Sunday, January 29, 2006

Two Posts in One Day!


It's a quiet day at Chez Pettit-Miller. Robert is napping. I'm sitting in front of my sweet Dell, which has no name (I better work on that, as I believe all important appliances and cars should have names as it helps them to function more efficiently, and just feel, well, needed and valued...just ask Cicero the Honda Civic, he'll tell you of his worth!)

I'm not sure I have all that much to say, except that I promised some Disney stories and haven't come through. And now my memory is getting all fuzzy and I'm thinkin' "wha?" when I reread my Disney notes...

There is, however, one little vignette...not all that holy, but enough to make me smile and remember, nonetheless.

One evening, whilst Robert was meeting with his students I wandered on over to Downtown Disney with my Mom and the Dickster for dinner and shopping (did I mention my Mom and Stepdad were with us for several days of our journey? I loved, loved, loved having them there). Of course, as often happens, my mother and I dissolve in giggles over something and Dick smiles kindly and enjoys watching the women in his life act like giggling morons. All we have to do is start out with a few words to a story and we lose it..."Hey Mom, remember the day we took Grandma shopping at Linens and Things and she found the windchimes?" And we both laugh and laugh and Dick patiently smiles. "Hey Mom, remember when Connie Chung said 'Happy Hannukah'?" Oh, but the hilarity. Dick nods appreciatively. "Hey Mom, remember the night I put the collander on my head and pretended to be the statue of liberty?" Dick closes his eyes and nods. Thankfully, my mother still believes I am the silliest person on the earth, and my step-father nods his approval kindly. And occasionally, and I might add without the stimulus of any intoxicating beverages, we both dissolve into giggles. This was sort of one of those nights...

Mom, Dick and I wandered over to the Disney Marketplace which is Disney madness! Imagine everything Disney sells in their parks in one place, connected building to building. Imagine many, many people wandering around speaking in different languages, and oh, the Brazillian tour groups with the neon clothing and the flags (those of you Disneyphiles know what I'm talking about). Mom and I were there for a simple reason...we wanted to find a hat for T., oldest step-daughter extraordinaire, and at 12 years old, hard as heck to buy for [see Mom, how I used "heck" instead of that other word that you don't like it when I use]. Dick opted for the wise choice which was, to sit outside aforementioned Marketplace and people watch. Somehow in the midst of the Mickey chaos...in the midst of the Tinkerbell paraphenilia, and the Goofy accessories my 4'10" mother and I became dislocated and thus, were rendered incapable of providing Disney with our super wondertwin mother-daughter powers.

And, in so doing did, the right and natural thing. We both just stopped exactly where we were and waited for the other to find us. Thus, I was standing in "Mickey's Men's Ware" surrounded by subtle and unassuming polo shirts with mouse ears embroidered on the breast and Mom was in "Princess Playthings" surrounded by tiny little girls squealing at the $65 sparkly Cinderella dresses begging to be worn on their squirming bodies. We both just assumed that the other would find us. Great minds think alike.

Whilst standing in my appointed spot I took a moment to survey the scene. Bored men wandering around, led by several overzealous wives. Now, I am not one to stereotype based on gender roles, however, in this instance, I had little choice but to yield to the common belief, as there was little to refute the balding white middle class men being led by their beloveds.

A weary looking father, holding a sleeping toddler in his arms was being led by his wife toward a stack of T-shirts near me. Wife (let's call her Trixie), held up a Tigger T-shirt to her balding, overweight and tired-looking spouse.
"Here," she said perkily, "what do you think?"
Ed (the name I've chosen for said husband) said quietly and dejectedly. "I don't know. I think I'm more of an Eeyore kind of guy."
"Really?" Trixie said quizically.
"Huh."
"Geez, Trixie!" I wanted to yell, "Even I can see that and I don't sleep with the guy every night!"

Ultimately, my mother and I were reunited. And there's no big story there, apart from the fact that we both met halfway, having realized, at about the same time that perhaps the other was staying where they were. Like mother, like daughter. However, while Mama got to watch little girls having their innermost fantasies met by becoming Cinderella, or Pocahantes, or Ariel. I got to see women have their innermost fantasies dashed by learning that their husbands were not, indeed, the vigrorous Tigger types, but were instead merely "an Eeyore kind of guy."






Saturday, January 28, 2006

Divine Opthamalogist

I've been thinking lately about how often I fall into the "Indiana fundamentalist Christian" camp of assuming God's doing bad things. I think it's because I swim in the water of Midwestern fundamentalist thought too much for my taste, and then feel infiltrated in every pore by conservative thought.

