Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 19 - The Diagnosis

Pediatricians seem to understand things like double appointments. That's a good aspect of today. Two kids. Two coughs. Two red noses. A combined fever of 205 degrees. One trip to the doc's office.

Even the best doc, which we believe we have, needs some work on delivering devastating news of the snot variety, though.

"It's a virus. Prepare for 10-14 days of it. Keep them hydrated and comfortable." No prescriptions. No sleeping drugs. No valium. No narcotics. Nothing. She says that since she's not my doc she can't give me a thing!

That's like telling Moses and the gang, "It's a desert. Prepare for 40 years. And no manna for you, Mom."

The little snot blossoms were pretty cheerful about it all because we all know what that diagnosis means, even to a pseudo hippie mom like me: TV.

But since I have been off the TV vibe for so long, I get easily annoyed and yell at the screen alot. Maybe we can make a spelling game out of it for my son.


As I put on my whining filter, I can also add - I continue to be virus free. B-I-G W-H-O-O-P.

Day 17 - St. James' Infirmary

After a funeral visitation and a speaking engagement out of town, I was supposed to come home and then hop back in the car with the family to visit the in-laws.

I came home. But a fire was going. Nice. Movies were being watched. Nice. Pajamas were still on all bodies. OK.

And all three of my family were hacking, sniveling and feverish. Not NICE.

Excuse me while I wash my hands for the 33rd time and take another hit of Vitamin C.

Day 23 - The Younger Models

Today marked the arrival of the replacement puppies. No, I am not being cold and callous. We are not like those pet owners who pick a species, color combo and name and have the pet for 30 years.

What? You haven't heard of this?

Here's how it is done - Species: Cat; Color combo: Orange tabby; Name: Lucy; Age: 30 How?

First version of Lucy got hit by a car when the child was 2 and had just learned her name, so she had to be replaced, and fast. Second version of Lucy died of feline leukemia when the kids were 9 and 6 and you weren't ready to have the death talk. Luckily there were orange tabby kittens in the neighborhood so... Third version of Lucy disappears when the kids are old enough to handle it, but your memory is so bad now that all orange tabbies are Lucy.

We are not these people. Having said that... the replacement dogs arrived today. Children are giggling. I'm tripping over dog bowls again. We can no longer wear black pants. All is right with the world.

This is also a story of the economy. We are the foster/adoptive parents because their parents are getting divorced and there was no way for the dogs to live comfortably in the two new sets of digs.

And finally, this is a story of why I like having quirky friends. The dogs, ages 3 and 8, are named Darwin and Chicken.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 16 - Early Riser, Early Writer

Good morning. After a night full of dreams of Mayor Ray Nagin I am embarking upon a surprisingly busy day, so I thought I'd do a morning blog. This is most likely the first and last occasion for that sort of nonsense. Mornings are for eating, reading, bathing, and running after children. Mornings are also occasionally the time to go back to bed. Mornings are not for blogging.

Mayor Ray Nagin?, you ask.

Yes. I did all four hours of Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke" yesterday. As a result, I spent my sleeping hours back in Mississippi and New Orleans. Mayor Nagin was my tour guide. The carpenter and I are considering imminent return to Mississippi. My husband hasn't been, but agrees that I should get there as much as I can before the camps close. With or without Ray Nagin.

Speaking of rebuilding, I read Rev. Chris Buice's article in Newsweek this morning. It is a good way to start the day.

I have not been sharing my sabbatical discernment in these last few posts. I have been collecting them, however, and here are some in no particular order.


Youth is the age when you make memories that later provide the stamina for putting up with the disappointments of adulthood.

What people think about in hell: why they spent so much time making money, keeping the house perfect, and being right when they could have been clumsily but freely sharing their love.

At the end of every shift at a fast food restaurant, there should be a receiving line of hugs for the workers.

No one ever tells you that consistently preparing healthy home-cooked meals for your family can be harder than writing sermons.

When you have a hard day at work, think of Mayor Ray Nagin in 2005.

I put down No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew it Cauze Bill Bailey... and I have no intention of ever picking it up again. No, I did not finish it. I have a cardinal rule about fiction and movies: no brutal rape scenes. I could write a chapter or two on why I have this rule, but most people I know, particularly women, say it's a good rule and it stands alone.

