Small Profound Things

Montages are the best part of  ‘moving pictures’ story-telling… Something about removing the barriers of time and grasping the whole. They create a big picture of small details.

I cried.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

I have been in absentia for so long that I was scared to log back in. As though it might have imploded from the nothingness, or, possibly, the tumbleweeds that have been blowing around in here might have banded together, raised a sentient grass army, and staged a successful coup. However, apparently my fears were groundless, and the worst that’s confronted me is more concrete evidence of my current blogging lethargy.

Ah well, ‘failure’ is becoming less and less of a big deal in my mind, so…I’m over it.

Quick summary in no particular order: wine and cheese, local drama productions, lies, mis-trust, forgiveness, weekend brunch, job changes, Danny Bhoy, new baby (not ours)…umm…too hard to construct the last two weeks any more completely than that. If I don’t record it, it’s gone, other than vague recollections, punctuated by flashes of clear memories.

The Year of Intentional Living

We have decided that this is the Year of Intentional Living. We’re both lazy and apathetic and ‘easy way’-seeking, so we often find time and energy and friendship and inspiration and thoughtfulness and creativeness and ‘seizing the day’ slip away from us. This cannot continue to happen, or we will end up dry and empty.

There are three things that we’ve chosen to try and aim for this year in order to ‘wake up’.

One:
We choosing to eat more intentionally. Not healthier, or more cheaply, or more organically, or more ‘environmentally-soundly’, just more deliberately. More thoughtfully. More considered-ly. Eating not because it’s dinner-time, or because we have to finish the last of the cheese in the fridge before it goes mouldy, or because the cereal’s in the cupboard and it’s quick, or because everyone else is having cake…but because we really want an excellent cup of coffee, or because ‘the chef at this restaurant is amazing’, or because the smell of fresh-baked bread hits right as the stomach growls, or because sautéed asparagus, steamed fish with ginger and shallots, and saffron basmati is awesome.

I want to work toward deliberately choosing what and when to eat, rather than just eating.

Two:
We’re choosing to have people to our home more frequently. Neither of us crave social interaction at a high-level, but we’re both aware that we need it, and enjoy it. We also – due frequently to my ‘recovering’ perfectionism – don’t have people in our home often…which just perpetuates the issue. The less often people are here, the harder it is to invite them, and the more easily I can invent excuses why we shouldn’t. So, we have decided to have somebody, or bodies, in our house for something social, at least once a fortnight, even if it’s just my friend for a cup of coffee or my parents for dinner. And it will become easier and easier, and I will make less of an issue of everything needing to be ‘right’ before someone can set a foot inside our door.

I want to work towards natural hospitality by deliberately choosing to be hospitable.

Three:
We’re choosing to view, or attend, or participate in something ‘arty’, or musical, or creative more often. This is a small town, and it was hard to move here from Seattle where you barely have to think for more than a minute in order to come up with something creative to do, or see, or listen to. While there are certainly options here for connecting with ‘Art’, we have to look a bit harder, and we’ve been lax in doing so, and, hence, we’ve become a bit trapped in mediocre routine. So, we have decided that once a month we will consciously choose to go to a play, or an art museum, or a concert, or a performance of some kind, and we will engage with it. Because art makes life richer.

I want to deliberately work towards more depth, and creativity, and interaction, and inspiration.

Intentional living – so our lives don’t unintentionally drip away.

Funny Things Said By My Husband

Me: Did you know that on Sunday it’s forecasted to reach 47°C somewhere out in the west of New South Wales, and that will be the hottest place on the planet?

HL: Whereabouts will that be?

Me: I dunno, just somewhere out west, they didn’t mention the place…

HL (masking his American accent with a very broad, ‘put-on’ Aussie accent): Chilaroo? Bullamaridgie? Wubba Wubba?

Me: *silence* None of those are actual places… *silence* But I am glad that you at least know how to make fun of Australian place names…

Funny Things Said By My Husband

Me: I’m getting something to drink, did you want anything from the fridge while I’m up?

