Archive for the ‘beliefs (& lack thereof)’ Category

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Facebook: Family Losses and Gains

October 30, 2012

During the time that I was doing a lot of traveling for work, others in my life were dealing with major issues. Arresting issues.  Issues that made me stop in the airport, while trying to run between connections, and find the wall to support myself to breathe and to cry. And to cry.

First:

Last spring, I was thrown off by a facebook post by an old friend from high school (we’re the class of 1990, FYI) where she said that she took her oldest son (approx 2 years older than Em – i.e., 17 yo) to the doctor for what they saw as Swimmer’s Ear.

The Swimmer’s Ear was treated, the doctor asked extra questions, the son said he’d been feeling off.  The doctor ordered tests.

Leukemia.

Just . . . inconceivable.

My high school classmate shared her journey via a facebook page from the start.  There was a point where I told a local friend about the page and she thought “so public! that can’t be right!” and I said, “no, she is doing this so well, doing such a good job.”  And it’s true.

The journey was long, and it wasn’t easy.  There were 4 rounds of chemo, each one 29 days.  After the third, he was cancer-free.  It was amazing.  He was a fighter, he was amazing.  There were so many stories of his strength, his perseverance, his grace.

Despite the remission, he needed the 4th round to ensure that the cancer was truly gone.

I don’t know for sure how far in, but it felt like a very little bit into the 4th round, Tucker started to have some medical issues.  Not cancer-related, but infections and fevers and nausea.

it didn’t stop.  Time was odd to me, as an observer.  I’m not sure I realized, as I had trials and arbitrations and hearings and deadlines and briefs, that 6 weeks had passed, and Tucker was still in the ICU.

I think it was October 8, maybe the 9th.  It was around the Columbus Day when I was walking through the airport and received the news that Tucker didn’t make it.

I sobbed.  I was in the airport in my suit with my fancy lawyer-rolling bag, and I just stopped walking and I just cried.

I still cry.  At first it was every day.  Now it’s at least once a week.

It’s just . . . he went in for swimmer’s ear.  He was vibrant, he was connected, he was talented.

I have a couple of those.

And my classmate!  A mom.  She was so close with her son, so dedicated.  So – in love.

It hurt so much.  For them so much more than the tiny trickle down that hurt me, and honestly?  It hurt me a lot.  My classmate and her family are continuing with their amazing attitudes and their love of Tucker.  But without curling up in a ball and becoming absent from life.  I can’t imagine resisting that temptation.

I remain devastated.

Second:

I have another high school classmate.  We became friends after I had a social upheaval in my junior year, and she was just so very accepting and kind.  So widely beloved, and just an amazing person.

It was fun to reconnect with her on Facebook.  I think we both had fun.  We played games and traded witty comments.

She went to Ethiopia.  I think two years ago.  She worked in orphanages.

This year, she shared that she was adopting a baby she met in the orphanage.  The baby was wee when she met her in 2010 (I think), but continued to grow as my friend went through the application process.  She made the situation public this summer, just before she was heading to pass court in Ethiopia.  She was adopting this baby-girl.

I watched the process through a trip to see the baby-girl, seeing the baby-girl’s ambivalence at these near-strangers {i.e., parents} who had traveled oh-so-far to spend time with her.

I think that trip was in August. And then came a waiting-game.  It was so painful.  To watch my friend prep her daughter’s room, to buy her daughter clothes, to see her other children (ages 7 through 13, I think) prepare for their sister’s arrival (and conduct amazing, fantastic, effective fundraisers to help pay for the airfare to fetch their baby-sister) – but yet have to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  For the ok.  For the passport.  For the medical exam.  And the baby-girl’s 3rd birthday (3rd birthday!!) was approaching.  But the waiting continued.

She’s there.  Right now.  The baby-girl is coming home.

_________________________________

 

I cry a lot, lately.  Some is sad, some is happy.  But I just feel like there’s so much going on.  I just — I just love.  And I want to find more ways to let people know that.  The people who are in my immediate life, and in my extended life.

 

 

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Taking Stock of 2011

January 1, 2012

Yesterday’s realization that 2010 sucked, and then 2011 sucked, was kind of daunting. It’s also a little weird, because I’m far from being an unhappy person, or thinking that my life sucks.  How can my years suck, if my life doesn’t suck?

