Which Way to the Vomitorium?

Which Way to the Vomitorium

Which Way to the VomitoriumAs I’ve mentioned before, being a mom to this particular son* is a gas—and always educational. This morning I decided to visit him in his room before he fully woke up and remembered his mother irritates him to no end. He rewarded me by reading aloud, in Latin and then English, selections from “Which Way to the Vomitorium?” My personal favorites came from the “Girl Talk” chapter, which offered handy phrases for any modern woman:

“I need 8 slaves to carry my litter.”

“Can you pass me the rat head mixture? mM hair is getting a bit thin.”

“Please don’t read any of your poetry out loud again at dinner; we’ll lose all our friends.”

With holiday season upon us (I know this because of the piped-in carols I heard at my grocery store last night 3 weeks before Thanksgiving), you’ll want to add this book to your gift list for your favorite Latin teacher or smarty pants polyglot friends and family. Merry Holidays!

*He prefaced his recitation by explaining to his Latin-ignorant mother that “vomitorium” means “theatre exit,” “from ‘uomere,’ meaning to spew forth.”

Hell Has Frozen Over…

Happy Birthday, darling

…and I’m in it.

Happy Birthday, darling
What a mom won't do for her kid

After a gloomy weekend of rainy weather, it’s Monday, the kids have a Flex Day, and the sun is shining. The sun is shining bright like a blue sky day on the beach, it’s 75 degrees, and I’m in the Carmel Ice Skadium writing a Bosma internal newsletter on my laptop while my daughter skates stumbly laps for two-and-a-half hours with four other 11-ish buddies. It’s her birthday, and spending three hours in a cooler was her choice.

And since Grace really is the best girl who was ever born, truly, I didn’t hesitate to oblige her. But between you and me, I appreciate this opportunity to complain. Not that I didn’t spend hours in this very place after school and on weekends when I was her age, learning spins, jumps and spirals. Like with so many other haunts in this town I left in ’83 never to return, I’ve had enough of this particular locale. I never needed to see it again. Or smell it. It still smells like feet, sweat and dirty frost. The steel rafters, wooden stands carved with marks from a million blades, and cinderblock bathroom walls painted yellow remain as they appear in my memory.

A change in ownership a few years back, though, and an accompanying infusion of capital have resulted in some significant improvements. Topping the list is a new manager—a friendly, helpful guy they hired away from a rink near Seattle. (The old guy was aloof, loud, and rude. And I’m not saying the year, exactly, but it was earlier than 1980.) Mr. New Manager says they brought him on to “fix” the Carmel Ice Skadium, specifically the facility and programming. (“We sell ice. Ice and fun.”) When I asked him to pinpoint the most critical fix, he said, “Customer service.”

Friendly, helpful help goes a long way, sure, but so does a new and improved snack bar that sells hot Starbucks beverages, Tazo teas, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, pizza, and…BEER! (Mommy needs a beer, but nothing makes a responsible adult wait to drink at home more effectively than four little girls who depend on said Mommy to provide safe return to their mommies and daddies.)

One girl left because she was bored (a wrist injury prevented her from skating-???); another sulked by my side, slurping her blue slushie in my ear for fifteen minutes trying to annoy me into giving her money for a snack (I resisted), but the other three party girls skated and fell and skated some more until it was cake and present time. After the girls slimed a tabletop with their blue and red slushie juices, I offered to wipe it down. The new manager smiled and said, “We’ll take care of that. You just relax. Is it going okay?”

Grace is having a blast, it seems. And it’s not too bad for me, really. The prices are reasonable – $5 for kids, $3 for rental. I’m picking up someone’s internet signal. And the new manager, with his efforts at creating a tidier facility and a better experience for kids and parents, has made this afternoon’s warm weather deprivation a little less hellish.

VICTORY, Personified

Bosma Mini Team

At the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon 15K training race this past Saturday, a friend of mine who is legally blind finished STRONG! See a snippet of her story and a link to the video of her celebrating by clicking this link.

Wintertime – Living is Easy

winter is easy

winter is easyApproaching the six year anniversary of the 95 percent blockage in my 38 year-old lower anterior descending artery, I’m still counting my blessings. Happy to be alive, that’s what I am. I snuggle longer, stress less, laugh more, eat dessert first, kiss my sleeping kids — all that jazz. But: I miss shoveling snow!

