Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Fat Lady

I'm fat.

I'm really tired of being fat. I'm actually tired of trying to lose weight. Usually, I only get to the thinking stage of trying to lose weight - you know the exhausting work of planning meals, planning shopping lists, filling the house with healthy food, planning an exercise routine. All that planning makes me want some serious chocolate.

And I can't stand having clothes that don't fit comfortably. I'm thinking of trading in my entire wardrobe for a collection of stylish muumuus.

So, I'm at a crossroads in my life. Maybe it would be OK to just stick with being the fat lady. I've been fat for a good chunk of my life (no pun intended), and I think it suits me. My husband doesn't mind. He's 100% serious when he says he wouldn't want to be married to a Skinny Minnie - there's nothing to hold on to. But he does want me to feel good about myself. Most people enjoy a jovial fat lady, don't they? You know, like your great aunt Margie who hugs you and you get lost in her rolls? I mean, it's kind of like a big comfy pillow, right?

I have been called fat most of my life, even before I was fat. Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. My brother used to call me "Jenni-fats". It only took me about 34 therapy sessions to get over that.

A kid in elementary school told me I was "pleasantly plump." I mean, seriously, was that supposed to be a compliment?

If I look back at my high school pictures, I would die for the body I had back then - why didn't I appreciate it when I had it?

There was the tiny, slender mom of a kid in my preschool class who came up to me and cheerfully asked "Oh, are you pregnant?" Obviously, she was the only woman in the universe who hadn't gotten the memo stating, "NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant, even if she looks like she's about to give birth to a water buffalo. You WAIT until she tells you she is pregnant." (And, no, I was not pregnant at the time.)

And then there was my children's friend who came over and told me, "Mrs. Y. You're chubby." To which I responded, "Oh really?" And she continued, "Yes, my mommy told me it wasn't nice to say you're fat." Yeah, punk - go back and tell your mommy that "chubby" isn't exactly an upgrade.

You know it's hard being only 5 feet tall. There is absolutely no place for any extra fat to hide. Although people feign astonishment IF I ever tell them my actual weight. . . . and then they say something polite like, "Well, you carry it well."

Well that's enough musing about fatness. Time for bed. See you all in my dreams.

I'll be the one wearing a muumuu.


It seems there are various substances appearing in inappropriate places these days. I'm getting mildly irritated by them. There's the red (non-washable) marker on the bathroom door, in which the culprit incriminated himself by writing "Evan", along with a gigantic swirly circle. I just scrubbed peanut butter off the couch. There are at least 2 colors of marker in the carpet, which I'm hoping will fade with the Oxy-Deep treatment. I found a foul-smelling smear on the door-frame of a bedroom upstairs - quite repulsive and I made sure to sanitize it and myself several times. There are masses of disgusting junk stuck to the walls in the children's rooms - I don't even want to know. Moon-sand in the school room carpet. A giant wad of dried glue in the rug in the girls' room. Gobs of gum stuck down inside the couch. And because it's spring, mud, mud everywhere!

Oh believe me, I could go on, but you get the picture.

We DO have rules in this house: No eating anywhere except the dining room, no chewing gum in the house, Art supplies in the school room only, take your shoes off as soon as you come into the house. Are the rules obeyed? Obviously not. But it's hard to prosecute after the fact, when each child vehemently asserts his or her innocence.

I have some "Honey-do's" for my hubby to do while he's laid off, as well as some projects I'd like us to tackle together. We're going to redecorate the girls room via paint and a new loft bed to conserve floor space. I also have other paint projects I would like to get done by the end of summer.

But as I sit here and type, my arthritic shoulder is throbbing from all the recent scrubbing action. I have to ask myself: Is the redecorating worth it?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Death By Chocolate

Whenever I start thinking about exercise and getting in shape, I start craving chocolate. Quality Dairy Death By Chocolate is, hands down, THE BEST ice cream on the planet; and since QD is only a Mid-Michigan chain, I'd say about 99% of the planet is missing out. This is the most dangerous thing to have in my home. I could eat enough of the stuff that I could eventually experience literal death by chocolate. But I've got to have a regular dose of the stuff to keep me happy.

When I decide it's time to make a change in my eating habits, I have to get the tempting food out of the house. Which is why I polished off the ice cream. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only woman who has ever had this line of thinking: "I'll just finish off this pan of brownies so it doesn't tempt me any more."

