Sunday, December 31, 2006

okay, so i'm a big baby. i figured out another way to do it. what should have taken me 30 seconds took about 30 minutes. now i'm going to scrapbook before preparing to go out tonight. here's the pics. you can probably guess which house is mine.

14 hours of sitting in a car and I'm finally home.

And what do you think the first thing I saw when I pulled into the Griswald Family Neighborhood where I bought my modest house?

My good neibhors Clarence and Tommie welcoming me home. (insert picture of their house)

I also found my heater/ac broken. Broken. there's a short in the wiring. my neighbor said the breaker flipped and when it was pushed back over my dial was spinning like it was supplying electricity to an apartment complex. except i live in a small house. so the breaker's been re-flipped, there's no heat, and last night i slept under 5 blankets (my whole body - head included), fully clothed with the cats curling in close to any bend in my body under those blankets they could find. it was freezing.

today it's lovely out and i'm trying to will the heat into from house from the sun outside but to no avail.

and it snowed in st jo mo today. you can imagine my feelings on that. i'm freezing my ass off in the sun in texas and it snowed "beautiful soft snow" the day after I left st jo mo.

no biggie. extra clothes around the house. at least gloria (from hawaii) gets to see the snow. i'll sit in the sun and try to warm up. i'll blog and download pictures from my camara to my computer to make me feel better.

this is where i put the pictures of the christmas lights on my house to accompany the picture of my neighbors' houses above. oh, you don't see them? hmm, that's strange since the camara is brand new - a christmas gift. but gee, you're right, i don't see the pictures of the houses either. that must be because i can't get the pictures downloaded onto my computer. i downloaded pics from my parents old camara in st jo, no problem. but my new one? nope. nada. nothing.

now my nose is running.

i know, i know, i'm debbie downer, but can't i get anything to work right now. geez. please. it's new year's eve. i want heat, i want to be kissed and i want to look at my pictures of christmas.

apparently, that's too much to ask for.

not that i was asking. i try not to bother god about things like house stuff, boy stuff or electronics stuff. i figure if i've got my health and a job it's best to keep my mouth shut. i hate to knock on wood or pester anyone.

okay, for all my pessimism at this moment, i've really got a good thing going today. i looked adorable at church in my new clothes (boots from emily, skirt from amy, shirt from mom, and necklace from aunt yo). kevin did a great job preaching. i had lunch with friends, then i came home and got my laundry done. i emptied my dishwasher. and now i guess i'll do some scrapbooking - finish up 2005 so i can get on to 2006 since tomorrow starts 2007.

if you want to come over to keep me company, you can.

just bring a scarf.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This is the Pittman living room where Christmas "happens." It kinda looks like snow outside, but don't be fooled. The only wonderland to be found was in our hearts.

This is me Christmas morning sporting some of my new gifts including jammies (rolled up pants and top - all the girls got these on christmas eve), boots (from Emily), a "cutie pie" necklace because i lurve cherry pie and obviously, i'm cute, earrings from Amy, and I think that's it...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

For the first time in 20 years, we had the whole Maker family here for Christmas. Of course, 20 years ago, I was eight years old, and half of the cousins weren't even born yet. And I think Granny Baker was still alive.

But today, Grandma and Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Amy, Emily, me, Aunt Gloria (from Hawaii), Aunt Milly, Uncle Mike, Ruth, Jeff (Ruth's boyfriend), Mary, Robbie, Silas, Susan (all from Columbia) and Andee (our surrogate sister) all gathered together.

So Andee took a picture of the whole family in front of the living room tree. It was nice. I'll have pics posted soon. It's funny though, we never just have blood family. Jeff's in this one and last year's. Jeremy's the one before that. Then you get back into the David era. Men. They come and they go. But that's a blog for another time. Often the pictures have included pets too and so of course Sophie joined us (Amy's huge puppy lab), and of course my cats stayed up in my bedroom this year. Still the sentiment was good. The whole family together. And I like our current family including Andee and Jeff. If it were only snowing, it'd be perfect. My old house, my fun family, and snow outside. Just like Christmas used to be (pre-global warming: it hasn't snowed over Christmas in St. Jo Mo since I moved to Texas 6 years ago).

So, boyfriend or no boyfriend, snow or no snow, Santa or no Santa, (I'm beginning to wonder if all those things aren't imaginary!), Merry Christmas.

