Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Thoughts

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

Random House defines a word as a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. When John writes that "In the beginning was the Word," what he means then is that before anything was created, there was an idea, a medium through which God could make his will known, and through his words, create the heavens and the earth.

So before there was a story to be told, there was the thing that is and always was, the way to tell a story. This is what I was thinking about on Christmas. I was thinking that as far as stories go, the story of Jesus is an interesting one. Forget everything you know about Christianity, the big-box churches, the scandals, and about Christians, the ones you see in the news these days with the signs stating that "God loves dead soldiers," all those terrible things that may or may not come to mind when the word "Christ" is mentioned. And start at the beginning, as if you haven't heard the story a thousand times. Think of a man, with all the powers of God and all the feelings of a human being. He could have had all the riches of the world, he could have been a ruler of nations, he could have had a glass of water all those days in the desert. But he never did, he just made every right decision in love. In the story he was scared, and in one of the most revealing statements in the Bible says "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will." In that one statement he is all man, and all God. In the end, we kill him, because he's not who we expect him to be, or because he was causing too much trouble, or because he was upsetting the natural order of things, or because we simply don't understand.

There are many stories about good and evil, very intricate ones, that could very well spawn future religions. Like Star Wars. But the Bible is still the #1 Bestseller in the world, over two thousand years after the stories were written. Why hasn't it ended up with Beowulf on some eight-grade reading list? Because it's a story about God coming down to earth, not as a ruler but as a sort of teacher or a guide, or as "Doubting" Thomas said when Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, "Lord, I don't know who you are." He's different things to different people and I think that that's part of the reason the story has remained alive. We get to be a part of His story in that way. As humans we're story tellers. It's in us, and if you believe the Bible story, that quality was there even before creation, before time, space, all of it. The Word. To me, anyway, my faith is not in what people say about what people said, it's not in big boxes and picket lines, it's in the story. It's in the Word, that principal carrier of meaning.

Merry late Christmas everyone, also happy holidays to those of you not celebrating Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Everything you need to know about a woman you can learn from her changes in hair style

One of the guys here at work is going through a divorce. He was telling me that his wife is like a totally different person now. She's changed so much. In the past year she's changed her hair three different times. "I mean, not just different cuts, but different colors too. And not just a few shades this way or that - totally different colors," he said shaking his head and looking down.

A man's reaction to a woman drastically changing her hair three times in a year seems to be bewilderment. Like, "I just kept telling her she looked nice, then she goes and changes her hair again." Bewildering.

A woman, on the other hand, knows exactly what that means. My particular response was "you should have read between the lines on that one." A drastic change in hair style, for a woman, seems to be a reflection of some internal struggle. Like, "I'd really like a divorce, but first I think I'll just cut off all my hair and dye it red. Maybe that will calm the inner turmoil."

In a womans mind, a haircut isn't just a haircut the way a man thinks of it. It is a totem, a crying-out, a rebelion, a symbol of a battle being fought or a battle won. Secure women usually maintain the same hair style for years. Those of us who are a little young and discontent can be identified by our frequent changes in cuts and colors. And a woman who is looking to get divorced, say, might change her hair three or four times in a year. A haircut doesn't solve lifes problems, but it sure satisfies the desire for change, at least for a while depending on what kind of change you're looking for. Pay attention, men.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Retail Experience

Story likes to sneak things like toothpaste and expensive face masks into the bath with him to squirt out, all of which, in addition to my hair that falls out like crazy, have pretty much cemented the drain closed. It takes about eight hours for a good tub full of bath water to drain anymore, but as long is last night's bath water is out of there by the current night I don't see the need to do anything about it. I'm thinking I'm going to have to make the call tomorrow though because tonight, since I've put up anything that he could possibly squeeze into the bath, he went for the toilet paper. That stuff dissolves pretty quickly and I'm pretty sure that in addition to the toothpaste, charcoal-activated face mask, and hair my drain is less "drain" and more "part of the bathtub" now. But I'll worry about that tomorrow. Tonight my concern was the fact that, although I usually keep a pretty close eye on the toilet paper inventory, I had allowed myself to get down to one roll. My thinking was that I always have a lot of toilet paper and that any reasonable person should have plenty of time between starting the last roll and needing a new one to go buy toilet paper, and that I was going to quit "over thinking" everything, after all it's ridiculous to stress over such small things and I should apply this new attitude to my whole life starting with the toilet paper issue. So, tonight because of that attempt to correct some perceived character flaw I had to load Story up and go to Walmart at 7:30 - which is late for me to be outside of the house and right at his bedtime. I say I try to avoid Walmart but anyone who knows me and has gotten an angry text from me on a Friday night screaming (all caps) about standing in line at the Walmart checkout would argue that. I really do try to stay away but the ability to buy underwear, cable wires, and 100% juice for $1.50 keeps bringing me back.

