A Six-year-old’s Existentialism

Today Evelina has been wandering around the house moaning and whimpering. It is supremely annoying and mostly I ignore her. Then I walked into the living room and found her curled up in a blanket on a chair by the bookshelf. She was reading a space non-fiction book (cuz that’s how she rolls) and sporting a dripping wet wash cloth on the top of her head.
“What’s going on Evelina? You’re melting everywhere.”
In her most pathetic unintelligible groaning, “I feel like everything I’m doing is in a dream.”
“Nothing is real. Ever since I was four I feel like everything I’m doing is in a dream. I even splashed water on my face.”
“That explains your melting everywhere. Why is there a sopping wet rag on your head?”
“Because I thought if I was dreaming it would wake me up. But I’m just wet.”
So I walked away to try and soothe the hateful knives behind my eyeballs and left Evelina to deal with her crisis since I was getting nowhere. In a little while she pulled herself together enough to dry off and put a hood over her head and cuddle with me on the couch.
Then she decided to work on the crochet scarf we started a few days ago. She’s learning chains and single crochets and doing a great job; she’s excited by the prospect that her friends at school will see her glorious pink creation and beg to know where it came from at which time she will exclaim that she herself formed and molded it with her very own precious hands and of course she’d be glad to crochet one for you too since she’s so gifted at scarf making; she’ll even let you pick the color.
She had crocheted several rows on her own with minimal intervention on my part when she made the declaration of the ages:
“I’m so glad I’m getting the hang of this. It makes me feel so alive!”
The lesson folks is that fiber arts will cure your existential crisis.

á la Jessica

I took the 43 Things Personality Quiz and found out I’m a

Romantic Tree Hugging Extrovert

I took this last night and the above was my result. This morning I took it again, and got Creative Tree Hugging Extrovert. So I took it again for consistency, and got Creative Organized Extrovert. I’m pretty sure I selected all the same answers each time too because from last night till this morning, I certainly haven’t changed my position on cliff-diving.
The idea that I’m organized is laughable. And I’ve never known myself to be particularly extroverted, but all three times that was the only consistent description. So, I’m skeptical.

Christmas Meme

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Little of each. I like variety under the tree.
Real tree or Artificial? Real. After the Holidays, the kids smear peanut butter and bird seed on pinecones that we hang on the tree and put it in the back yard for birds; then in spring we shop it up and add it to the compost.
When do you put up the tree? Still haven’t yet. Hopefully this week.
When do you take the tree down? After New Years. Once, we didn’t take it down till after Valentine’s Day!
Do you like egg nog? Yes, with rum and nutmeg.
Favorite gift received as a child? Probably a tie between Easy Bake Oven and a chemistry set. I cried (for joy) as a seven-year-old at Christmas because I begged for a chemistry set and got one.
Do you have a nativity scene? Yes
Hardest person to buy for? Tough call. I would say Dad or Casey, but they are appreciative no matter what.
Easiest person to buy for? Again, tough call. I would say the kids, but they complain about everything.
Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail them, if I even get that far.
Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Oh boy. Well, I’ve been lucky – mostly.
Favorite Christmas Movie? I can’t possibly choose. I love all cheesy Christmas movies. ALL. It’s a weakness that I don’t mind embracing.
Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No, but Mary and I once gave each other the exact same White Elephant gift.
Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Buckeyes, rum balls, gingerbread, Christmas cookies…you get the idea. Chocolate covered cherries!!
Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear, but I guess I always considered them white lights.
Favorite Christmas song? I feel the same about Christmas songs as I do about Christmas movies. I love them all. Just can’t help it.
Travel at Christmas or stay home? Home, usually.
Can you name all of Santa’s reindeers? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph.
Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? One Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas Day
Most annoying thing about this time of year? People who are scrooges and have to voice their scrooginess.
Favorite thing about this time of year? I like all of it. I even manage to like the cold until New Years.
Favorite ornament, theme, or color? I like things that are traditional and old-fashioned for in my house. Out in the general world though, when decorations are done tastefully, it doesn’t matter what they are.
Favorite food for Christmas dinner? Any. Basically traditional, like Thanksgiving.
What do you want for Christmas this year? A clean house and not to have to do all the work myself.
Who will reply to this the quickest? No idea. Feel free to claim that victory.


