Z is for Zippo, Nada, Nuttin’

That’s how I feel about some things.  I feel like they’re nothing in the grand scheme of things.  For example, thirty days of blogging 6 days a week.  Half of what I wrote was nonsense. It had zippo, nada, nuttin’ in the sense of redeeming value. You know what?  Who cares?  It was fun.   Sure, I added to the glut of prolific verbiage out there, but I enjoyed the discipline of the challenge.

I did this for three blogs.  Two of them stayed on track the whole time.  I’m writing this before the end of the month, so I’m not sure if I made it or not on Eclectivity, but I’m going to stick it out until it’s done anyway.  HA!  How’s that???  😉

So… Zat’s all folks!  Back to normal boring stuff like my soapbox rants, gym workouts, 3 day shopping, and things I overhear that get my grey matter stirred.  Hope it wasn’t too obnoxious.

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Y is for Yield

Even the nice little yellow sign mimics the sign of Y– yield.  You come down the on ramp and see the traffic hurtling toward you at what you hope is “only” 60 mph.  You must yield to their right of way. If you don’t, someone is probably going to die– or many someones.

The pedestrian comes out of Wal-Mart and makes a slow shuffle on the longest diagonal across the road they possibly can.  What should have taken ten seconds takes a minute and a half– especially when she stops to chat with another gal coming into the store– at that same long diagonal.  Sure, you could choose not to yield, but you don’t plan to scatter toilet paper, cereal, and unmentionables across the parking lot.

Some things are obvious–we’re forced to yield, and because of that, we usually do it with a reasonable amount of courtesy.  Sometimes we yield to the guy behind us in line at the store.  He only has a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk.  We have an overflowing cart.  “Go ahead.”  We mean it.  We’re happy to do it.  We offer a guest the last piece of cheesecake or a stranger  a flower from the bouquet we bought.  We like being generous.

Why then, do we cling so tenaciously to other “rights” without even consideration for yielding.  Why must the person we’re discussing theology with yield to our position?  Why must the neighbor turn down that music?!  It seems as if the two extremes (enforced yielding and magnanimous yielding) creates a third extreme  “MY RIGHTS.”

I wonder what would happen if people simply yielded once, every day, when they least wanted to and most didn’t HAVE to.  I wonder.

X is for Check Boxes

No, I didn’t cheat!  In those little boxes next to a million things, they don’t want a “check mark” they want an X.

I like check boxes.  It’s fun to tick off things as they get done.  You feel so productive.  In fact, whenever I have a list of things to get done, I tend to write down, adding to the list all day, anything I do that would have made the list had I remembered it when I made said list.

I kind of feel sorry for housewives a thousand years ago.  I mean, they didn’t have nice little pads of paper to write down their lists of things to get done.  Sometimes, I think their minds must have been much more keenly developed.  Then again, they probably had a much less varied existence, so maybe they didn’t need lists of what to do when/where/how.  If they didn’t remember, they could just look at their neighbor and see that today was the day to dry fruit or whatever.

I have a theory.  I’m convinced that the vast number of radio waves being used for our society is causing white noise in our brains and that is why we rely so heavily on lists, paper, computer, PDA, phones, etc.  Without them we’d be toast because our grey matter is turning white from the noise we bombard it with.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

W is for Whimsy

I love that word.  Whimsy.  It conjures ideas of tiny bits of near-nonsense that keep life from being mundane and monotonous.  We’re too serious sometimes.  Life is more than dishes, diapers, and dinner.  It’s more than bills, books, and “Barack” (forgive the lack of respect.  It fit).  Life needs whimsy, wistfulness, and wandering.  It keeps things from getting stagnant, sterile, and strained.

Oh, this is bad.  I can’t seem to stop myself.  So, I am going to cut it short here.

Whimsy, it does a wife well.  (Snort.)

V is for Vengeance

My current youth series is Legends of the Vengeance— a story within a story and full of good old-fashioned revenge.  Why on earth would I write about such a thing?  Why would I think that is a good subject matter for young people?

Well, there’s a whole lot angst out there these days.  I listen to kids in stores, online, and in books and movies and revenge is there–everywhere.  Whether a joke or dead serious, it seems as if vengeance is becoming a virtue in the eyes of the twenty-first century.  Now, I know this isn’t new.  It’s been a big deal in the past and it will be a thousand years from now.  I know this.

However, I wanted to show it for the hollow victory that it is.  When God said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” He meant it.