I grew up in Indiana. I actually grew up only blocks from where I live now (and that's a whole 'nother random story of how I ended up back here, the spiraling of life back on itself). I am accustomed to "swimming against the stream." I remember being told when I was in elementary school that I was going to hell because my father made the choice to leave the local United Methodist church as a pastor. I remember the disdain in the girl's voice when she hissed, "And to think...you're a minister's daughter!" when I didn't agree with her about whether Christians could listen to "mainstream" music (she claimed that the gate was narrow, as you know, and only a few could enter). I was the heathen girl who stayed outside the gate.

Last night R. and I watched the movie "Saved" with T. and B. It was an important movie for me to have them see, as it satirizes so much of what we live with in the Midwest. Praying for George W. (actually, I pray for George W. too, but my prayers are mostly like this, "Please, God, may George W. realize how incompetent he is and resign, but no wait, if he does that than Dick Cheney might step up and he's worse...so, please, um...well, please let them not be too mean. And please let all the laws they enact be laws that can be repealed when a more competent leader is elected."), inviting people up for altar calls, and assuming those who disagree with you haven't "found Jesus," is a mentality I find all to common in Fort Wayne.

It's making my head and my heart hurt.

I made a monumental decision this morning, as I stayed home from church. I lit candles in our library and sat on the floor in the silence and prayed, "God, please help me to be less cynical. Please help me to remember to respond with love to those who make me weary. Please provide me with the courage to reclaim Your call, because I'm simply so tired of not finding You here in Indiana."

But I don't think this is all "on God." A big part of it is learning to see with new eyes. So, I guess I'm praying for a divine opthamologist. I'm patient. It'll come.

So be it.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Notes from the Mousetrap

My sweet bloggies (as I see it if you "blog" [verb], than you are a "blogger" [noun] and if you are the one who has the blog imposed on them, than y'all would be the "bloggies"),

We are home from the land of rodents and over-priced cups of tea. We are home from the commercialization of the mouse, and the over-themed atmosphere. We are home to our two cats, one of whom can't leave me alone and won't stop licking my hands even as I type this (ergo, forgive the typos and blame them on my 21 lb. yellow-and white tomcat Cooper who missed his mama even though his grandma and grandpa visited him regularly and offered him numerous affections). We are also home to Maisie the wunder-dachshund who apparently charmed the kennel personnel, so much so that when we went to pick her up a day early (as our flight got in before the kennel closed) there were actually looks that I would refer to as "crestfallen." The conversation was thus:
C: Hi. We're here to pick up our dog.
Vet lady: Yes? And who is that? [Walking toward the file lookin' thing where the dog records
are kept]
C: It's Maisie. She's a dachshund?
Vet lady: Oh. (Long pause...and perhaps it was just me, but I thought I heard a sigh.)
C: We thought we wouldn't be able to get her until tomorrow but our flight came in on time
and we got here and...(I got on explaining pathetically as to why I'm a good canine parent,
or would that fall under the category of "obsessive?")
Vet lady: [Gushing] We loved Maisie. She was such a good girl. She hid under her blanket
and then we'd call her name and she'd wag her tail...here let me get Belinda for you... [Vet lady calls Belinda and whispers to other assorted vet folk that Maisie's "Mommy and Daddy are here." Anxious and exhilirated eyes peer at us.]
Belinda: [Emerging from a back office somewhere in the bowels of the Allen County Vet Hospital building.] Are you Maisie's parents? [Robert and I acknoweldge with humble nods
that we are indeed, the wunder-dog's mama and "Alphie" (Robert prefers to not be
called "Daddy" to a dog, assuming he's the master [Ha!] he likes to be known as the
Alpha Dog. T., B., and I think that Maisie has shortened it in her wee dachshund brain to the more diminutive "Alphie")] . Well, she's been a good girl. Shall I get her now or do you want to settle the bill first? [Robert and I nod enthusiastically that, "NO, we want our dog now, please, now--or perhaps that was just me, as she is my baby substitute extraordinaire."]

Upon learning that we had arrived, by Belinda calling "Maisie, Mommy's here!" The dog promptly peed all over her bed (what a greeting). There were multiple kisses. Much body wagging (dachshunds wag way, way more than their tails) and it was less than an hour before she was newly sporting her new doggie Disney T-shirt, which reads "Angel" and has a Minnie face and fake metallic gold angel wings launching from the back of it.

Her new shirt is a little tight, and Robert feared it was cutting off circulation, but I told him, "Honey, all the girls are wearing them this way...relax." I mean, really, fathers (oops, I mean Alphies) can be so overprotective of their daughter's (oops, I mean dachshund's) developing six or eight breasts.

