Tag Archives: becoming clean

My Fault…

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I thought I could go back to bed and lie there for a bit without incident. So, technically, I suppose it was my fault. But I heard everyone helping each other get breakfast. It sounded peaceable.

So, forty glorious minutes later I walk out. The weather’s perfect. It’s sunny. Even the introvert in me is charmed.

“Let’s go to the park,” I say, “Shoes on.”

At this moment in the hallway the little guy passes me holding a spoonful of milky cereal in front of his belly and marching into his bedroom. Curious, I follow him. Then I watch as he stops, calculates, throws said cereal onto the carpet, touches one foot on top of it delicately as if to evaluate his success and turns, I’m assuming, in order to get more.

Well, I stop that nonsense and on the way to the kitchen with the spoon I notice several other arrangements of cereal on the floor and realize this is an installation piece, probably entitled “Scourge of My Mother”. There is also one very wet towel lying in a square on the floor.

“Hey guys? What’s with the wet towel? Did he have an accident?”

“No, Mom, he spilled a cup of milk,” said the eldest.

“He did it on purpose. And it was my milk,” said the girl.

Mixed media.

(There are many moments like this when I’m glad I don’t have a nice place. I can’t stand how my kids treat my two-bedroom rental. What on earth would I do if they treated my dream-house this way?!)

I proceed into the kitchen. And the baby has tried to make a smoothie.

Here is a picture of that baby:

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I sigh and scrap my plans for the park. I place the baby in the tub (the only place he will remain contained) and wipe counters, do dishes, unload dishwasher so I can load dishes, start laundry from last night’s pee debacle(another long story), scrub and baking soda a square of carpet, sweep the kitchen, vacuum and four hours later it’s nap time and I’m sucking down coffee and eating some Go Diego Go cereal. For some subliminal reason I wanted some.

The first baby, that’s not anyone’s fault. You’re naive; you’ve never had a baby. You don’t know. The second one, well, that’s not technically your fault either. You and your husband have seven siblings between you. Let’s blame family culture. But three, well- the third one’s on you. You asked for three. This is on you.

Train of Thought…

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I can’t be who everybody wants me to be. I’m skilled not brilliant. I’m passionate not a force. I have energy for now. I am creative but slowly. I’m disorganized. I can’t multitask. I’m not big BIG picture. I’m not fine detailed. I’m Barbara. I draw pretty pictures not daring ones. I love showing people the love of Christ. I want to live every moment. I hate not having enough energy. I hate letting moments slip by. I hate thinking about the hours of television that could’ve been a novel. I hate leaving art projects undone. Why can’t all the projects be finished instantly? I’m disgusted by the idea of leaving something undone when I die. But I find it improbable and most likely inauthentic to who I am to ever finish everything at the same time. I want to meet Jesus now. And I’m frenzied for living another day. I love my bed. I love to climb in. I hate to get out of it. I love being in my mind. I love being creative, letting my mind work. I love it when my thoughts keep me up till four solving problems, unable to rest when beautiful visions are being built. Yet I scroll down my phone clicking back and forth between email, facebook, twitter, and wordpress, just to make my mind be still so I can sleep. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what God wants me to offer. I find out in the second. This is it. This is what you have to give. I’m tired. I’m crying. I wish others could see life as I do sometimes. It’s a gift this, the view, the creation, never bored in my mind. What would I do without characters talking, images parading. Just images, just stories, nothing grand, nothing that will affect the tides of politics or social justice. They’re not even true. They’re fiction as true as I can make them. I love stories. Some crazy story this, me, here, now.

Ritual Tuesday…

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I am super thrilled to be featured today over on my friend Cara’s blog at www.carameredith.com as a part of her Tuesday series on ritual!

My friend Cara and I bonded over the sea-green cloth-covered folding table positioned at a diagonal in classroom one, also known as … Mom’s group.

Mom’s group is a petri dish for accelerated friendships. Grab a new Momma a cup of coffee with sugar and half-and-half and they may cry. Hold their baby for two seconds and they feel like a new woman. I mean, if you need a friend, ask a new Momma the very basic question, “How are you?”

It’s guaranteed.

Cara is a super-blogger, super-tweeter, and super-speaker extraordinaire. And she just moved away from me in body to the nearby burg of Oakland even while nestling a little closer to my heart.

So go visit www.carameredith.com, read a bit of me, and meet my friend!

Biker Gangs and Meth Addiction…

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I used to do nerve conduction velocity tests for a physical medicine clinic. You calculate a nerve conduction velocity by running electricity along the nerve and measuring the distance. So, yeah, I electrocuted people for a living. I had a lab coat, a tape measure, and a lovely two-pronged zapper. I was very official.

You’d be with a patient for half-an-hour and, often, you’d end up getting the same patients back months or years later. In this way, I made a few friends.

