Thursday, October 27, 2005

Halloween Dance

Cubic Zirconia Tierra from Claire's Boutique: $11.95.
Fake Pearl Earrings: $7.95.
Long Faux-Pearl Necklace: $8.95.
Cost of Admission: $5.00.
Watching your 12-year-old go to her first Halloween dance as Audrey Hepburn (a character she chose on her own): Priceless.

And you know what I was thinking? I was thinking, "I wish her mother could see her tonight too." Which makes me think that perhaps, just perhaps, I stand a chance of making Jesus like me. Of course, sometimes I also make him want to slurp gin from the dog bowl as quickly as he can.

All teasing aside, it is a grace-filled experience to watch a young woman unfold. It is a grace-filled experience to be allowed into her world. On a night like tonight long strands of brown hair clogging the bath-tub drain and wet towels on the floor of a pink bedroom, and dirty dishes left to collect next to a bedside table are trivial. She is a wonder. She is becoming her own woman. And I get to see it. I am so blessed.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

For Robert on his Birthday

My first glances were shyly offered under blonde bangs, teased and permed. I sat in the front row, in the aisle second from the left wall. What I knew of you, in that spring when I was 20 and you must have been 46 was that you carefully poised a gold pocket watch on the edge of the desk before you spoke. I knew of that pocket watch, for I had purchased one for my college boyfriend only a few months before, when he had admiringly told me of yours. Throughout that semester I became a voyeur. I carefully watched your hands, your left hand mysteriously missing a wedding band until later in the semester, when one miraculously appeared. I wrote cryptic details about you in the margins of my college-ruled notebook, details gleaned from hints you dropped of your own personal life…”grew up in Texas?”…”Baylor?”…”graduate school in the 70s?” I wondered about the mystery that was Robert Pettit, Ph.D. You had no idea who I was. My college roommate cut out a picture of you from the Oak Leaves and hung it, as a joke (or as portent) above my desk. Out of your mouth hung these words, once affixed to a $10 bill from my father, “I want to live with you.”

It was before my senior year of college, that you became my friend. No longer could I jokingly call you “Robert Pettit, the love of my life,” as in, while talking to my roommates, “Sorry, I can’t stay for tea this morning, I’m off to Sociology of Religion class with Robert Pettit, the love of my life” or as with an exasperated sigh I would grouse “Why is it that I have to write this essay on the McDonalidazation of society? Stupid, stupid, Robert Pettit, the love of my life, assigned it for tomorrow!”

You became my friend over cooked chicken and pineapple. You became my friend over conversations about breast feeding and day care. You became my friend and as I learned to know Robert Pettit the father, and husband to T., my silly jokes no longer fit. I learned that you were gentle, and genuine, and unfailingly faithful to your family. You became my friend.

When I learned of your separation from T. I ached for you. My attempts at support felt clumsy and inadequate. My sadness at the pain in your face, at the craggy furrows in your brow and the gaping chasms under your eyes left me aching. Your grief was so palpable, it was its own entity in every meal we shared. I came home from lunch at the College Union with you one afternoon and sat on the loveseat in my pastor’s study with my head in my hands, knowing I was helpless. I was helpless for there was nothing I could do to ease your pain, and I was helpless, for even, even in the depths of that still barren spring, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit. And I knew that this could be very dangerous.

I still marvel at the story that brought us from there to here. The route from point A to B is circuitous and messy. I look back over my shoulder and shudder at what was, and then soften as I recall small wonders…Monday morning tea in front of God and the world in The Oaks…your offerings to me of chai and sour lemon drops and granola bars…tears spilled in tea cups.

You became my husband in a rite of passage in my parents back yard before 60 or so of our friends and family. But this was merely ceremonial, for you had become my husband long before.

I don’t fully understand the depth of love I have for you. It is a mighty and, at times, for this woman who held a piece of her heart away from so many for so long, frightening thing. John O’Donohue in his book on Celtic wisdom, on the whole mystery which we have come to know as our anam-cara connection wrote once, “human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of an invisible grace. Nowhere is there such intimate and frightening access to the mysterium.”

