Monday, July 20, 2009

Words from Addie (I Mean, Directly from Addie--she's Guest-Writing)


Addie has discovered my blog. As such, she suggested we co-write a post for today. However, since I'm in the middle of a thrilling part of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, I'm going to read while she writes a post here. Hope y'all enjoy :) Heeeeeeeeeeeeere's Addie.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't like that most of you reading this know more about me then you should. And I don't like this weird name my mother gave me. Addie? Like math? You add? Ie? Ew. My sister gets the better deal. Belle means beautiful. I mean mathy. I HATE math. I didn't even know she wrote on here about us until I read the one about me and my jealousy towards my grandma and Belle. AND SHAME ON YOU to all who took her side. You are horrible people who don't deserve to read this blog. Be gone with you. She is 5 and she gets along with her parents. She doesn't need her all the time. Me on the other hand... Anyways. My head hurts. Migraines? Maybe. This is pointless, unlike the normal entry. But I'm bored and Secret Life of the American Teenager doesn't start for half an hour. Plus this blog needs some spicing up. So my topic here, after all of this rambling, is the generation gap. Do you really believe that my generation, the teens of this period, are worse than your generation? I believe that all are different; we would never do some things your generation would, and you would never have done things we do now. We may be way too tech-savvy, but we know skills most adults will never learn, or will fail miserably at, as my mother has shown. Anyways, give me your input. Am I from a group of people worse than Neanderthals? Or will we save the world in our future? Nice talking to ya.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why do People Always Complain About the Weather ?

I have probably said this before, but it probably bears repeating. The weather is an ever-changing state, a difference in temperature and precipitation and cloud cover. As such, it seems to be a solid last-ditch conversation piece.

I'm good with that. I talk about the weather as much as anyone. One of the reasons I love living in New England, in fact, is that we have four definitive seasons. Weather conditions are always changing, never the same.

My favorite season is fall (or autumn, for the more literary among you). If you've never been to New Hampshire in the fall, I probably can't do it justice. It's long sleeve weather, but you're comfortable. Perfect for going on long walks. Leaves changing to different brilliant colors that Crayola could never reproduce. The scent of apples on the breeze. No humidity. Skies of a blue so deep it could make you cry.

I hate summer, though. Hate it. I hate being hot and sweaty and sticky and miserable. If you're cold in the winter (or even fall or spring), you can put on another sweater or add a blanket or whatever. In summer, even if you walk around naked, you're still going to be hot, sweaty, sticky, and miserable (well, this is true for me, anyway ... not that I walk around naked, but you know what I mean).

But I'm honest about my hatred of summer. The fact is, I'm more than likely going to be a bitch from late June through late August, and I spend extensive time bemoaning the weather and wishing for fall, winter, spring ... anything that isn't horrifically oppressive. I'm probably not a lot of fun to be around when the mercury goes above eighty. On those winter mornings that are below zero, though, while everyone else is complaining about how cold it is, I'm just grateful that it's not summer. Eternally grateful.

What bugs me, though, is the number of people who spend all winter complaining about being cold and wanting summer to come ... but then, when it's summer, they go on and on about how hot, sticky, and uncomfortable they are and how they can't wait for winter. I tend to be rather short-tempered with these people--after all, I feel like I've earned the right to bitch and moan about summer since I don't complain the other nine months of the year.

To be fair, New Hampshire's summer of 2009 has been exceptionally cool (and of course most people have done a lot of complaining about that, but I digress). The last few days have reached the eighties, though, with fairly high humidity. The sort of weather, in other words, that does not bring out the best in me.

Perhaps that's why I've got such a bee in my bonnet about this right now. It just got me thinking, though, about why it seems to be characteristic of human nature to complain all the time ... and then, when your complaints are reversed, complaining about that.

Kind of maddening, if you think about it ...

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Grief Worse than Death?

Death is horrible. Based on what I've seen, it's usually horrible for the people who go through it. It's horrible for those left behind. It's just ... horrible.

