December 30, 2012
I was going to write a new post when I came across this (It’s from December 20). Now that I don’t have to write one, I can use this time to make a sandwich for Dave.
Hello all, this is Dave, the other half of the Dawne/Dave marriage (actually, the other 2/3′s based on girth). Dawne is struggling to come up with something for a post, and since Christmas draws nigh she’s very busy (stressed). She left herself logged on and walked away, and me being the helpful sort I thought maybe I’d contribute – just keep it between you and me.
Since we’re talking about Christmas, I’d like to tell you about a gift I gave to Dawne: the moment I became a far better husband than I was before (and also a better all around person). I didn’t realize at the time that’s what was happening.
Like everyone, when I was growing up, I learned how to do things the way that my family did them. That way may not be the only way, but since they’re the way I learned them, they seem like the “right” way.
I learned how to do things like mow the lawn, take out the trash, and make a sandwich. I ate a lot of sandwiches (and still do), so my mom decided to free up several hours a week by teaching me how to make my own.
One of the things she taught me was that if you pull out a piece of bread near the end of the loaf, the bread has a big side and a little side (because the crust is angled, if you’re having trouble visualizing this you need to spend some time making your own sandwiches). My mom explained when the aforementioned situation occurs the little side of the bread slices should be on the outside of the sandwich and the big side on the inside since its greater surface area allows more spread or condiment to be applied thereto, thus increasing the sandwich’s overall yumminess quotient.
As my mom spoke I saw the light and swore to live my life accordingly from that day forward.
Then, down the road, I got married.
Overall, Dawne and I have always been a happy couple. Like any couple, we occasionally have our disagreements, and many times those disagreements are about how to do things the “right” way.
Also, there’s something that happens once you’ve lived with someone for a while– you get comfortable around them. I know that doesn’t sound like a spectacular insight but stick with me on this. What I mean is that you act around them differently than you do around others. You let them see more of what’s inside you, and sometimes what’s inside can be pretty childish.
Not only that, but things about our spouses that drive us crazy, we tolerate in others. Many times we’re far more forgiving of those we barely know. With those we know well we’re comfortable enough to let them see how their actions make us feel, even when those feelings reveal that we’re fairly petty.
Okay, now back to sandwiches and Dawne.
One day, after we were married, Dawne asked if I was hungry.
“Sure,” I answered.
“Can I make you a sandwich?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said again (I stick with what works).
And then she made the sandwich, applying the spread to the LITTLE SIDE OF THE BREAD!
I lost my mind. How uncouth could she be? Had this woman been raised by wolves? Had I really married a troglodyte?
I don’t exactly remember what I said to her, but it was on the opposite end of the spectrum from “Thanks for making me a sandwich, dear.” Now, here’s the important part: even though I don’t remember what I said, I remember exactly what I was thinking when I said it— I was thinking I was an idiot.
I’m yelling at my wife for buttering the wrong side of the bread? Really? I can blow off all kinds of slights by strangers but I can’t let this slide? Yes, there was the fact that what she did bothered me and I felt comfortable enough around her to let her know it, but on a deeper level, the problem was that what she did bothered me at all. And, ironically, that was the moment I became a better person because at that moment, I became aware how petty I could be. And by being aware of it, and being able to recognize it, I could work on fixing it.
To end the story, I apologized and got my sandwich (with a side of humble pie). Five kids later, Dawne and I have a pretty good marriage. On my better days I can ignore minor problems. Not just refrain from making a hurtful comment about them, but truly ignore them. I’m not perfect in this area; I’m still a work in progress, but I can recognize when I’m letting the little stuff get to me.
This is something everyone can learn to do, and its one of the best gifts you can give. You give it to everyone, and you give it most to those you are closest to and most comfortable around. It’s not found under a tree and you don’t have to wait for Christmas to give it. And the best part is it’s free.
December 17, 2012
There is one thing every person (there are seven of us) in my family has in common. We are Hobbit and Lord of The Rings fanatics. Our family rule for Tolkien is “You have to read the book before you see the movie.” Through the years, my husband read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to our four oldest children. And after a few stops and starts, he and our ten-year-old, D³, finished reading The Hobbit just in time for the movie. Everyone was thrilled when we got tickets to the midnight showing for the entire family.
The night finally arrived and I sat in the dimly lit theater next to D³, listening to the hum of anticipation playing through the crowd while waiting for the lights to go out. Suddenly the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and the carnage wrought by James Holmes flashed through my head and a feeling of dread came over me. My eyes searched the crowd. Were there any lunatics lurking among the excited movie-goers? I checked out the exits and looked at my daughter sitting next to me. If anything happened should I shove her under the seat or climb on top of her? And I had a quiet thought, deep down in the center of my being—I wondered if I would have the courage to die for her.
The next day D³ confided in me that she had thought of The Dark Knight Rises when we were at the theater and had decided she’d hide under a seat if anyone started shooting. A few hours after our conversation, twenty-eight people were dead in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-seven murdered; twenty of them children.