Why does healthy eating have to be so hard??? Why can't Death by Chocolate be a food group? I do actually enjoy healthy foods. I'm just kind of fickle. I don't stick to my resolutions very easily when chocolate shows up on the scene.

My motto about healthy eating goes something like this:

"Inside of me is a thin woman struggling to get out. But I can usually subdue her with chocolate."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Financial Advice

My husband and I met with our financial advisor today. It was not a pretty picture. At our last meeting, he vowed to analyze our data and he would show us where we could possibly save money. And if we had extra money left at the end of each month, he would advise us on how to use it to reach our financial goals. Here's what it looks like:

At the end of every month, we have $0.42 left.

If we invest that $0.42 wisely, we can expect to have enough for retirement by the year 2276. The bad news is that we'll be dead. If we want to retire at a reasonable age, say 92, then we will actually have to find a way to have more money left over at the end of each month. While neither of those options seems feasible, I'd have to say the third option has merit. He suggested we immediately sell all that we have and purchase one one-room shack on a few acres of land. We should have enough left over to buy a horse, a cow, and a few chickens. I will learn to weave and knit, and Al will learn to hunt. The children will learn to make candles. We will grow all our own food. We will be entirely self-sufficient.

The only thing I can't figure out is how we're going to afford our high-speed internet.

Michigan, the Bipolar State

I've been in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the past week visiting my parents and other assorted relatives. One day, the temperatures reached well into the 70's, which is quite unseasonable for April. My children, claiming they were going to die of heat exhaustion, demanded that I do something drastic. So I found one pair of pants that each of them had brought and I cut them off into shorts.

That was on Friday.

On Monday, good old Michigan had quite a mood change as we woke up to accumulating snow on the ground. Now, for the most part, I really enjoy the snow, as long as falls between the months of November and February. I was especially peeved by the snow as Monday was the designated day to make the 425-mile trek back to the Lower Peninsula.

Luckily (?), the snow changed to rain about halfway through the UP. But it was accompanied by fierce winds as we approached the Straits of Mackinac. Normally, I have no fear about driving over the Mighty Mac (the Mackinac Bridge, for you non-Michiganders, which spans a "narrow" 5 miles between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan). Mac and I have known each other for over 20 years and he hasn't let me down yet. (no pun intended. . . unless you thought that was clever; in that case, I meant it.)

The only other time I can remember being afraid of crossing the Mackinac Bridge was in the early 1990's. It was the end of Thanksgiving Weekend and I was driving back to MSU with some college friends. There were near blizzard conditions with heavy snow and intense winds. After waiting in a rather long line to cross the bridge, we were informed that the bridge was closing for the night. In addition to the whipping snow, there were 80 mph gusts of wind on land, and significantly faster gusts over water. A woman had her car slammed against the guard rails of the bridge, which prompted the bridge closure. There was thunder and lightning, which is a rarity with snow. It was surreal. I was thinking apocalypse. Most of the power was out throughout St. Ignace, the town on the north end of the bridge. Darkened hotels were filling up fast, and gas stations quickly sold out of flashlights. When I got out of the car, the wind literally pushed me across the icy parking lot. It was a miracle that we got a hotel room, but I can't even remember how we found our way through the halls to our room. I do remember we slept with our coats on, and I had a real fear that the winds were going to tear the roof off the hotel.

I'm very glad that the wind wasn't quite that fierce during this particular trip. But it was windy enough that all vehicles were escorted by the Bridge Authority. And there also happened to be construction on the bridge, which meant 2 lanes were closed.. . . .and I had to drive over my least favorite section of the bridge - the steel grates where you can actually feel the updrafts from the wind buffeting your car. Oh, the joys of living in Michigan.

But made it home in one piece. I'm thankful for the trip over all.

But most of all, I'm thankful to be reunited with high-speed internet access.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Keepsakes and Other Junk

I am not big on keepsakes. I don't need stuff to remind me of special places or loved ones. I have no desire to display meaningless knick-knacks. I hate clutter. I mean, I absolutely despise, abhor, and in all other ways detest clutter. (You might not be able to tell by looking at my house, but that's why I have a wide selection of happy drugs at my disposal, so at any given time I can make it all go away. LOL. You know I'm only kidding. . . mostly.)

