? Where's the packaging?

She looks high.
She looks low.
She looks in the car.
She looks under the car.
She looks in the trash.
She dumps out her purse.

Her husband, in his most conciliatory manner, has been helping her. He has to stop, though, in the search for The Plastic Clamshell Car Charger Holder because he has to leave for worship rehearsal. He starts to ask if she wants him to pick up a mocha for her on the way home. She interrupts him, through gritted teeth and tears, to make it clear that in her state there














It is better just to leave--so he does.

Mary-LUE rounds out the evening by calling the second Verizon store to see if the packaging was left there. The call does not bear fruit and there is no more to be done. Her spouse comes home and she is civil but distant. If she talks to him, she'll want to rant and rave at him. She knows there is no point in ranting and raving. He didn't really do anything that came close to meriting the strength of her response. But she was in the Conniption Zone, the place where no prisoners are taken and a sideways glance is cause for war. So, Mary-LUE did the only thing she could. She stopped resisting the CZ. She went to bed and slept, knowing that the CZ rarely maintains its hold on you through the night.

So fellow travelers, learn from Mary-LUE's story and pay heed to the tell-tale signs that the Conniption Zone is near.

Roll Credits

Afterword: I'm not sure why I was so susceptible to my fit of temper. Lack of quality CPAP time (my sleep apnea treatment), not being a great traveler, having to drive so long by myself, being a big baby. Maybe it was all of the above. All I know is it weren't purty. Sleeping with Bread will be baked fresh tomorrow.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Wow! I just noticed that I have 197 posts on this blog. Now, I know I need to deduct a few that are drafts and have never been published, but still, how do you commemorate your 200th post? Any ideas? Should I be registered somewhere?

So today I finally got a chance to catch up a little in the blog'verse after a busy week which started with an unexpected trip to Modesto. My friend Julie has been up visiting with her mother. Recently diagnosed with kidney cancer, my friend's mom had some complications during a marathon surgery to remove one kidney. After talking on the phone with her on Saturday, I conferred with Paul, who agreed that a trip was in order. Sometimes you just need a friend.

It was a pretty quick turnaround trip with a five hour drive up there on Sunday and a seven hour drive coming home on Tuesday. (Do not ask; I don't come across well in the telling.) In between, we spent some time in the hospital, went to see Blades of Glory--it was either that or Wild Hogs--and made necklaces and bracelets at a bead store.

Of course, one frustration was I had the wrong cable to connect to the internet in my hotel room. I had some banking and blogging to do and was not able to accomplish either. Once I got home, my best intentions to catch up were waylaid by play dates, working in Marley's class and, as I mentioned somewhere, my new status as "Go To Girl" for the yearbook. (The fact that there is an elementary school yearbook is somewhat exasperating to me.) The deadline was today and while I was initially asked to help with some camera-to-computer image transfers, apparently I have a talent for photo collage. I was happy to help (and nicely thanked with some Trader Joe's products) but it kept me away even longer. The blog'verse should take comfort in the fact that I picked it over my checking account. As of this posting, my Google reader is clear of new posts but my bills still haven't been paid. The blogosphere is my master.

So, today, Colin had no school and Marley had a half-day. Next week they both have Spring break. Both of them are way past ready to have a reprieve from the weekly routine. Every day Marley complains about going to school and we've taken to putting on what amounts to a dog and pony show to elicit her cooperation. Portable DVD player in the car on the way to school, promises of taking her out to lunch, dangling picking up a friend on the way to school. Is it the best parenting technique? I doubt it; but, I can tell you it is the most expedient. Today we had to up the ante: a trip to Color Me Mine, a ceramics painting store. She was extra fussy, whining about not feeling good. Her back hurt. Her neck hurt. Her throat was sore. We told her to call us if she still didn't feel well and Paul took her to school. We were certain she would be fine once she got there. Um, guess what? She is sick. The school office called about 40 minutes before she was supposed to get home. She'd gone to the office and they'd taken her temperature. 102 degrees. Why thank you, I'm thrilled to be receiving yet another "D'oh!" parenting award. I have quite a few of them lined up on the mantelpiece.

In the middle of all this, I have in the back of my mind my application for grad school. I can go online and check the status. They have me listed under my maiden name. This worries me because the transcript with the good grades had my married name on it. I hope they put it all in the right file. So far, the admissions status page is telling me my application is still incomplete. However, it no longer tells me that I need college transcripts. It all makes me a little fidgety. Part of me is planning on mh being a student in the Fall and part of me is worried about being accepted. Keep your fingers crossed, pray, think good thoughts--whatever you do, please do it for me. I think I'm ready for this school thing.

Oh, one more thing: I've updated my Scenic View link in my sidebar. Atypical of nonsensical text pointed it out me and it is a four hanky story. (If you have any post you think needs a special shout out, let me know; I'll make it a Scenic View.)

P.S. I just read this post by Halushki's sister. It is the absolutely funniest post involving a goat I've ever read. A must read. Really. You have to go read it. Right now.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What Mary-LUE Found There

Mary-LUE logged into the blog’verse and found the others there.

“It’s all right,” she repeated, “I’ve come back.”

“What on earth are you talking about, Mary-LUE? asked atypical.

“Why,” said Mary-LUE in amazement, “haven’t you all been wondering where I was?”

“So you’ve been hiding, have you?” said the Ravin’ Picture Maven.

“Poor old LUE, hiding and nobody noticed! You’ll have to hide longer than that if you want people to start looking for you.”

“But I’ve been away for days,” said Mary-LUE.

The others all stared at one another.

“Batty!” said Beck, tapping her head. “Quite batty.”

“What do you mean, LUE?” asked chickenone.

“What I said,” answered Mary-LUE. “It was just after breakfast when I logged off and I’ve been away for days, and had Starbucks, and all sorts of things happened.”

“Don’t be silly, Mary-LUE,” said blackdaisies. “We’ve all been here and you just left a moment ago and now you’re back. And what is this Starbucks, anyway?”

“She’s not being silly at all,” said MarillaAnne, “she’s just making up a story for fun, aren’t you, LUE? And why shouldn’t she?”

“No, MarillaAnne, I’m not,” she said. “It’s—it’s a magic world. There are people there and weather, and I went on a long drive through the Grapevine and saw Jewel-y in a city called Mo-Des-Tow. I stayed at an Inn called Fairfield but there was no blog’verse connection there. This magic world is called Inreallife.”

“Why, you goose,” said Terri B, “there’s no such place as Inreallife; look! You must have had a power surge.”

Then everyone looked at Mary-LUE’s stats; and they all saw—Mary-LUE herself saw—it had only been a few moments since she’d logged off and then returned. There was no Starbucks and no weather, no Grapevine or city called Mo-Des-Tow, only the blog’verse. “A jolly good hoax, LUE,” Lamont said, “you have really taken us in, I must admit. We half-believed you.”

“But it wasn’t a hoax at all,” said Mary-LUE, “really and truly. I went to Inreallife. Honestly I did. I promise.”

“Come, LUE,” said Alpha DogMa, “that’s going a bit far. You’ve had your joke. Hadn’t you better drop it now?”

Mary-LUE grew very red in the face and tried to say something, though she hardly knew what she was trying to say, and burst into tears.

For the next few days she was very miserable. She could have made it up with the others quite easily at any moment if she could have brought herself to say that the whole thing was only a story made up for fun. But Mary-LUE was a very truthful girl and she knew that she was really in the right; and she could not bring herself to say this.