Monthly Archives: November 2008

Stupid Book!!

I came downstairs this morning at 6:01, slightly late. The first family of the day had already come in, and the baby met me at the door. I set my book on the table and picked her up. I verified this chain of events with her mother. Book on table. Pick up baby.

After breakfast, I couldn't find the book. After searching all the logical places (cereal boxes, refrigerator, bottom of the garbage can) I still couldn't find it. I dismantled my desk. The filing cabinet and all the shelves in the pantry. The garbage and the baskets in the bathroom. All the cupboards (several times) and drawers in the kitchen. The freezer. Under the microwave, buffet, fridge, stove and sink. I even searched my bedroom, the hall and the stairs. Everywhere I've set foot today. The laundry table. I stood on my table and surveyed the room from there.  My children's rooms and backpacks. I offered them a dollar to find the book. I offered them five dollars to find the book.

No book.

It was a feeble work of fiction–hardly worthy to be called book. I already know exactly what's going to happen, and I was only on page thirty five. But now it is driving me bonkers. Because a book doesn't just disappear. It was a big book. Not a little pocket paperback novel. Big. Gone. Hmmmm. 

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Fifteen Years Ago, Today

November 13, 1993

M and I went up the space needle today. Looking out at the lights of the city, I was thinking how behind every light was a person and in every person some inner struggle. All those millions of people trying to find their way and how many have an inkling where to go or where to turn? 

Right there, out of nowhere, he asks, Will you marry me? I was completely stunned. I asked him "What?" My mind was spinning. Is he joking? Is this right?

Of course I heard him the first time. So why the stalling?  I've had my answer ready for weeks, should he ever ask, but suddenly there it was. Faster prayer a girl never uttered. Not so much a prayer as bust open your soul and hold it out begging for a downpour of divine revelation to fill it. Hit me with a whole-soul answer, God.

The only answer that would come was yes. No lightning bolts. No warm fuzzies. Just yes. Yes, like will the sun come up tomorrow, are your eyes blue and will the IRS still be collecting come April 15th, yes. Just yes.  I turned to a group of 10 year old girls who had taken our picture right when he asked and told them what he'd said.( Still stalling.) They all started screaming, "Say YES!" And that was the only answer that would come, so I did. Yeah. Yes. They were pretty disappointed that we wouldn't kiss.

We went back to the suburban to pray about it.  He prayed, then I REALLY prayed. The only answer I could get was yes. But I wanted some sort of confirmation that I could hold onto in the years to come when temptations and doubt creep. I just felt so wretchedly calm and unflustered. No butterflies. No sweaty palms, pounding heart, nothing. 

Those were my words, exactly—Heavenly Father, give me something to hold onto!

I know how fickle I am. I needed to see something written in the stars, maybe. An axe head floating up out of the Jordan. Maybe the Puget Sound parting, I don't know. I didn't want to ever look back and say, "What have I done!?"

God, I just need something to hold onto.

Open your eyes.

There were our hands, intertwined.

What more do you want?

No lightning bolts. Nothing in the stars, but there he was, real, rock-solid and honest, his hands gripping mine.

What more could I ask for, really?

     
 
Fifteen years ago today.  And what have I done? We've been through sickness, health, parenthood (still wading our way through that one) unemployment, self-employment, moving, house building, the list grows. And still, for unimaginable reasons, he's here, willing to hold onto me no matter which way I've got my world turned or upside down.

What more could I ask for? Really.

He'll never come home with roses (okay, there was that one) but he'll always come home. I know, you think, You can't KNOW that. But I do. You can't ask for a lot more in this world than to be able to trust someone completely.

Reading through my journals, every time I read through my journals I think, why? Why do I get so angry and frustrated and discontent over . . . what, really? This is what I chose, and it is right. This is where I belong.

Someone once asked me, if you could go back, would you do it again?

Yes.

If I could change one thing, I would have said it that way. Instantly. The moment you asked. I would have trusted that instinct and not gone on in search of some answer brighter, brilliant, larger. I would have said yes, absolutely yes, I'm so glad you asked. And then somehow I would have made you know it, right from the start. I'm beginning to see that you have never been able to rest as easy in this place as I have—and I am sorry. It makes your whole-body and soul faithfulness to me even more humbling.

I would change this, if I could: I would have been, would now be, the kind of person you could trust as much as I trust you. I would have done the impossible—I'd have made you feel what I know. That I love you.

There are days I can't understand a word you say, and I know I'm speaking something you don't even recognize as language. But this is what I mean. I love you. We are not perfect and we are not always happy, but we are. And we always will be.

So ask me again, M. Ask me again, would I marry you then, today and tomorrow.

Yes.

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Flocked Lips

In honor of Remembrance Day–Veterans day if you are American–a letter sent to my Great Grandparents almost 63 years ago. Thanks, Mandy for posting this.