I hope you're with family, and if not family... friends.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Potter is purring again.

For those of you who know Potter, you might think, "huh? - he quit?" and i admit, the cat's a motor mouth. but this has been a rough week.

After being stuck the in car for almost 24 hours, he arrived chez pittman to meet Sophie, my sister's 8-month-old ginormous "puppy".

The initial introduction of the animals on Tuesday was not good. Picture the Griswold family Christmas when the squirrel flies out of the tree and Snot begins chasing it. that scene could have been filmed in my parent’s living room.

their house is pretty spacious and Potter took off and Sophie followed right along. They flew so fast through the house there was no chance to grab either of them. Potter fled to the top of the dinner table set with my mother's china and my father's lavish centerpiece. Sophie has the ability to jump that high. my sister drew in her breathe of disbelief but released it as Sophie took the faster track under the table, sparing hundreds of dollars and my mother's sanity. potter then jumped from the couch in the living room, soared over the three feet in circumference plant to the top of the grand piano and rounded at the bookshelf. Sophie followed under the piano around the corner and as potter headed behind the fully decorated and lit real Christmas tree; my family froze as we watch 80-pound lily leap toward the tree.

it could have been disastrous, but this time my father's sanity was spared and miraculously, Sophie didn't jump into the tree but behind it. we watched the tree wobble forward and i thought for sure it was going down, but as Potter fled the scene from behind the trunk full of presents, Sophie was caught and soon coaxed out and calmed down.

Potter was a wreck. He slept under the covers with me that night, terrified of the dog. My normally social, purring, "please pet me" pussycat was struck with fear and planted on my bed behind closed doors.

Over the past few days, Sophie has bounded into my bedroom (the cat's sanctuary) several times, and after watching big brother Zorba, Potter now knows how to hiss, spat and swat with the best of them.

In an effort to help him and Sophie become friends this afternoon, I held Potter in my arms as Sophie tried to sniff him and whimpered, begging to be loved. Potter hit him on the nose time and time again, smacking him so loudly everyone in the room could hear it. He'd shake with fear when Sophie would retreat defeated, but put his defenses back up when Sophie returned for "one last try."

Tonight when I brought Potter his favorite blanky that I had just washed, i tried to pick him up off my bed to put him on it and he practically wriggled out of my loving embrace and shrank near my pillow watching me. "Potter, are you mad at mommy?" I held the blanket up. "It's your blanky Potter, don't you want to lay on it?" He ignored me. And i'm not kidding, this cat loves this blanket.

Great, I thought. I've destroyed the sweetest, most loving cat in the world. Joy's gonna be so mad.

But then tonight when I came to bed and began petting and sweet talking him again, he snuggled right up to me and right onto his favorite blanket and began purring - for the first time since Tuesday. it's gotta be a record.

The menagerie is in full effect at the Pittman zoo. Feel free to come over for a visit. You may pet Potter and Sophie, but not at the same time, and don't feed the Zorba - you could lose a hand.

(Pittman household not responsible for bites, gouges, scratches, bruises or chewed up articles of anything.)

Enter the petting zoo at your own pace.

But I can promise you one good thing, you will get a purr from Potter.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Well, that was different.

My mom and I just threw a baby shower for a high school/college friend of mine who is (obviously) pregnant.

Since we grew up together in the church, there were of course church people here at the house. These are the people I am used to seeing once a year. At Christmas. At church. No biggie.

But then arrived Allison Bean and Runae I don't-remember-her-married-name and Elizabeth Buckner Hill, and suddenly I was back in college. Except I wasn't. I was in my house cordially greeting people i used to run around in my underwear with in the dormitory. Well, maybe not Allison and Runae, but E for sure. And it was kind of surreal. It was Buckner, but with children: two of them who sat down in the den my pledgeclass used to gather in once a year to snuggle under blankets, eat taco dip and talk about boys. Except they watched The Polar Express and played with blocks. E has offspring.

I have cats.

And I realize that a lot of people my age are married and have children, but that is so far from where I am right now (whether I want it to be or not) and so far from streaking the quad in college. How in the world did we get from there to here? Elizabeth was the first person I knew who had a nose ring (way before it was cliche) and now she has kids. I used to write shitty music and sing in bands, now I'm a reverend.

How did we get from there to here?