One was a fellow who had been in prison and gone through a Christian recovery program. He was a round jolly man, with a pasty face, and the most horrible teeth. He was kind and funny and he told me some incredible stories.

He used to be part of a biker gang, evidently, a real one, not the kind of biker gang I used to imagine when someone said “biker gang”. He was writing his biography, brought it to me to proofread once. It was twenty-or-so loose leaf pages with atrocious penmanship and nonexistent grammar telling the story of a drug pickup that turned into a pedophile ass-kicking. Oh, that kind of biker gang! Yes, the real kind.

He often lauded his ability to ass-kick a pedophile, even in prison. There was some shit you just didn’t stand for. I can’t say I disagreed with him.

I don’t remember why he had gone to prison, but I do remember that his body was messed up from getting into a meth cooking accident. The meth being cooked had gotten into his suit. It was all over him, trapped against his body like that.

He used to do drugs he told me. But he was done with that now. He had gone through recovery. I was proud of him. We prayed together. I prayed for him.

I watched him leave one day and one of the providers appeared at my shoulder.

“You know what those sores are all over his face don’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said, “They’re the sores from when the meth got in his suit.”

“No,” he said, “You get those from doing meth. You have to be currently using.”

“Oh,” I said.

All this to say, I recognized the sores today on a woman’s face in the laundromat. She was there with a paranoid old woman and an angry man. They were a frightful trio whose presence totally absorbed the corner where they were sitting.

She walked with her head down.

And I know nothing about this woman except that she’s addicted to meth.

What would it be like if I walked around wearing my weakness for everyone to see? What if every loss of temper or self-control flared out in red spots on my face? Would I be less likely to give into the temptation if I knew everyone would be able to read it there? What a horrible consequence. I deserve every single sore she had, but, oh!, how glad I was they weren’t mine to wear! How fortunate I counted myself this afternoon to carry the consequences of my sin invisible in my breast.

For, I am the leper, the sore marked meth addict, the walking unclean.

Pity used to be considered a Christian virtue. It’s sort of gotten a bad rap. “Don’t pity me!” “How dare you pity me!” I don’t know. I think there’s still a place for pity as a virtue. I pitied the ex-biker patient. I pitied the woman. And I only feel grateful that God pities me.

Dirty Rags…

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So, laundry is a thing that takes up more of my mental energy since moving to the city.

The washer downstairs is ridiculously old and holds half of a normal load. And the dryer can’t dry a load completely. But it’s the most convenient.

Then, last week, it broke again. For the whole week, the washer sat filled with greasy grey water. The sight of that water every day for a week made me vow off the convenience of the washer downstairs.

So, today I bundled all of the laundry I could fit into my two laundry body bags and had my husband drop me off at the laundromat.

Now, I probably don’t do as much as I could for the environment, but one thing I do is to use cloths for everything. We have cloth napkins, kitchen cloths, and lots and lots of rags. I don’t buy paper towels or paper napkins.

All this to say, my laundry can be pretty gross. The dirty cleaning rags sit in a bucket under the sink. And my kids know where the clean ones are in the bathroom so they often trundle through after, say, they miss the potty, or spill some milk, and toss them in the bucket.

By the time the bucket gets filled it usually smells and has a few weeks worth of bathroom rags in there.

My kitchen rags can be worse because they’re usually wetter. They sit in a separate receptacle with the dirty napkins and can be demoted to cleaning rags at any time. I run a very strict caste system. My kitchen rags live in fear.

The kids laundry, also, is nothing to sniff too closely. I witnessed enough poop smears on the underwear today to initiate a little family meeting to discuss wiping strategies. And I know I have mentioned before that if I manage to get to the bottom of the kids’ hamper I usually discover a gross something at the bottom. Today it was an entire outfit that had hot chocolate spilled all over it.

So, I felt rather disgusting and rather disgusted after loading all of it into the washers. And I sat and waited to put it all in the dryers.

The front loading washers at the laundromat are a joy to watch. They do such a better job than the washer in our building. It’s so comforting to watch the sudsing and the rigorous tumbling.

To be sure, getting clothes clean has always been a rather violent task, the pounding on the rocks, the crushing them through the wringer. And this is a violence I approve of.

Shouldn’t I approve, therefore, of such violent methods in my own life, the tumble and toss of getting clean. And all our sins are as dirty rags, certainly an analogy that the women would have understood. Lord knows I need to be slapped against the rock to remember who I am.

Lord save me from the apathy of the ancient top-loader in my garage!

There is joy in coming clean.

I take the clothes out of the dryer and they smell so fresh and feel so light. And with pleasant surprise I realize they don’t fit as well in my bags. They take up more space. They are more.

As it sometimes happens, you don’t see how dirty things were, how weighed down. It’s like after confession when you are light and clean again and realize, “Oh, I was heavy with it!”