 

 

When I was a child, Remembrance day was preceded by the sale of flocked plastic poppies. Just a simple straight pin with the head bent at a 90 degree angle.  I believe that up until 1996, they were made by veterans. Every year teachers handed out poppies, and everyone, everyone in town was wearing them.  Did they cost a dime? I think? 

 

Lots of kids took the pin and the green velvet center out (which, according to Wikipedia has been recently changed to black–I guess the original design) and folded them in half. They made perfect, bright red lips.

We all memorized Flanders Fields. I tried to bribe my kids into memorizing it a few years ago. I guess my bribe wasn't generous enough. They don't get it. Maybe you have to grow into it, line by line and row on row through the years as you stand and recite it with your peers to the measured crackle of the principal's voice over the intercom.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae
 
I was in the tenth grade by the time I truly grew into that poem. Sixteen before I realized it was me, that "you" to whom the failing hands had thrown the torch.  I couldn't utter a solid word that year. By the time the larks were singing, I just stood there blinking wide-eyed. Hoping the tears would evaporate before they grew thick enough to roll. And I thought, what would I do, if my sons were called to war like Uncle Rex was? What would I tell them? Would they hold their torches high or cower in a bunker somewhere? And would I want them to be the soldier, flying directly into a dogfight defending mother, father, country, or would I want them to be the ones who come home?
 
And now I have those sons. Five. Sturdy, fearless. I lay in bed at night feeling the blood rushing through my veins and I picture the boys downstairs and I think, it's a miracle, isn't it–that the blood keeps moving, flowing, renewing itself endlessly, without any effort on my part or thought on theirs?     
 

I hear that Canadian school officials started giving the children a sticker version of the poppy last year.  Safer, apparently.  And we're teaching them about war. Let's not risk a poke by a straight pin. Somehow I don't think the sticker has the tangible, tactile effect of the flocked poppy.  But maybe I also pray God they never know more about war than to pull apart the poppies and use them as stiff, flocked lips. Not yet.  

 

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My Sister, The Donut Queen

Nothing like trying on hand-me-downs from a borderline anorexic relative to make you feel fat.

I think I'll go eat another donut.

These are seriously good, Nena. Please tell me you deep fried them in fat free oil, and there is no real sugar in this glaze, because I just spent the last two weeks not eating anything but green beans and apples so that I could fit into my summer clothes. If I have to spend the entire ten days hanging out in my air-conditioned suite I'm holding you (and your donuts) completely responsible. By the way–do you have any spare swimwear????

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Pout

Have you ever just sat in a public gathering and found yourself becoming heavy with despair? Heavy and yet poised to flee at the same time—less like fight or flight and more like slip into a coma or stand up and run gasping for the door syndrome. Am I the only one who has these episodes? Nothing to do with the people there or the even things being said really. Although there are those people that have to get up every month and bear their own bizarre brand of testimony while we all cringe. But this last Sunday was different. Some kind of physiological response to everything in my entire life maybe.

I did survive the meeting—I’d like to sound noble and say it was for my children’s sake, but really it was because I knew that even if I made it to the door, even if I managed to lock myself in my vehicle and hunch down out of sight for the next two hours, I wasn’t going to feel any better. One of the youth got up and spoke about Gratitude, which piqued my attention a little, as the night before I’d decided to fast for that very purpose.

Again, lest you think I was being noble, my fast maybe might have been a thinly veiled foot-stamping pout. Saturday I ran down the mental list of all the things I could fast for and thought, you know what, I’ve fasted for all these things before. Several times. It isn’t that I don’t believe God can change my nature into the kind of person I want to be, pray to be. It isn’t that I don’t believe he can  (and will) grant every righteous desire of my heart in his own good time. It’s just that he already knows what they are—I’m pretty sure He’s got them filed away under “Things Kimber Thinks Would Be Good For Her ”. He’s probably even got a backup copy or two.

It’s just that I need a compelling purpose to make it through a 24 hour fast.  I’ve got to want that thing more than I want the m&m I find rolling around at the bottom of my purse. If I fast, once again, for something that I already know is on some celestial back-burner, where’s the motivation right? So I said, you know what, I’ll fast out of Gratitude for all I have. I will ask nothing. Because that’s pretty motivating, right? I know how blessed I am. I know, as I hold that scuffed up M&M in my palm that I really can’t insult Divine providence by eating it. Because I truly am grateful even when I’m pouting.

So. The speaker rattles on about gratitude, and I feel slightly mollified like God had nodded at my effort to fast for that very thing, but I still want to make a bolt for it. But to where? I can’t run from who I am. So I go to Sunday School where Bro. H  gives a spur of the moment lesson on I don’t even know what. I don’t dare violate my fast of Gratitude by asking God to please not let me lose my mind, right here in Gospel Principles, so I plea in a round-about, thank you sort of way—God, thank you for Bro. Hardy’s willingness to teach today. Thank you for the Holy Ghost which can teach us what we need to know even when the teacher is reading straight from the manual. Thank you for letting me make it through Sacrament so that I can sit here and listen for that inspiration.