The only keepsakes I really enjoy are photographs. I am currently working on a way to print and display some of the thousands of photographs of my children and fun family events. I gave up trying to print them out and put them in albums when Hope was about 2 and Joy was a baby. I was overwhelmed not only by parenting, but also by how maddeningly easy it was to take bazillions of pictures of my children and edit them with a digital camera.

Aside from those precious memories, I have a pretty light hold on material things. Strangely, I used to be a major packrat. I had the luxury of living in the same house for most of my pre-adult life. So I saved everything that meant anything to me. And I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I saved every single note that anyone wrote to me in jr. high and high school. I never actually broke the rule, "No passing notes in class." My friends and I cleverly found a way around that - we passed notes between classes and we only read them during class. Ha! Take that, Mr. Johnson!

I saved every single newspaper clipping that had a photo or a mention of myself or anyone I've ever known. I had saved a paper pom-pom from an unknown sporting event. Tons of buttons with slogans like "Look at me! I'm a Cheerleader" and "Blue and Gold is Really Green When You Mix Them Together". I even saved some raisins from a food fight I had with a high school teacher. I saved a test on which I scored a deliberate F because I was about to graduate and figured it didn't really matter any more. Also, I had always been a model student, so I wanted to experience the thrill of rebellion just once.

I stopped being a packrat when I became a college-bound vagabond, moving a minimum of 2 times per year for the next 8 years: from dorm to apartment to house to third-world country to apartment to house, etc. But all the things I ever saved before leaving home were neatly packed away in my parents' attic, because my mom didn't want to throw out anything that she thought I might want. While I appreciate her consideration, now I have to dig through the vast array of boxes in her attic to determine if any of the stuff I saved has "antique" quality. For the past 21 years the boxes have lived in my parents' attic - it never seemed right to remove them from their loving home. Now and then, I have dared to delve into a box or two, looking for something specific or trying to weed out some of the junk. About 15 years ago, I finally parted with the crumpled high school notes because I finally came to this realization: "Who cares???" 10 years ago, I threw away a corsage that had turned to dust. 5 years ago, I rescued a few collectible dolls that I wanted to eventually pass on to my girls. But I never wanted to take the whole kit and caboodle with me while I was a wayfarer, not yet settled in a permanent home. Now I've been married 12 years, and we have a mortgage, so I guess that's a semi-permanent situation. (To avoid confusion, the house is semi-permanent; the marriage is forever!) It's about time that I inherit the rest of my junk.

As I'm spending time at my parents' house, I've been looking through boxes and boxes of stuff/junk/"keepsakes". And I was quite surprised to learn that there are still things that I can't quite let go of. Maybe it's because all this slightly cool stuff just came back into my life and I'm not ready to part with it just yet.

There are tons of paper: certificates that say I "participated" in English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Band. It doesn't mention any honors or excellence or achievement. . . .just that I. . . . participated. Um, yeah, that's pretty much a given since I actually met the requirements for graduation. Although I do still have nightmares that I have to go back to high school and take one more class because it was just discovered (after 21 years) that I didn't really graduate from high school because I missed 3 credits of Home Ec. Hmm, maybe I better hang on to those.

There are cheesy, mimeographed copies of awards ceremonies ranging from my induction into the National Honor Society (which was ironically, a crappy photocopy pasted to a folded piece of construction paper) to the distinguished award for perfect attendance during the first quarter of the 1985-86 school year.

Among my more coveted awards: a genuine imitation gold-plated trophy that I won for a Citizenship Essay Contest in 4th grade AND a congratulatory note with a genuine stamped signature from none other than President Jimmy Carter. A certificate dated April 14, 1984 certifying that I'm a Math Expert. Impressive, huh? An award from when I took first place in the district-wide spelling bee in 8th grade, which was a bitter-sweet victory, since I had to choose between participating in the spelling competition and trying out for 8th grade basketball cheerleading.

What stuff should I really keep? All those silly certificates? For the most part, I actually remember that I went to high school. I'm pretty certain that I was a cheerleader since I now have permanent nerve damage in my legs and feet from wearing a cheerleading skirt to school even when the temperature dropped to 50 below zero. Do I need a certificate to prove that I did? What if someone approaches me and says, "Provide proof that you were actually on the forensics team, or I will pluck all your nose hairs out." Then, it might be handy to have them around, but under such duress, I might have trouble remembering in which of the 12 boxes in my dark, spider-infested basement they are stored.