Little tiny decisions along the way. A scholarship application here, a school there, a date here, a marriage there, volunteering here, getting a job there, and like the little baby growing toes and fingers and organs inside my friend, suddenly all those little decisions we made make a whole person.

Always growing and changing.

"You are a beautiful, single professional..." I theraputically repeated to myself as I dressed for the party and snuck a shot of tequila with my equally beautiful, single, professional sister. No pressure. You're not married - no biggie. Marriage sucks for most people. You're not having babies - thank god. They're very expensive and get in the way of your career. Plus there's no room in your house for a crib, let alone a husband if you want to take the traditional route and go marriage then kids. But you could adopt. You've always wanted to. Once you get a stable job. Then you'll be a beautiful, single professional mother...

What the?

What was I thinking? Since when does marriage and motherhood make you whole? I admit, it's a goal of mine, and a worthy one, but I'm not incomplete because I haven't crossed that line yet. Sheesh.

Little decisions take us places. Some little decisons carry more weight than others, but they're all baby steps to being. Being. And whether it's running around my dormitory in my underwear or writing sermons, the little decisions to be who we are make us unique.

And so I will be uniquely me.

Beautiful, single, professional me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Taking your car into the shop for the pre-trip tune up: $860

Getting an inspection sticker that you stupidly ripped off to replace it with your registration sticker: $40

Gas for the drive home: $75

Roadtrip with a good friend and two cats one of whom threw up on you three times before you even hit Kansas: Priceless.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Um so this is about 12 days late. I'm definately getting behind on my birthday blogs. In fact, I may nix them come January. But I've got one more worthy shout out before I do.

Here is a limerick for Lynnette on her belated birthday.

Lynnette is funny and wise.
Too busy to make fancy pies.
We both went to Truett;
We both got through it,
But we'll never be pastor's wives!

So that was weird, but I tried.

Lynnette, I miss you. See you... well, I don't know when I'll see you again. Hopefully before I get married or pigs fly.

I'm still awake. How can I still be awake?

Probably because I went to work and got a jumpstart on the week, went to a strategic planning meeting and got all discombobulated, went to college movie night (which they politely waited to start until after i arrived 45 minutes late), watched "love actually" and laughed hard and contemplated much. then watched all the deleted scenes with commentaries and then drove home at 1:15.

That's why I'm still awake.

There are some great lines in Love Actually that are running through my mind. And just for the record, there has been a debate among my students that this film is a chic flic. I disagree. Any movie that can depress you the first time you watch it, make you laugh the second time you watch it and make you think the third time you watch it cannot be labelled "chic flic." Granted, it's no Shawshank Redemption, but it's a quality movie about the complexity of relationships and the fragility and joy of love (if you're one of the characters that gets it).

"Self-preservation" is one character's to response to his best friend's new wife when she discovers that this cold, distant, unfriendly best friend of her husband's actually has been in love with her, but she never knew because of his callous attitude toward her. Self-preservation. How many times do we demonize other people to keep ourselves sane? Self-preservation. Interesting concept.

Anyway, I recommend the movie. A stellar cast: Leim Neilson, Collin Firth, Kierra Nightly, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, the guy from Harry Potter, and even a cameo by Mr. Bean. It's great. It might make you cry, it will make you laugh, and it will allow you the chance to re-evaluate your own morals and the fragile strings with which love ... actually .... happens.

I mean did you know there was a lobster at the birth of jesus?

Just try to watch it at a decent hour.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Overdose (A word of caution for the holiday season)

While I wish everyone a Happy Holidays, I hope you will take the following into consideration before you make the same mistake!

I'm posting this graphic picture of an overdose victim. Not for shock value, but rather in the hope that you will have a frank discussion with friends and family about respecting moderation, understanding limits, and knowing when to just walk away.

Remember....This did NOT have to happen!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jesus was one of those kids who when you ask them where they’re from, you get a long complicated answer.

Like my friend, Peter, who was a military kid. “Well, I was born in Nebraska, but we moved around a lot because my dad was in the army so I’ve actually lived across the US and in Germany…”

Or like Joy, a Missionary’s kid who was born in Jacksonville Florida, and from there moved to Texas, then to Louisville Kentucky, then to Oklahoma, then back to Louisville, then to Missouri, then to Arkansas, and then as an adult to Toronto, Buffalo, Maryland, Cyprus, Florida, and finally Austin.