There are so many more Disney stories to come...I tried to stalk the Divine whilst there, so that I might remember to tell my sweet bloggies. Every once in awhile Robert would say to me, "You're gonna blog that when you get home, right?" And I'd say, "You betcha, sweetcheeks." And then I'd adjust my Goofy hat and continue to do my sacred stalking.

I missed you.




Saturday, January 14, 2006

On My Way to See a Big Rodent

Robert and I are packing up tonight, heading in the little car to get on the big airplane to visit the most famous rodent in America, Mickey Mouse. We'll be spending ten days having a magical time with Robert's magical students as he teaches Disney and American Culture.

So, I'll be away from the computer for a bit. Be search to check back in after January 24th for all sorts of exciting tales whilst in the mouse trap.

Be good while I'm gone, you hear?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Writings

Y'all are doing so good on "outing yourselves." Congratulations! Keep it coming!

Haven Kimmel, my favorite author ever and that's saying a lot because I pride myself on being a voracious reader (at least in my feeble mind) has come out with a new book of her essays (also see A Girl Named Zippy or her novel, The Solace of Leaving Early). She inspires me to remember childhood memories, and out of those memories comes this essay...do with it what you will (which is just reading it and saying, "Ah...but I remember those cafeteria lunches!")

The topic of the writing...in keeping with the idea that if one gives you a random idea or object you might just find some holiness in it...was "plastic cafeteria trays."

Elementary school lunches in their plastic trays. So organized, placed in their proper locales. Large rectangle for main dish--beef and noodles, macaroni and cheese, turkey tetrazzini, bologna burgers, or the East Allen County Schools dreaded "Chef's choice." Miscellaneous line of squares at the top, neat compartments for assorted fruits, vegetables--canned peaches or buttery beans--soggy strawberries or overcooked broccoli. But the circle, the round area on the tray was the Bermuda triangle (Bermuda circle?)--the mystery place--the instant mashed potates with their pond of gravy--the carmalized rice, drenched in a brown sugar sauce--the sticky sweet potatoes, yams, turnips. The circle was the secret--the hidden quest. What would it be? I practically skipped to lunch some days when spelling was especially easy...just wondering...

Russell, the mean, bald, overweight custodian who mostly growled, stared down the first graders at Village Elementary school as we'd line up to "turn in" our trays. We'd carefully separate our silverware and clang it into the appropriate containers, afraid of risking Russell's wrath with a misplaced fork. We'd hand him our plastic flesh-colored trays, quickly, shyly, gazing through our long baby eyelashes as he'd grab the plastic trays from our tiny hands and in three quick, loud, successive bangs extricate the left-overs of soggy corn or warm pears from their designated compartments. When the mashed potatoes were stubborn or the sweet potatoes extra sticky a bonus and unexpected earth-shattering bang was warranted, as Russell grappled with his hidden aggressions and inner demons at the Village Elemementary School trash cans.

Perhaps Russell had many demons. Because those trays echoed through the cafeteria and the mention of his name can still make me shudder.

National De-Lurking Week

Now, I don't ask much of you. I really don't sweet readers. You know me. I'm one of those folks who during the "passing of the peace" sort of stand up shyly and try to take a L O N G time to shake the hand of the developmentally-disabled woman who sits behind me at Robert's church, hoping it will take up time, because I don't know how to introduce myself to others very well and with Martha, it's easy. Martha already loves me. (P.S. I personally think Martha is kind of like God...she loves me regardless).

But, as I was saying. I don't ask much.

However...it's National De-Lurking Week and that means you have a role. Delurk yourself. Admit loudly and proudly that, yes, you read the Contemplative Chaplain. For you Brethren, this may be threatening, it may ACTUALLY mean that you read someone who...cusses...someone who cusses loudly at times...someone who is irreverent (and irrelevant in the eyes of the denomination, so what the bloody hell!?! But don't worry, no denominational bigwigs give a shit about my thoughts anyway).

Go ahead...post comments. Tell the world that you read my writings (tell me so you can "give me the big head" as the Anabaptists accuse). I know you're out there...all three of you (one of whom is my therapist and out of HIPAA rules I acknowledge that he doesn't have to delurk...although I don't care if he does).

I gotta go now and tell Real Live Preacher and Amalah and the nice Going Jesus lady how much I love them. And so...let's begin the De-Lurking revolution!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Lest You Think I'm Not Okay...

Perhaps my last post was a bit...well, a bit harsh.

Know that I was simply striking a "Job chord." You know...the classic "bad-stuff-happens-so-God must-have-done-it-thing." I was speaking mostly tongue-in-cheek. Never fear. I continue to believe in a God of goodness and grace and extravagant and ovewhelming love.