I have a dear friend who cried to me on the phone today saying, “I just wish that there could be one day when everyone else would quit praying long enough that God would have time to answer mine.” It might be easy to condemn that attitude as selfish, but coming from her it’s not at all. She figures that the rest of the world’s prayers must be more pressing and emergent than her own so God has to deal with those first. She is patient and has been waiting for years for the upswing of her life.
It’s impossible to express my anger over her situation. Consider the following:
-Mother at age 16.
-Little high school education. No college.
-Four children now, ages 12-2.
-One meager household income to sustain six people. No health insurance.
-Recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis though suffering the symptoms for three years.
-Hysterectomy this summer. (at age 28)
-Recent death of granddad.
-Uncle suffering with cancer.
-Recently diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in neck and back.
-Suffering constant pain without aid of pain meds.
-Preparing to sell belongings to pay for rent and electricity.
-Her mother diagnosed with breast cancer last month. Received mastectomy this week. Discharged from hospital day after surgery. Who will take care of her?
-She’s 28 and can take her kids trick-or-treating this weekend only with the aid of a walker and will likely be in agony.
She lives in a teeny tiny town with churches around every bend, but God’s grace and abundance are absent. It’s a basically rural town where the cost of living is miniscule, yet she will have to pay medical bills for herself and rent and electricity and heat and (hopefully) food and there will be nothing left. One child needs glasses and Christmas will come dreadfully rather than joyfully.
I am disgusted that in such a wealthy country as the United States some people have to resort to hawking what they have to get enough money so their kids can continue to live in a house. An empty house and possibly a cold one.
Where are the supposed American opportunities for her? Where are the social services? Where is the church when the needy can’t even get there? Where is Jesus when a young woman withered by life’s punishing tide weeps daily for the burdens of her children and her own deficiencies as a mother?
How is faith a plausible option when the prayers degenerate over time from:
“Please Lord, help me be a good mother.” to
“Please Lord, provide for this illness so I can play with my kids.” to
“Please Lord, help my kids know I love them since I can’t do anything with them.” to
“Please Lord, I’d like to give the kids a decent Christmas.” to
“Please Lord, we need groceries this week.” to
“Please Lord, they’re about to turn off the heat.” to
“Please Lord, bring someone to buy my furniture so we can pay the rent.” to
“Please Lord, today? Can you hear me today?” to
“Are you even real?”
She’s not even asking for anything tangible or quantifiable anymore. She’s just asking for a day when everyone else is quiet so God can hear her. An audience with the Lord shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

The Work-a-day, Uninspired, Underwhelming, and Just Plain Dull

I wish the presidential candidates and all the media would come up with another way of referencing those of us watching them and eventually voting for them. I’m getting tired of being “an ordinary everyday average American.” Despite the painful redundancies in that and despite our household income positioning us in middle class -presumably the voter demographic to which they are trying to appeal – the fact is, I’m not ordinary or average.
These are derogatory epithets most of us spend our entire childhood (and some of our adulthood) trying to overcome. Who among us wanted to grow up being just another guy on the team? That’s ridiculous! We wanted to be the best, the fastest, the most catchingest…whatever. Everything I’ve ever done I’ve wanted to be the ‘est of it. Sure some of us grow out of the desire to shine, but you can’t deny all that time in high school spent trying to be the coolest, the prettiest, the smartest, the toughest, the aloofest, the funniest, the cheerleaderest, the band geekiest, the quirkiest, the footballerest: It was a mad dash to get to the ‘est first.
Nobody strives for ordinary or average. Let’s think of the synonyms here: undistinguished, lackluster, indifferent, forgettable, second-rate, humdrum, mundane, pedestrian, bland, hackneyed. Hmm.
On one hand, I understand why the Senators do this. They certainly know that we are not them, regarding social rank, income, or power, and they know that we know this too. It’s all part of their “straight-talk,” talking straight to us about who and what we are, and somehow they are endeared to us as a result. But on the other hand, it’s just another line of segregation – them and us, rich people and struggling folk, above-average and average. And I just don’t like the implication that average is beneath some people, most specifically the people representing me. I feel like I’m being insulted every time one of them says it. And it’s only worse when the media starts parroting that language; I’d guess that aside from the truly highly paid ones, like Katie Couric, most of them fall within middle class as well – because I have to assume that when “ordinary everyday average Americans” are mentioned it pertains mainly to economic standing – and are only validating and propagating the condescension.
When they are talking to and about voters, why can’t we simply be, “the American people”? Why must they qualify and quantify us? Because Senator Obama’s vote, Senator McCain’s vote, and my vote will not be categorized into an average pile and an above average pile.