I have hundreds of letters from penpal with whom I corresponded for over 20 years. I met her the day before I started kindergarten and we kept writing to each other well into college. Pure nostalgia, for sure, as I'm absolutely certain I will never read them all again. I could probably keep about 5 letters and toss the rest. But what if my ex-penpal ever becomes famous? I could probably make a load of cash on eBay by selling her letters.

I have a beautiful glass from my Junior Prom - a wine glass. What were we, on the prom committee, thinking? A wine glass as a memento for a dance that was planned by and attended by 17-year-olds? And what were we drinking? Kool-aid? Nonetheless it is stashed away in a box with plenty of tissue paper to protect it.

How is it that I have a hard time letting go of paltry high school mementos? Yet I have seriously considered selling my wedding dress on eBay. (I have no contempt whatsoever for my wedding dress or my marriage, it just seems impractical to keep something I will never wear again, my children will never wear, and was purchased second-hand to begin with. I have many, many smaller, less closet-space-consuming items by which to remember my wonderful wedding day.)

Do I want to be continually reminded of high school, or would it be better to let some memories fade into oblivion? I haven't thought about this stuff in over 20 years, so I probably won't miss it if I pitch it all. But the trash - or a burning ceremony, in the case of a photo of me with my ex-boyfriend - seems so final. Yet, it seems a little ludicrous to me to keep stuff in cardboard boxes, just wasting space, until decide I'd like drag it out and subject some unwilling viewer to all my high school keepsakes?

I also discovered a box with wedding keepsakes. Of course, I want some of those things. But do I really need to save 100 extra napkins with mine & Al's name embossed on them? Hey, this process is having some benefit. I'm starting to come up with solutions: every year on our anniversary, my husband and I can use those napkins for our anniversary dinner.

And on April 27th every year, in commemoration of my Junior Prom, I will use that beautiful Prom glass to get tanked.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Road Trip. . . .With Children

The phrase strikes fear in the heart of most parents. A road trip. . . .with my children? You have got to be joking. And without my husband to administer the necessary discipline? Stark. Raving. Mad.

I’m here to tell you that it IS possible. I've done it and I survived. Just barely, but I survived.

5 a.m. We were up and at 'em, ready to travel 425 miles to Grandma's house. 5:20, we were making last bathroom trips and piling into the car. 5:30, I turned the key…click, click, click. Crap! I called my husband who was fortunately only 10 minutes into his commute to work. Around he turned and came back, pushed the van back in the driveway, drove his car onto the lawn, and hooked up the jumper cables - all in the pouring rain. What a guy! So, we got on the road around 6:10 - not too bad, considering past experience, I didn't think we'd have it all together until and get out the door any earlier than 10.

Ahhh, once we were on the road, I was much more peaceful. And extremely tired. I never get up at 5 a.m. NEVER!!! Unless I am coerced by a 4-year-old who threatens to continue pulling at my eyelids until I get up and go downstairs with him. And then I only stay awake long enough to talk him into watching a movie or give him some matches to play with. So, about an hour into the trip, I was failing miserably at staying awake. I was so sleepy, I actually wanted the little turkey to hold my eyelids open. What the heck was I thinking??? We stopped at a rest area and I closed my eyes for about 20 minutes - tremendously helpful.

Still, it was a long trip. I kind of miss the diaper days. Back then, we could schedule 2 stops total, and take care of soiled diapers at the appointed times. This is so not the case any more. I estimate we stopped about 13 times - I lost count. Evan was the primary culprit. We had just crossed the Mackinac Bridge, which is our half-way point. We had just eaten lunch and used the bathroom. 20 minutes later, Evan said, "I really need to use the bathroom." Now, if you've never had the privilege of traveling through the Upper Peninsula, US 2 is pretty much THE major highway - 2 lanes through extensive stretches of wilderness. 55 mph speed limit. The most barren section is just west of the bridge, and 20 minutes into it, Evan had to go, and it wasn't the kind of bathroom issue he could take care of on the side of the road, if you know what I mean. So, I was gently encouraging him, "Don't worry, we'll find a place to stop soon," and "Try to hold it." Meanwhile, I was hoping he could actually isolate the muscles necessary to keep the stuff in his body for a few more minutes as I was frantically scanning the trees and small animal carcasses for some sign of a restroom in any type of public establishment. I didn't care if it bore a name such as "Bubba's bar, tanning salon and tax services" (and believe me, there are these types of businesses strewn throughout the UP). This kid needed to go and I could tell by his occasional grunting and whining. Finally, we found a rest area, which was miraculously open (most of them are still closed this time of year). Whew! Disaster averted.