Unthinkable. That’s a word we use to describe such a tragedy. At one time, such brutality in our midst was unthinkable, but if a ten-year-old is aware of its threat at the midnight showing of The Hobbit, it’s not unthinkable anymore.
In trying to make sense of the tragedy we look for answers and that includes finding someone or something to blame. We’ll blame the shooter’s parents, blame the gun-control laws, blame the shooter’s dysfunction and mental health. We will be carried away on a tide of “Who’s to blame?” ultimately politicizing and demeaning the entire ordeal.
But the truth at it’s core is that Adam Lanza and James Holmes and countless others are the only ones responsible for their actions. Despite their circumstances, their mental health, their upbringing, the weapons available to them, the time spent gaming, the movies they watched and music they listened to, they were each confronted by a choice. And they chose evil. How many other thousands of people in very similar circumstances remain anonymous because they did not choose the evil that tempted them.
As for making sense of it, we will never be able to make sense of the such things because they are ultimately senseless. It’s against human nature to commit such heinous acts against others. It is goaded on and strengthened by malignant forces working on a level that we can’t fathom. We’ve all been furious at someone before but handled it without resorting to, or even seriously considering, murder. Senselessness is a fundamental characteristic of evil and evil is the force behind such violence. And that is the answer to the ultimate question—”Why?”
In every tragedy, for some reason, God becomes part of the drama. People who never give any thought to God when things are going well (except to mindlessly intersperse “Oh my god,” throughout conversations) begin to think about God. Some pray to Him, some question Him (God, why do you allow evil?), some blame Him (God, you should not have allowed this. You should have protected those children). But God is not responsible for our decisions or our actions. Free will is ours and God will not override our will with His.
But these questions remain: “Where was God?” and “Why was evil allowed to triumph?” The answers are that God was there in the midst of the massacre and evil did not triumph. Adam Lanza was not the only one faced with a choice. All the adults were faced with a choice that day–”Save myself or save the children.” And God was there when they chose to save others because no matter how good a person is, it is not possible, of one’s own strength, to choose to die for another. Right now, sitting in front of our glowing computer screen, it’s easy to say we’d die for a loved one or even a stranger in danger. And we’d like to think we would. I think I’d have forfeited my life for my daughter’s but honestly I can’t even begin to imagine being in such a situation, much less how I’d really react. Try to imagine for a moment dying. And then imagine choosing your death over your life to save another. Can you honestly say you’d be strong enough to do it?
This supernatural strength the principal, the teachers and the others were given in no way detracts from what each of them did. They were faced with a choice, and they chose good, and I mean good in the truest, deepest sense of the word. And in their choice they will be forever remembered. When evil threatens to overwhelm us, those that sacrificed their lives are the ones that renew our faith in humanity and give us the strength to carry on, for a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
December 10, 2012
A funny thing happened after I published the following post. I found out the word I thought I made up was actually a real word. I did what I always do in such situations—panic. I “unpublished” the post before the scandal that surrounds the real “foetry” could leave a mark on my permanent record.
After the panic subsided (with a little help from a mug of mulled wine), I decided to publish the post anyway because:
A. I didn’t have a back-up post.
B. Maybe my mistake will teach others to practice due diligence before posting things on the internet that will be available to the entire world to read forever. Unfortunately, I know from experience that I probably have not learned my lesson yet.
Below is the now obsolete post, although I think a vote is still appropriate. After all this hoopla, I’m sure the word will make the dictionary someday. But I think I’m getting ahead of myself…
A few weeks ago a new word came to me. I’m not sure if it was a humorous inspiration from my muse, or a dig about my poetic posts from my hyper-critical internal editor. The word came to me after I visited the Query Shark and read:
“Bad poetry is very easy. Good poetry is hard. Poetry that illuminates and enhances art work, uses language for developing minds, and doesn’t bore the pants off the adults reading it either…well, that’s a real trick.”
-Query Shark aka Janet Reid
Reading that brought to mind the few poesies that had flowed with relative ease out of my head and onto my blog—The Ubiquitous Earworm:A Ballad and Black Friday Blues— to name a few. And I felt a tremor of anxiety. It hadn’t occurred to me when I posted them that they might in fact, be taken as serious poetry or even worse, that someone might think I had taken them as serious poetry.
Then it hit me. What I wrote wasn’t poetry. I wrote foetry. Or was it fauxetry?
Before I could enjoy the new-found word, I encountered the dilemma. Which way should it be spelled? Both rhyme with poetry, and although foetry makes more sense and looks better, it will inevitably on occasion, be pronounced fo-tree, thus rendering it useless. Fauxetry, on the other hand, is very awkward. But the chances of mispronouncing it are rare, unless one is unfamiliar with the word “faux” and those people won’t care about the spelling anyway.