Thank you for renewing the mystery within me, as turbulent as it has been. Thank you for seeing me, and in so seeing, recalling the Christen that has been reborn and recreated in her own image, and in Her image. Thank you for being my resurrection place, and my home, and my delight. On this, your birthday, may you know the depths of my love, and my endless commitment as your partner, as your lover, and as your anam cara.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


There are days when one becomes frustrated with one's denominations choices of leadership. Mediocrity reigns. Once again (with a few exceptions). It won't be long before I am forced to jump ship. Alas, I'm such a bad Brethren (for all you non-Brethren who scratch you're heads when I talk "Brethren speak" you can find out more at I'm not proselytizing, unless you're consider membership in my sweet little enclave of like-minded nerdies like me and then I'll tell you all about how much Beacon Heights CoB rocks).

I am, however, not frustrated with my topic of conversation today (at least not within the last hour, as she last pooped on the floor late this afternoon and I was not home to clean it up)...the amazing Miss Maisie May Wienerschnitzel Buttwhirler Pettite Miller. My wee dachshund. Love of my life. Baby substitute extraordinaire. Seven pounds of pure German dog love. Perhaps one day I'll figure out the details and actually be able to post pictures, but for now you just have to oooh and aaaahh in your minds at the adorableness that is my baby girl.

I'm all verklemt (spelling please?) tonight because it 'twas on this night only three short years ago that Maisie came into our home after being picked up at Betty the dachshund breeder's house.

You see, I grew up with shetland sheepdogs. Dogs which essentially live to please their human companions. Dogs which look at you all day to ask, "You okay? Everything all right? Anything I can do? Sheep to be herded? Ice cubes to be licked up? Anything? You sure?" I assumed that most dogs would be this polite, this accomodating, but what I've learned is that dachshunds? No, not so much. Not so much with the pleasing, and the accomodating. Stubborn, though? Yes. Very stubborn.

I wanted a dog so desperately, and my sweet husband, R., who DID not want a dog was not worn down by my begging, until there was that day when I said, "Oh, sweetums, lamby-kins, you know, we could get a dachshund." And R.'s eyes glazed over as he fondly recalled his many days romping on the fish hatchery in West Texas with Fritz the wonder-dachshund. "Yes, yes..." he responded in a somnambulant state. And that's how Maisie came to be.

She's not so well-behaved. She's apt to piddle on the floor in glad adoration when you enter a room. She only informs her family about half the time when she needs to go outside for her nighly ablutions. She'll leave teeny tiny turdlets on your freshly mopped floor. She can, through a series of stair-step jumps make her way to the kitchen table and when caught merely looks at you as if to say, "Look at me! I'm so tall up here!" with absolutely no shame. She has been known to knock my purse off it's hook on the wall and find the benadryl hidden inside and devour it (causing her poor Mommy to call the emergency vet frantically, to which relaxed vet said, "Well, she'll have a good nap then.") She only listens to R. for discipline, and if I drop my voice really, really low she'll sometimes obey.

She's truly a pain in the rectum. She is.

And yet, there is nothing more adorable than watching her shower the girls with kisses when they return home (as if to say, "Oh my God! I never thought I'd see you again! And look, here you are! I love you, I love you, I love you!"), or to have her burrow into your armpit (a place that few dare to go, what a sign of unconditional love!) .

She is Maisielicious and tonight I celebrate the dachshund, poop and all. Long live the canine girl!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What Google Taught Me

Every once in awhile, one feels compelled to reflect on the weep a few tears (or imagine that one would be weeping a few tears if they were not on the marvelous/frustrating LEXAPRO). 'Twas googling I'm BACK ON LINE, dammit (see previous post, as if I were computer astute I could highlight this somehow and you could just push the damn button and be there without having to backtrack, but that's another email now, isn't it?) and THANK YOU Comcast gods, and realized that...

A) I am only noticed online only for who I married or for the fact that my cat bit me (thank you joys and concerns of local church newsletters). How F&*#@#-up is that?!? Somehow I thought that at 33+ years of age I would be more popular by google standards than Dolly Parton (minus the boobs).

B) My college ex-roommate (who hates me now that I have gotten a divorce from a man who, apparently, she believes walked on water) only, according to Google, leads worship services somewhere at a home church in rural Michigan (of course, I only get bitten by cats if you count on Google, so who am I to talk?)

C) My husband actually seems to like our cats as he writes all sorts of sweet things about all of us on some random post. Okay, it was only one line in one random post, but I'd like to believe he likes the cats, since they have been essentially inflicted on him and he has no choice in the matter.