At the end of a week in the hospital recovering from my freak heart attack, the doctor sent me home with a list of activities and corresponding time frames when I would be allowed to return to them. “Walk a block – one week. Light house work – two weeks. Climb stairs – three weeks. Have sex – four weeks. Shovel snow – NEVER.”

Indiana was blessed with a lovely snow storm last night. Balm to my soul. Anyone who knows me knows I didn’t leave Colorado in my rearview mirror seven years ago. It hangs around my neck like a tacky accessory I refuse to remove. It’s a virus I can’t shake. The West was my home for thirteen glorious years; it’s where I grew up, found Me, met grace, died a couple times, learned to live, work and play. It’s in my blood, and I’ll ache for it until I return for good.

But in the meantime, a blanket of white provides temporary relief to the longing I feel for my home on the range. A snowy day doesn’t have to be an official snow day to be a Snow Day to me. This morning, though, it’s official. Work and school are closed. I’ve suited up my children to play in the snow and help Daddyo shovel.

As I sit here in flannel jammies, my husband is outside laboring to clear twelve inches the heavens heaped on our driveway as we slept. I wish I could help him. Aside from feeling guilty that he’s pert near dead from cold and effort, I’m a little envious! I want to feel the warm, wet fleece against my neck and the cling of sweaty silks on my back. But if I do, I might die!

So, I’ll watch through the triple panes from the big comfy couch as I sip coffee and type on my laptop with Ellen on in the background. And I’ll have hot cocoa ready for my cold, sweaty, rosy-cheeked loved ones.

Living is good.

Inside Out

art_inside_out

I cringed so hard, my body folded in on itself and turned inside out. My vessels now hang out in the sun to dry; I put food into my oral cavity but it has nowhere to go and rots in my new skintestines. I’m losing weight, since my stomach is on the outside of my body now and there’s no way to get food to it. My dry flesh gums the food I cram inside the opening, but it goes nowhere.

My children don’t kiss me anymore – “Your teeth look weird on the outside!” my boy says, and “I miss your lips! Where am I supposed to kiss, Mama?” cries my little girl. They’ve stopped hugging me, they’re so afraid of bruising me deep inside by a simple bump on my new external layer.

My tongue flaps outside in the air, dehydrating, with no roof or lips against which to rub to make meaningful sounds. No one can hear what I’m trying to say — least of all the people I want to hear me. I need them to hear me.

I’m aware that you look at me now and see a monster — or an exhibit at the science museum.

I’m still a woman. I’m the same woman on the outside, and on the inside, only now I look different to you. I’m unrecognizable, and I’m mortified for you to see my sickening, naked structure. I’m lonely, longing, humiliated. 

art_peel

Jesus wasn’t in my Bible this morning (but he was on my porch)

So, like the good evangelical Christian woman I never was, I made myself go to a quiet place to exercise the spiritual disciplines of Bible study and prayer. Coffee cup in hand, I settled into the comfy brown chair on my screened porch feeling the warmth of the morning sun on my face. I swatted the familiar gnat-like fog of guilt that hovers around the veil and obscures my earthly vision. I strained to see the divine, prayed, “Please help,” and turned to Scripture.

See, I’ve recently returned to the fold of Wednesday morning women’s Christianity after months of wandering in the wilderness with Traci, a writer friend of mine who’s also an atheist. I’m happy to be back, but a fish out of water feeling surprises me. The thoughts I had and documented on our project seem to have taken root in my gut. Turns out the experience really did change me and the way I approach and experience God and traditional Bible study.