Taking Stock (but not the kind that’s currently suicidal)

Tonight I’ve been reflecting on my life and the direction it’s trying to take. Not many people know this, but I’m literally living my childhood fantasy. I met Casey around age 8 or 9 and from that time, I begged God to let me marry him. All I dreamed about was him and me together living life. And that’s what we’re doing. Nothing is at all like I planned, and plenty is better than expected.
After the removal of some suffocating influences, I’m back to being me – rather than the ghost of me. I no longer have to apologize for my opinions and the things I like because for one arbitrary reason or another they didn’t line up with other people’s opinions of acceptableness. I’m back to reading – anything I like and want, not the unbearably tepid church-sanctioned fodder – and suddenly my brain is teeming with life and ideas.
I am in school and doing quite well. Made Deans List last term and received an invitation to guest lecture in a previous professor’s class this term. I was recommended and entered (on Monday) an essay contest with a paper I wrote about Jane Austen, Feminism, Romanticism, and Realism using Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice.
I’m writing again because I can. With a little distance from a situation, statements like, “God has nothing for you there,” are revealed as truly idiotic and way off base. If I win this essay contest, I will get money. So it seems there could in fact be something there for me. Even if I don’t win, the process of preparing the paper for evaluation by a panel of six judges who are professionals in English and Literature was stimulating and nerve-wracking. But through that process I wrote a great paper on something I love and OTHER PEOPLE WILL READ IT. I’m proud of that.
Also, I am pretty good at drawing and have known this for some time, but in my past life, pursuing personal talents was strongly discouraged unless the success of that pursuit could be appropriated by the small-minded leadership and used for their personal gain. Since clearly no one could make money from my pencil sketches, “God had nothing for me there,” and I had to abandon it. It’s sad because now drawing is something I love and value as a creative outlet, and I can’t help but think about all these abandoned joys languishing in a barren land of wasted time.
So it’s interesting trying to see what’s around the bend, and actually being excited to get there because it’s bound to be worth the bumps along the way. That outlook is a relatively recent development. For several years, the other side of the bend only brought more of the same stagnation. But now, who knows? No one has locked me into a prescribed destiny or destination, and my future is completely open for however I want to fill it. This kind of liberty is like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
And that brings me to why I was thinking about all this in the first place. It can be too easy to complain and wallow and huff about all the annoying, tiresome, and irrelevant daily crap…fill in the blank, I mean, you know what I’m talking about. For example, everyday, I could be like, “Shit my life is hard. I have mountains of school work, three kids along with their school work, a husband and family obligations, household chores, friends and family to keep in touch with, Super-Mom criteria to fulfill; I need to bathe at least often enough that people in the checkout line don’t stand at awkward distances from me; I have a neighborhood reputation to uphold for Awesomest Halloween House Ever; I have stories to write, pictures to draw, millions to earn, and a toddler to potty-train.” And on the really hard days, when other people say to me – because they often do – “How do you do it all?” I shrug my shoulders and quip, “Poorly. I can do it all because I accomplish my life poorly.”
But the truth is that none of that aggravation matters when I remember that I am in charge of my life. (Don’t come back at me with something about God being in charge because that’s a given. I’m talking about in the land of flesh and blood.) I am no longer succumbing to someone else’s misguided prescription for how to live. It’s refreshing and comforting when I honestly evaluate my situation in life and realize I’m living smack in the middle of exactly what I pleaded with God for for so many years.
I like where my life is. I’m married to my favorite person in the world; my kids are healthy and happy with all their activities. Casey and I talk about our dreams and our goals and regularly help each other along the journey of executing them. We’ll get to where we’re going in life, because we’ll go together.

Just Another Reason to Support Obama

I’m an idealist most of the time, but I’m not naive enough to think any one candidate can create Utopia for me, so I will vote according to – among other things – the issues I agree with and the candidate’s integrity throughout the duration of the campaign.
The link below will take you to a breakdown of some specific answers from Obama. Please notice that his answers here represent thought, organization, and an actual plan for how he wants to lead the country. Whether or not you agree with it, the fact remains, there is more substance here with the potential for disagreement than McCain has offered us period.
Please be an educated voter; and if you are a dissenter, at least know why.
Here is an excerpt from the site explaining the premise of Science Debate 2008:
“In November, 2007, a small group of six citizens – two screenwriters, a physicist, a marine biologist, a philosopher and a science journalist – began working to restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue. They called themselves Science Debate 2008, and they called for a presidential debate on science. The call tapped a wellspring of concern over the state of American science.”