Instead, I have been reading the paper, Music USA - the Rough Guide, Yes!, Tricycle, McSweeney's, bedtime stories, quilting magazines, and assorted tracts from animal welfare agencies. I also read three collections of poetry in an effort to find a poem for my son's oratory contest.

The reason I have been somewhat tracking what I read is Nick Hornby. Nick Hornby writes a column in the Believer about what he reads, as well as how and why. It is oddly fascinating. I am no Nick Hornby. Hey, Nick - stay away from the euthanasia guidelines. Trust me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 15 - A Day of Saved Life, Sad Death, and You Were There, too

You can take the minister out of the pulpit, but you can't get the drive out. You can't take out that desire to connect, to listen, to walk with someone if only for a little while on their hard journey.

Ministry to me has never been about the pulpit, the robe, "the REV" (although I must say that over a decade of being called Miss or Mrs. while all the men get called Rev. is making it ABOUT the REV.)

Ministry is what we all are supposed to do with that little extra bit we have. Ministry is when you have something left over at the end of the day and you pass it on. Ministry is the time to listen, even if there isn't a damn thing you can do to change anything. Ministry is the baking and delivering of food. Ministry is sweeping someone else's porch. Ministry is using your little bit of power for someone else.

I don't have to be getting a check to be a minister. Neither do you. Sure, to get the robe, the pulpit, and the Rev. you gotta' go through the boot camp of training, evaluation and professional expectations. But to provide ministry? You just need to think about someone else without expectation that they are thinking of you.

Turns out there's been a whole lot of ministry going on in my social circle lately.

The one kidneyed bandit was released from his detention at the hospital today. He left considerably lighter from not having eaten since Sunday and missing one kidney and a baseball sized tumor. I told him that on day one he looked like a victim of the organ harvesting urban myth: man goes into a bar, wakes up in a bathtub full of ice, shivved and missing a kidney. He said he knew that the bartender with a surgical mask looked fishy.

He left wearing his "kidney cancer surivor" t-shirt and grateful for the stream of well-wishers who have kept him afloat in the month when he was diagnosed, fully tested, treated, and probably cured. He has six weeks recovery ahead of him. He's only known about the cancer for five. I am pleased to say that he begged me not to make him laugh no less than three times today. Ministry of long term friendship accomplished, for today at least.

I got off the phone with him and called my carpenter buddy to see if he wanted to come over and watch Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke" with me. What do Katrina construction volunteers do on their free time at home? Watch Katrina movies, of course.

My carpenter sounded terrible this morning. I thought he was sick again. He doesn't have health insurance, like too many of my friends and family. So I worry about his health in the same way I worry about my children - never fully at ease.

He's not sick. Turns out he found one of his buddies dead.

Bill. Bill died. Bill died in a not very nice natural way, and my buddy found him.

If I could, I would put a big long blank space here. A big wordless space representing the fifteen hours between when I found out and when I found words to say. I don't know how to do that so you will just have to imagine it.


Would it surprise you to know that Bill was a character? I knew him from my door girl/bouncing days. I assisted three involuntary evictions from the premises in my brief career as the paid person at the door of a local dining/dancing/imbibing establishment. Bill was the only one I threw out solo. He was wearing his golfing clothes, his snappy professor glasses, and a lot of alcohol. He was in his late 50s then. After I tossed him, he hung around because he wanted to chat with me. That's Bill for you.

In the years since, Bill has been known to send me a drink just to say hi. If I am dancing when he comes in, he takes a turn with me on the dance floor. He has nice things to say to me, mostly. He thinks the new hairdo with the natural gray makes me look old. He's right. He thought it was great that the carpenter and I went to Mississippi to rebuild. He told me that my kids are adorable. In other words, in spite of Bill's many faults that were all from his drinking problem, Bill ministered to others. He had something left over and he shared it. A drink, a twirl around the dance floor, some encouragement, some kind words.

I hate that he died poorly. I hate that he died alone. I hate that my buddy found him. Most of all, I hate that his quality of life was so dependent on the alcohol that helped destroy his life. But that was Bill. It was his demon to wrestle and part of who he was. Often it worked for him. Equally often it did not. I can say that about all of my coping mechanisms, too.