The sun was out today. I went for a nice long run. Robert and I are traveling to sunshine land on Sunday. There's light.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Letter to God

Dear God,

You and me, we've always been relatively close. Know what I'm sayin' big guy? We talk. We hang. As far as deity/creation go I think we've done pretty well together for the past 34 years.

However, I gotta tell ya. Lately...well, lately you've been pissing me off. I mean, first there was that hurricane that I did not get...and then you sent another one on top of it. Well, whatever...I mean Pat Robertson explained that one, right? [Not]. (And while we're on the topic of Pat...I wonder, why is it that you keep letting him use your name the way he does? I mean, can't you just smite him when he says crazy shit? Maybe not smite him badly, just a perpetual case of laryngitis? He is so bad for your image...you might want to consider that, get back to me on it.)

But, there's this whole business about me not getting pregnant. You're fucking with me, dude. And, only moments after realizing I was not pregnant, and was sitting at Panera waiting for my mom, holding back tears just barely, you shove that baby in my face...yeah, you know the one...the one being improperly held by the teenaged father...the one who was essentially ignored by his seemingly prepubescent parents seated at the table next to me. Now I ask you, how is it that you see fit to give one to them, and then deny one to Robert and me? You're damn lucky I didn't snatch that baby away and make a run for it through the shopping mall. Then I would have had a sin greater than "coveting" on my record.

All I can say is that you're lucky I've been so highly influenced by your Christian folk, raised by them and all that. You're lucky I like that Jesus boy so much, 'cause if I didn't, there'd be a whole lot of other deities I might look into...I mean, hell, there's a lot of nice almighty powers wantin' to get on my dance-card if you know what I'm sayin'.

So, get your shit together, buster. I'm waiting.

Your beloved daughter in whom you are well pleased,
Christen

Editor's Note: I don't happen to believe that God wills all sorts of bad things, dear reader. Just poking what fun I could out of my grumpy mood. Never fear. Christen the believer in creation spirituality and an ever-unfolding God will emerge again soon. And I think God's probably just as grumpy and frustrated as I am about this damn infertility thing, She's like that.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Someone said, "Hey Do This!" And I said,'Yeah...I'm a Lemming"

So, some of us blogger types have been talking...via computer, of course. So, our computers have been talking. And we say, "What the hell...let's do something which connects us to one another. Let's have one big blogging fest and let's write about a similar theme." So I will. So there. Here are the questions. Feel free to scroll over the not-so-interesting ones...

1. What did you do in 2005 that you've never done before? Hmmm... Well, I started work as a Hospice chaplain, caring for the dying. I went through the "passage" of advanced fertility treatments. Never done that before. Also, never been attacked by a housecat before...but was this year (Cooper's all better now).

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't remember my resolutions from last year. So, apparently, I DID NOT keep them. However, this year I am bound and determined to commit, dammit. I will therefore promise to floss every night and take better care of my skin (sorry, Texas sun, this means you). And my dental hygenist will thank me and make me feel less guilty.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Lots of people...two of the sisters from women's group and my sister-in-law. It's a virtual baby-fest.

4. Did anyone close to you die? I'm a frickin' hospice chaplain. You do the math.
Actually, both my paternal and maternal grandmothers died this year. I miss them both so much.

5. What countries did you visit? I've heard that Texas is called "A whole 'nother country." Does that count?

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? A baby whose last name is Miller Pettit. No preference in gender.

7. What dates from 2005 remain etched upon your memory and why? January 31, 2005. My mother calling to tell me my grandma was dead. Awful, awful, awful.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being hired as a chaplain at hospice after undergoing multiple interviews. Starting my own blog, despite my computer illiterateness.

9. What was your biggest failure? I'm choosing not to have failures this year. Let's just call them "growing pains."

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Indeed, I was attacked by one of my sweet boy cats, Cooper. In his defense, he had a terrible injury and didn't know that it was his sweet mommy who was only lifting him up to take him to the vet. Regardless, the infection (not to mention the bite itself) forced me to take multiple Vicodin, and ended up with a trip to the Emergency Room. Cooper, however, is stellar now. And continues to wake me up at 6:32 a.m. to feed him.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Now is the time for all good Brethren to ignore this post--for good Brethren don't "buy" things. Nor do they talk about what they buy. Instead, they spend "quality time" in their Yurts singing folksongs. However, bad Brethren that I am, I did buy something that made me swoon. But do I get points for buying it for someone else? I bought my husband a DVD-recorder for Father's Day and the thought of all his VHS tapes being transferred to DVD, and thus saving room on our shelves is enough to make me faint.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Is it wretched that this question gave me pause. Like, long pause. Like, it's been a full five minutes and I feel like the grinch who stole Christmas 'cause I can't give you an answer immediately. (Obviously, I'm thinking on the LARGE scale...like public figures) cause my step-daughters give me reason to celebrate daily...