So, I write.  I have a plan.  I pray I can pull it off.  It’s hard to write a story about something so wrong while still making the characters sympathetic.  I want you to root for the main characters, but they’re pirates!  That’s not the kind of people you’re supposed to root for.  It’s wrong.  Am I hoping my reader will go, “Get ‘im!  Take over that boat!  Steal their supplies!  Kill that captain!”  Um, no way.  That’s not the point at all.  I want the reader to love the characters enough that they are screaming, “What do you think you’re doing!  Can’t you see how wrong that is?  Why can’t you yield to the Lord?  Why don’t you see how hollow your anger and bitterness is?  Can’t you see how it’s eating at you?  Can’t you see that your son is paying the price for your ridiculous desire for revenge?”

I just pray I can pull it off.  Otherwise, I am wasting a lot of hours and even more pages of “paper” to write what I can’t use.

U is for Ubiquitous

Once upon a time, a man needed a word to describe mothers.  It needed to imply that  quality of omnipresence without being quite so “God-like.”  After all, the only omnipresent personage in the universe is God Almighty.  Sorry Santa, it just ain’t so.

So, the man went through his thesaurus, but he found nothing.  He looked at Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, suffixes, and still his mind was not comforted.  Where was the perfect word to describe mothers?  It needed to sound a little ominous and a whole lot of delightful.  It needed strength and determination.  And, just a bit awe-inspiring.  Mothers need that to make it through a long day with children who would stage a coup if they could pull it off.

At last, he found it.  Hidden deep in the dark recesses of a dictionary, way at the back, behind pages of other words that just didn’t quite fit, he found the word.

Ubiquitous– existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time.

That was exactly right.  Ubiquitous.  Everywhere and especially at the same time.  A new idea occurred to him.  He opened his thesaurus, thumbed through it, and under the heading of “mother” he added that delightfully powerful word.  Ubiquitous.

T is for Time

“I wish I had more time.”

How many times in books or movies is that line employed at the end of a life?  The husband who spent his days traveling and staying late at the office–always trying to get just a little bit more ahead.  The procrastinator who thought she’d write her parents or her friends–tomorrow.  She’d call tomorrow.  She’d send flowers tomorrow.  The young man who thought he had a lifetime ahead of him, gasping for breath in a hospital room, the victim of a hit and run on his way across the street.  The child who should have had a lifetime before cancer ravaged her body at the tender age of three.

Time.  Our days are numbered.  Mine, yours, your family’s, my family’s.  We don’t get an infinite number of days.  We hear and give such conflicting advice.  To the young man who can’t decide if he’s ready to take the plunge into matrimony, we tell him he’s young and has a lifetime ahead of him.  Don’t rush things.  Enjoy the benefits of single hood now.  Marry in a year or ten.  To the young woman who can’t decide if she should take that year abroad or stay home and close to her family, we tell her to go.  Enjoy herself.  She’ll never have that opportunity again.

Those things are true.  She probably won’t have that opportunity again.  He probably does have a lifetime ahead of him.  The man in his late thirties probably does have time to establish himself in a new career.  The new mother probably does have the next twenty years with that baby.  She can afford to miss a weekend now.  Probably.

The problem is, we can’t know if any of that is true.  We can only know today.  We can only pray about today.  We can only try to make wise decisions based upon today’s knowledge and that is where the problem splits into two problems.  If we choose to live as if today is our last day, we will never prepare for tomorrow.  If we choose to live assuming tomorrow will come, we can squander today.  And, we have to live with the consequences of those choices.  The young man might not have her next year.  Her days might be coming to a close.  The young woman might find herself dying alone on the other side of the world, her family frantically scrounging the money to get to her in time.  You can’t make decisions based upon fear… and neither can you ignore the fact that you just don’t know.

Time is ticking past… day by very slow day.  Hour by whizzing hour.  It’s relentlessly slow and dizzyingly swift.  How we spend it… that is the question.

S is for Sleep

Dear Young Mothers,

Can you picture the scene?  The dinner dishes are half-washed.  They’re half-washed because mid scrubs, the baby woke up screaming again.  The floor is still littered with crumbs.  The baby never stopped crying.  It’s almost eleven o’clock, baby just went down, and you’re exhausted.  However, the dishes are calling, the floor feels disgusting, and there’s that pile of laundry that never did get folded today.

You want to go to bed.  You NEED sleep.  However, the work won’t end.  Waking up behind–again–it’s too much.  You will never get caught up again if you don’t just stay up and get it done.

Don’t.  I beg of you.  Don’t.  Turn off the lights, go to bed, and sleep.  IF you have to be up for an hour at 2 a.m. then sure, feed the baby and sweep the crumbs or clear the counters again until the baby falls asleep, but then GO TO SLEEP.