I'm wondering, though, if losing a person through mental illness or substance abuse or a complete change in their personalities and values is even worse. I'm thinking that, in my opinion, it might well be.

Although several people close to me have passed away, the most difficult loss was unquestionably my stepfather. Even when I acted like an idiot and hurt him and my mother repeatedly, made mistakes that forced them to face things no parents should ever have to, he never gave up on me. He was always there, for me, for my family, and for thousands of other people (he was in a service industry--helping people was his life's work).

He died of lung cancer almost five years ago, and I still think about him every day. I try to live my life under the tenets that he lived his, and I take great pride in knowing that I help children every day.

While he is in my daily thoughts, though, he is no longer here. There will always be a hole in the hearts of those of us who loved him, but time passes and the hole grows a little smaller. It's an eternal pain in the heart that swells up and bleeds anew on Father's Day and Christmas and his birthday and the day he died and sometimes out of the clear blue, but it has shrunk because we have all had to figure out a way to live a life without him in it. It's incredibly difficult and it doesn't make the missing any less, but he came to this earth and shared his love and magic and then left for what's hopefully a better place.

When somebody becomes a different person and it happens in increments so small you are almost completely unaware, it's completely different. You can't help but think that the person who laughed for hours with you over a sign advertising for a wife in a way-up-north New Hampshire town and who was steadfast during nineteen and a half hours of labor and who knocked over a Diet Coke display in a foreign country and who convinced you that you were okay just the way you are ... he must be somewhere in that pathetic, hollow shell. All the caring and kindness he possessed, the desire to do good ... where could it possibly have gone? Can a person vomit out their positive qualities?

I truly believe that it's the worst to know that a person I was once madly in love with became so altered that he is no longer identifiable ... and that I can't even grieve for him. After all, he still walks the earth. It feels like the same sort of grief as death, though.

I suppose in a way it is a death ... the death of a person who once existed. And I can (and should) grieve for him, for I loved him beyond words even as I'm sickened by the puppet that walks around with his face and hands and feet.

Am I wrong on this? Is death worse than a loss like this in your opinion?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Movie Review of Sorts: My Thoughts on "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"



I was one of the crazy people sitting in a movie theater at midnight to catch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Although I love movies, I don't as a rule love movies based on books. There are, of course, exceptions, but in general if I've read and enjoyed a book I make it a point not to see a film adaptation.

The whole Harry Potter experience has been a bit unusual for me, though. I wouldn't read the books for the longest time on general principle ... I have a kind of overly stiff-necked aversion to "the latest craze" when it comes to literature. However, I also take very seriously the component of book sharing in my relationships with my students. In other words, if a kid tells me to read a book, I do so (or at least I'll try really hard). I feel like, if I'm going to recommend books to students or assign them required texts, I should at least extend them the common courtesy of giving their recommendations a chance. However, I broke that rule when it came to Harry Potter ... I only started reading J.K. Rowling's masterpieces when Addie did. Naturally, I loved the books and I (somewhat shockingly) am a fan of the movies as well (except the third one, although it's my favorite of the books ... kind of weird).

All of which is way off base of the intended topic of this post, which is to share with you my thoughts on the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, a film I took in last night at 12:04 a.m. Oh, and I guess I should warn that there are spoilers here (albeit minor ones--I'm making a concerted effort not to wreck the movie for anyone).

In a nutshell, it was a good movie. If my entire Harry Potter experience had been of the cinematic bend, in fact, I'd go so far as to say it was great. I don't want to completely ruin the plot for anyone, so I guess I'll share my three main criticisms and repeat again that it was definitely worth the midnight thing and suffering what some are referring to as a "Harry Potter Hangover" today.

