March 2010


I’m looking for clipart I can decently borrow for an Easter bulletin.  Christian clipart is, generally speaking, terrible.  Also terrible?  The number of strip clubs that plan special events for Easter.   Or terriblarious.

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Billy! Billy, come back here.

Billy is three years old. His mother was outside with another half dozen volunteers hiding Easter eggs. He was supposed to be inside playing with his sister. Instead he was sobbing and running blindly among cars in the church parking lot. I dropped my rubbermaid tubs and lit after him.

Mama. Mama.

He was screaming and ropes of snot and spit hung off his face.

Billy boy, Billy boy. What’s the matter?

I want my mama. I don’t know where she’s at.

He took off running, and I grabbed for his windbreaker hood, missed, took after him again and caught him. This time I picked him up and held him, wriggling like a baby.

She’s right there working, and she wanted you to have fun playing ball inside. Isn’t playing ball fun?

I pointed off in the distance at a woman in a brown sweatshirt who I was pretty sure was his mom. She was dropping bright plastic eggs with candy tucked inside into the wet, green grass.

I want her. He wailed and rubbed his snot on my new sweater.

Well, I said and gave up. Let’s go find her, then. Can you walk?

Nooooo.

I shifted him to my hip and began picking my way across the muddy lot.

The church is in a wide, grassy field. His mother was on the far side of it. As we got closer he stopped crying and started sniffling.

Jeepers, I said. You’re heavy.

Yeah, he said a little dreamily.

It’s probably because you’re so old. What are you now? Thirty-five? Forty?

No. I am three years old. But I am getting big and strong because I eat three good meals a day and some healthy snacks.
He was grave as a professor.

Oh. That makes sense.

Do you think I’ll get candy today?

I’m sure of it.

He grinned and then wriggled free of me and ran the last few feet to where his mom was. He dove hard at her knees and shouted mama.

I’m sorry. He wouldn’t stay inside with the others.

His mom sighed and shook her head, and Billy began spinning in wide, airplane circles and singing to himself.

Psalm 131
A song of ascents. Of David.
My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

I use that phrase a lot. It tickles me to say such a thing in a scandalized voice when, for instance, my sister asks whether I want to go to a NASCAR-themed baby shower for my second cousin. I do not. Although, to be fair, that kind of a theme does seem to suggest it might be the rare baby shower where alcohol is served. It’d be Bud Light, though, as sure as you’re born.

I’m not really a jerk, I swear: she’s my second cousin, after all, and we’re not at all close. Plus it’d be, like, an hour and a half drive. These are all totally valid excuses. Totally. Valid. I’m really not a jerk. Also, I hate baby showers. But that’s hardly relevant.

I am not the kind of girl who plans Easter egg hunts. I am not. It’s tomorrow.

Sigh.

I swear, I am going to hulk out right here if you don’t let me finish my sentence.

Hulk out? Like the Incredible Hulk? Yeah. I don’t know where I got that threat. I was at a committee meeting last night a full twelve hours after I’d come in to work. Since then I had worked, as my granny would say, like sixty on this stupid Easter egg hunt, which, in case you care, is pretty much ready to go for the weekend if it’ll ever, ever stop raining. Okay, so I’d put in extra time here at the church, I’d worked on resumes, and then I was supposed to tutor someone before my meeting. Said tutee called three times to postpone and finally canceled. I didn’t tutor, I didn’t get paid to tutor, and I had no time left to go for a run. Oh, and I got a phone call to let me know that a job I wanted was going to an unemployed middle aged man with a PhD and not to me. I drove forty five minutes to the church in a ridiculous rain, the sort of rain when you consider pulling over and just listening to 90s gangsta rap until it’s all over. Yesterday wasn’t my all-time best day.

During this meeting the pastor insisted on talking over me every time I opened my mouth. We were talking about the design of a new website. I had done extensive research in preparation for the meeting. I’d brought notes. I had some specific questions for designers. The pastor was, I swear, talking to hear himself talk.