Where are they from? When you ask people with backgrounds like that where they’re from, how do they answer? I guess they choose the place that feels the most like home – I would. Even I, who lived in the same town for 18 years as a kid, have lived in five different cities in three states and two countries since then.

Jesus was the same way.

“Where you from kid?”

“Well, I was born in Bethlehem, but then my parents moved to Egypt for a while and then I spent the rest of my childhood in Nazareth, where my dad was from, traveling between it and Jerusalem to visit family.”

Except his dad wasn’t in the military and his mom wasn’t a missionary.

“Why’d you travel around so much kid?”

“Well, there was a huge census and my parent’s got stuck in a cave in Bethlehem which is where I was born, then there was an edict out for my death and the murder of all other 2 year olds so we moved to Egypt and then when that King died, we returned to Judea, but my dad was still paranoid so we moved to Galilee to the town Nazareth where my dad’s shop was.”

Alrighty then.

We see them in Christmas plays, the little girl in the blue smock with a pillow stuffed under her belt and the boy with a head-dress dragging another kid in a donkey costume across the stage, and we know that they symbolize the holy family traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem to take part in the census decreed by Augustus.

And we feel bad when we think about it – a pregnant teenage girl taking a bumpy ride on a donkey– no wonder she had the baby as soon as they stopped. Not to mention that she’s a kid herself – not that that’s unusual in that time when men married girls – after all, she was already engaged when she got pregnant, but still our hearts go out to her. A poor girl, pregnant, engaged and soon to be the mother of God. What a calling.

And Joseph, how embarrassing to have your fiancĂ©e pregnant. Not exactly kosher in those times, but he sucks up the shame and stays engaged to her anyway. What a man. God’s dad.

And then Caesar puts out a decree and the whole nation’s in an upheaval as people pack up their bags, close down their shops and travel to the birthplace of their family’s heritage. Joseph was in King David’s lineage so he and Mary pack the donkey tight and head off for Bethlehem.

What an unsettling two days of travel.

I travel every Christmas to St. Joseph, Missouri with my car full of suitcases, Christmas gifts and cats. And let me tell you, it is a rough ride. Zorba cries the whole time. Actually he hardly cries – howling would be a better description. When Radley was alive, his fluffy fat belly liked to lay on my lap so I was always driving with one arm on the wheel and one on the cat while cooing at the other one to shut the hell up. Eventually I give up on music and sweet talking the cats and resort to Dramamine. I break off a small amount of powder, put it in some water and squirt it down Zorba’s throat. It’s at this point that the howling ends and foaming at the mouth begins. Cats’ saliva never mixes well with medicine, and it causes the most unpleasant mess you can imagine. Add to these joys snow, ice, rain, pit stops, hotel rooms, and McDonald’s and you’ve got a real torture trip on your hand.

So I sympathize with Mary and Joseph. Donkey’s aren’t known to be the most helpful beasts in the world although they are better than some, but I can imagine times when that donkey probably got tired of carrying all their bags and the pregnant lady and just wanted to sit down and munch on some weeds. Not to mention the unpleasant weather that they were exposed to with no roof on the donkey or even an umbrella. And Joseph being the polite man he was had to walk the whole way and poor Mary had to feel that baby bouncing around the whole time itching to come out.

Now maybe they were excited. I am when I travel to St. Joe for Christmas. But I’m going home, and they left theirs. I bring and receive presents, whereas they had to pay their taxes. I have a fat cat and a crying cat. They had a tired donkey and a crying baby. But maybe the joy of their son’s birth and the shock of singing shepherds showing up brought the holy family enough awe to escape their circumstances and revel in the awesome miracle of the moment.

But they were soon on the road again. For when the King of the Jews gets wind that your wife birthed a king herself, it’s never good news. Now he wants your kid dead and all other boys his age too. And so Joseph packs up the donkey again, and he and the holy family steal away in the night, but not to his home town, not even to Jerusalem to visit relatives, but to a whole new country, culture, language, people. And though the text doesn’t speak of it, I doubt he had a whole lot of time to make travel preparations for once they arrived. He would need a place to live for his young family, a new job, stay under the radar in case Herod had friends down there…

Oh the things we do to keep God safe.

How could such a little child cause so much turmoil?

What child is this whose family was so poor that they traveled everywhere by donkey and stayed in caves and lived in a foreign land to avoid upsetting the government?

What kind of parents go to such an extent to protect their child?

