Soul Doubt: 02/2008 - 03/2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Unseen Battle

This was so powerful for me, I thought I'd share it here on Soul Doubt- Christians and non-Christians alike, you gotta admit: this is good stuff.

I'd go on and on in my usual manner, were I not recovering from a trip to the dentist yesterday. I got a filling and an extraction, and I don't know what it is- whether I have some weird reaction to the gas or anesthetic, or if I'm just so tensed up throughout the whole yucky process- but I always wake up the next morning feeling as though I just ran a major marathon the day before. I mean, every freakin' muscle in my body aches! Everywhere but the tooth! Or should I say, where the tooth used to be?

Plus, being in recovery, I turned down the pain medication and am opting for just ibuprofen and ice cream. So far, so good... I think I'll feel better if I take advantage of this semi-sunny day and bundle up the boy and go for a stroll. Stretch those muscles and garner some appreciation for my surroundings instead of staying cooped up in front of the computer all day, batting at little Jameson's chubby hands as they tug at the mouse cord (tail?).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Headless Chickens (of which I am one)

At least at times this last week I have felt like one... running to and fro, frantically trying to get this or that together with never enough time, a memory which seems holier than the Pope's oldest pair of boxers (strangely enough, I seem to be able to vividly recall the most arcane details from kindergarten, junior high, and an insane amount of useless trivia- just not where I put the car keys or which bills remain unpaid this month as of yet), and most of all, I can't seem to keep that even, mellow keel going, which I've always prided myself on and others compliment me on quite frequently.
"How come you always seem to know the right things to say at the right time?" or, "Man, I wish I could stay as calm and collected as you always seem to be," they'll say.

I credit much of this from being lucky enough to spend most of my formative years being raised in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii; a dream come true for an 11-year-old with a troubled home life and who was about to become a ward of the state. Aunt Marcie and Uncle Larry stepped in and rescued me, whisking me off to what I was sure was paradise on Earth.
Well, my young envision wasn't far from the truth. It was more beautiful that my limited writing skills can convey on this humble blog, more breathtakingly majestic in every area: the sandy beaches (both white and black sand), the dormant volcano Mt. Haleakala, which as teenagers we'd drop acid and wander the ancient hollowed out dried lava tunnels, spooked but thrilled to be in the heart of a forbidden zone of exploration; the ocean... oh, Mother ocean. God, how I miss the salty warmth of turquoise caressing currents of what feels like a living entity, serene one moment but easily capable of tossing one about like a shred of kelp if she feels like it.

Maui was particularly unique in that it had a curious blend of locals (Hawaiians, Tongans, Samoans, Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, various other Polynesians- then us. The haoli's. Whites. Foreigners. Or, if you were lucky enough to pick up the accent, dress accordingly, and look down your nose disdainfully on the tourists and hopelessly mainland whites, you could be referred to as "Kama'aina". That was me. I'd always been chameleon-like, figuring out my spiel as I went, if necessary, so fitting in was never a problem. So not only was I buds with the bradduhs, but I made friends with all the second-generation New-Agers, hippies, and Euros, too. Like I said, quite a blend there on the island. But I loved it. I hung out at the beaches where only the bravest of the white surfers went, haoli friends in tow- hey, they're with me- was all that needed to be said. In return, the ritzy, "trustafarian" rich kids dragged me from party to party up in the multi-million dollar beach homes out in Lahaina and Hana, providing the designer drugs to go with the designer clothes and Daddy's Lexus rides. It was a blast, years of experience I wouldn't trade for the world, and sometimes miss so sharply it's almost a physical ache, a twinge of longing for the sea air, a bonfire shooting sparks high into a star-studded sky on a sandy beach with a bunch of dancing, drunken kids cavorting late into the night- high on not only grass and beer, but the sheer ecstasy of youth and fearlessness, knowing we could do anything we wanted at that moment in time. No one could stop us- baby, we were born to run...