HL: Yeah…um…lemon…um…pob…no…orangely maynoes…

Me: Ohhhkay…

HL: Words not come.

Me: I can see that.

Funny Things Said By My Husband

HL, wandering into the room and picking up a clear plastic bag: What’s this? Where did this come from?

Me: I dunno, probably from out of one of the multiple boxes of ‘new stuff’ that we got for Christmas.

HL: Hmmm…no, I don’t think so…I think I know what it is…

Me: Oh yeah, what would that be?

HL, pulling the bag over his head and grinning goofily: It’s my spaceman helmet!

Me: Well, just don’t suffocate in your ‘spaceman helmet’.

HL: Suffocate? Of course not: spaceman helmets let you breathe…and get dizzy…and see spots in front of your eyes…and turn everything kinda black…

Me: Right, well, spaceman, take your ‘spaceman helmet’ off before you die.

HL: Oh fine…

Funny Things Said By My Husband

Me, to HL, after he had just woken up and wandered into the living room: I can tell you’re still very sleepy, you only seem to be able to open one of your eyes at a time.

HL: Yeah, they’re awake on a timeshare basis…

Funny Things Said By My Husband

HL, after looking in the bag of food we just bought at Red Rooster: Oh crap…

HL, 3 minutes later, back at Red Rooster, to the girl at the register: Look, I ordered AND PAID FOR a chicken roll, but when I got home and checked in the bag it wasn’t there. Can I have a chicken roll, please?

Register Girl: Ummm…sorry sir, how can I know you’re not just coming back to get another one?

HL: Are you kidding me? Why would I drive all the way back, with the rest of my food getting cold?

Register Girl: Well, can I see your receipt?

HL: You didn’t give me one…

Register Girl, to manager she has just called over: Uh, this gentleman says we didn’t put the chicken roll that he ordered in his bag, and he doesn’t have a receipt.

Manager, to HL: Sir, it’s our policy to give receipts.

HL, to manager: Well, I’m sure it’s also your policy to give the customer all of the food that they ordered and paid for…

Manager, to Register Girl: Give the gentleman a chicken roll.

The Cycle

I’ve noticed recently that my parents’ hands are starting to look like the hands of my grandparents.

Under Control, Not In Control

I have a perfectionist streak. I think I get it from my dad, who has always wanted to do things ‘right’. It’s something I continually struggle with, the knowledge that perfection isn’t achievable this side of eternity, and, no matter how hard I wish for it, or plan for it, or work for it, or long for it, it ain’t happenin’.

We don’t entertain too much, partly due to my dissatisfaction with our house, our yard, our lack of hospital-grade cleanliness, and etc.; the contrast between the picture that I have in my mind of how it (and I) should be, and how reality (bites) actually displays itself, grates.

So, preparing for having people over is always more of a big deal than I know it should be. I always over-plan, over-provide, over-panic.

This Thanksgiving (which we celebrated yesterday) was a bit different. Yes, I planned a bit more efficiently, and, consequently, was able to paint our spare room and mow our big back yard in the last week, as well as working full-time and fitting in all the ahead-of-time baking and table-preparing and vacuuming and bathroom-cleaning and etc. But, that wasn’t really what was different.

The morning of the day we have people over always looks a bit similar – getting up at a moderately early time, thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m in pretty good shape, I can fit it all in.’, which morphs into ‘Ah…perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.’, which graduates into a slight panic attack about 4 hours before guests are due, which becomes a grumpy, resentful attack on HL when I feel he isn’t ‘steppin’ up to the plate’ and helping, which rises to a feeling of impending doom as the hands on the clock spin faster and faster, inexorably dragging me towards ‘Battle Stations, all hands on deck, take that to the garbage, move those shoes from the hallway, help me with this platter, make sure the cat litter’s scooped out, you know you have to carve the turkey, right?, ‘. Stupid, huh?