Lo and behold Bro H gets sidetracked from I don’t know, signs of the second coming, and relates the New Testament story where Jesus asks the man if he has faith enough for the desired miracle and the man begs, “Lord, help thou mine unbelief.” That hit me. Burned away enough of the despair so that I felt a little more like myself. Enough that I could make it to RS. Because that was exactly what my fast and my endurance through the previous two hours had been. A silent plea—help thou my unbelief. You have blessed me so thoroughly and still I am ungrateful and dissatisfied and unhappy. Help thou my unbelief.

So I make it to RS where the teacher begins a lesson on—guess what? Gratitude. She relates the story of a Christmas when her daughter was extremely disappointed with her gifts. Her now grown up daughter remembers that Christmas—not what she had wanted instead of the tea set and dollhouse, but that she had really wanted it. Her comment was, “It was the first Christmas I had expectations.”

Expectations. That's the thing. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I look at my siblings and my cousins and my inlaws and they are all posting these pictures of their homemade halloween costumes and birthday cakes etc, and I'm not even taking pictures anymore. Heaven forbid anyone document this time in my life. My expectations are in an entirely different galaxy from the one I currently inhabit.

The rest of the fog/despair gave way to that burning, absolute knowledge that God loves me. Knows me.  He isn’t going to give me a made-in-china tea set when I really wanted my brothers cool fire truck. He has given  me exactly what I need, and here I sit, pouting in every snapshot because I have different expectations. I understood for the first time at a gut-deep, cellular level that it doesn’t matter if I never make another birthday cake or Halloween costume or composition or even sing another lullabye.  God has given me the life I am living. The opportunities for service and growth, and not only that, he’s going to make up the difference in my children’s lives if living this particular life cuts things a little short on the mother side right now. Because he knows and loves them too. And He gives the perfect gift, every time, to all his children. 

Be thou perfect, He said. Maybe this is perfect for me, for now. I’m likely going to groan in discontent no matter how well I understand this. I can’t walk past the tottering laundry and like it. I can’t sleep in until the last possible second and feel good about my industrious nature. But I think I can breathe at least. Get through it. And maybe try not to pout.

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Crash

I'm hesitant to even start another post. Since there is no auto save feature like in Word, and my computer keeps crashing. I could type for an hour and then crash. All gone. I had it "fixed" after the big crash the day before Halloween, and now it crashes randomly, like six times a day. Nice.

So I'm up at five because your child is supposed to be here on a Saturday morning. I've read my scriptures, and concealed the zit on the end of my nose and now it is seven am and you are still not here.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Not a good move when your child is the most disobedient, ornery child in my care, btw.

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Parent Teacher Conference #5

Went to parent teacher conference today for my seventh grade child.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He is receiving 100% or close to it on his tests, but is scoring C’s on his report cards.

Why?

Because he isn’t returning his reading logs, and forgets to bring things to class sometimes. Nor is he taking advantage of the daily extra credit opportunities.

I seriously wanted to elbow the kid. Or take away his . . . I don’t know what. Something he really likes—I’m telling you, I wanted to dish out SOMETHING. C’s!? Are you kidding me? Really? Cause I’m serious when I say I’m not forking out for a college education if that’s the best you can do with the fantastic brain you’ve got.

Oh, and his glasses that I spent the $178 more on than the generic ones because I agreed, and he agreed they were cooler, and so I was willing to spend the extra dough so he’d promise to wear them—yeah, he’s not wearing them. Teachers didn’t even know he had glasses. He’s almost as blind as me! Just in case you didn’t know, that’s pretty blind.

Come ON boy!

On second thought, and maybe an entirely different topic, or maybe related in some deep dark way that I won’t comprehend until I finish this post.

Does he have something he likes? Really likes? That he’d care about if I took it away? Hmmm? I don’t know if he does. He likes to sleep and eat. He has a bed, a few pair of jeans, shoes and a couple shirts. What am I going to do, take away his socks? We don’t even have television. Watch movies as a family on the projector, and sometimes he plays video games with his brothers. Not enough to care if I took it away. He doesn’t like to go anywhere. He bought a stereo with his own money, an occasionally surfs the net looking for a speaker cable or something. Wouldn’t really care if I took that privilege away either.

So maybe the real problem is life is BORING. Maybe he needs incentive not a punishment—but what? More food? He has everything he wants really—we eat pretty well, and I’m not going to put him on a diet of gruel until he shapes up. 

Help! We lead such boring eat/sleep/brush your teeth lives that I can’t even begin to imagine a suitable incentive for a twelve year old boy.  And if I can’t even imagine an incentive to get him to remember his reading log or his ruler, it’s no wonder he doesn’t do it without one.

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