As for the carpenter, he has one of the biggest, most loving hearts of anyone I know. Bill slept on his couch a lot. Bill fed the carpenter's dog gorgonzola and salami. The dog needed that to the same degree you do. The carpenter teasingly threatened Bill with a hockey stick on many occasions. I did not witness these events but know both well enough to imagine they would have been pretty entertaining; full of blustering, posturing, and oddly used English vocabulary.

The carpenter not only put up with Bill, but he gave him a LOT extra at the end of the day. He loved him. He loves him. And Bill knew it. And Bill loved him, too, though I can't really imagine either of them saying it like that, hockey stick or no. Now Bill has died and the carpenter and his band of wise fools are mourning him.

Why tell you?

There always seems to be confusion about why I write these things out; about my honesty about health, grief, parenting, my own conflicted emotions. One woman I know said she felt like she had been spying on me from reading the blog.

Honestly, if I were not a minister I would not do this. I don't write this about me. Yes, it is my point of view, my crazy huge family, my congregation, my living with chronic illness, my interest in healthy grief and meaningful death. It is my honesty and my experiences.

But I write this stuff down for you.

I have this impression of you, this picture of who you are and what you might be going through. I think about what makes you open this up and read this when you could be dancing, mowing the lawn, trying that new avocado recipe or watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles.

I think you wonder how to give of yourself.

I think you sometimes feel like crap and you don't know whom to talk to or how.

I think you worry about the people you love.

I think you are not comfortable with the idea of people you love dying, or your own dying.

I think you like to laugh.

I think you have dreams that give you comfort but you aren't sure how to make them come to life.

I think you prefer not to be told what to do.

I think you are curious about all kinds of things and you try to keep that curosity alive.

I think you have a big heart but that your mind can't always figure out the best ways to use it.

That's who I think you are. And then I have a day like I had today and I think, I bet you've had days like this. I bet you know what I mean. This is neither the worst or best days of my life but it was a crazy one, a memorable one.

So I write it down. Hope it all works out. It's the end of the day. I had a little something extra to give.

Maybe it is helpful and illuminating. Maybe it is salami and gorgonzola.

Long live the one kidneyed bandit.
Long live the kind-hearted carpenter.
Long live the memories of Bill.
Long live you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day Ummm... until 14

Yes, once again my brilliant scheming was undermined by my crapola body. (Crapola is one of my mother's personal coinages. I've always liked it. Rhymes with Crayola.)

My hand just hurt too darn bad to blog so I stopped typing. Guess what? My hand is better. Perhaps now is the time to return to my Luddite ways!

What did you miss while I went silent? After all, it is a sabbatical. Miracles, great truths, and cosmic energy should be abounding. Did I discover the next Rosetta stone? Translate the lost verses of the book of Job? Find oneness with the universe? Get interviewed by Oprah?

Let's see. I had some friends over for spaghetti. I threw in the towel on cleaning my son's room. I did the family budget, which was actually very interesting. Our spending patterns reveal that... we are frugal. Imagine that: frugal progressives without cable TV, fancy cars, or expensive hobbies. To complete the predictability I went ahead and paid my ACLU dues.

I had my hopes raised by a D'Angelo article in the local weekly. I had my hopes dashed when the news was - still no CD release. I thought about turning on the TV. In the daytime. By myself. But I got over it and read the American Veterinary Medicine Association's Guidelines for Euthanasia in laboratory animals instead. That led me to a lot of prayer and fasting.

I countered my exercise envy demons by going to the gym and then got a snazzy dose of double sciatica as a reward. Please laugh. There is no other option. I am typing this sitting on a blazing hot heating pad. Laughing is all I got on the coping tools. I am the MacGyver of the chronically ill set using dark humor, a heating pad, and some old issues of the Buddhist mag Tricycle to stave off insanity.

I drove past church twice. Just checking.

The most sabbatically significant thing that happened this week was that I acknowledged the gigant-enormo debt I've accrued in five years of parish ministry. I owe my friends face time and babysitting of their children. I owe my parents some yard work, hundreds of walks, and dozens of dinners. I owe my husband, my children, my house, my body, my neighbors. In giving to a congregation I have taken away, well, ME from my family and friends. The rewards have been immense, but having some time away I realize that there has been a higher price than I had calculated.