Looking back at last year’s end-of-year posts, I see that I was right about 2010 – it wasn’t a great year for me.  2011 wasn’t really a bad year, except for work.  And work didn’t leak into home in the same ways that it did in 2010.  When things weren’t going well this year, starting in April, it was because I had so little to do.  That resulted in less time at work over the summer.  I spent more time reading, I took a day to go to the beach with a friend, I came home from work earlier.  So the effect on home was a good one.  So that’s something, at least.

According to last year’s posts, I had the following resolutions:

1) Lose weight.  I didn’t, really.  I went up and down with the same 10 pounds, but didn’t really make much progress here.  I need to step it up.  I did run a good bit, starting in April or May.  So I have habits in place – but I need to kick it up a notch.  I need to run more, run harder, and do more than just running.  I need to do some strength training, and I need to be more careful about food.  I’m not letting go of my “fit by 40” goal.  I can do this. I have 11 months, and I can do it.

2) Draft my resume.  I did that.  But not until I was up against the wall and on my way out the door.  But it’s written, and it’s been reviewed by professionals, and it’s in good shape.

Then my littler areas of focus:

My extended family: My sister and I are definitely back in touch and things are good there.  I do try to be better with my parents, and I think I’ve been less irritable with them.  My brother is no different, but I’m not taking responsibility for that.  He and his wife are a bit too overwhelmed by having young children and a job (him, not her) and bills to pay, and I have a very hard time  commiserating with them.  Because – really?  Who DOESN’T have young children and a job and bills to pay?  At least at some point?  You’d think that they believe my teenage daughters sprung fully formed out of my forehead and that I somehow have a trust fund and pretend I’m a lawyer for show, for the way they’re convinced they’re the ONLY people with young children and a job and bills to pay.  If I hear either of them reference my brothers “10-12 hour days” one more time, I may barf.  Instead, I hold my tongue, and don’t try to “one up” them with stories of my years in their shoes – with a husband who was in grad school and making NO money (but still working 12-20 hour days . . . he was clever like that), or the years where I was a single parent with young kids, a job, bills to pay, and no second parent in the house.  I just say “yeah, it must be hard.” And don’t call again.

So, no.  No improvement there.

Family (home):  Like I said – this year’s job stuff  gave me more time with my family, not less.  Lemon was a bit of a snarky kid last year – and this year, she’s in a groove and easy to manage and thriving.  Mouse is starting with the snark, but it’s less constant than Lemon’s was, and so far, we can deal.  She’s still thriving, and that makes us happy. They’re very good kids.  David and I are good – of course some months we’re totally in sync, and others we are “off,” but overall, we’re very good.  I’m still grateful every day for being married to a partner.

Community:  Well, I just wrapped up producing the Best Play Ever, and I delved into it more than in years past, because I had more time (the good side of no job . . . or transitioning out of a job).  This spring, I plan to be involved in the planning and executing of Mouse’s 8th grade graduation (I know, I know, “graduating from 8th grade is STUPID!” But these kids have been in this K-8 school since, well, K.  It is a big milestone, and I would like the stupid-callers to do so elsewhere.  Thanks!)  I know I should do something else, now that I’m wrapping up my volunteer efforts at the kids’ school, but right now, less than a month after producing the play, I don’t want to.  I want to say I’ve put in my time, and I’m done.  And as far as the kids’ schools are concerned, that may be my final conclusion.  I think I’d like to shift my focus to the town-level.  Not sure what yet, but I still have time to explore and figure it out.

Finances.  David and I did, in fact, see a financial advisor this year.  It was illuminating.  Depressing, but illuminating.  We do NOT have a house fund.  We are perma-renters.  We did start aggressively socking money away into savings, and our 401k has been doing well.  If we hadn’t done that, this job-news would have been a lot more devastating.

Travel.  We did some.  Not enough. We did New York City in February, I went to Wisconsin with Mouse in April, we went to the Berkshires. We went to Vermont.  We went to Maryland/Virginia/D.C. (when my Outer Banks vacation was thwarted).   But I still haven’t brought these girls to Europe.  And we still haven’t gotten back to California.  I want to see my friends, and my sister.

Some positive outcomes from 2011 that I cannot overlook, and that I hadn’t included in my list:  Friendships.  I have enhanced existing friendships and found new ones.  This was especially obvious with the job-issues, as my support network was so very  strong.  While two of my three most supportive friendships at work have been in place since my summer associate days, another is one that has really taken shape this year.  I’m very grateful for this friendship, and glad that I got over my assumption that she and I would never really “relate” to one another, because she’s young and has no kids.  Not the case.  I’m very glad to have made this friend.