But back to the present, before I drown in nostalgia. There's just been a hell of a lot going on, to be blunt about it. Doctor's and dentist's appointments, probation officer meetings (the latest just informed me she'd been promoted so to finish out my last several months I'd have to have another guy take over my case. I'm sure he's overjoyed to have me, as I'm about as low-risk and low-maintenance as they get- I turn in my monthly reports, he files 'em. Nuff said). My boss had a surprise birthday party, where we all showed up at her yoga class to start off the evening, then caravaned to a gorgeous home of a lady friend of hers who put on a gourmet five-course meal, probably the best I'd eaten in months. Of course I sat through it in yoga garb, not having had time to change, while all these elegant female professionals reclined gracefully in their Donna Karan and their Givenchy suits. Bitches. Nah, it was okay. If anything, it made me vow to keep a gracious self-assured smile on my face throughout the evening, while I keenly observed every mannerism, every nuance, every possible hint I could glean of how they got where they did. I too have plans, and one way or another, I will get there. Not just naked ambition for status, success, whatever. Just... satisfaction that I have attained the goals I've set for myself, that I've reached the gold ring, and found it all I'd wanted. It may not be the multi-million dollar beachfront home, or even the six-figure income. But I feel certain that it will be joy in what I do, joy in how I've raised my son, joy in how my relationship with my husband is, and joy in my faith. That's my goal. Not peace, not power, not Cheshire-cat satisfaction, but sheer joy in life. And in living. If, meanwhile, I'm going through a phase where my head seems to have detached itself and I resemble nothing more than a barnyard fowl circling frantically, so be it. This too shall pass. It always has before. In fact, come to think of it, it's usually the precursor to a time of extreme relief in all I've managed to overcome despite all the obstacles stubbornly obstructing my path. And I find my faith strengthened as well, knowing that there's no way I could've possibly pulled off all that without some help from you-know-Who.

Side note, before I call this a night and get to work (yes, I keep oddball hours- it's easier to do my online stuff while Jameson's crashed out and we don't have to fight for possession of the mouse cord)...
The Blogfest was fantastic. I was super self-conscious of wearing my t-shirt which Digger was so kind enough to design- because although I warned him I'm just a little slip of a gal, he still ordered it in a Ladies' small (which hung to my knees like jammies). So, I walked in trying to look all cute and well put-together, not like your typical ex-junkie, but a regular 30-something who, yes, looks more like a teenybopper, but the effect was ruined when I had to drape myself in a giant shirt just because my name was on it and I felt like no one would recognize me or want to talk to me otherwise, were I not wearing it. So please, if I looked ridiculous, try not to tease me mercilessly about it- my ego actually is somewhat fragile, believe it or not, and I will probably obsess about any comments made (in good humor or not) about how silly I looked with my pigtails and pajama top at the 'fest. Sorry, I'm insecure like that. Being just recently digging ourselves out above the poverty line, I can't exactly afford an overflowing closet of trendy duds, so I was wearing the cutest, classiest outfit I could conjure up on short notice, and it got covered up by the (super-well-intentioned and very much appreciated, just ill-fitting) shirt. Wah!

Enough. I have a whole 'nother year to clothe myself in gloriously colorful verbs, adjectives and nouns of nonsensical alliteration, so hopefully by the time next year rolls around, you'll completely forget about my gargantuan tee and instead remember my pixie-ish smile and ready compliments to all you online commentors who, I hope to presume, I can now call you my friends. Believe you me, I am now indeed yours, so in the spirit of blogidarity, let the feelings be mutual.

Over Ten Years of Meth Use

What could've been me had I not changed my life and realized I was about to serve a life sentence on the installment plan.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shoveling my Way Out of the Chasm

After perusing my latest post, I fear I may have sounded a bit maudlin, perhaps even on the verge of an actual full-fledged funk. Not that it wasn't entirely true at the moment; I did indeed forsake clothing for jammies, wandered aimlessly for the better part of a week around our home, and got very little accomplished besides slogging through and endless swamp of negative introspection.
But hallelujah, the fog has lifted. Being the analytical type I am, I can't help but try to pick apart my own fragile psyche, wondering which buttons were pushed by whom, what catalyst flung me from the morass of sluggitude into this latest plateau of pleasantness, why my angelic child didn't seem enough to bring multiple smiles onto my face last week, when usually he transports me into realm of maternal nirvana at the slightest babble or coo. And not to make too light of this, but I truly did need to ask myself some pretty uncomfortable questions...
Was I trying to fool myself into thinking "Problem Solved!" Got a little baby to keep me on track and living in a white picket fence world?
Am I slacking on the necessary tools I need to keep using on a daily basis to stay clean and sober (and therefore sane)?
Is it PMS? Or that other thing, what's it called, the syndrome where you get all depressed after having a kid... brain fart. I forget.

Whatever it was, is, or will be again, this one I survived none the worse for wear. And I feel as though this deplorable winter weather may have necessitated me coming out of my funk, if only to summon up an ounce or two of much-needed energy. You see, Tonydaddy was out of town for the week, hard at work doing commercial refrigeration in some podunk Northern Washington town, so it was just me and the little guy. When it decided to dump several feet of snow on us, I had to (ahem) rise to the occasion. (You'd get the joke if you knew me: I'm 4'11''. And am so immune to the short jokes by now I even make them myself.)