Parents who are called by God to be God’s parents.

And part of their responsibility was to travel to Bethlehem where prophecy would be fulfilled, to travel to Jerusalem where prophecy would be fulfilled, to travel to Egypt where prophecy would be fulfilled, to finally settle in Nazareth where prophecy would be fulfilled, and to raise a son who would travel so much in his adult life that foxes and birds had better places to lay their heads. And in his traveling he would heal the sick, raise the dead, forgive the sinner, love the world and die for his cause where again prophecy would be fulfilled.

And as much as we would like to parent Jesus now, keep him in a box, protect him from the Herods of our world, God is never safe. Not from our enemies and not for us.

For God calls us, as his did Mary and Joseph, to travel with him to familiar places, hard places, foreign places and home again. Jesus calls us to be as he was, a danger to society, doing good in a world where selfishness and legalism threatened every life. He calls us to love, wherever we go, however far or near we are to where we call home, we are called to go, to love, to be Christ again to the world around us.

And that may be a very difficult journey indeed.

But fortunately for us, it’s a road that’s been taken before.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

An 1100 square foot house, all yours, ready for the holidays: $106,000

Four strings of white icycle lights that hang from your roof and two strings of blue lights to go around your front windows creating a "warm home covered in snow" look: $52.43

Having outlets installed outside your house so you may plug in and light up aforementioned bulbs: $54.24

Paying the two men you talked into putting in the outlets and nailing up the Christmas lights with a small lunch consisting of mac n cheese, organic frozen vegetables, ready-made Chocolate Chip cookies and beer: $8.73

White string of lights that you tried to throw over the tree to your friend waiting on the other side, but totally missed, crashing the wad of lights in your neighbors driveway, breaking the bulbs and requiring you to decide on a new tactic for hoisting lights high up in the trees while your neighbors snicker from their front porch: $1.99 and 3 advil.

Competing with your new neighbors for who can create the best lit house on the block: priceless.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm awake.

I was awake five hours ago when I was trying to go to sleep. I tossed and turned and must have finally fallen asleep.

But I'm awake now.

In my groggy state of waking and fading in and out of dreams I heard a soft meowing, repetitive. I woke up in a panic: Potter. I remembered wondering where he was when I went to bed and now five hours later, I had yet to be awakened by him. (How did my body know that?) I flew out of bed and began a frantic search hoping he was inside and not out - it was storming when I finally did fall asleep and now it was still drizzling.

Clothes closet: I had hung up my work pants and shut the door. Nope.
Refridgerator when I had grabbed some water before bed. Nope. Strange place to look, but nope.
I considered the cabinets since I've shut cats in them before, but I didn't put away dishes last night.
Spare bedroom: oops.

I'd brought in a plant from what is supposed to be "a cold front" moving in and shut the door to the spare bedroom to keep the cats from nibbling on it.


He raced out and I coddled him apologizing profusely. He ran to the food bowl, to the bedroom, tackled Zorba, ran back to the living room. Everywhere I went, he came flying after me, afraid he was being left somewhere again, I suppose.

And now I can't sleep. Not that shutting your cat in a room is keeping me up at night, but I'm wide awake with that I-haven't-slept=stomach-ache.

And the clock just turned to 5:30. Sheesh.

On anther note, the clock's not the only thing turning. So are the leaves in Austin. Finally. I saw a beautiful red tree two days ago and thought, wow, finally fall. Don't get me wrong, it's not like their are full fall colors or streets that people go walking on just for the fall leaves, but I'd say at the very least Austin is littered with leaves changing colors. If you keep your eyes open, you'll see a handful of beauty here and another patch there. It's nice. Except now my mind thinks it's time for Halloween. My seasons are all off down here.

But it's not Halloween, it's Christmas and with or without the snow, I'll have my first Cantamos Christmas Carroll performance tonight. Advent begins Sunday. Angels Over Austin runs in three weeks. And, I'm driving home to Missouri in less than four.

Can you believe it? I'll be home for Christmas. Me and the two cats, going home again.