Another new friendship on the home-front, in my running partner.  We’re very like-minded (and our mini-me older daughters have found this in one another, as well), and clicked instantly.  I have a comfortable easiness with her that I haven’t had with someone in a very long time.  “Wanna come over?” without caring at ALL that there’s dirty laundry on my bathroom floor.  A really great find this year.

Still to come — looking ahead to 2012.

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Not Very Resolved

January 2, 2011

I fell asleep last night thinking about what I want from 2011.  I first, and instantly, thought two things:

1)  Lose weight.  In line with my “Fit By Forty” goal.  I have 2 years not only to lose weight, but to keep it off.  I want the yo-yo to be over by the time I’m 40.  I want to have solid and permanent work out routines and a permanent mind toward fitness:  food & exercise.  So, this year will require solid work toward that.

2)  Draft my resume.  I don’t know that I need to do much more than that this year.  But I came to this job thinking it was “for a few years.”  The “few years” are over, and my time with the firm is not.  I really don’t see myself on partner track; I don’t love it enough for that, and I love my family too much.  Which means I should be thinking about what’s next.  I made it through the economic wasteland, where firms had layoffs and firings left and right.  It was a scary time because even the most employable were not getting new jobs.  That seems to have passed.  This means I can really think about what’s next, and start working toward it.

But I looked at these 2 things I want from the year, and they felt pretty self-centered (MY body, MY career).  So I thought a little bit about what I want to do for my family, and my community.  Some are more specific than others, so I’m not sure they’re really resolutions, but these are my Early Year Thoughts:

Family (extended):  I want to continue to strengthen my relationships wtih my parents and siblings.  I don’t want drifting apart as we get older, just because “life got in the way.”  I want us to all remain important to each other.  And all it really requires is that I pick up the phone.  Hell, I can even send my sister a text, like I did on New Year’s Eve:  “Listening to the Police … reminded me of you & the Renault!” [when we were both in high school, and I had a greatest hits tape, and listened to it every time we got in my car – which was often – singing at the top of our lungs].  She called me within minutes, and we just chatted for 20.  After most of 2010 being little to no communication between us (a story for another day), this was nice.

Family (home):  Things feel good on this front.  But I know I should help WD with more around the house – kitchen clean up at night, especially.  My abdication of the duties was a relatively slow process, but I think immature of me.  Even if it is true that he gets upset if things are done my way instead of his way (which he may interpret as the “wrong” way instead of the “right” way), I can still pitch in.  Also, in general, this house just doesn’t stay clean.  I do think part of the answer is to do as many others who are in our situation do, and get someone to come in and clean on a semi-regular basis.  I think it would help all of us keep our respective areas in better shape in between, and would help for the grime not to collect to the point of frustration.

Community:  My time of volunteering and giving to the girls’ (now only Mouse’s) K – 8 elementary school is coming to an end.  2011 will be my last year of it.  I’d like to find something new to take its place.

Finances:  WD and I would like to have a house fund.  We also should have a college fund that does not include the emptying of the 401K and/or pushing the kids to start practice SATs in the 7th grade for scholarship purposes.  I have been feeling so paycheck-to-paycheck for the past few years, this has been hard.  But I believe the time has come that we have enough wiggle room to come up with some solid plans.  This should happen in the first quarter of this year.

Travel:  Funny to put this after finances.  But I would like to travel both with the girls and alone with WD.  Our trip to New Orleans was our first kidless trip in eons, and it was great.  We need to do it more.  I also really want to be sure that the girls enter adulthood with plenty of memories of the places we went together as a family.  There are plenty of foreign and domestic destinations on our list, still … I want them to happen.

So there we go.  Plenty to work on.  I also just generally hope that 2011 is happy & positive.  I was in a snit for a good part of 2010 (work-related, mostly), and would hope that doesn’t repeat itself.