I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Merriam or Collins get a hold of this word. It’s imperative that we, the people, decide the spelling now while it’s in our hands. But in order to make an informed decision some pertinent information, such as the definition, is needed.
Definition of FOETRY/FAUXETRY
Examples of FOETRY/FAUXETRY
- Any verse that contains the word Nantucket is an example of foetry/fauxetry.
Related to FOETRY/FAUXETRY
December 3, 2012
Our family has a Christmas tradition. I felt I had to impose it the year after we watched Highlander on Christmas Eve and there was talk of making it an annual tradition. Highlander our Christmas movie? Over my dead body. Obviously it was a situation headed out of control, so I stepped in a did what moms are supposed to do: took control.
I’m happy to say now our Christmas family movie is Scrooge, the musical starring Albert Finney. My family has come to terms with this tradition (although every year, someone fondly recalls the Christmas we watched Highlander). I think they’re even beginning to look forward to Scrooge. I heard S² humming “Thank you very much” yesterday.
Scrooge has always had a special place in my heart, the Grinch, too. As I lay in bed a few nights ago, pondering metaphysics, God, and man I naturally began to think of those two great characters of classic literature.
Yes, they each have an experience that shatters their existence and makes them realize they can never go back to life as it used to be. But the fact that they don’t want that life back is what makes them so interesting. Unfortunately, my late night ponderings don’t stop there. I begin to wonder what happens to the Grinch and Scrooge after Christmas.
Perhaps the Grinch moves to a small Scandanavian-style chalet at the edge of Whoville. Cindy Lou Who stops by for a visit. She and Max romp around filling the air with giggles and whatever noise dogs make when they’re having fun. The Grinch’s big baby blue eyes crinkle as he smiles. The next day after Cindy Lou has been there for an hour, the Grinch finds himself on the front porch with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming. By the end of the month, he is hiding under his bed, leaving Cindy Lou and the other little Whos pounding mercilessly on his front door. His wide blue eyes are getting squintier and squintier. But the Grinch doesn’t want to go back to his old ways.
As for Scrooge, he spends Christmas partying at his nephew’s home. The next day, unused to such frolicking, he sleeps in for the first time in decades. He drags himself from bed just in time for dinner and heads over to the Cratchit’s to check on Tiny Tim and inveigle a dinner invitation. The Cratchit’s are overjoyed to see him. At first his free and liberally shared advice are welcome, but when he tries to improve upon Mrs. Cratchit’s plum pudding things get a little tense.
Okay, I know you’re wondering where I get the chutzpah to speculate on the behavior of such beloved characters. And yet I feel qualified to such speculation because Scrooge, the Grinch and I have a lot in common. We each tend (to put it mildly) towards grinchiness but we each desire to change. This desire is precipitated by events that affected each one of us so deeply we realize we can’t continue living as we did.
The event that changed my life happened over seventeen years ago, but it has influenced my life every day since. In itself, it is about the most mundane and unmemorable thing you could imagine. We were driving in our van (on Nineteen Mile Road, two-thirds of the way between Dequindre and Ryan Road, for the Michiganders among you). Suddenly my mind was filled with a sudden blinding revelation: God. This is very difficult to write because there are absolutely no words to describe it—a feeling, an intuition, an awareness, understanding, pure unadulterated joy. Nope. None of these come close. I’m not asking you to understand or even believe me. Quite frankly, it’s not something you can experience just from reading my words (even if I could find some). What’s important here is the fact that this experience was so true and real to me that it changed my life.
I knew God was real. How cool (again, words can’t quite do it, so cool will have to do.) And I decided that I was going to change; I was going to always be good. Not because God demanded it, or because I wanted His approval, but because I loved Him and I wanted to be good for Him. And for myself. I hadn’t realized how unhappy I was until I was surprised by joy.
I floated on a cloud for a few days. But reality (the reality of myself) set in when I had to drive somewhere. I tried SO hard to be good and kind to the other drivers. But there were so many “idiots” on the road, my resolve crumbled. In fact, not only did I revert to my old self, I was worse than I usually was. What the heck was wrong with me? I did not want to behave this way.
But I learned, as I’m sure the Grinch and Scrooge would have if they were real, that a lifetime is a hard habit to break and bad is so much easier than good. But bad habits, even a lifetime of them, can be broken no matter how long it takes. For me, it’s possible with God’s help.
It would be possible for the Grinch and Scrooge, too. I think the Grinch would have moved to a secluded cabin in the woods, visiting the Who’s every week for some good times and a dinner of roast beast. Eventually, he’d begin inviting the Who’s to his cabin for a day of cross-country skiing and an evening of s’mores and cocoa in front of a blazing fire. As for Scrooge, he could have become a very successful business consultant (they weren’t called that back then) and philanthropist. Maybe he’d fall for a jolly widow and they’d live happily ever after.
As for me, I try to take one day at a time. As long as I don’t have to watch Highlander on Christmas…
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