Tonight my list was short, I had to get toilet paper, but while I was there I figured I should go ahead and get onions and juice. After all, I don't want to have to go back. What I left with is toilet paper, onions, juice, ziplock bags, little oranges, toothpaste, air freshener, 15 calorie packages of cheese, and oven bags. I did better than I usually do, but as always I left feeling like a total sucker. Marketing people dream of me when they fall asleep. The ziplock bags I got to freeze some bananas that were going bad. I can't stand to throw them away. I ended up throwing them away anyway when I got home because I decided that even if I did freeze them my mind could never really overcome the idea that they were about to go bad, and they would just sit in my freezer until I threw them away at some future date. The little oranges were a good deal. I got like 25 of them for about $3. Toothpaste, I needed that because all of mine is in the bathtub. Air freshener? I love air freshener, especially during the holidays when they have all the "tree" and "apple" scents. I'm a little pissed about the 15 calorie packages of cheese. I've never in my life paid attention to calories. I'll sit down and eat a brick of cheese if I want to. But now I've got a package of five, FIVE, smaller packages of cheese bits that look like they were just scraped up off the factory floor from the shavings of other higher calorie cheese cubes in order to squeeze every dime out of frazzled mothers grabbing at the most appealing packaging they can find. And who am I kidding with the oven bags? I guess I had the idea, standing there in front of the display, that the one thing preventing me from cooking myself an entire turkey was the fact that I don't have any oven bags. Now that I'm in the sanity of my own home I realize that I don't want a turkey, don't know how to cook a turkey (aside from the knowledge that it's easier to do, allegedly, with oven bags), and don't actually have a working oven with which to use the oven bags. Totally inexplicable.

Then on the way out I had to give Story a dollar to give the bell-ringing Salvation Army guy who gave him a tiny candy cane on the way in so I didn't feel like a white trash mother who accepts candy for her two-year-old at 8:00 PM and then doesn't even bother to make a donation. Way to go Walmart, you've done it again. I'll be in a better mood about the whole thing tomorrow. Lucky, that, because I'll probably have to go back for something.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Driving a Car

There are few things in the world that I enjoy more than driving a car. So, as you can imagine, this last month during which I've been without a car, has been incredibly hard for me, lots of frustrated worrying about when my ride is going to get here, lots of toe-tapping and wristwatch-looking, unspent time between being ready to leave and leaving. My ride was reliable, but not a mind-reader. When I get my coat on, I expect to walk out the door.

About two days ago I got a new car. New for me, probably junk to anyone else, but I love it. It's a 1991 Toyota 4Runner. It's got a lot of miles on it, but since it's a Toyota I'm praying for longevity. It's got these wheels that are so big they look silly to me and require me to grab on to the roof and climb into the drivers seat. It's red, like tomato red, not maroon.

I've always driven small cars. Everyone who knows me probably knows me as a small-car person, but I'm not. I've wanted a 4Runner, an old one, for a long time. Nobody knows it, but it suits me perfectly, with the exception of the after-market tires which are, like I said, silly. It's capable of a lot, all the four-wheel drive and multiple shifting options, none of which I'll ever use, but I feel safe knowing they're there. Lots of potential, but untapped, and not flaunted. It's got a sunroof and automatic windows and locks, but all-in-all the frills are kept to a minimum and they're easily overlooked due to the age of the car. It's simple, functional.

And now that I've got a car I can start running errands for work, which is one of my favorite things to do. For one thing, there's little better than getting paid to drive. Today it was the post office. I made a CD to listen to in the car. So, I had my new car with my new music. The sun made it warm enough to roll the window down. And for the first time in a long time I was driving. I love to drive. I thought it was something I'd get over when I turned 16 1/2, but I love driving just as much now as I did when I got my learners permit. I like sitting still and yet being in motion. Doing something that requires attention, but not concentration. Being out in the world, but inside a little protective bubble.

I just didn't have to think about anything, driving to the post office. I was listening to Bran Van 3000, the shopping song, whatever the name of it is. My hair was kind of down, but kind of up, kind of a mess really. I wasn't smiling but just looking around like, "right now, everything is okay." I felt totally unencumbered, not quite carefree, but purposeful, capable of a lot, but as if I could handle it, full of untapped potential, pretty but minimal and easily overlooked. Simple, functional.

Driving a car, my car, listening to music, my music, is about the best therapy I can have. There's nothing in the world that I have to do besides keep that car on the road. I'm just driving, just me, in motion. Maybe some people feel that way about their bicycles, or riding the train. Transportation is all kind of like that I guess. What's nice about a car is that you're alone, which is good in itself, but it also means you can sing at the top of your lungs.