 

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I Guess I’m Still Angry

December 28, 2010

My flu did not go away in time for our trip to my parents’ house.  It stayed with me.  I had my 102 degree fever through the 2.5 hour drive south, through the Christmas Eve gathering with my brother and his absolutely adorable young children, through that night’s sleep, through the Christmas morning gift-extravaganza, through my almost-all-day-long-nap on Christmas Day, through the 2 short hours of Christmas Day that I was awake, through the snow storm that started on Sunday morning and drove us into our car more than 24 hours ahead of schedule, through the 6 hour drive home, where we apparently did not beat the storm into Boston, and through that night where I was unable to enjoy the snow and the wind and the awesomeness of winter.  Finally, yesterday, the fever waned, but I was left a little dizzy and without much energy to speak of.

I was sick enough, with little to no voice, that I could not talk to my husband about many things I wanted to talk to him about.  I just didn’t have the energy for real conversations.

One of things that kept running through my mind to discuss with him happened at the tail end of Christmas dinner, long after I had to flee to a recliner in the other room.  Let’s set the stage.

My dad invited some old family friends over.  He thought they’d come after dinner.  They did come after *their* dinner, and arrived 20 minutes before ours.  So they sat with us through our dinner, and for a few hours after.

These family friends became friends around the time that I was Mouse’s age.  12.  My mom had just found a “church home,” and was born again and baptized.  She had one mission in life:  To Convert My Father.  He had one mission in life:  To Give God the Finger.  Those missions were in conflict.

But then my mom met our family friend, who had long been a member of the church that was new to us.  He was 10 years younger than my dad, but relatively similar in appearance.  Bearded, gruff-looking.  He shared many interests with my dad.  He hunted!  He fished!  He had a motorcycle!  These things were important things in Winning Dad Over.

The short story – he was instrumental in winning my dad over.  My dad – after 3 long years – was Won Over.  Since then, the family friends and my parents no longer attend the same church, and they are not quite as close as they used to be. Even though we were very close for several years.  I think that their younger age lent to them being close to us kids, as well as to my parents.  The wives had less in common with each other, and I got along better with the wife than my mom did.  So family dynamics changed with my siblings and I growing up and moving (far) away, my dad and the husband stayed friends, but independent of the families.  They still hunt and fish together.  Once they came to Boston together, Patriots tickets in hand, and WD and I went to the game with them.

My dad remains very much Born Again and very conservative, but he is a little less conservative – behavior wise – than the family friend.  For instance, my dad enjoys alcohol beverages, while the family friend eschews all alcohol, and always has (freak).  This probably also keeps them from spending as much time together as they used to in larger social circles.  My parents now hang out with other born again people who don’t mind giggling over the fact that their margaritas went to their head.

But the family friend came over on Christmas, with his (only) daughter, who is one year older than my Lemon.   His wife was sick (she had a COLD, not the much-more-serious FLU that I had/have).

I have the same uneasy and relatively guarded relationship with this person as I do with many of my parents’ friends from that period of my life.  They must know – from my life choices and from my parents’ “prayer requests” that I no longer share their faith.  But we don’t discuss it.  I don’t cuss like a sailor around them, nor do I flaunt my Sunday Morning Sleep Ins or my raucous partying ways (ha!).  They may mention people we used to know in common, but rarely will talk about god or their faith with me.

So it was after I left the table that the Conversation happened.  I thought WD was still there.  But he doesn’t remember the conversation the way I heard it.  So maybe his feelers were up, and he left before things turned.  Maybe I hallucinated in my fever.  But this is what *I* heard, and what *I* stewed over for 3 days before I had the energy (last night at 12:30 while WD scratched my back trying to calm me down) to rant and rave with my squeaky-barely-a-whisper voice:

Family Friend’s Daughter:   Dad says I should go to B____ college in Boston. [I’m not being craftily anonymous.  I have no idea what she said — I was 3 rooms away.]

My Father:  Yeah, but not until your third year.

My Husband:  Well, what do you want to do?

Daughter:  I want to be a teacher.

My Father:  You really should just stay home for the first two years.

[small pause – perhaps wherein my husband and the high school girls left the room?]

My Father:  After all my experience with my three kids, I really feel strongly that it’s important that kids stay home for the first two years of college.  It’s a good way to ease the separation.

My Mother:  Yeah, you know, all that really matters is what the degree says, it doesn’t matter where they go to school leading up until then.

My Father:  Suzie stayed home, you know.  She went to college the first year right down the street.  And that was real good for her.   You know, they go from being dependent on you and under your roof to just out there on their own.  It’s just too much.  They need more time to ease the separation.