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? As always, that would go to my buddy, George W. However, he had contenders this year in Tom DeLay and Pat Robertson.

14. Where did most of your money go? That would be the mortgage for Casa Pettit-Miller

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? A new season of "The L Word," Take-5 candybars, my new friends at work (big smooches to Lily and Marlene), finding an old long-sleeved T-shirt that I thought I'd misplaced, visits from my sweet Lynnie in NY, women's group gathering. So, so many things. I'm easily excitable.

16. What song will always remind you of 2005? Well, drat. I dunno. I pass.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
ummm...probably happier. I have a good life.
b) thinner or fatter? a teeny, tiny bit heavier. Just enough to motivate me to lose it.
c) richer or poorer? as I was technically a student last year, it's probaly the former.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Listened to T. and B. talk about their lives. Read. Eaten green vegetables.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Criticize myself about my body. Obsess about infertility.

20. How will you be spending Christmas? We spent many Christmases with family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2005? I continue to fall in love with my sweet husband.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Six Feet Under (may it rest in peace). The L Word. The Office. Scrubs. West Wing.

23. What was the best book you read? I've read so many, I can't recall. Some of my favorites: The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmell, any of the Phillip Gulley fiction books, Plan B, by Anne Lamott, so many more...

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Lee's new album with David Frantz (The Living Room).

25. What did you on your birthday and how old were you? I ate wonderful Mexican food with my family and turned 34.

26. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If the first IUI would have been successful.

27. What kept you sane? Again, my wonderful family and the chance to write.

28. What political issue stirred you the most? Oh, where to begin. I was furious at the treatment of the poor following Hurricane Katrina. I was furious at the treatment of the poor following recent legislation cutting their benefits. I was furious at the treatment of the poor as Republicans again received the tax cuts for the rich. The long and the short of it is, I have a really hard time with W.

29. Who did you miss? The cast of 6 Feet Under after they left.

30. Who was the best new person you met? My friend Lily.

31. Tell us a valuable life lesson learned in 2005. The dachshund, just because she's three, is not housebroken.

So, here's the year...read it and weep.


Holiday Recap

It's been awhile since my last post. The holidays bogged me down and kept me away from the computer. And now, the decorations are almost put away. The only things left under the tree (which Robert has promised to remove soon) are pseudo-pine needles and I can take a deeeeeeeepppppp breath again, and lose those pesky few pounds I gained eating way too many sugar cookies.

In keeping with my commitment to myself to not overwhelm myself with pregnant Mary images this year, I boycotted Advent season and avoided church (sorry, friends). Instead, I spent that time sitting quietly in my sanctuary (a.k.a the guest room) with candles lit pondering my own Advent journey of sorts. Infertility makes the whole holiday season a little lonely sometimes. It's hard not to take it personally (how selfish is that? Being jealous of Mary?). Regardless, it seemed like what I needed to do--my best defense mechanism--avoidance.

There are a few meaningful highlights of the season, though, which I will savor. I spent a delightful day with T., oldest step-daughter extraordinaire, spending her Santa-money on clothes. She is so beautiful, so wise. I marvel at the gift that she is and realize that I don't spend enough time finding out more of who she is becoming. I too often get caught up in the things she doesn't do: clean up her room, hug me goodbye, hang up her towels, clean hair out of the drain... instead of focusing on what she does do: listen well, respond creatively to solutions, share herself openly.

I received the amazing gift of all our family movies on DVD. My mother had the old 8MM tapes transferred and I saw some images of my growing up years I had never seen before. As an only child, whose parents are divorced, being given this kind of history connects me anew to my past, a past I have sometimes felt was forgotten as my parents moved on into their new lives. I have watched those old movies, my jaw dropped in slack-jawed wonder as I watch the Christen who was, and remember that my childhood was a halcyon dream-world of sorts.

And finally, I received from Robert the most amazing gift...it was hidden in my stocking. It was the gift which will keep on giving. Yes, friends, I received a "Jesus: The Action Figure." He is truly amazing. He has wheels on his feet for "easy gliding action" and his poseable arms are outstretched in a beatific pose of eternal love (but if you move them up it sort of looks like he's disco dancing). I appreciate that he looks authentically semitic, rather than a fair-haired golden boy. I can only imagine the fun to come.

And that, my friends, is the Miller report. Back to business. Over and out.