I thought the beginning of the movie was horrible. It was not remotely engaging, and in fact it showed the character of Harry in a light that I found kind of pathetic. Basically, Harry is hitting on a waitress in a little diner, going so far as to arrange what appears to be a casual hook-up when the waitress gets off shift at eleven. I'm certainly not a prude or anything, but it was just ... crass. Anyway, nothing happened because Harry was forced to accompany a suddenly-present Dumbledore to a creepy-looking house in order to convince a former Hogwarts professor to return to teaching duties. It was too long, too much, and too boring, particularly when you consider that a secret meeting between the enigmatic Professor Severus Snape and two Death-Eaters soon follows. The latter scene is fast-paced, interesting, and effectively sets up circumstances that are the very meat of the movie. Pretty waitresses and the magical cleaning up of a house seem pretty draggy when such a crackling interchange is waiting in the wings. As far as I'm concerned, that's where they should have started the movie.

I enjoy humor as much as the next person. In fact, I take heat from time to time about laughing at things that are really pretty stupid (at a meeting today, for example, the word "oral" kept coming up, and I just giggled like an adolescent every time). Furthermore, I realize that any accurate depiction of teenagers is impossible without dumb jokes, particularly of the sexual variety (Harry and Ginny go alone to a secret room to hide a book and, when they return to their friends, are asked, "Did you do it?"), and I laughed as hard as anyone at these little zingers last night ... but I know that if I see the movie again, I'll know the jokes already and will just find them stale and kind of a detraction from the story. Half Blood Prince is extremely plot-driven; I don't think you need excessive sophomoric humor to entertain your audience.

Finally, I noticed when leaving the theater in a huge throng of people that several people were saying, "So who was the half blood prince? How did Harry get his book? Why does this matter?" and so on and so forth. Since I've read the book I had a deeper understanding and, while I don't expect filmmakers to elaborate in a way that is far easier to do through the written word, it bugged me that several major parts of the story were glossed over as almost an afterthought. The half blood prince, his annotated potions book that serves Harry very well, and the explanation for why he took on that dubious nickname are the sort of details that make the book a rich, thought-provoking experience. Yeah,not so much in the movie.

Other than those three criticisms, though (and remember, those criticisms are solely my own and I freely confess to having a bias against film adaptations of books I loved), it was very well done. If you haven't seen it yet, definitely make it a point to do so. You'll be glad you did, and it might even look something like this ...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Midnight Show Phenomenon

Addie, Belle, two of Addie's friends and I are at the midnight showing of the latest "Harry Potter" offering. This place is a zoo!

Obviously, I'm in no position to be objective (seeing as how I'm sitting on the dirty floor of a movie theatre lobby) but I'm curious to know your nuggets of wisdom as to why people go to midnight shows.

Did I mention that we're three hours early? I think we're kind of crazy :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Communication Conundrums

I think the entire idea of communication is just fascinating. First, the fact that even tiny cells communicate (okay, they're little messages related to replicating, but still ...), wild animals, pets, all the way up to humans. Communication rocks.

It gets more complex when dealing with humans, of course; we're not just little cells sending out a sex signal (well, there are exceptions to every rule **cough** Paris Hilton). People have various means of communicating, and it's interesting to note the communication choices people go with.

I hate to talk on the telephone, for example (I'm sure I've said this before, but it bears repeating). I think AIM and Facebook are just the most amazing things--I can communicate via a computer in writing. I always sound far more intelligent when I'm writing than I do when I'm speaking. However, I know people that spend the greater part of their lives on the telephone. Then, of course, you get people like my daughter Addie that talks on the telephone, AIM, MySpace, and to the friend she has over all at the same time. I'd be so confused!!!!!!

The downside of communication between human beings, however, is undoubtedly the misunderstandings that crop up from time to time. I don't know about you, but if somebody says there's a "tone" in my voice that means I'm starting to get an attitude with them, it really bugs me. If there's a "tone" in my voice, it's usually because I just dumped a can of Coke in my lap while I was driving (you'd be surprised how often this happens ... I'm kind of a ridiculous klutz) or sped by a police officer going twenty over the speed limit.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's important to put things into perspective. If somebody sounds "off" on the phone, they might have a migraine, they might have an enormous amount of stress, they might have just received horrible news, they might be trying to do the dishes, and so on and so forth. If one of Addie's friends calls, for example (and this is an example that really doesn't happen since Addie has her own phone, but it's the closest example I can think of to what really happened, which is what set me off on this tangent), and asks to speak to her at ten or eleven when Addie has just gone to bed and I say, "Yeah, I'll see if I can get her up again" in probably not the most patient way, this has much to do with the fact that this phone call was the fourth in ten minutes, that I'm the person that has to wake Addie up and therefore suffer her wrath, and that my irritation isn't with the person that called but with the whole big picture.