Family Friend:  Well, yeah, but B____ is a Christian College (why I have no clue what school he’s talking about.  What “christian” college is in Boston?  Also, for the record, in this conversation, “Christian College” means “evangelical born again college” – not “a school grounded in any faith that believes in Jesus.”  ]

My Father:  Yeah, pfft.  So was Liberty.  I mean, it was christian enough when Suzie went, but by the time her sister went, it lost a lot of its values.  [Although, for the record, if my sister got caught kissing her boyfriend, she would have gotten kicked out.  And if my sister wore a skirt that came above her knees (skirts being the only thing we were allowed to wear outside the dorms before 6 p.m.), she would have had to pay a fine.  And my sister still had to attend church 3x a week, chapel 3x a week, prayer meeting 2x a week, and had a midnight curfew.  She also wasn’t allowed to watch television, and couldn’t listen to non-evangelical music without paying a fine.]

Family Friend:  Yeah, no kidding.

My Father:  They really should stay home for 2 years.  It really helps with the separation, and the transition.

Yeah, dad, you said that already.

I think that’s a fine idea.  A good plan.  Worked well for all your kids:  Shelter your kids, tell them what to believe, who to be friends with, allow no questions to be asked – basically, refuse to prepare them for the outside world.  Then, because they are UNPREPARED, oh!  Just keep them home even longer!

Then, when they do leave all the series of bubbles that you built for them, they will not be at all maladjusted, or delayed in their maturation process.  They will not ( in 3 out of 3 cases) rush into a premature marriage at a ridiculously young age, in light of pressure from said bubble environments, eventually ending in divorce.

But wait.

This has been sarcasm.

No, let’s continue the sarcasm for a minute to say – who cares about the quality of the actual education your offspring receives during their college experience?  That is not important.  What is important is the amount of indoctrination received, the amount of oversight by adults who will ensure that children (I mean … young adults) will not be kissing other children (I mean, young adults), will not be watching Rated R movies, will not be dancing, will not be listening to music with lyrics that may suggest intimate relationships with people of the same gender, and hopefully (although less importantly … especially if they’re athletes, or boys) won’t be drinking alcohol.

Maybe I will stop ranting now.  And I will just say … I do not share my father’s priorities.  I am working to prepare my children to be ready to face the world after high school  – whether they choose to head directly to college, to partake in a gap year activity, or otherwise.  I understand that they will not be fully formed upon their graduation from high school, and I am okay with that.  I am okay with them making mistakes during their still-formative years, and making those mistakes away from home.  I feel that I can trust that those mistakes will not have life-long impacts, because they will be leaving our home armed with enough education to know what consequences result from what behavior.  They will leave our home with enough self-confidence and education to know where their own limits are.  And maybe that won’t protect them.  Maybe serious mistakes will *still* happen.  But I will have done all I can – and I will have done my best, and I will be UNABLE to prevent everything from happening to my ADULT children.

___________________

The whole time I was in high school, my parents insisted that I get “good grades” so I could “go to college.”  It didn’t sink in for me.  I didn’t want to do the work to get “good grades.”  I didn’t have a goal other than to “go to college.”   At the same time, mother often talked about my future ONLY as when I got married and had children and took care of my children … While I do not remember exactly how I viewed my own future during my childhood, I am not surprised today at my lack of goals then.

I didn’t do well in high school.  I was smart enough – I could pull off my final exams with As and A+s, but after averaging them in with a semester’s worth of missing and late homework assignments, I was a pretty solid C student.

When I was a junior in high school, I started dating a boy that my parents hated. We fought about it.  I kind of won, and kept dating him.  Until they found out that we had … well … that I wasn’t a virgin.

Two years of intense fighting, grounding, family counseling – absolute misery – ensued.  My grades suffered.  I almost enjoyed the look on my parents’ faces when they saw the grades I brought home.  There weren’t many ways that I could return the misery that I felt they were inflicting on me (of course, the entire package of this mess inflicted plenty of suffering on all of us.)  I was solidly a non-college path.

During that time, I had a job in a law office working as a Girl Friday.  I did secretarial tasks, I ran to the court, I ran to other offices.  I did computer projects.  I liked it.  My mom started to fantasize about my life as a Legal Secretary, and how well I would do.  “Did you know that Aunt Marge knows someone who works as a Legal Secretary in the City, and she makes $70,000!!  Just think of the things you could do?”