Part of this realization came when I discerned the impossibility of the tasks I had set for myself during the time off. Another realization hit when my friend of 36 years came out with me to sing karaoke and as we parted in the parking lot chirped, "See you next year!" Needless to say, she was invited for spaghetti within days. My phone time has been lengthy with some of the many loved ones whom I have not called in months, maybe years.

The biggest kick in the pants (hey maybe that sciatica is NOT from the gym!) came upon visiting one of my dearest friends in the hospital. He has kidney cancer. He has been a huge influence in my life, my ministry and in how I see the world. And we see each other maybe twice a year. I've seen him twice this week and he was mostly naked and missing a kidney. We agreed - next time Panera.

Last year for Christmas I gave myself a personalized to-do pad that said "Get your priorities straight!" and had a picture of my kids on it. I found it this week under a stack of books I've been studying for sermons. It still has all the paper.

Ok, universe. I got it. Got it.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Day 7 - Study Leave Grindstone

Enough already. 7! Day 7! I've got to get crackin' on this study thing, don't I? I mean what kind of brilliant mind massage and spirit sauna have I had in the past week? Pot roast in a cabin? Flunking hand therapy? Reading a novel in which everyone on earth appears to be a character. (He does a decent job on you, I thought, but I completely disagree with that thing he said about your ears. Just ignore it.)

I was a woman on a mission this morning. What says study leave to you? What two things embody the full breadth of possibility in a ministerial sabbatical, no matter how brief? What would the good minister start the day off with?

That's right.


And filing.

No kidding. From 8 AM until midnight I... no, not meditated. That was 20 minutes in the car parked in front of the house when the rain was pelting on the roof. For the bulk of 16 hours I sorted, organized, recycled, deciphered, and filed.

It was miserable. Tomorrow I am doing kitchen karaoke with the kids before school, crawling back into bed and reading or sleeping all day.

Sue me.

Discernment: Doing the expected thing is not necessarily doing the right thing.

Reading: Yes! magazine and two sentences to a paragraph on a thousand pieces of paper.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Day 6 - Study Leave, Tongue Burp Boogie

Somebody engrave me a plaque. It is official: I have flunked out of hand therapy.

Let's not call this an omen.

As my buddies John and Vicky like to say: it is another $%# *&^% growth opportunity!

Have you ever noticed that growth opportunities don't seem to pounce on you in ways you would like? Why can't I grow in my clogging talents? Grow in a commitment to consistent skincare? Grow in my love of nature? Grow in my ability to sleep through the 7 AM sounds of bickering children? In other words...


(For those who do not speak the native language of frustration: that was an exclamation of aggravation followed by a raspberry - aka tongue burp- of disgust.)

Before plodding on in a woeful and obstinate manner (that's me, not you) let's step back a minute and look at the big picture. That's what a rational awakened individual might do, yes?

The day before Halloween my hip gives out in front of my son's elementary school causing me to fall in an impressive act of physics, breaking multiple finger bones and ripping a bunch of soft internal hand stuff. It was beyond painful and nauseatingly noisy.

Some noises one cannot forget. On one end of the memorable sound spectrum is D'Angelo's suede and silk voice accompanied by lyric piano and a skillful rhythm section. On the other end is the crackling staccato of breaking and dislocating fingers. Horrible memories, yes, but in the interest of being open to growth and success, let us instead dwell on the miracle of that dismal day: I did not vomit on my son's principal's snazzy suit jacket.

In the beginning, all seemed well in the healing process. Yes, I almost passed out on Bourbon St. from searing pain, but going on a mission trip focused on manual labor not even two weeks after the fall was not one of my more well-thought out treatment plans. The dinner trip to NOLA after a week of said manual lablor may also be filed in this category.

Upon my return, I began hand therapy with the world's most delightful therapist, Heather, and all looked promising. I was buoyed by the daily success of not vomiting from pain on anyone. Then things started going downhill.