Some people are so egocentric and narcissistic that they aren't able to see anyone's big picture beyond their own. The scope of their universe is solely on how everything impacts THEM. As far as they're concerned, if it's convenient for them, well then, hell, it had just better be convenient for everybody.

And God forbid you don't see things their way ... that's where the hard-core nastiness comes in.

Communication is at least a two-way street. That puts a lot of variables into the equation, and anyone that doesn't see that is at best short-sighted and at worst a selfish, spoiled, childish, ignorant moron.

Not that I'm talking about anyone specific, mind you ;)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Significance of Setting

As any regular readers of this blog know, I have three careers--mother, writer, and English teacher. I take all three of these jobs very seriously, and I've noticed since beginning this blog the overlap that exists between my triumvirate.

Sometimes I think my brain can only focus on one thing at a time. At the moment, I'm completely hung up on setting. I've been rereading both my finished manuscript and my current WIP frenetically with an eye to setting. It's gotten me thinking a lot about whether or not where a book takes place plays a major role with readers' experiences with the piece.

Let me explain ...

I've been rereading Dennis Lehane's mystery series featuring private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. As private detectives, Patrick and Angie are able to investigate cases differently than police officers (for example, one of their best friends sells guns to criminals, but he helps them get a lot of information because he's in the midst of that world). What I really like about these books, though, is that they take place in Boston. Since I only live an hour away from Boston, I've gotten to visit that great city quite a bit, and it's really neat to see places and landmarks I know incorporated into literature.

I have to admit that I enjoy the quick, fast-paced, ridiculously twisty-turvy mysteries. I eat them up like popcorn. I love Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware mysteries, for example, but I wonder if I'd love them even more if I'd ever been to California. Does it really make a difference? And could it even go the other way ... in other words, is my interpretation of Kellerman's depiction of L.A. more true of what he intends than it would be if I'd walked the city streets and viewed the Pacific on my own? Would someone who's never been to Boston feel differently about Lehane's works?

I'm teaching summer school right now, and Walter Dean Myers' Monster is a hot commodity. The book takes place in a juvenile detention center in Manhattan ... and, of course, a courtroom. It struck me today how kids in a small New Hampshire town are able to relate to this decidedly different setting.

So how important is a book's setting? Can it detract as well as add to a reader's experience with a book? Is it limiting? Would it be better to have a work that could take place anywhere, a book that could appeal to everyone through its universality? Is that even possible : ) ?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Addie's Car Phobia

Addie is seriously petrified of motor vehicles. She hates to ride in a car, grumbles incessantly about taking a bus to school, and freaks out if a car goes by too fast (or too close) when she is walking.

I have to admit, I am not always the most patient person when dealing with this. It's kind of annoying when you're driving along and the car a mile up the road puts its brake lights on and your passenger literally hits the deck. We were at the toll booth a couple of weeks ago, and the car in front of us went through the toll then started reversing back toward us. There was a line of cars behind me, so it's not like I could back up or do much of anything. Addie was screaming, "Back up! Back up!" to me and was trying to get to the horn. The teenage girl--admittedly not looking to be the sharpest saw in the toolbox based on reversing into a tollbooth--was looking out her window as she backed up, to be fair, and she told the tollbooth attendant that she'd blown through because she was used to having an EZ-Pass. Stupid, yes.

But Addie's meltdown? Kind of ridiculous. If Addie was prone to meltdowns, I think I'd be more patient. However, since she's in general very level-headed, this issue of hers drives me crazy (wow, pun was completely unintentional there).