Have we talked about font and color scheme? I really like to keep the aesthetics of things unified as much as possible, so I may want to begin making some gradual changes on some of my work here.

Look at her!says the pastor while I’m speaking. She’s such a good little secretary, isn’t she? I remember when I was at my church in [wherever, who cares]…

I’m sorry. I’m trying to ask a serious question.

And then, then I threatened to hulk out.

Which isn’t really a phrase I use. But at the time turning into the muscly green personification of anger seemed like a genuine possibility at the time.

He stopped talking. I finished my question and got my answer. Then I went home and read a book about forest fires while I took a scaldy hot bath.

Becoming a smoke jumper is a secret ambition of mine.

I am, despite all evidence to the contrary presented here, a frightfully cheerful person. I whistle far more than anyone around me would prefer. I tap dance and sing to myself a half dozen times a day. I sometimes try to sooth myself to sleep listing all that I love in the world and stay up for anxious hours making sure I haven’t missed one single little thing that brings me joy.

Unwrapping a Hershey’s kiss so that the foil is perfectly intact and can be smoothed and folded into neat quarters, for instance, pleases me immensely. I could write poems about the scandalous surprise of cool, damp grass on a warm day. Or about how my heart cramps up a little when really old men have to be begged not to take from me the heavy thing I’m carrying in my strong, farmgirl* arms. Or about how dirty my feet’s soles are after a day spent walking around a city alone and muttering to myself, as if my skin is changed by the things I’ve seen and thought, and about washing my feet clean with a cool, scratchy cloth. If I didn’t hate my own poetry with the fire of one thousand suns those would be the things I’d write about.

I am, on the other hand, one of the world’s all time teeth gnashers, what the fuckers, and this is an outragers. In the pictures taken at my fourth birthday I am smiling and eating cake and then I am crying because there’s no presents for anyone but me and there is somehow cake tangled in my hair. None of it seemed fair. The cake was decorated with a picture of the bear from the fabric softener ads, whom I have always loved disproportionately.

At work everyday–and on Saturdays and on Sundays when I find myself somehow at work again–I flounce around inside my own personal maelstrom: Why can’t we all try to be a little more competent? Why can’t we care just a little bit more about what’s happening in the lives of people down the street or in some far flung place? Why can’t we dive deep instead of dabbling tentative toes in polished shoes into the message of the Gospel?

I wrestle against cynicism, and I wrestle a reluctant sleep from my tangled sheets. Sometimes I scream in the car or subject my friends and neighbors to rants delivered in increasingly accented English. I swear too much and run as far as my legs will carry me and I have a drink now and again all to take a little of the hone off my sharp, disappointed idealism about all the world. I scheme to worry less and find another job and tell people to go to hell when they ask me to take on one more responsibility.

Not too long ago, I was watching a thing on PBS about Joan Baez. I somehow never latched on to her music during my ’60s folk phase, so I was only paying the documentary halfway attention. She was talking about the bad time in her life when her fellow–who may or may not’ve been Bob Dylan: I really wasn’t listening–left her and her record deal left her and and her politicians left the course she thought the righteous one and all her faith in everything wavered in the face of such foul fortunes.

Oh God, she said and laughed with her crinkly, bird-bright eyes, people are just like that, aren’t they? That is the way we are. She was talking about the people who let her down or who never seemed to do one thing she thought was good, and she was laughing with something like kindness on her face, or charity.

*Farmgirl in heredity, not in actuality. I can’t so much as work a pitchfork. I did see a calf get born the other day though: I was driving past on a windy, dirt road as it dropped free from the business end of a Holstein. Ew. I said. Get me the fuck out of the country.

The candy, that is.

I’m trying to exercise appropriate restraint–one teeny box per hour–but they’re making my Easter egg stuffing much more enjoyable.

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