First, I flunked the grip strength test. I don't know what measurement system is used in strength testing but let's call them Ahnolds. On my left hand I gripped 14 Ahnolds (Not quite Terminator but above a Kindergarten Cop). On the broken one I gripped 2 (Governor grip). They'd ask me to do something different with my thumb and try again. On the left I gripped 12 in this new position (Almost Predator). On my right... well, she just wrote a dash (the grip of someone married to a Kennedy). I tried to imagine that as the dash of promise "to be filled in by amazing feats of squeeze later." She said it was actually a nice way of saying what my high school English teacher used to dramatically shriek, "YOU HAVE F!"

Oh well. I am a woman open to promise and growth. I will not be felled by some voodoo grip test with no scientific basis. After all, who's ever heard of Ahnolds? What are they trying to pull?

Then I saw my rheumatologist who looked at my hand and said something shockingly close to, "Ewww." On the noise spectrum that is too far away from D'Angelo for my taste. Soon Heather was clucking her tongue. My mother was hissing in displeasure and I compared knuckles with the fist fighting dishwasher/sous chef of my local dive and lost.

I guess I could have seen the flunkage coming if I had been paying attention. Instead it came as a depressing shock this morning.

Discernment: Hope can make you blessedly blind. Loss of hope makes the tongue burp.

In the interest of embracing this growth opportunity I embarked upon another issue of McSweeneys. (McSweeney's! It's what bookstore clerks, artsy grad students, and ministers on study leave have in common! That and weird shoes.)

In the interest of cheering up someone with bigger issues than a barely functioning hand, I took the children carolling at my grandmother's. A benefit of Alzheimer's - she has no idea that we are several weeks late on this event. When she started getting sick of the a cappella versions, the family band chimed in on New Year's party horn and clacker. When she tired of that, we curled her hair and my son's. (Growing here! Lot's of growing!) After forty-five minutes she kicked us out and went back to work. She had the evening wandering shift at the nursing home. At least her hair looked nice for it.

Discernment: There are always options. Three quarters of them may be completely ludicrous, but there are always options.

I know what you are thinking... I should just go back to work. Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind. But John and Vicky sang out "growth!" in my head so as a last ditch effort I called five friends and we went out for Karaoke. It's a whole nuther kind of ministry.

Wow. I could write a short story on that event alone. I'll just let you in on our karaoke rules.

1) You must have a stage name that causes people to stop what they are doing and look to see who on earth that is.

2) You must surprise the table with your selections.

3) Mostly upbeat tempo, please.

4) Be avid fans of every other singer in the place. Shout their names. Do the wave for them. Sing back-up from your seat with them.

That last one is a killer, let me tell ya.

Discernment: Cheering is the world's simplest act of compassion.

Reading for the day: That no longer nameable Hispanic mega-novel that I am becoming more enamored of as I let the title go. Another McSweeney's issue - circa 2004. My email.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Day 5 - Study Leave, why?

Grapevine says that some folks are at a loss as to what study leave is and why I'm on it. That's an easy enough question to answer.

Traditionally, UU ministers had summers off to study because the expectations of our intellectual capabilities were very high and because congregations were able to do alternative programs in the summer. Or so the lore goes in this neck of the woods. One friend tells me that they had no AC at his church, so they closed the church and called it study leave. Another said that it was the 8 week period you were allowed for psychological evaluation and rebuilding. Tomato, maytur, whatever.

At our church in Richmond, summer services were predominantly lay led for many years. The minister was expected to work almost ceaselessly throughout the church year, leave in June to go to the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and then return some time in August. Ministers were also given a paid sabbatical every seven years or so which lasted between 6 to 10 months.

These days, the study leave is often less generous and sabbaticals are no longer a sure thing. The general rule is that General Assembly to mid-August is still paid leave for the minister with the expectation that the minister hits the ground running in August to kick off the church year. At least so it remains in Richmond.

There's a catch, though. I have been at First UU for five years. I have had at least five titles in that time and have worked between 12 hours a week and full-time, depending on the title. I have been the only minister, one of three, and one of two. Last year I worked full-time, but it was at two churches. (And people wonder why I am a little loopy? It is because I can't remember my newest title or newest colleagues.)

Why the constant change? I am a contract minister, not a called minister. I was asked to serve during a time of sudden transition five years ago, but did not go through the search process. Since then, there have been subsequent ministerial needs and I have filled them. But I have still not been "called" to serve the congregation. (In order to call a minister, the position has to be clearly defined, approved, budgeted, and long-term.)