20 minutes later, "I gotta pee!" Again, I tried to reassure him and tell him to hold it, which he literally did. When we found yet another rest stop, he ran in, holding his little self so he wouldn't pee all over.

So, what about those closed rest areas? I cursed several of them as we passed their smug, barricaded entrances. "Closed for the season" was the most common reason, although one had a hand-painted sign saying something about Myron and his pet raccoon that he was trying to fish out of the pit. But let's get back to "closed for season": hmmm, why on earth would they close a rest area, the only one of its kind on a barren 50-mile stretch of highway. Oh, yeah, it's a well-known fact that humans don't have to use the bathroom during the winter.

The other interesting portion of our journey was road kill. I'm assuming that road kill exists in every state, but the majority of road kill in Michigan is deer. And I was quite surprised to witness dead, decaying deer carcasses in lower Michigan approximately every 2.37 miles. Then, in the Upper Peninsula (UP), which is a much more wilderness-oriented area, I only saw deceased deer every 40 miles or so. That got me to wondering, "why the heck would there be so many dead deer in the Lower Peninsula, but only a few in the Upper Peninsula. One theory I arrived at was that Lower Peninsula deer must be insanely stupid. Oh wait, scratch that theory: all deer are insanely stupid. All you have to do is think of the term "like a deer in the headlights" and you'll comprehend how dumb they are. Yes, they really do stand there, frozen, when they see headlights approaching, wondering in their little deer brains, "WTF?" Only when the car is about 10 yards away do they realize that it might be something dangerous, so they decide to run. . . .in the direction of the oncoming headlights. Not the most brilliant animals in God's herd. OK, so back to the question at hand: why so much more road kill in the Lower Peninsula? Another theory I had, which is probably a lot more accurate, is that when a Yooper (this is the official term for people who live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan -I'm explaining this for the benefit of my non-Michigan readers) hits a deer, he or she knows they've just scored a free meal - or several depending on the extent of the damage to the animal. If you live in the UP, you NEVER leave a deer on the side of the road to rot. It's crime against nature. You've got to go out, slit it's throat, and throw it in the back of your pickup. "What if I don't have a pickup truck?" you may ask. If you don't, then you are obviously not a Yooper. If you are a recent immigrant from one of the other 49 1/2 states and truly do not own a pickup yet, you would go to your nearest friend, neighbor, or family member and borrow their pickup truck so you could bring the deer home, butcher it and freeze the meat for many tasty venison meals. And what if you don't do your own butchering? Oh, please, you really don't know anything about the UP, do you? And what about the deer that were left lying on the side of the road? Clearly, they were hit by foreign drivers (foreign, meaning anyone outside of the UP). I live in fear that one day I will hit a deer and go to look for help from local law enforcement officials, who upon discovering that I am a native Yooper, will require that I slit and butcher my own deer. I know, I’m an embarrassment to Yoopers everywhere, but I do not hunt, fish, wear flannel, or own a pickup truck. That's why I live in the Lower Peninsula. That's why I have to make this insane drive every time I want to visit my parents and get back to nature.

The Yoopers kicked me out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Into the Void

I'm awake at 10:30 PM (not too incredibly late by most standards). BUT, I'm supposed to wake up tomorrow at 5 a.m. and drive 8 hours, with children, sans husband, to my parents' house in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I'm not too worried, as long as I get some sleep tonight.

What I am worried about is internet access. Yes, I'm an addict. My parents have THE slowest dial-up on the planet. I'm not exaggerating. I'm sure there are people deep in the bush of Africa, in the farthest reaches of the outback in Australia, and in the remotest island of the vast oceans who are still able to connect to the world wide web faster than my parents can. And that would include any amount of time under 13 minutes. And IF you want to download a picture, be prepared to wait about 27 minutes, as long as you can stay connected that long. If a neighbor picks up the phone to make a call, you may get booted off. If the computer goes dormant, it's bye-bye. Every so often, while your precious website is loading, you can at least try to walk by and jiggle the mouse to keep the computer active, but it's not a sure thing. And this is just to load ONE page, mind you. How many pages do you typically have to load on any one website? Hmm, for my bank website: between 7 and 10. I literally spend most of my time at my parents' house trying to connect to and navigate the internet. With a few isolated pockets of visiting in between.