This morning when I sat down to study and pray in the old way, I had that fleeting feeling of frustration and distance from God, the sense that I’m just not spiritual enough, I’m not doing something right. When I cried out to him, the darndest thing happened. Jesus spoke. He said to me, “I’m not in there.”
“Huh?” I said.
“I’m in the streets. I’m at Wheeler Mission. I’m in the trailers where children hide from hurt and homes where families go hungry this very moment. I am the battered women at Third Phase where women go for food and a fresh start. Encourage them, feed their babies, and you encourage and feed me.”
“So, wow. Those impressions you gave me back on the Beth and Traci thing weren’t just sensationalism? Not just entertaining and provocative writing points?”
“No, dear, they were my truth. If you want to see me, go to those places. If you want to store my words in your heart, do dive into my word. But remember, I am the Word. Don’t feel bad if you don’t see and feel me when you open those pages. I’ll touch you through the words as the Counselor wills. But remember what you read in that book Amy Lickliter gave you?”
“Yeah, what was that called?”
God in the Alley.”
“Oh, that’s right. Thanks for reminding me.”
“You’re welcome. Yes, your brother Greg Paul wrote the truth that I want you and others blessed by suburban comforts to know and act upon — that you are to be and see Me in a broken world.”

Ahh, what sweet relief that the Word is Jesus. The word — God’s word, He was sweet to remind me, is a double-edged sword, living and active. But it is not He. He never says, “I am the Bible.”

I need to see Jesus, immerse myself in my beloved, radical Savior by going to –NO, by seeking out the hurting, broken, hungry, imprisoned, poor, disenfranchised, unlovely and unlovable. Immerse myself in them.

Be Him for — and see Him in — “the injured,” emotionally or physically, and the spiritually and physically hungry.


Jen Sherrick Shot My Babies and My Heart

(With her Canon.)

This photographer sees the beauty I see in my children and captures it on film. More examples in a later post, but check this artist’s work on Jen’s website. And see the cutie brother and sister on her blog!

Yep, on the July 14 post, them’s my babies!

Here’s the headshot Jack used for his IRT audition today, his 12th birthday! (It’s from a scan, so it’s not as clear as the real thing.)

Not a professional shot:

My Big Birthday Boy!
My Big Birthday Boy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK!!!

A Milestone Letter from Camp

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Are the words true? Can I trust the words? Whose words are they? And is no news good news?

Today, on my son’s fourth day of camp, my husband brought the mail in and announced, “Mail call! A letter from camp!” Last year my son went to camp but did not write to me. Holding the envelope addressed with familiar printing in my hand, I felt a mixture of pride, anticipation and sentimentality. “Oh, my little boy is growing up. I’m going to put this milestone letter in a scrapbook to bring out when he and his wife and children visit me someday.” These thoughts and others predicting the content of the letter flooded my mind in the fifteen seconds it took me to carefully open the envelope. I did not expect to read the following words.

MOM

HELP!

I’m serious.

JACK

I called the camp and waited two agonizing hours for the camp people to locate my son and find out if he was okay. I bathed, got dressed and prepared to drive the two hours to pick him up.

Finally, the camp director called to relieve my fears. Turns out he had transmitted his distress signal on the second day of camp, after his first night of a cold, cold (60 degree) night. (I was excited for him to have “real camp weather,” a relief from the sweltering, sticky 90 degree nights he endured last summer.) “He thought you either didn’t get the letter or figured he was kidding…and was glad you didn’t come pick him up.” WHEW!

So I’ll still put the letter in a scrapbook and hope that next year he writes a more newsy letter. 

Or no letter at all. That’d be fine.

(Fun on the Blob – A thousand words of evidence off the SpringHill website proving that the crisis has passed.)

NOT – See next post – “NOT A LAUGHING MATTER.”

My Wicked Funny Husband

My husband is hilarious. It’s one of the many reasons I love him. Another appealing quality is his natural ability to Get Things Done. He’s a strong, assertive man. Forceful yet smooth.

Take, for instance, our trip to Chicago last weekend. After our “Wicked” matinee, I decided we’d try one of the top restaurants in Chicago, Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill, seating capacity 65. In a city of close to three million people, to think we could be seated at 6pm on a Saturday night — with two kids in tow — is something only a coupla hoosiers would be foolish enough to think they could do. But we were one five-dollar cab ride away so heck, we gave it a shot.

And speaking of shots, the only alcohol on the menu at the celebrated chef’s downtown restaurant is tequila. My husband, being the vodka man that he is, took one for the team, sucked it up and ordered two margaritas for our two-hour wait.