Yesterday morning was starting to look a bit like that. I felt a little panicky and out-of-control by about 10.30 (guests arriving at 1.30pm) as I had so much to do, and I said to God, ‘Please, stop this. Make time slow down a bit, or help me to feel like I can manage to get it all finished in time. I’m not in control here.’

About half an hour later I noticed that everything felt smoother, I felt calmer, and I mused to myself, and God, I guess, ‘I feel more in control, I can manage.’ A minute or so later, though, it occurred to me that I wasn’t, in any way, in control, I didn’t have anything in hand by myself, on my own, no matter how hard I tried. More truly, I was under control. When I stopped, for a moment, in my rising panic, and asked God to take the lead, I surrendered my feeble attempts at being in control.

The rest of the preparations, while still busy and a bit crazy, seemed to shrink into proper proportion. Not everything got done perfectly, but it didn’t matter: there was much turkey and wine and laughter and true joy.

Thanksgiving was awesome.

Funny Things Said By My Husband

Me: This Australian processed cheese in our Thanksgiving celery sticks is pretty good, almost tastes just like Easy Cheese. (This isn’t exactly what I said, more like the gist of the comment, with extra details to put it in context.)

HL, taking a big bite: Yeah, pretty close.

HL, 2 seconds later as he pulls a cat hair out of his mouth: Only with more hair…

Funny Things Said By My Husband

HL, wandering into the computer room with a breakfast sandwich he picked up while out this morning: Mmmm, this sandwich is really good…fresh-made, sausage egg muffin…yum!

Me: Harumph. I had a bowl of Weet-Bix, and you bring your yummy, hot breakfast sandwich in here and make the room smell tasty.

HL, snickering: Oops, sorry. *grin*

Me: Out. Get out. You and your yummy sandwich, get out.

HL (and his sandwich) shamefacedly slink out.

2 minutes later…

HL, plaintively: I’m lonely in my banishment.

Me: Oh fine. Bring you and your sandwich back in.

HL: *grin*

Craptacular

It’s been a craptacular day: could not get my social interaction together, and kept saying dumb, awkward things; a crazy, angry lady shouting obscentities at the whole office, accusing us all of racism; the husband of a local lady who has just died, called to arrange enrolment of his 12 year old daughter at our high school – the whole family was very involved in the homeschool community here, and the children have never gone to school (including 2 grown-up sons who I am friends with). It was such an overt indication of how changed this family’s life is now. Left me feeling a bit gutted, as I found high school quite a damaging time for me – I turned into a much harder, and more defensive person as a result – and I’m so prayerful that she won’t be broken. And, sadness, while watching Tim Minchin – who I love – on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope, with such misunderstanding about…about what? faith, I guess, truth, eternity, reality, who God really is…the fact that God is not defined by the humans who claim to be on his side…breaks my heart.

Christmas – bah humbug?

Christmas is coming.

Around this time last year I didn’t really want Christmas to come. Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year; the high point of the year’s arc. But, at this time last year, my life felt a bit crappy, and Christmas – the hoopla of it all – seemed so overwhelming.

I’d been working for the previous 3 years at a local software company, and, I say this with no exaggeration, it was the most demoralising, draining, hurtful, undermining, confidence-stealing, soul-destroying employment I have ever had. At the end of the 3 years I didn’t feel like myself; I wasn’t even sure of what my skills and gifts and abilities were anymore. My manager would tell me I ‘wasn’t as talented as I thought I was’, blame me for mistakes he made, set up staff against each other, play favourites, treat many hard-working, honest, loyal, clever, mature, wise, trustworthy, responsible, long-term employees as naughty, deceitful children – worst job I’d ever had.

I lost myself. Depression was always lurking, and frequently close to the surface. The problem was that I was so beaten down that I couldn’t see a way out, couldn’t believe that I would be able to find another job because, apparently, my skill set was so low (read: under-appreciated) that I should just be grateful to have a job.