So, off I go to the great white North, which I truly HOPE and PRAY is no longer white, to spend time with family, to celebrate Great Grandma's 90th birthday, and to traverse the treacherous Bermuda Triangle of internet access.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Minty Fresh Feet

I would like to take this opportunity to lovingly thank my children:

For the rotten apple cores and wads of gum I find buried deep in the couch.

For the candle wax that is now a permanent part of our new carpet.

For lassoing our ceiling fan with a barrette and a string and causing it to come to a sputtering, sparking halt.

For the many food splatters on our dining room wall.

For the unidentifiable splatters elsewhere in the house.

For losing the remote control 83 billion times.

For eating all of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch in one sitting.

For using an entire bottle of shampoo in one shower.

For the writing on the walls. . . and cabinets. . .and stairs.

For scratching your name in the paint in the wall by your bed.

For practicing your cursive on the desks in the school room - with no paper.

For stealing my gum, my socks, and my hair clips.

For letting the upstairs sink overflow until the water streamed down the basement walls.

For pouring liquid soap into the electrical outlet.

For the chewed up pieces of our Life game and for the wrinkled Monopoly money.

For cutting a hole in our shower curtain with a pair of scissors.

For gobs of toothpaste that end up all over the bathroom, including the floor of the shower.

If I didn't have all these little messes to look forward to every day, it would only mean one thing: I wouldn't have you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Laptop

I love my laptop. It's nothing special as far as laptops go. It's a used IBM Thinkpad that my husband gave me for my birthday in January. And yes, I actually asked for it. My husband is a true computer geek. I knew that no sooner had the words left my lips than it was a done deed. But I acted surprised anyway.

What I appreciate is that it has re-awakened my "inner writer". As a teenager, I used to write all the time. Except back then, it was really sappy poetry, mostly about unrequited love. Here is a sample from "the early years":
So very many lonely nights
I have sat alone and cried.
Losing you makes me feel
As if a part of me has died.
Gag. Drivel. (Can you tell I was depressed even back then?) Well, in my defense, I did have one of my poems published in the prestigious "Teen" magazine.
I've also used a journal for most of my Christian life, recording prayers, Scriptures and senses from the Lord. But I'm a perfectionist (I've said that before, haven't I?), so I'm thankful the Lord had patience with me while I was correcting syntax and grammar in my heartfelt prayers.
This little piece of equipment has opened so many possibilities for me. The wonderful world of blogging. The possibility of online money-making scams, uh I mean endeavors. Hey, I can even check Facebook from the bathroom (not that I do, I just enjoy having that possibility open to me.)
Since I've gotten this laptop, I admit, I've been writing prolifically, profusely even. My children have noticed I'm spending a bit more time on the computer and they make such accusations such as, "You love that laptop more than us."

And when they say such things, I take them in my lap, hold them close, gently stroke their hair, and say,

"The truth hurts."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Room-mate Horror Story

One vote for college room-mate stories!

When I was in college, I was saturated with college "culture" (and I use that term very loosely). My room-mates filled all the college stereotypes. The one who stayed out drinking until 2 a.m. and then brought her 6 friends back to our tiny dorm room, Burger King in tow, flipping on the light switch and partying until dawn - all while I was trying to sleep in my bunk. The one who left a "hint" on the door which suggested I should not enter, but I did anyway and she and her boyfriend . . .uh, you get the picture. The ones with whom I went out drinking, after which they had to drag me home. (Hey, I'm not proud of those moments, I'm just saying. . . .)

Believe it or not, those are the least colorful room-mate stories I have. You would probably assume that the stories I have about living with Christian room-mates would be pretty dull in comparison. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

This one is my "favorite" (and I use that term loosely, too, although I really can laugh about this now. . . .after 15 years of therapy). One summer I lived with 2 other young women whom I will call "Kathy" and "Debbie".

