Friday, April 30, 2010

Hey God! Can I Be Mad at You?

A very dear friend of mine lost her father yesterday and she's mad. Mad at God. OOOOO, I heard the collective in-take of breath. But you know what? I think that's ok. She can be mad at God. That was her daddy. And from all accounts he was an awesome dad. And he was still very young - only in his early 60s. And from the series of ailments that he went through - survived cancer, but the chemo taxed his liver to bring back a hepatitis incident from a 70s blood transfusion that he didn't even know he had! - God seems to really be saying it was his time to be called home. My friend wants to know why. When there are so many crappy people out there, why her father? I don't think that's an unreasonable question.

Too often I believe we remember we are human in our relationships with each other but then expect so much more of ourselves when it comes to our relationship with God. We extol the virtues of communication with each other to make sure that we have good relationships with our spouses, family, friends, co-workers, etc. But when it comes to God, we too often feel like we have to accept what we think we were given and then be angry and snipe about it "behind His back".

Let me first point out that there is no "behind God's back" - he's like the ultimate supermom - he really does have eyes and ears everywhere - so you're not hiding your anger. And the only way we're going to find out why and how to make peace is by talking it out. Yes, talking it out with God. Feel like an ass talking to someone you're mad at who isn't actually in the room? Start talking to God, ask Him to come to you; you'll soon find you are not alone in the room.

Paul and I recently heard a great sermon on relationships with other people and one of the points that was made was about forgiveness. We have to forgive people even when they don't know they have offended us. We have to forgive ourselves. Well guess what - sometimes we have to forgive God. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying God makes mistakes that need forgiveness from us - he doesn't. But sometimes He does things that are in our best interest, but damn if they don't hurt and make us angry. We have to come to a point in our walk with God that we have to say - maybe I don't know why, but I trust and therefore I forgive the hurt. If you harbor a grudge against God for anything then you have not forgiven Him. I think this is important to realize. We are human, we get angry. It's normal. What's healthy and right is to forgive.

Now let me add one more point on here. Some people get upset when I say God does things that hurt or are bad, so let me clarify. God may not actually do those things to you, but He does allow them to happen. Why? I don't know except to say that God's plan is always good and it's always good for you. Some of the worst things I have ever gone through have ended in very positive places and I see the hand of God in it. So did God take my father-in-law? I believe so, and I was happy when He did - Heinz would not have wanted to suffer. Did He give him cancer in the first place? I don't know. Was I pissed off when Heinz was taken from us? You bet I was. That was a fine man and we needed him. Was I pissed off at God? You bet. But we talked it out God and I. Give it a try, angry is no way to go through life. Oh and remember - being angry doesn't mean you don't love the one you are mad at.

So go ahead my friend - be angry, it is your right as a human being - just don't forget to talk too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My "Gig"

So I'm officially working on the Census gig - no good stories yet - other than getting lost A LOT. But what has been interesting so far is the people I'm meeting. Today I met a man from Uzbekistan, an older couple in their 80s who have been married for over 50 years and a woman who's aunt is over 100 years old. Each of these people was fascinating and shared just a tiny sliver of their life with me. They were so welcoming and friendly. Ok, the old folks griped a lot, but hey, they've had 80 years of life, you're bound to have some pent up bitching.

One didn't know what the Census was but took my word that it was real then listened with interest while I gave him the history of the American Census (take that all you who said my History degree was worthless!) Another told me all about the history of their house and how they came to have it. And yet another told me all about their neighborhood. For a social historian like me, it was just wonderful.

But it also reminded me of a collection of books by Studs Terkel. I was also reminded of this by my husband who brought home another of Mr. Terkel's books. If you have never read one of his books I greatly encourage you to do so. Studs Terkel writes books which are a collection of essays from every day people. His most famous work was "Working" in which people described what kind of jobs they do. He talked to people from all across America all walks of life. This body of work was done again in the 90s in a book called "Gig" which I also highly recommend. But back to Studs Terkel.

Terkel has written many books about the American experience. Race, the Great Depression, WWII, Working, Chicago, American philosophy, and on. What makes each of them just wonderful is that he talks to America - ordinary men and women who can tell you about the subject matter. For instance I read the book on the Great Depression and he interviewed people who lived in the cities at the time, dust bowl, southern blacks, politicians, people who were children at the time - everyone. It gave such a perspective that you usually do not find in text books. We usually only hear about what was happening at a macro-level, not a micro level. Not what was happening in the neighborhoods, in the houses like yours and mine. That's what Studs Terkel brings home.

It occurred to me that in taking this job I have the opportunity to have my own little slice of a "Terkel event" if you will. I'm going to meet a lot of interesting people in this little journey. Some are going to be really interesting, some will be scary I'm sure, most will be just average people like you and I - and I get to be a part of it. I'm thinking it will be cool.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Teacher from Hell?