I just hope I don't leave Potter behind.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pittman, Ann
Christmas List
24 November 2006
Mr. Pittman's class

• Shrunken Button Down Cardigan – XS Red $39 1A-186-513 (Victoria’s Secret Catalogue 1A5167658)
• Bridget Fit Bow Pant – 30” inseam size 2 Khaki $39.50 IA-201-674 (Victoria’s Secret Catalogue 1A5167658)
• Blazer and Pencil Skirt – both size 2 Heather Camel $125, $59.50 WQ-201-769, WQ-201-773 (Victoria’s Secret
Catalogue 1A5167658)
• American Eagle Jeans – any pair size 4 regular or short, favorite fit
• Retro Shirt Dress – Small $159 Brown 4426VA (Boston Proper Catalogue V5667600)
• Drape Front Tube Halter – XS $59 3226VC (Boston Proper Catalogue V5667600)
• Raglan Sleeve dress – XS $119 3626VB (Boston Proper Catalogue V5667600)
• Vintage Kaftan Dress – size 2 $169 2626VA (Boston Proper Catalogue V5667600)
• Jewelry: any earrings, necklaces or bracelets: creative, pretty, colorful (I’m moving beyond my plain jane silver)
• Any cute shoes that have color (other than brown or black) unless they’re brown or black with colored beads or embroidery on them or something.
• Digital Camera
• Gift Certificates to Home Depot
• A Bulldog, either American or English, over 2 years old, preferably female.

Obviously I’m trying to improve my “work attire” wardrobe with dress clothes, shoes and jewelry. Otherwise, I just really want a digital camera, a dog, and a privacy fence (home depot certificates).

If you want an alternative to giving me gifts though, check this out...

my friends rock.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

i love it.

sitting in a room watching two women peruse pictures on the digital camara, passing it back and forth. four men pass words back and forth, brainstorming how to rip off band names. one plays with a wine cork. one rubs his head. another is stretched out but draws his body in to add motions to his thoughts or swirl his wine glass around. one sits forward petting the dog. another woman sits knitting on the couch occasionally swapping conversations with the man leaning forward. the man on the other side of the stitcher watches the women with the camara, smiling.

a circle of life.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday and thank-you-for-staying-at-my-house-last-night-when-i-thought-a-burgler-had-broken-in-even-though-it-turned-out-there-was no-burgler-Frank, Happy Birthday to you!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Some of you may remember a post from two months ago concerning a man who fell through the ceiling in my bedroom. There was a context to that incident that included insulation, a breech of contract, former owners, Ann freaking out, the usual.

Suffice it to say that a month and a half later, there is no longer a hole in my ceiling, but the big brown spot doesn't match the rest of my white textured ceiling. And now it's been splattered with splatter that the guy who fell through the ceiling ran out of before he finished the job today. He also managed to splatter it all over my painted-with-organic-paint-wall and my carpet.

I just stood in my room with my hands on my head staring at it tonight.

"Finishing" this job came the same day that another repair man came to my house to put glass in a window to fix the hole that mysteriously appeared, shattering glass onto my game room floor.

And the green grass grew all around all around and the green grass grew all around.

I love my house, but really! A broken window, a broken ceiling, you must think I live in a dump. But I don't, I live in this great little home that needs a little tlc when large men fall through the ceiling. It's a great home and you'd think it was perfect except that there is a mansion going up next to my house making my cute little house look like a cute little hut. I have two qualms with what I like to call "the mansion." Number one it is five feet from my property line. (The very minimum it can be - and I know. Some friends and I snuck out there one night to measure and sure enough it's five exactly. Argh.) This wouldn't be a big deal except that I can practically reach out and touch the house from inside mine! Qualm number two: it's a two story house. The only one in the neighborhood. Probably the only one on this side of town. Ridiculous. My neighbors and I just stand and stare. Plus it has a long front porch and a bay window in the front upstairs bedroom. And did I mention it's a mansion? My friends say my property value will go up but I don't care. When I'm jealous, I get cranky and inconsolable.

So that's a slight exaggeration, but my description of the house isn't. Even Roger said it was huge.

And so tonight I will turn off all my chic little lamps and lights, brush my teeth in my nice white, shiny sink, put on comfy pjs and humbly retire to my couch where I will again be sleeping since my room smells like splatter and I don't want to breathe splatter all night.


From the splattered and stinky but salvific sanctuary of 5406, I bid you good night.

Monday, November 13, 2006

We rolled in around 12:20 this morning. My work day started at 9am yesterday. I was anxious to get into the hotel, check out the fitness room and hot tub (please!) and then check into bed. But as the elevator door slid open, I knew this was not going to be one of my top five hotel experiences. The stains on the hallway carpet alone were enough to suggest the mafia'd been here once or twice, but since I'm in Dallas and not KC or Chicago, I guess the help must just spill a lot of coffee.