It wasn’t until spring of my senior year that I realized that everything in my life was about rebelling against my parents, and I was sick of it.  I broke up with the boyfriend, and started caring about school.  I filled out college applications.  I told my parents I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior, and that I was sorry for being so stubborn.

But they told me I couldn’t go away to college.  Not until I proved myself.

Academically, it made sense.  I really didn’t get decent grades until my last semester of high school.  Then I got all As.  They didn’t want to pay for room and board just to watch me flunk out.  They weren’t super well off, and that made sense.

But they also made it clear that they “didn’t trust me yet.”  To behave.  Not to slip into my non-Christian ways.

So I stayed home. For my first year of college.

It really didn’t have anything to do with “easing the separation” or the fact that I was “depending on getting everything under their roof for my whole life.”  (What does that even MEAN?)

I guess we all try to do things with our past to make it work for us.  That makes us feel better about the decisions we made, and the paths we chose.  But when I hear my parents contort the things that shaped my life in relatively meaningful ways so that it works for them, it really upsets me.   I think my dad looks at where I am now, and glosses over what happened in between.  Maybe he really thinks that I am “where I am today” because he didn’t trust me to move out of his house when I was 17 years old and a freshman in college.

He looks at me, and sees the first person on his side of the family to graduate with a college degree.  He looks, and he sees that I went to law school, that I work in a very tall building in a very big city.  I live in a city.  I have two teen daughters who get straight As and play sports and have really great senses of humor.

Sure, I got divorced, and he does not approve.  But do you know how easy it is for him to place all the blame on my ex husband?  Just as easy as it is for my ex husband’s family to place all the blame on ME.  So they can continue to love their son, unconditionally, and enjoy his new spouse and his new family.

I look at me, and I wonder what I could have done with my life if I left my parents’ house solid in who I was?  If I didn’t squander away high school rebelling against rules designed to keep me biblical, if I didn’t spend 3 years at Liberty being told how to think, what to believe, what party to join?  And then another 3 years — while getting married and having babies — wrestling with how that all conflicted with the world BEYOND Liberty?  Then another 3 years trying to take this new reality and figure out who I was inside of it?  Now with a divorce, a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a house to support?  Then another 3 years, as the kids inched their way through Kindergarten, first grade, second grade … trying to get my feet under me, paying off the debt from the ex’s ph.d., the years of floundering, and figuring out how to pursue my OWN goals?  Then another 3 years attending law school?

And now I’m 38 years old, my oldest is 3 years away from college which is almost completely un-funded, I still rent in a very expensive city, and feel way behind.

Of course this is not ONLY because I stayed home for my first year of college.

But I believe it’s all twisted up into the point of view that makes him say that.  At least somewhat.

 

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Confession Time.

October 27, 2010

Last Friday?

We watched Rocky Horror.

No, I do not mean “WD and I watched Rocky Horror.”

I mean, “The entire family watched Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

No, not a sanitized version.

The real thing.

Proof?  Mouse is singing in the shower right now …. she’s singing “t-t-t-touch me, I want to be diiiirty!”

Ya. She’s 12.

Maaaayyyybe I forgot just how … advanced. that movie is.

But I didn’t turn it off.

I sat there, slightly squirmy, thinking about how I was educating my kids about tolerance.  About people Who Are Not Them.

And I let it go, and I enjoyed the movie.

So then, when we watched Glee last night, the girls had a blast.  They got the humor when Meatloaf and Barry Botsworth showed up.  They enjoyed the contrast of Mercedes as FrankenFurter.

We had fun.

And we didn’t freak out that a boy was in bed with a boy [okay, man, whatever].

All kidding aside, I think that’s valuable.

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Update: Acceptance

July 20, 2010

As I mentioned last week, an old friend from my church-days found himself in my neck of the woods.  We got together last night.

It did feel awkward during many moments – he didn’t seem to have much to say.  When he moved away, his older daughter was 6 months old, and I was in college.  But I had no problem blathering on and on about my job, or my husband, or my kids.  And he … didn’t.

I also got the distinct impression that he had no clue that Jesus & I aren’t buddies any more.  Early in the conversation he dropped a couple of “well, of course, God had a hand in all of this,” sorts of comments, which I just ignored.  But at dinner, we had a small little smack-down moment.