Ok, let's take stock. Still not working. Local school district is not up to snuff. St. Joseph School tuition (if they stay open) is about $3,300. So, having to look at home schooling for the fall term with Zach.

I'm a bit nervous. It's a huge responsibility to make sure that your child grows up knowing all the academic things they should as well as social, moral, spiritual, etc. I suck at math and science. I have to teach him math and science? I made my teacher's cry. I'm going to be his teacher? Oh dear Lord, help me.

I've been talking to other home schooler's just to get some questions answered and the one big difference between them and us is that they have more than one child. At least their kids learned how to share, settle arguments, have a difference of opinion, etc. with someone. Zach is an only child and it looks like that's not going to change. My worst fear is that he'll grow up not knowing how to interact with other people who aren't like him (or his parents). Not know how to settle disagreements and stand up for himself with overbearing people of the world.

I do like the idea of spending more time at home with Zach and seeing his progress and being a part of that. It would be a part of his childhood he'd never forget. Although he'll probably be in counseling about it in another 30 years.

Am I over reacting? Probably. Maybe I'll find a job between now and July and we won't have to worry about it. Maybe we'll do it for a year and then he'll go back to regular school. Who knows. Right now Paul has 2001 on TV, clearly Kubrik didn't fare well from his "formal" education. Yes, he's made money, but wtf? He's weird.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Legos Make a Come Back!

When Paul and I were in college we loved Lego's. It became a bit of an obsession. Actually it started as a way to avoid studying for fall semester finals. That became an awesome memory for me. I remember it clearly.

We were renting a tiny house in Tucson on East Circle Drive East (ya, weird address - try explaining that to people - they always thought we were drunk). It was December 8th and Paul and I were celebrating St. Nicholas Day (a European holiday in which stockings or shoes - depending on which country you are from - are filled). Paul put a small Lego set in my stocking. I had never had Lego's as a kid and I loved the little kit. It was awesome. So in a desperate attempt to avoid studying for finals we ran to Toys R Us and bought each of us a bigger set to put together while watching the 007 Marathon on TBS and not study. It was great fun. That underlying fear because we weren't studying, but having a great time watching James Bond and putting together Lego's. What could be better.

For some reason the same thing never happened in spring semester finals time - something just didn't hit the time right. Maybe because it was too hot by then, no 007 marathon, no Christmas season, I don't know, but it just seemed like a fall semester thing. So it became a tradition - even after we graduated - for a couple of years. People would tease us that when we had kids they would be thrilled with our collection and we'd roll our eyes - whatever - we aren't having kids. Blah, blah, blah. All in all we'd amassed about 25 decent sized sets of Lego's - no small collection let me tell you. And no small representation of money we spent either!

Then careers took over and other interests and the Lego's got put away in a box (smartly in plastic bags which protected them from a moldy basement later) and forgotten for about 10 years. Until yesterday.

Zachary has been playing with a Lego set he got for Christmas last year and showing real interst in actually building original creations with it. So when he went upstairs to potty yesterday I sent Paul down to get the mother lode of Lego's in the basement. When Zach came back down his eyes were as big as saucers. We kept pulling out bag after bag after bag of Lego's. He was hoping up and down and giggling. It was great. And suddenly I had that feeling again. Put the 007 marathon on, get some take out fast food, I'm avoiding studying for finals! Seriously, I actually had to remind myself that I wasn't blowing anything off and it was OK to play with the Lego's! I felt like such a rebel!

Zachary and I spent the afternoon today building Merlin's Tower. We had a blast. To think I'd get a double blessing out of those Lego's! The thrill of putting them together with Paul the first time and with Zachary almost 20 years later! I guess all those people were right after all. Zachary IS thrilled with the mother lode of Lego's. So am I.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm a Census Taker!

It's officially called an Enumerator. Why did I want to be an Enumerator? As Paul says, it's better than being a denominator. Ba-dum-bum. But seriously, I signed up because I can work about 20 -30 hours a week in the mornings, evenings and weekends and still be home with Zachary in the afternoons and still look for a full-time job in my marketing field in the meantime.

What does it mean to be an enumerator? Well so far it means doing a lot of personnel paperwork that seems to say the same thing over and over again, taking an oath of office to defend the constitution (?) and protect all data within an inch of your life and have your fingerprints taken (first time, I swear).

I have to admit, when Paul first suggested I take the test to become one MY first thought was Hannible Lecter eating his Census taker with fava beans and a nice Chianti. OMG! You want me to do what? I don't have life insurance you know! And so far in our training we've had lots of instruction on protecting people's privacy and identifying ourselves so they don't get scared when we knock on their doors, but our protection training has consisted of - 'if it doesn't feel right, don't go in". Ummm, yeah, that and a big can of mace and I'm ready to go!