Inertia was my enemy. I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for anything, particularly not finding a new job, and, Christmas? Who could be bothered to prepare anything? It was just all too much work. So, I didn’t. I just sat at my desk every day, sinking, and came home at the end of each day and sank into both my couch, and a depressive coma. I couldn’t be bothered to prepare meals, let alone write the annual Caradoc Christmas letter. Any Christmas planning was forced and joyless.

This from a freak who so completely ‘discovered’ her childlike Christmas glee while living in beautiful and Christmas-crazy Seattle, that she shipped back to Australia 4 huge boxes of affectionately-named ‘Christmas crap’, can’t walk past a store with ‘Christmas crap’ in the window without pressing her nose up to the window and sighing wistfully that she can’t own it all, and who normally begins planning ‘Christmas crap’ decorating sometime in October. So, I was dreading Christmas.

And then, a miracle. I was fired. There was a ‘restructuring of the business’ and almost my entire department (a dozen or so) were, ‘regrettably’, no longer required. It was a shock…but it wasn’t. It was scary…but it wasn’t. It was a ‘sucker punch’ to the gut…but it wasn’t. It was a relief…yep, pure relief. My situation had been changed for me, when I no longer had the capacity to change it for myself.

And, at that point, HL didn’t have a job either. So, there we were, heading to Christmas, neither of us working, and I was just so grateful. Christmas was a bit lean last year, but so much more joyful than I had expected it to be.

Both of us, also miraculously, ended up falling into work that is right and appropriate for each of us at this present moment (HL driving cabs, and me working at a school, which I love) and I’m planning for Christmas, joyfully.

Broken in The Fall

I read this post from Stacy from Louisville recently, and I’ve been pondering on it since. I am in complete agreement that men have been given a raw deal, portrayed almost mercilessly as ignorant, bumbling, easily led, foolish buffoons.  We have a car dealership in our local area who ran a tv ad claiming that they would accept anything as a trade-in, and the final scene was a waiting room of sad, dejected, hung-head, rejected little men with signs around their necks, indicating that they’d been traded-in, and a cut to a grinning, in-control, gloating, little old lady, driving off in a cute red car. (Needless to say, I won’t ever buy a car from these people.)

And women are depicted as scheming, manipulating, in control, crafty organizers, who bamboozle with clever words, and lead and fool their husbands into doing what the women wish.

And they are both stereotypes. And I hate them.

But…something within me says that there is some amount of truth in these clichéd representations.

I can’t help but see something of Adam and Eve, of the first male/female relationship, the first marriage, the first sinful act, in the essence of these stereotypes. Both Adam and Eve failed to treat each other the way that was intended, and in so doing, undermined the structure of the balance that God created. Not that God created Eve to be a doormat, and Adam to throw his weight around, but there was an original equilibrium. But, things changed, and Eve wheedled and Adam caved.

I wonder, sometimes, how that happened. How Eve thought it would be a good idea to manipulate how things had always, for eternity, been, and jump into control, by causing Adam to question truth, history, himself, and their God. And how Adam shrugged off everything he had ever known to be reality, laid down meekly, and said ‘Yes, dear.’…

Something broke then. It wasn’t just the gut-wrenching, torn-asunderness that then characterised our relationship with God, it was our relationship with each other, particularly our partnership relationship. Something that had previously worked, fit together, and made stronger, ripped apart. And then riocheted through all of history.

My feeling, my gut feeling, is that it is these 2 things, these first sinful actions, that generally characterise broken male/female relationships now: male weakness and female manipulation.

Dorkiness Will Out

I was kinda a moderately dorky kid; different enough to be on the dorky side, but perceptive enough to be aware I had dorky tendencies, which, surprisingly, dials down dorkitude.

When I was in primary school there was already clique-iness stirring, even though our class, school and town were all so small that we’d grown up with each other. I was well aware of my social standing – amongst the ‘smart’, middle-classy kids – so when a ‘cool’, rebel girl, from well outside that group, made friends with me, I was pretty stoked (well, I wouldn’t have used the term ‘stoked’, being only 8 or 9, which would have made it about 25 years ago, and ‘stoked’ wasn’t so big then, but you get the emotion). Let’s call her Kelly.