D) My Dad's website rocks and I continue to be amazed and impressed by his rockin' grief therapist guru jive. See it for yourself at (shameless plug).

That's all for tonight...exciting television on the Sundance in channel in a few moments and a dachshund that craves her mama's cuddling.

Over and out.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Warning: Brethren, Cover Your Ears

Every once in awhile I get frustrated or angry or irate or peeved. In those instances, I have been known to let loose with a few choice words. In fact, I can curse like a sailor. It's one of my spiritual gifts, a spin-off of speaking in tongues, no doubt. Every once in a while, I'll get angry at a driver in a car talking on a cell-phone and weaving in and out of traffic and I'll let loose with a string of four-letter words which don't spell L-O-V-E or K-I-N-D or N-I-C-E. Often, I'll say to one of my sweet cherubs in the backseat, "cover your ears." Sort of my codeword for, "your step-mama's gonna say somethings that will curl your toes." They usually just giggle. They've learned.

Thankfully, our girls seem not to have suffered from my outbursts. They understand that "bad words" are a cultural construct, thanks to my sociologist husband. They understand that occasionally, one feels really good by being really bad in the way they talk. I have a friend whose children have their mouths washed out with soap for speaking a taboo word. She would argue that if our children speak this way, they'll grow accustomed to it, and they'll start to do it more often, and thus, the slippery slope begins. Pretty soon they'll be snorting cocaine and working for Halliburton. T. & B., though, have turned out pretty good, I'd say. And every once in a while when I hear a grumbled, "Damn dachshund..." come from one of my angel's lips when a tiny pile of teeny dog turdlets is found on the kitchen floor, I simply turn away and smile. It's harmless in my book. They've learned the whole, "there is a time and a place..." thing pretty well.

And so, I started this whole post to warn y'all to cover your ears (especially you sensitive Brethren who always find much kinder [or is it passive aggressive?] ways to express your anguish and drumming circles or reconciliation "encounters" or growing enormous beards if your whiskers permit).

I have been mumbling many words in the last few days about my @#$% wireless hook-up and the @#$% tech support guys who tell me to do the same @#$% thing each of the seven times I called them with all together different, and often unsuccessful results. You ask, "Contemplative Chaplain, how is it that you can post now?" Because I'm on my husband's @#$% computer which isn't @#$% wireless.

Tomorrow, the comcast dude or dudettes will come to fix the problem (or at least curse trying). And R. will greet them while I'm at work, and I'm pretty confident that they won't have to cover their ears around his more genteel speech. At least one of us is civilized, dammit.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Our Neighbors Across the Street

Not two minutes ago my phone rang.
"Hello, Christy?" [The heavily-accented Greek man's translation of the equivalent of my name Christen] "This is Kosmas, your neighbor across the street. [A moment's pause as he waits for me to say, "mm-hmmm," but I can't slip in another word because he rushes ahead] "You gonna be home in a few minutes? I gonna bring you a few somethings."

This conversation, or a variation of it happens semi-weekly at our home. The "few somethings" could be any number of foods--large plates of Greek cookies to be dipped in coffee, or fresh string beans from a garden carefully tended, zuchinis the size of my arm, gooey cakes, date candies or enormous pans of homemade baklava. Indeed, the treasures may be different, but the conversation, the conversation is always the same.

In each call, Kosmas, our Greek octogenarian neighbor has to identify himself immediately as the Kosmas who is the neighbor across the street, as if we might mistake him with other neighbors, as if we might accidentally confuse him with the neighbor next door, for instance, as if we might accidentally interchange cute, 120 lb., stooped and balding Kosmas (the one across the street) with, next-door neighbor Elmo, Elmo who has broad shoulders and weighs in at about 250 lbs. and has skin a beautiful dark ebony. Which neighbor again? Oh yes, Kosmas, the neighbor across the street.

Or as if, R. and I have a whole host of Kosmases that we regularly come in contact with and Kosmas must distinguish himself from them. Oh, the Kosmas across the street as opposed to the Kosmas at the Mexican restaurant down the road, or the Kosmas at the public library, or the Kosmas in the Swedish folkdancing group...oh, you mean you're the Kosmas across the street!

R. and I have grown to love this little ritual...almost as much as we love the bounty of food our gentle and loving Greek neighbors bring us.

I hung up the phone and said to R. "Kosmas is bringing something over." And R. doesn't skip a beat when he says, "Which one?"