I bring this up because Addie went out with one of her friends today, originally to a local water park. It was closed due to rain, possible thunderstorms, and highs in the low sixties, though, so they ended up going to see Transformers 2 (by the way, the movie was pretty decent according to Addie). What I wonder, though, is if Addie acts like as much of a horse's ass when one of her friends is driving as she does when I'm driving. I mean, does she go, "Oh my God, Jenny, a Mack truck's coming. Pull over! Pull over right now!" or something like that?

As I've been writing this, though, I've been thinking about some of my own irrational fears. The big one, of course, is thunderstorms. I literally sit on the stairs and cry when there's a rumble of thunder. That's pretty stupid, really. I'm also too scared to get on an airplane, I almost pass out at the mere sight of a snake, and speaking in front of people in a formal setting (such as a school board meeting) is torture for me.

I guess in the great scheme of things, Addie's motor vehicle neurosis is no more strange than some of mine.

Any thoughts on what causes strange and intense fears? Any suggestions for getting over them? Any of your own you'd like to share?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Parental Intuition

Parents seem to have a magical sixth sense when it comes to their children. This is a good thing, of course ... but it can be very frightening at the same time.

Addie, Belle, and I spent the Fourth of July at the beach house with my mother, my brother Adam and his fiancee Colleen, my niece and nephew, Colleen's brother and his little girl, and Pythagorus, who came down for the afternoon and early evening (I'm afraid to put it in writing, but we seem to be back on the right path ... hope this doesn't jinx the progress that's been made).

Anyway, I was holding Belle at one point and noticed that her eye was a little red, almost like she'd bumped it on something. I asked her about it pretty closely, of course, but she said she didn't recall hitting her eye on anything. I was a little bit suspicious of this because Belle often claims that she didn't fall down and hurt herself if she was doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing (such as spinning around in circles or running amok with the dogs). Still, because I'm paranoid, I showed it to my mother and was assured that it was probably a bug bite or something equally innocuous.

Belle's eye got progressively worse yesterday afternoon. It almost looked like she'd had a stroke or something, which scared me to death, as you can imagine. Here's the picture I took yesterday afternoon to send to my mother for her input:



I didn't end up sending it to her since I called her instead and she reassured me that it was more than likely just a bug bite. She suggested that I continued giving Belle her Claritin and think about getting some Benadryl for her. This was when I was really freaking out since Belle is on Sulfa for a bladder infection (Belle is almost never sick but, when she is, it seems to come in tidal waves) and I was afraid she was having an allergic reaction to it.

When she woke up this morning looking like this,



I took her to the emergency room. I'm very glad I did. They weren't sure what started the swelling (they agreed that it was probably a bug bite), but it was starting to cross the line into cellulitis and maybe a more serious eye infection. Because Belle was already on an antibiotic, the doctor had to check and see if the Sulfa should be fighting a cellulitis kind of infection (turns out the answer was no, so Belle's on another round of antibiotics, this time Augmentin). They also checked her vision since she couldn't open one of her eyes (this was a little funny, actually, since they used a chart with pictures instead of letters and, being Belle, she got said "nest" instead of "apple" and "horse barn" instead of "house"--my kid is an odd duck, let me tell you :-)) and gave her a coloring book and crayons for being so brave.

Today was my first day of summer school, and I was actually scared that I was going to be late. Belle's day care was closed today because of the holiday, so Addie was on babysitting patrol. I was really worried leaving the girls (not because Addie isn't a great babysitter--she is--but just because I was worried sick about Belle's eye), but it all turned out fine. Interestingly, Addie read the discharge papers from the emergency room and put warm cloths on Belle's eye per their recommendation, so she actually looked better when I got home than she had when I left.

What fascinates me about this whole event is that I had a bad feeling on Saturday, back when Belle's eye was just a little bit puffy, that there was potentially something really wrong. I felt this even more strongly last night, and of course this morning I knew that I had to take her to the doctor as soon as I could. Fortunately, Belle is on the road to recovery, but the doctor said it was good that I'd brought her in because it could have been very bad if she wasn't treated.