As contract minister, I fill the needs and the needs often arise in the summer. The result is that in five years at First UU, I have never had a study leave. I was out for less than three weeks when my daughter was born (not a great time for study) and I am ineligible for sabbatical. My partner in ministry picked up on this and worked so that I could have my first study leave... now. Yay. Hope that explains things.

Back to our program already in progress.

Day 5 of study leave I learned that I have been UU too long. In looking through my daughter's Dora the Explorer Old Maid deck I thought she had lost the Old Maid card. There was Dora as athlete, skater, conductor, pirate, biker, witch, princess, cowgirl, apple picker, lifeguard, dancer... but no Old Maid. Ten points to you if you have to look back over that list to find the Old Maid card.

I learned that even when you watch one third of the movie in fast forward mode, Sofia Coppolla's "Marie Antoinette" is an abomination illustrating everything that is wrong with entertainment obsessed America and she should never be allowed a budget over $800 for a movie again. (Word up to Molly Shannon, Jason Schwartzman, and Rip Torn, however. You did what you could.)

I learned that the Eagles are harder to sing a cappella to a wandering grandma with Alzheimer's than you would think. I learned that I have a petty jealousy of able-bodied people who can just up and start running. And I learned that eighteen years is not long enough to be married, so I am re-nupping with the man. Happy Anniversary!

Reading: Finished that '04 McSweeney's issue. More of the book with the outrageously long title. Today's paper. A Kroger's coupon flyer full of able-bodied smiling people embarking on their fitness routines with verve. It burnt nicely in the fireplace. A Sesame Street book about Big Steps at bedtime.

Yeah, I know. If you had study leave you would be reading much weightier things, teaching yourself Portuguese, doing daily Tai Chi, and finishing your novella. But we would not like you anymore and no one would tell you when that great band was playing or when the crab dip goes on sale.

Doing it for the crab dip, darlin'.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Day 4 - Study Leave Catch Up

My mother is plotting against me. I came home from our brief foray into the Virginia woodlands to find an email from her essentially saying, "Blogging every day of your leave is stupid. Take a walk with us (my parents) instead."

There has always been something sweet about my mother's plotting. Leave out the stupid part and she is saying, "Dear brilliant daughter, I love your company and hope to see more of your ageless beauty in the coming days." I guess you have to know my mother to believe me, but really: she is saying that.

Discernment: Having parents who love you and show it in healthy ways is an easy key to happiness.

Today I made the study leave to do lists in between paraffin dips and cross stitch. Have I mentioned that a one month study leave is just enough time to get one's frustration up? Again - not complaining, just noting. I think the gist of this whole leave may be learning graceful ways of coming to terms with not living up to my own hopes and expectations. What I don't like about that gist is: it doubles as the thesis statement of the big cosmic term paper I call my life. Why must I fish that sandbar again?

Discernment: Stop chopping vegetables, you nitwit! It makes your hand hurt for 36 or more hours.

Where was I? Oh, yes. D'Angelo.

Do you know that D'Angelo is one of the most overlooked talents of the late twentieth century? How do I know this? He has been the breakfast boogie music of choice this week. Readers - go to iTunes and start downloading now. D'Angelo, I miss you and the kids adore you.

Ok, fine. Busted. I wasn't talking about D'Angelo before. But I should've been. And you should have been, too.

There have been requests to hear the latest installment in the night terrors saga at the house. First, I could have started a blog solely on night terrors with the voluminous response I got to the tale of my 3 year old plumbing the depths of her unconscious and the heights of her vocal range at 3 AM for about a week dreaming/seeing/feeling bugs.

So, in a nutshell... The Top 10 suggestions from readers, congregants, family and friends on night terrors:
10. leave the light on
9. no weird medicines
8. get a dreamcatcher and teach her how to use it
7. help her realize her own power over bugs or other bumps in the night
6. take the bugs' side ("poor little things with a great big girl like you screaming at them")
5. let her brother teach her bug destruction techniques
4. use aromatherapy as part of the bedtime routine
3. teach her science ("it is too cold for bugs. you were dreaming")
2. sleep with her
1. give her bug toys

We did almost all of these things to some degree. What seemed to win out? Bribery. "If you go back to sleep and softly tell those bugs to leave you alone you can have ... in the AM."