We were out of formula, diapers, assorted foodstuffs, and my disgusting, temporarily unvanquished vice- cigarettes. Not having a snowblower, plow, or snowshoes, I had to settle for a shovel and my ipod. After laying down the boy for a noontime nap, I suited up for battle. We're talking thermal everything, Sorels, Glacier Grip gloves, my Southpark beanie... the works. Grabbed the shovel, cranked up the tunes to the point where I could barely even hear myself singing along to it (Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits- the old stuff) and attacked that white shit with a vengeance. Two hours and several layers peeled off later, the snowbanks were towering on either side of our gravel circular driveway, and I thought I had a better than average chance of making it out with my front wheel drive Mitsubishi and its elderly- but studded- tires.

I was wrong.

I'd packed up Jameson, putting him in his little snowsuit which always reminds me of the kid from The Christmas Story; you know, the little brother who falls down in the snow and is too puffy and Michelin Man-ish to get up? and had him loaded in his carseat. I warmed the car up for a ridiculously long time, enough to where we couldn't see our breath anymore, at least. Broomed off the worst of the snow accumulation on the hood, trunk and roof, thinking the car might somehow run better without it. Ha.
The moment I gently pressed the accelerator, I heard the sickening sound of spinning rubber on ice. No traction whatsoever. Couldn't even back up- there was nowhere to back up to! I hadn't shoveled back there. Why would I? It was a massive job as it was just to do what was in front of me, let alone the remaining half of the circle (a good 40 yards or so).

So, realizing it would be fruitless to sit and spin (no pun intended), I hopped out and waded toward the defunct chicken coop in our backyard which now serves as a shoddy storage unit. Scavenging through the side area, the best I could come up with for traction stuff was a big bucket which I filled with some ancient straw, much of it caked with substances I really didn't want to inspect too closely. Tromping back to the driveway, I strewed and shoved and kicked and scattered, cursing a blue streak the entire time. Then I got back into the now gloriously warm car, glancing back at my sleeping son, and said a fervent prayer for the ability to get the hell out of this hated frozen stretch of drive.

Miraculously, I was able to do just that. With a jubilant shout, I gunned my way up and out onto the sloppy side street we live off of, fishtailing and skidding the entire way. Once onto safer ground (or asphalt, rather- at least that's what I remember it to be before it disappeared under all that white) I drove straight to the hardware store, intent on buying bags and bags of sand and ice melt.

They were out.

So was the next place I went, and the next after that. I was this close to pulling into Shwab's for a set of chains when I decided to check Napa instead. Thank God they had everything I wanted, and the man must've seen the desperation on my face, because he even packed it out to the car for me. Of course, I had a squirming baby on my hip, too- that probably upped the sympathy factor a bit.

Now that I was feeling a tad more prepared for braving the elements, it was off to the grocery store for vittles and whatnot. By now I was ravenous, and you know what they say about shopping while hungry. Seventy dollars and a bunch of junk later, my trunk was once again slammed shut and I was on my way back to my refuge from the storm.

The next two days were actually a blast, believe it or not. I said to hell with keeping up with the shoveling- I'd merely push the shovel around the walk each morning til I found the newspaper, then scurry back inside and watch the flakes swirl outside the windows. My son, as usual, brought me untold amounts of joy with his precociousness and boundless curiosity. I got lots of work done, scoured the house from top to bottom (easy to do when the man of the house isn't leaving messes quicker than I can clean them up) and devoured my way through the rest of the "Left Behind" series. Not bad for Christian fiction. Being the incorrigible bookworm that I am, I would love to read more worthwhile faith-based fiction, but quite frankly, most of it is sappy tripe. Of course you have your Bill Myers, your Randy Alcorns, and the greatest of greats: C.S. Lewis, but on the whole, secular writing is way meatier and more satisfying.

Okay, I kind of went off on a rabbit trail there. Back to what this post was really supposed to be about: I believe my angst was alleviated through good old-fashioned pioneerism, to coin a phrase. I had to buck up and get 'er done, so I did. No more moping around, aimless and lackadaisically losing my momentum which I had built up over these last several months; no, I had to kick it back up a gear and participate in my life again. If not only for me, for the sake of my son as well.

When my husband got back, he immediately commented on my newfound upbeat state, and lavishly complimented me on the "Mexican plowjob" -shoveling- I accomplished. (We can say that, he being Hispanic, and me being, um, Mexican by injection...) Another joke he likes to crack is: Q~ How do you turn your dishwasher into a snowblower? A~ Buy your wife a shovel. Ha. Ha. Ha.