Part of me is beating myself up, of course, because I had that feeling that I needed to bring her back on Saturday and I didn't. Still, it really didn't look bad on Saturday so I probably would have been laughed out of the doctor's office, but parental instinct is a powerful thing.

What are your thoughts on the intuition of a parent? Do you find that the "gut feeling" of a parent is usually right?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Old Friend Joins the Three Musketeers for Dinner

One of my best friends, B.J., came down to visit Addie, Belle, and I. She is just wonderful, and I miss her so much and wish I saw her more often. We taught together for a year and, despite a bit of distance, our friendship has persevered. We went to Bugaboo Creek where Belle told lame knock-knock jokes and Addie actually got the double entendre details of stories B.J. and I tell about out adventures at work (There's a book called Up the Down Staircase--it should be read by everyone in education).

Anyway, there are many invaluable memories I have with B.J., but my personal favorite has been recounted already in one of my other blogs (originally written in 2007, if you can believe it). However, it was such a great story that I figured I'd post it here for your viewing pleasure--and as thanks to B.J., who always seems to know when I need a friend to lean on. And a laugh ... always a laugh : )

So, here it is ... once again : ) The true story of B.J. and the Prayer Rug.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just got off the phone with my good friend B.J. My stomach hurts from laughing so hard. I think we're both going to hell.

In general, B.J. is a very calm, cool, and collected individual. However, she called me this afternoon rather shaken with a story that absolutely couldn't wait until tomorrow. B.J. carefully explained to me that, while horror movies and superstitions don't generally freak her out, she has a slight issue with those that deal with the religious (such as the movie "Stigmata").

Now, B.J. and I went out to dinner last night and reminisced about how she had to attend "God Training" in order to work as a volleyball coach at a religious school. We were laughing about the ludacrisy of the video itself ("Not ALL homosexuals are pedophiles"), and, okay, we got silly about how black and white really were B.J.'s colors if she decided to become a nun.

Evidently God was listening.

In today's mail, B.J. received a package from St. Matthew's Churches (note the plural) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Within, there was a letter, a sealed package, and a prayer rug composed of two sheets of computer paper containing the face of Jesus Christ. However, it has the disturbing optical illusion feature where the eyes look closed initially but, when you look just right, all of a sudden the big guy is staring right at you, following your every move. B.J. was creeped out, to say the least.

Well, not wanting to further bring down any wrath of God upon herself, B.J. called some people (including her mom--"Jesus is watching me, Mom, he's watching me!") and yours truly.

She started out by reading me the letter she received. The gist of it was that she needed to, alone in a room by herself, utilize the prayer rug for its intended purpose (to wit, praying). After that, she was instructed to put it into her Bible for the night. No Bible? No worries ... just put it under your bed for the night. While J.C. is chilling under your bed, the plan is that you flip the letter over and fill out the "wish list"--money, new house, new job, new boyfriend, et cetera et cetera. You then mailed the prayer rug back to a P.O. Box in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and that was that.

(I should note that B.J. did try to hide the prayer rug under her bed, but her cat started eating it. Realizing that this was likely sacrilegious on a variety of levels, B.J. kept the prayer rug out in the open. I suggested sealing it in a bag or something, but she was concerned that Jesus might suffocate)

After following these directions, B.J. was allowed to open the SPECIAL SECRET package containing her OWN PRIVATE PROPHESY. I should also probably mention the "testimonials" from "real people" who used the prayer rug and saw all their dreams come true.

Of course, this made B.J. uneasy ... it would have made me uneasy too. Therefore, we googled St. Matthew's Churches (again, note the plural) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were a number of hits identifying it as a scam (basically, they send you free stuff ranging from "a piece of Noah's Ark" to a shred of Joseph's coat of many colors to completely hook you before they begin asking for money or income tithing).

Well, I think this made B.J. feel a little better. We also did a Google image search and found the church (?) itself ... there were sad and pathetic pictures of scores of people in different churches all over the country. It was just very sad and unfortunate.