Kathy was an extremely devout Catholic girl who spent several hours a day in prayer. She still wore a hat to church, even though Vatican II had, 40 years prior, deemed that it was unnecessary. She went to confession on a regular basis - at least weekly, if not more. She often gave random confessions to us, her room-mates, thinking that she needed to be as transparent as possible to attain holiness. And she freely corrected us in our sinfulness.

Debbie was the polar opposite. She was deeply involved with a Vineyard church, which contains elements of Spirit-filled Pentecostal churches and Bible-based Evangelical churches. Debbie was very expressive of her faith. When it came to worship, she was practically an acrobat. Did I mention that she was VERY (extremely, maybe) expressive in all faith matters? Debbie regularly asked us to pray over her and especially asked us to pray against evil spirits that were trying to attack her in a variety of ways.

I do not wish to paint either woman as a freak or a fruitcake. Both women were quite zealous and quite sincere. Both spiritualities have merit, but never in my life have I met two more mismatched people. (If they ever got married and had families, I would love to see a Wife Swap episode starring these 2 women.)

And I had to live with them. For a whole summer.

Needless to say, there was some "tension" in our apartment as these women neither understood nor respected each other's spirituality. Kathy would be trying to pray - in her room, with the door closed - and she would come out and chide Debbie for making too much noise by breathing too loud or some such offense. When it was Debbie's turn to pray, she would turn on some rockin' worship music and bring the house down.

Well, legend has it that, one weekend, while I was gone (thankfully), Kathy was having serious issues with Debbie. So serious that she decided, in the middle of the night, to wake Debbie and have a sober discussion with her. And what was the content of that conversation? Kathy told Debbie that she (Debbie) was the Antichrist.
And Kathy was dead serious - she wasn't just pissed off or annoyed with Debbie. She really believed she had sensed that Debbie had the spirit of Antichrist in her.

It's pretty hard to wrap up this post. What more can I say about this outlandish episode? Let's just say I was very grateful when that summer came to an end.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This is the Story of My Life

This is what happens when I don't get enough sleep. I don't know how other mothers do it because we're ALL sleep-deprived, I'm sure. But I can't figure out how to function with insuficient sleep. So, now that my children are older and can watch a movie or play by themselves for a long time, I can snag a nap, which I did today.

My son does NOT comprehend that he wrecks my sleep every night because the very first time he wakes up, he climbs in bed with me. If I put him out, he sleeps on my floor and then he wants to hold my hand, which is really uncomfortable because our bed is high enough that I have to be on the very edge, with my head smashed up against my dresser, in order to reach him. I know he must need that connection with me, or the reassurance, but it's driving me nuts. I have awakened Al before and asked him to deal with Evan. And he usually does this by saying, "Evan, go back to bed!" and then promptly falling back to sleep. And I mean promptly - I think he's usually asleep again as the last word tumbles out of his mouth. Sometimes Evan obeys and sometimes he doesn't. I know it's not the right thing to do, but when I'm trying to sleep, my resolve is very weak, so I usually let him hang around if he puts up a fight.

I know this, I really do: If Al and I make a concerted effort to get up and bring him back to bed, comfort him and reassure him, he will eventually be able to get himself back to sleep, knowing mom and dad are right across the hall. But I JUST DON'T WANT TO GET OUT OF BED!!! So, I suffer with chronic sleep loss because of this little guy.

If it were up to me, I would probably just let all my kids sleep with me. Al is the one who doesn't like to be next to anyone in the night. If I even get close enough that he can feel my body heat, he will wake up and say, "Is someone in our bed?" This, from the guy I have to poke and prod about 5 times before he wakes up to deal with the culprit in the first place.

Wow, I'm really rambling here. What does this have to do with my messy living room, as shown in the photo? Back to the nap. The kids are beyond that stage of being enthralled with movies as their eyes glass over for a nice hour-and-a-half or two. That is mostly fine with me since I'd rather they don't care too much about movies or TV anyway. But here, indicated in the picture, is what happens when I don't get enough sleep, the whole schedule is thrown off, and the kids have the run of the house -they trash it! Then I wake up from my nap with more to do than when I went to sleep, quite honestly, makes me feel like crawling back into bed again.

(I do realize that my living room probably doesn't look that messy to most people. But I'm a perfectionist, and for me, it is a living hell to have my house looking that way!)

What it probably boils down to is a lack of discipline and training on my part.

But it's so hard to be disciplined without sleep. Waaah!