Your body needs it.  I know you feel like you can handle it.  I know you feel like you can’t just give in forever.  Guess what?  You won’t have to.  Sleep.  It does a body good.

R is for Run

Been thinking about this for a while and I think it’s time to write it.  Let’s start with my “inspiration.”

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  ~ Hebrews 12: 1-2

I didn’t do a lot of running in school.  For one thing, I went to small, private schools that just didn’t have elaborate P.E. programs–particularly not competitive sports.  Additionally, I was the kid who passed out after .10 mile.  Yeah.  That’s not a joke by the way.  Just sayin’.  However, my brother ran.  I remember my parents telling the story about my shrimpy brother Berechyn running in a track meet.  The people all around Mom and Dad were talking about the runners.  Once the gun was fired, most of the comments revolved around how Bear just kept a steady pace behind the pack.  They said things like “kid can’t keep up” and “just too little to be in this group” and similar observations.  Then he kicked it up a notch.  He passed the first kid, then the second.  Runner after runner got a taste of his tailwind as he flew past and finished first.  The comments changed to things like, “Look at the calves on that kid!”  By the way, he got those calves because my dad used to take the garbage can lids with him on his way to work and dump them a mile or two away from the house.  The boys had to wake up and run in opposite directions (because for a while they were taking turns sleeping in and one of them running… snort) to get those lids before school started.  For the record, I obviously got different genes.

But… one thing I learned from Bear was that when you’re racing, you don’t look behind you.  You don’t look from side to side.  It will slow you down.  You look straight ahead, at the finish line and you RUN.  You keep your “eye on the prize” as they say.  I think this is where that saying came from– Hebrews 12:1-2.

But as Christians, do we do that?  Do we run “our race” (or as we more sedentary folk call it, our “Christian walk”) focused on Jesus?  Or, do we let our eyes wander to see how well our brethren are doing in their race?  Are we concerned with keeping our eyes on Jesus or are we obsessed with the log in our brother’s eye that is holding HIM back?  Is that why we keep stumbling and falling?  Is it because, like Peter, we take our eyes off Jesus and the reality around us knocks us down?

Look, I know it’s not a perfect analogy.  We need to be there to help one another.  I would hope that winning a race would not be so important to me that I would not stop to help someone in it that truly needed ME to be the one to stop.  I just think that sometimes we try to be “all things to all men, all at once, all the time, all by ourselves” as Richard Swenson of the book Margin likes to put it.  In a race, there are those who are assigned the task of helping the fallen.  That might mean it’s you.  It might not.  But is your task to critique the running style of your comrades?  Is your task to focus on where they could improve their technique?  Is your task to obsess over the flaws of others and glory in your superior style?  If they ask for pointers on how to imitate yours, do you get upset when they discover it doesn’t work for them?  Maybe their legs are shorter, maybe they don’t have the type of endurance you have, or maybe they just haven’t built up the muscle to run the same race yet.  Maybe they need to do sprints for now or maybe you’re the sprinter and they are the marathoners who look like they’re not getting anywhere, but at the end of the road, you both have won your prizes.

It just feels like there’s a lot of focus on critiquing the race that our brethren are running and not enough focus on staying our own course. Sounds scarily familiar.  Starts with a Ph… Phoenician?  Philippian?  Pharisee?  Eeek… yeah.  that one.

Don’t we have enough in our own lives to concentrate on without nitpicking everyone else’s?  They eat Pop Tarts and you eat whole grain mash.  They do time outs and you just want time out from their unruly children.  They read the KJV and you like the ESV.  They play video games and you play Dutch Blitz.

Really?  That’s worth taking your eyes off Jesus for?

Q is for Quiet

I know, cliche, right?  Look.  I love my quiet. I’ve always been annoyed by noise.  I like my children quiet (not quite seen but not heard… but quiet.  Then again, my mom always said, “Children shouldn’t even be seen.”  Snort.), my music quiet (no rock, PLEASE), and the voices in my head quiet.  Oh wait.  Forget I said that.  Wouldn’t want to give away too many secrets.  😉

There’s a magical time in our home–a time when darkness hovers in all the rooms and the gentle lullaby of a turbine engine masquerading as a fan descends upon us like a comfortable blanket.  It’s my favorite time of day.  Silence. No questions, no quarrels, no queridas quacking in their play.  Sorry… the alliterative bug bit me.  I squashed it.  We should be good.