Well, B.J. was evidently convinced enough that it was a scam that she decided to open her OWN PRIVATE PROPHESY. I should note that she did put down the phone, go into a room by herself, and use the prayer rug first. To be completely honest, I would have done the same thing ... to not would be like setting up some sort of dark karma. She then opened her OWN PRIVATE PROPHESY and received the same "message" no doubt received by hundreds of people today.

B.J. at this point was no longer seriously freaked out about the whole thing. The more she read, the better she felt about the fact that it was clearly a scam. We got laughing about the prayer rug (thought it might be neat to bring it into work ... it was sort of fun predicting the different reactions our coworkers might have), and I told her I'd write a blog about it, just because it was such a priceless story.

The thing is, as I'm writing this, I'm getting really angry with St. Matthew's Churches (I won't emphasize the plural this time). Religion is a personal and private thing. The feeling of a higher power is something that many people find great comfort in. Taking advantage of people without the means or the common sense to investigate scams in the name of God is just beyond despicable.

You might be surprised to know that I'm a believer myself. I was raised a Catholic and though I'm pretty much lapsed at this point in my life, I think most sects of Christianity are similar in a lot of regards. Essentially, the priests or pastors or ministers or whatever-you-call-them are the "higher power" you deal with. I have an extremely important, powerful, and personal relationship with God; I don't think I need to attend church regularly to maintain this.

I mention this because I don't want anyone to view me (or especially B.J., who is pretty much a saint) as awful. Because I believe in God, and believe strongly, I feel justified in saying this:

I am confident that He was laughing right along with us.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Photographs

Have you ever noticed that photographs show up at the strangest of times? The messages that photographs send change over the passage of time, even as the picture itself remains unchanged. Capturing an individual moment, a snapshot of a person or a place or a thing, is magical, really.

Pictures of Addie and Belle bring me uninhibited joy. I have reveled in every age they've been, loved every second of their lives (even if I might not have thought so at the time). Photos of my children are treasures, reminders not just of how beautiful and photogenic my daughters are but of trips and concerts, the Halloween Belle was a clam (photographic evidence of this--obviously homemade--costume is more valuable than gold), Addie on stage in a blue dress during her starring role as Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical: The Musical, a lifetime's worth of Christmas trees with various people sitting underneath them.

I found in a closet today some pictures of Pythagorus and I shortly after we started dating. The camera caught the kindness in his eyes, and I'm so glad it did. His eyes were so kind once upon a time, so kind.

The toughest one, though, the one that's kept me crying all day, was a picture of me taken in Montreal. It was the first vacation Pythagorus and I ever took together--the first parentally-sanctioned vacation I'd ever been on with a boyfriend, in fact--and I will never forget what an amazing time we had. That's obvious from the look on my face--smiling, bright-eyed, relaxed, and happy, for once.

I had been brought low by numerous boyfriends in the past, hurt and scarred and jaded. I had sworn off ever having a boyfriend again when I met Pythagorus in a math class that he started tutoring me in. His kind eyes, his gentle demeanor, the "I've got everything under control, so don't worry one bit" aura that he sent out ... that's what changed my mind about giving the boyfriend thing one last chance.

The girl in the picture, the young woman in Montreal, the one that was me, was twenty-three years old. That picture says, "I cannot believe that, in the depths of my despair, I found this wonderful, kind person who thinks I deserve a vacation here in this amazing city. I cannot believe that a nice guy, a good and dependable and smart and interesting guy, wants to be with me." My almost tangible happiness, of course, seems like a slap in the face from where I sit today.

I will never be sorry. Belle is the best thing Pythagorus ever gave me, of course, but there are a hundred--no, a million stories, adventures, laughing fits, stories, camping trips, jaunts to Montreal, hikes in the woods, and so on and so forth that were gifts from Pythagorus every day for a long time. No matter how hurt and angry and confused I am tonight, as much as I want to rip up that picture of the stupid girl in Montreal because she really should be aware of what's going to end up happening and the unspeakable pain it will cause, I have to honor the love that Pythagorus and I shared for well over five years of marriage. It was there, it was real, and I will miss it forever.

Stupid photographs ...