I found my room at the end of the hall next to some sort of closet. Hmm. The woodwork on all the panelling was coming apart from door frame to floorboards to whatever, and the paint was, well, peeling. I opened my door and noted my 1890s dormitory remodeled 10 times over. And it was freezing. Looked at the heater/air on the wall "Will not affect air, see thermostat on wall." Thermostat found. Set to air-conditioning. Damn.

So I turned it to heat and turned it up. 40 minutes later I'm considering sleeping fully clothed. The air blowing out isn't hot (from me or the supposed heater).

The water in the bathroom is hot though. And it smells like a swimmingpool. The bathroom has been redecorated and is very high tech, complete with a sink that looks like an optical illusion (I actually put my finger into it to make sure it wasn't). The shower looks like tons of fun with a rainfall shower head, and if you ignore the windows typical of a 1920s movie palace dressing room or 14th floor apartment bathroom, it's a pretty positive experience.

So even though my body's cold, my face is warmed by the water and as I close my eyes, I actually feel like I'm in a swimming pool...except I'm not. I'm washing my face. And with what? Chorine? What's in that water?

If you ignore the WC, the room actually reminds me of being in a hotel overseas, Paris maybe. The old building, the wood panelling, modernized with art and a coffee maker. I could handle being in Paris right now.

Instead I'm in a room where the gap between my floor and the bottom of my bedroom door is so significant that any decent sized rat could slide under it, or a person's arm, whichever disturbs you the most.

And the "heater" with cold air just turned off again. Double damn.

I resign myself to sleep. After all, I have to combat the General Baptists of Texas tomorrow. That will require much effort on my part.

So clothes on, I will snuggle under my heavy (literally) blankets and pretend I'm in Paris. Awesome.

Bon nuit.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Um, does anyone else have their christmas wish list ready? Cause i do. Right on time. Let's go kids. Time's a-tickin'. Thanksgiving's the deadline...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This is Big Phil. Big Phil in 2004. On his birthday. My parents were in town that weekend because I had graduated. Even they were invited to his birthday party because Big Phil loves everyone. Actually that's not true. But he loves me and my parents.

Phil has a blog. Somewhere between seminary and real life Phil got smart. Or maybe spiritual. Maybe both. Not that he wasn't smart or spiritual in seminary (how ironic), but somehow he's focused and refined those qualities in himself post-Waco and is now producing some really quality shit (I'm quoting him of course).

Phil is about as foul as they come. I would not lie to you. But somewhere in all that vulgarity, if you peek beneath the bald head, the feminist tee-shirt and the tattoos (or even just look closely at them), you will find a large teddy bear with a brain and heart who not only hugs but actually sucks the life out of you. But not in a bad way. You can't help but spill your soul to Phil if you've known him for longer than 15 minutes. Again, I would not lead you astray. I can tell you stories of men and women he's befriended from psychos to deadbeats to the demon-possessed; he could make a Buckingham Palace Guard cry and confess his story. And then Phil would pass that Guard a beer, give him a hug, and tell him he loves him, wiping tears from his own eyes.

You'd think a man named Big Phil wouldn't cry. You'd think someone nicknamed "The Godfather" wouldn't weep. But Philip Shepherd cries. I would not tell a lie. The man cares about people and if you are real with him, he will really cry with you.

So check him out. His link is on my blog of course. It's titled Drive Thru Society. What the heck does that mean? Here's an excerpt... "In my journey the last several years, I've entered into many conversations with my community of family and friends on this question: how do we dine upon this life of the kingdom of heaven here on earth? Throughout these conversations I realized that the vein of Christianity that I grew up in is obese from feasting upon drive-thru spirituality. After I had this long painstaking epiphany, I started asking, "How then do I become healthy?"” And, "“How do we become healthy as a community?"” While I am still looking for answers to that question, one of the answers that I did find is the intentional spiritual formation practices of individuals and communities. Many people ask me to define what is spiritual formation. And this is the answer that I usually give: spiritual formation is the set of tools (if you will) that help us find God outside of our box. Spiritual formation is the practices and disciplines that help us exfoliate the kingdom of heaven here on earth, creating a rhythm for the Creator to illuminate through us."