We were talking about our teenage daughters, and how they’re really not as unpleasant as people would expect.  He said, “well, I am always irritated when people say ‘oh, just wait for the teenage years, they’re going to be horrible!’ because I think, you know, well, maybe I have something you don’t have?  Like God!”  To which I promptly responded, “oh come on.  We both know plenty of people who “had god” and still had a lot of issues when their kids were teenagers.”

Because, uh, yeah!  Like (a) me (the whole church knew when my mother found my birth control pills when I was a Junior in high school.   I mean, she had to “make a prayer request” that Jesus would show me the error of my ways); (b) the girl who got pregnant when she was 16 and ran away to give birth and give the baby up for adoption, just to turn back around and stop the adoption and then to get addicted to drugs while her mother raised the baby; (c) the boy who ran away and never spoke to his parents again because he got sick of the way that they used “God” as a reason to abuse him horrendously in the name of “discipline”; (d) The other girl who ran away at 17 to Florida and hooked up with a 45 year old man with whom she had a baby and who has since left her …

Clearly, me and my birth control pills were not the end of the world.

He seemed a little wounded by my response – or at least taken aback.  And that was the closest we came to any conversation about differences in our belief systems.  Perhaps his quietness was because he saw that difference, and didn’t know how to respond.   And he was sad, because I am “lost.”

The last thing I could ever do is pretend that I still identify as a “Christian.”  I suppose I could have just ignored his comment, or made some non-committal comment, but I didn’t.  [Actually, my response was very genuine, and scaled back as it was.]  Yet I didn’t offer up any additional information about my beliefs.  If he had asked, I would have answered him honestly.  But he didn’t.  I suspect he was contemplating it, in all those moments of silence.

I may have had some avoidance, but I did manage to spend the evening without a moment of defensiveness.  Which for me is a triumph.

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Defensiveness, Avoidance or Acceptance?

July 16, 2010

I went out to dinner and to a movie with a close friend the other night.  I mentioned something to her about my high school days (maybe because my 20 year reunion is coming up).  She said:

You know, I have a lot of friends whose current lives don’t look much like they did when I first met them, because of a new job, a divorce, a move, kids, or whatever.  But you are the person who has been through the most changes.  I can’t believe how different your life used to be.

Why?

Because in high school and college I identified as a born again christian.  I was very conservative.  I campaigned for Papa Bush’s re-election, and cried with my college classmates when Clinton was voted into office.  I used to grumble “get a job!” when I passed a homeless person on the street, and I attended pro-life rallies in Washington D.C. with others from my parents’ church.  I was – in body and spirit – in the land of Jerry Falwell and gay-bashing and intolerance.

And now … I’m not.

From the age of 22 (when I was married) to 28 saw many shifts and changes in my life.  I am very comfortable with having turned away from all of the above.  More than comfortable, I am happy, and I am confident that it is right for me and my family.  It has not been easy, and there are friendships that have been weakened or dissolved and family relationships (mostly with my parents) that have been altered.  But for the most part, everyone is settled into the new (well, not new any more) reality.

I do not believe the things I used to believe (or used to try to believe).

This weekend, someone who I was friends with back then is coming to Boston.  I was close with his family before I went away to college.  Then he and his family moved around the globe, and I have only seen him once since (either when S~ was a tiny baby, or when she was 1, and I was pregnant with L~), and I was still “in the fold,” so to speak.

In general, I’ll be very happy to see an old acquaintance.  But I’m a little nervous.

I’m a little nervous he’ll start proselytizing.   Or at least questioning me about my lack of faith, or expressing disappointment about it.

I have seen many other people that I was close with back then (except for the one who we later found out was a child molester), and they have not raised these things.  We have had fine conversations about many things – our kids, our jobs, etc., without a moment of awkwardness or discomfort.  So I don’t know why I am fearing it now.

And why am I fearing it at all?  I am comfortable with my decisions, with my belief system, with my life.  I shouldn’t be fearing an opportunity to discuss all of that.

Except for the fact that it would be hard to talk about my disgust for a religion that this person still holds dear and as an important part of his & his family’s life, without feeling offensive.  Or rude.

So I’m trying to plan out what I will say if it does come up.  Whether I say “This is not up for discussion,” or whether I tell him my story.  My reasons, my journey, my thoughts on the harmfulness of his religion and how I’d never inflict such a system of thoughts, belief, and self-loathing upon my own children.

Or maybe I’ll chicken out, and tell him I have the flu.