So, when Kelly invited me to her birthday party I understood that she’d gone outside the ‘norm’ to do so, and I felt like my whole social status was on the cusp of morphing into something more interesting.

The day of the party I spent time getting ready, wrapped a carefully-chosen present, and made certain that my mum drove me to the caravan park where Kelly lived, right on time. After Mum parked, she and I walked to Kelly’s caravan and tentatively knocked on the zip-up awning. There didn’t seem to be a lot of activity, which was a bit worrisome, but I figured that maybe I was just the first to arrive.

After a couple of knocks, Kelly’s mum came out to see us, with a question in her voice and a quizzical eyebrow raise. I, haltingly, stumbled out that I was here for Kelly’s birthday, had I got the time wrong?, was I too early?

There was a little laugh from her mum, ‘It’s not till next Saturday.’

‘Oh. I’m sure the invitation had today’s date, I’m sorry to bother you. See you next week.’ And then I hurried my mum back to the car, shamefaced, red-faced, and having lost face. I was hugely relieved that Kelly hadn’t been there – apparently she was at the pool – but also aware that there was no way that her mum would keep to herself what had transpired.

I can still feel the burning, roiling humiliation in my stomach as we drove home, knowing I would have to go to school on Monday and hear about it. I looked at the invitation when I got home and realised that I must have just been excited about going, and not checked too closely, because the date, very clearly, said next Saturday’s date.

When Monday rolled around there wasn’t a lot of joking at my expense, just a bit of teasing, but it was obvious to me that any burgeoning social status change had been shelved, probably due to my clear (to fellow primary-schoolers) display of dorkiness. I don’t recall a lot about the actual party the next Saturday, just a vague feeling of awkwardness, as the reality of spending a few hours with a party’s-worth of ‘cool’ acquaintances manifested itself.

Kelly and I were polite, even occasionally friendly, with each other through the rest of our concurrent schooling, but we never really got past the awkwardness.

Life is Capricious

I love cicadas. When my brother and I were children, we used to collect their discarded shells from the trunks of the many palm trees at our grandparents’ house, and my mum would tell us about the Green Grocers and Brown Bakers and Black Princes. There’s lots of happy memories associated with cicadas, for me.

A few days ago, after days of bucketing rain, I noticed a cicada, upside-down in his water-filled tunnel, vaguely struggling. After walking past, thinking ‘Hmm, poor thing, shouldn’t interfere with nature.’, I decided that it would be such a simple thing to go back and dig him out of his hole and rescue him. So I did.

Yesterday, after coming home from the grocery store I saw a little blob of squished stuff near where the car usually parks, and had a closer look to see what it was. Sure ’nuff…

Funny Things Said By My Husband

Poem by HL 

My toys don’t sleep at night
They give me such a fright
Maybe they’re not really moving
Maybe it’s just a trick of the light

My toys don’t sleep at night
And neither do I

Funny Things Said By My Husband

Me, to Other Kitten as she’s sniffing around the front tyre on our car: Hey, what you doin’? What can you smell on our car?

HL: She’s got on her ‘vestigatin’ nose…

Just Because

I feel angry and resentful. Just because someone else is disorganised, or self-focussed, or manipulative, or demanding, does not mean that I am required to acquiesce to them. My plans do not have to change just because someone else is put out. Just because someone else is frustrated, or childish, or knows how to lay out a passive-aggressive guilt trip, does not mean I have to feel sad, or controlled, or infuriated. I am responsible only for me, I cannot and do not control other people’s happiness. Just because someone else might lash out, or wheedle, or presume, does not mean that it’s my fault, or that I need to ‘be nice’ just to keep them ‘happy’. Sometimes conflict is helpful in the long-term.

But words are easy.

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