There’s a lot of talk about how moms need “time away” and “me” time and all that stuff.  I say, forget it.  Just give me a couple of silent hours a day and voila.  I am a new woman.  I guess it’s the introvert vs. extrovert thing, right?

So, while the experts tell me that I need to get out to “recharge” and “not lose myself” I know my weaknesses and strengths.  I know what I need.  I need quiet.  So, I build it into my day.  I take naps.  I stay up after the rest of the family goes to bed.  If I had a porch, I’d escape to it now and then.  If I had a patio, same thing.  I make sure I get QUIET.

Yes, it sounds selfish.  You know what.  I think that’s a bunch of bunk.  You see, no one says, “Needing food is selfish.  Making sure you get food is just selfish.”  No one says, “Needing sleep is selfish.  You should forgo it and stay up all night planning great experiences for your kids or scrubbing the house from top to bottom so that your life looks perfect.  It’s selfish.”

Yes, if I make quiet more important than my child or my husband, then sure it’s selfish.  Just like if I make eating more important than getting a kid with a severed finger to the hospital is selfish.  However, it’s not selfish for me to make a kid wait while I eat my lunch before I help him color his picture or dress her doll.  And it’s not selfish for me to make sure my brain gets the rest it needs.

Quiet– it does a family good.

P is for PO’d at the PO

Sorry… kind of crass, but I just HAD to do it.  Forgive me.

A lot of people complain about the US Postal Service.  They cite lost packages and letters, lousy service, and a myriad of other things.  Let me tell you.  I hate summer.  We have the nicest postal gal on the planet.  She is a hard worker and a great gal.  But in summer, she keeps a cold bottle of water in the mail bag.  Yep.  ALL my stuff arrives wet.  Every. Day.  Hate it.

Today, a friend of mine and I were recalling an instance where the post office delivered her package (sent by me) to Sierra Trading Company instead of to her house.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  She called the company (not the post office calling to correct it for her– she had to do it) to find out how to get it.  They informed her that it could be weeks before it was found (i.e. no one was going to look, but when they ran across it they’d give it back).  How generous of them.  I have always been a bit irked at their lack of concern for company reputation.  Honestly, if I was told that a package to someone else was received by my company, I’d be digging through every thing that we had until I found it.  That day.  And I’d drive it over myself.  Why?  CUSTOMER SERVICE.  They’d remember me.  They’d remember me doing the Post Office’s job for them.  And they just might say, “hmmm I think I’ll order from those helpful guys.  I know their customer service is top notch.”

Here’s the killer.  My opinion of Sierra Trading Company’s customer service was definitely negatively affected by something that wasn’t even their fault.  What I don’t understand is why I put up with that kind of bad service, week after week, year after year, from the post office.

I mean think about it.  The Post Office mis-delivers a package and I am irked.  I am.  Really.  But… when the innocent party doesn’t extend excellent customer service to someone who isn’t a customer, I’m ready to consider never doing business with them.  WHY am I not willing to make that same sacrifice for the post office?

If you go to your local post office and complain about a lost letter or package, you are likely to get the equivalent of, “Tuff luck, lady.  NEXT!”  Seriously.  I know there are exceptions.  We actually have a decent place here who will go above what they consider to be the “call of duty” to search for what they don’t think they have to.  It irritates me.  I paid you to deliver something.  It isn’t there.  You delivered it elsewhere.  WHY isn’t the postal guy digging through the warehouse for that package and making it right?

I don’t think it’s going to change, either.  Have you ever seen Larkrise to Candleford?    Let me tell you; the days of that kind of commitment to mail service is LONG gone.

I have to decide if (at least in so much as I can) I am going to continue to support our postal service.  It might be time to take every bit of my mail service that I can to Fed Ex or UPS.  Can I give up all USPS? No.  Sometimes you HAVE to mail a letter.  It’d be cost prohibitive to mail every single piece of stuff in a package.  But that which I can…

Time to figure out the costs…  If nothing else, so that I’m not a hypocrite about this stuff anymore.  I wonder if I’ll have the guts to make the break…

O is for Open

You know how people say, “I like so and so, she’s so ‘real?'”

Yeah.  As I’ve stated around here, probably too often, I am sick to death of hearing that the only “reality” is the “dirty laundry” of our lives.  I think that what a lot of people want is just openness or at least some kind of assurance that we’re not only exposed to the superficial side of their life… the “Cleaned up to show” for the realtor version of their life.  They want to know that there is more to us than the facade we so often present.

I think Mr. Knightley in the Miramax version of “Emma” said it well when he spoke of Jane Fairfax.  “…but she lacks an open temper which a man wishes for in a wife.”