I should back up. The maitre de (which is French for master of) first greeted our party of four with cool courtesy, telling us to take a walk and try back in a half hour for a pager. I smiled, turned on my heel and herded the fam back out to the sidewalk of Clark Street across from an adult bookstore. We walked a few blocks, grabbed some bottled juice for the kids to tide them over and returned thirty minutes later for our pager. Looking surprised by our commitment to dining at Frontera, the maitre de relinquished a pager which I handed to the husband.

For fifteen minutes the four of us tried to make ourselves inconspicuous and out of the way of the adult patrons, scrunching ourselves as close as possible to the the shelves displaying an array of Rick Bayless cookbooks and Frontera sauces. Dan disappeared into the swankified bar (seats 30) for grown-up drinks and returned with two identical glasses full of tart, pale green, high octane liquids. I sucked my delectable happy potion in under five minutes, and my husband nursed his conservatively. Two chairs opened in the waiting area opened, and we seated the kids with instructions to be on their very best fine restaurant behavior.

Five minutes later, Mr. Bates handed me his drink. “I just don’t like lime.” Oh happy day! Two more chairs opened – our luck continued! The kids were content, we had seats for the next hour of waiting, and I had me a fresh, fabulous, barely dented margarita. One or two minutes later, when the master of the restaurant stepped away, my husband stood and approached the maitre de station. A hostess peeked over at me briefly, and Dan turned to tell us, “Okay. Here we go.” Pleasantly surprised, the children and I followed him to the table where we celebrated with joy the freshest, most flavorful meal we’ve shared as a family.

Over coffee and flan for two I said, “Honey, I’m surprised we got in so quickly.” He smirked. I said, “What? What’d you do?”

“Heart,” he said. I had a heart attack five years ago, which became useful and necessary to invoke in order to avoid lines and long waits in the months during my recovery.

“What did you say?!” I laughed.

“I just told her, ‘My wife had a heart attack. If she has to wait too long, she drinks too much,'” he said. (That’s when the hostess peered over at two-fisted me sitting there holding two margarita glasses.)

I laughed harder and more loudly than I have in, I’d say years. Though the alcohol had mellowed in my system since those earlier cocktails, my son said, “Mom’s smashed!” I was smashed on giddy joy, and as we sauntered down Wacker back to our hotel, I laughed all the way at my husband’s hilarious resourcefulness. I love him.

With all my heart.

Elitists Talk Good

Last night as I headed out for my writing class, my husband stopped me in the entry hall with a grave tone. “Honey, I have some horrible news.” 

Me: What?! 

Dan: This morning, Meredith Viera interviewed Michelle and Barack Obama. When she asked them how they felt about the Reverend Wright debacle, Barack answered, “You have to understand, you’re talking about a man who married Michelle and I.”      ŒξÞ≥¥Å↔♣◊♦♥ω?????!!!!!!!!

WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP! DANGER! DANGER! 

Is it just me or is that not disturbing? 

I LIKE Barack Obama. I WANT to see him in the White House. But I don’t want to hear a president ending sentences in prepositions, with the first person singular subject as an object  or generally sounding like an sloppily educated guy I met at a party! 

I shared this story in my class, and the professor (wearing an Obama pin) said, “Yeah, but you have to understand. He didn’t have the advantages. I mean, he went to Columbia.” And then he went on to tell how in his MFA program he had a classmate who ended up being functionally illiterate. How did THAT happen?!

In the words of Jon Stewart on the subject of the bru-ha-ha over the candidates being elitists, “I want a candidate that is embarrassingly superior to me.”

You know, doesn’t “elite” mean good? Is that not something we’re looking for in a president anymore?

I know elite is a bad word in politics, and you know, you want to go bowling and throw back a few beers, but the job you’re applying for? If you get it and it goes well? They might carve your head into the side of a mountain! If you don’t actually think you’re better than us, then what the &*(% are you doing?!! 

In fact, not only do I want an elite president, I want someone who is embarrassingly superior to me. Somebody who speaks 16 languages and sleeps two hours a night hanging upside down in a chamber they themselves designed! 

http://blog.indecision2008.com/2008/04/15/jon-stewart-barack-obama-makes-elitism-the-new-liberalism/

(If someone can help me figure out how to insert the actual video, I’m all ears.)