Am I a wee bit ashamed? Yes. But bribery was part of a larger program of reason, affection, discussion, and hypothetical bug mutilation with a light saber, so I can show my face at the Unitarian Universalist parenting circle again. (You call it parenting circle. We call it dinner at the burrito place.)

Discernment: Cookies can defeat spooky in a cage match.

As you may already know, I also spent some time today catching up on my "daily" (haha) study leave blog. Sorry, Mama. You walk too fast for this arthritic young'n of yours to keep up.

Reading: No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew it Cauze... (only six thousand pages to go!), Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das (a three time re-read), an Avengers comic book as bedtime story, and selected excerpts from today's paper as thoughtfully chosen by my hubby.

Day 3 - Study Leave Walking

Did I mention that there was a tyke revolution protesting all things slumber oriented last night? There was not nearly enough sleep.

Today held over an hour of hiking, an hour of cross stitch (alternative hand therapy since I flunked out of the hard core stuff thanks to a flare up), 25 minutes of paraffin hand dipping (see previous parenthetical), some reading, and approximately fifteen hours of eating.

Or so it seemed.

As far as my Thoreau-esque enlightenment from my long walk in the woods... didn't happen. I just walked. It was highly successful in other ways. I did not step in mule poop. I did not fall down. Little victories, baby.

Discernment: Cold hurts hands.

Discernment: Food and children are harmless only in tiny doses.

Reading: No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew it Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again and expect to see that abbreviated in further posts because I need a paraffin dip after just typing that monster. The book is also close to 800 pages long and almost 400 of those come after the title is finished.

Day 2 - Study Leave, stress the Leave

When I said I would blog every day of my study leave I probably should have mentioned that I was about to embark upon three days in a cabin in a national park with my family. No internet access, or so I assume because I didn't want to bring my computer. Not even the new blazin' purple iPod nano.

Live and learn. (About the blog promise, not the joyful freedom from technology.)

I am transposing this from nearly illegible longhand two days after. (Note to self- Day 4 study leave: typed stupid notes from that stupid idea to blog every day.)

{At this point in my notes I wrote a sentence that made absolutely no sense. I think I may see a few of those. I'll be cutting this entry short and you should be thanking me}

{Two paragraphs later...}

... I roasted. I baked. I sauteed. I steamed. We gorged. We toasted. We cleared the table. I wondered what happened to my day.

Discernment: A month is too short.

Reading: McSweeney's again. Turns out I am reading the issue from Early Fall 2004.

Also finally picked up again No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again by Edgardo Vega Yunque

Friday, January 02, 2009

Day 1 - Study Leave

Let's go back in time. Imagine a simpler time when all the world looked new. Think back... to yesterday.

I am on study leave for the month of January. Some people call these sabbaticals, but 31 days is not a sabbatical. Then again, most people never get a study leave or a sabbatical, so I am NOT complaining. It is my personal goal to either make everyone want a study leave and construct their lives to make that possible, OR to show the world that four day work weeks and early retirement are a better answer. We'll see.

When planning my time off, one of my goals was to blog... every day. Just a little. Just to share a bit of wisdom that day had to offer. I don't expect I'll get a study leave again so, at the very least, this month's blogging could be my souvenir of the experience. All good ideas.

But yesterday I did not blog. Let's not call this an omen, OK? Hence, the time travel back to yesterday.

January 1 - New Year's Day, my husband's birthday, first day of study leave. Isn't that a bit much for one day to have to be carrying around?

We began the day with a 5 family sleepover breakfast extravaganza at a friend's house. Discernment: bacon is good.

We ended the day with a birthday dinner at my mother's house.
Discernment: when other people cook, it is very good.

In typical fashion, I did two hours of work. Oh well.

But why did I NOT blog? Why did I betray my study goals on the very first day?
Discernment: Ricardo Montalban.

Hubby had been saving the Netflix of Star Trek's original series, episode 24 "Space Seed" guest starring Ricardo Montalban as Khan. At the end of the day I could blog or get my geek on. As if that is even a choice. Besides, it was his birthday.

Reading material for the day: old McSweeney's issue and a Burpee catalogue