I think that’s what people really want when they say they want “real.”  Oh, sure.  There are those who only want the juicy gossip– the gritty little bits that make them feel superior to those around them by seeing that others have life worse.  It’s why people buy tabloids and watch afternoon drama TV where they learn that there are women who are pole dancers by night and soccer moms by day.  Even shows like Hoarders and Super Nanny give us the chance to think, “At least my life isn’t THAT massed up.”

But open… open is just sharing THAT our lives aren’t always perfect… not even a play-by-play of how.  Sometimes people just want to be reminded that they aren’t alone in their humanity.  Forgive the crass way of putting it, but people want little reminders that they’re not the only ones who have to poop.

So… next time someone makes a big deal out of being “real,” I think I’m going to see where I can be OPEN… my guess is that is what they really want anyway.  For example, I really don’t think anyone wants to see the line of dirt along the wall in my bathroom, the ring around my tub, or the overflowing trash can.  If they want to see a picture of what a tiny bathroom that serves ten people looks like, they really do want to see it clean.  However, they might want to know, on a day when it seems like they haven’t done anything but clean a house that continues to be filthy no matter what they do, that my bathroom also has dirty days.  For the record, I am guessing it has more than most people’s.  After all, Andra can scrub it within an inch of its life and ten minutes later, five hours later it can have been used a dozen times in half a dozen ways.

I’m curious.  Do you think there’s any validity to my theory?  When you say you appreciate that someone is “real” do you only want the ugly side of their life or do you want to be open about the fact that mine has both good and bad moments?

N is for Nancy

When you have a name like “Chautona Avants” for your whole childhood, you learn to spell things a little differently.  C-h-a-u-t-as-in-Tom-o-n-as-in-Nancy-a A-v-as-in-Victor-a-n-as-in-Nancy-t-as-in-Tom-s.

I swore I’d never get married, but if I did, I was NOT marrying someone with a “V” in their last name.  And once more, God laughed.

Makes me wonder… what little quirks come with being John Smith or Mary Jones.  I mean, both of those people have to say “N-as-in-Nancy” too.  But as crazy as it is to hear, “Chautona… I’ve never heard that before.  Is it Indian (no one has ever said “Native American” even after the PC change)?”  I think it comes from people once being familiar with the name “Chautauqua.”  They are usually amused to learn that my father made it up, that my siblings have equally interesting names (how many people do you know who were named after bicycles and composers with very Germanic last names?).  They chuckle when they hear that I was named “after” an apartment building in Bakersfield

Does Mary Jones have to listen to cracks made about unimaginative parents?  Does John Smith hear jokes about losing his head or pretense that he is just joking himself?

Names are pretty cool… and yes… I still say it.  “H-a-v-as-in-Victor-i-g-as-in-girl.”

Got rid of one of those “as ins.”  It was definitely an improvement.

M is for

Music.  I have highly eclectic tastes in music.  So, I’m doing a top 26 (in honor of the alphabet) with A-Z there too!  Why not.  We live once.  I’m also linking them to my favorite versions.  Because I can do that.

Of course, my favorites change all the time AND there is that little bit about not being able to find my favorites or to have to pick one out of a dozen for a single letter.  I like it.

To see what other bloggers are doing this month, check out the HUGE list of bloggers HERE!

L is for

Lilacs

They’re my favorites.  I fell in love with lilacs when I was nine.  We moved into an old house in Hesperia California and out by the fence that divided our back yard into two sections was a HUGE row of lilac bushes.  I mean HUGE.  They probably ran fifteen feet across at the least.  I never lost the wonder of those clusters of tiny little petals with their delightful fragrance and the bees– oh how the bees loved them too.

I have a lot of favorites.  Some I have felt guilty about for most of my life.  Like Geraniums.  I love them.  My mother hates them.  It always felt like I was betraying her somehow by liking them, so I kept my preferences to myself.  Silly, isn’t it?

Purple.  I always loved it.  Mom thought it looked horrible on me.  Funny thing is, if I wear purple, I’m sure to get a compliment.  Otherwise, I almost never do.  Interesting, no?  My mother has excellent taste!   It’s just so silly.

Most of my favorites aren’t guilty pleasures–although some should be.  I love Coke, chocolate, and rib eye steaks.  I love a good mystery, a movie with some kind of heroism, and music that wrings emotion from me– it’s the way I truly feel and express it.

Facebook has redefined “like” in some ways.  It’s kind of a “thumbs up” now, but isn’t that what language does?  Oh, another “L.”  Language.