So please, if you love me, you'll love Phil. If I appall you, you'll really like him. He's very spiritual and I tend to offend the gods.

And now may I introduce... Big Phil.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I love election nights... flipping from channel to channel: local to national to colbert. It's exciting, disappointing, funny (Missouri wouldn't let Mrs. Carnahan vote!!), hopeful and devestating. I like the energy it generates inside me.

But I love cable too. Because cable allows me to watch Law & Order on TNT when I'm too cranky to watch the govenor give an acceptance speech.

As if I won't get enough drama watching the elections, I have to watch the fake kind. At least Jack McCoy is witty.

How did things turn out in Missouri? I never heard the final count on govenor or stem cell research.

Sigh. Come through for the nation Missouri, you can do it. You had it once, show us your spirit for justice and life once again.

Death or life? Pro-choice/life, end of life issues, stem cell research, the death penalty. What is life and what is death and who gets to decide?

We do. I hope you voted.

And we get to choose it too. Every time we choose forgiveness over a gun, peace talks over war, hospitals over hopeful home remedies, we choose life. And we make laws and rules and covenants to help people choose life every day and hold them accountable when they don't.

I too choose life.

And Law & Order.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"It was clean."
"It was what?" I had asked him how he thought the worship service went.
"It was..."
"It was clean? What does that mean?"
"Well, um, it means, he he, what I meant by that was..."
"I can't believe you just called my worship service 'clean'. That's amazing. You have problems."

The man is obsessed with cleanliness. Just a few weeks before this conversation on clean worship, the following had happened.

(me) "Gee, I've got to call my Home Warrenty people to get them to stick their wire down my bathtub."
"Why, what's wrong with it?"
"Well, it won't drain. (Just like all those other pipes - the washer/dryer pipe, the air conditioner pipe all needed to be drained but exploded instead into my house and now I stand bathing as the dirty water rises to my ankles. It's gross. Then it's always slimy stepping in because all my shampoo, conditioner, and soap suds have slowly settled to the bottom of the tub where they remain until I turn on the water for my next shower, step in, and feel the slime and grime under my feat. It's gross."
"Gross? It sounds disgusting. How can you live like that?
"Well I clean the tub every couple of days and try to remember to call the home warranty people."
"Ann, that is inhabitable. I've thought your bathroom's needed a good cleaning anyway, I'll take care of it tomorrow."
"You're going to unplug my drain? You have the equipment for that?"
"No, but I can buy it. I've always wanted to try it anyway, Plus you're bathroom's been driving me nuts lately. I've been wanting to clean it."
"No, you are not cleaning my bathroom."
"Yes I am."
"No you're not. You can stick that tube down the bathtub drain, but if you break something or make it worse, you're paying for it to get fixed." (I always give that line when I'm not convinced he really can complete a task successfully).
"Okay. I'll be here tomorrow. I can't stand the thought of you showering in that one more day."

I half thought he was joking, but mostly knew he wasn't. When I got home from work that night, I saw a sparkling bathroom with sinks, toilet and floor scrubbed. The next morning when I stepped into the shower, I could feel the actual texture of the porcelain. Wow. It was almost streaky clean. My feet were squeeking against the clean tub as I moved to reach for the shampoo bottle, turned to shave an armpit or rinse my hair. Crazy clean. I admit, it was great.

So the guy's got a thing with cleanliness, that's cool. I just need to wipe down the sinks and toilet when he comes over. No biggie.

Then two weeks later the first conversation ensued.
"What's you think about worship tonight?"
"It was clean."
"You have issues."

Today I met him for coffee as we both had work to do that is more fun done out of the office. He had recently caught poison ivy in his attempts to help me clean my backyard which might as well be described as a Jungle Junkyard. But that's a blog for another time. "How's the poison ivy?" I asked.
"It's better. The doctor said I took so many baths today that I've surely gotten all the oil off so it won't spread or be transferred to other people."
"How many times have you showered today? (Keep in mind it was only 4:30pm).
"You have problems."

Imagine if we all were so obsessed about cleanliness in our lives.
What if we live ecologically with Frank's obsessive cleanliness. We'd all recycle and we'd take the stuff they won't take at the street down to the recycling center. We'd clean our houses with ecologically friendly soaps and sprays. We'd buy solar cars and snub the poor folks in their hybrids (in a very loving manner of course).

Wouldn't that rock?

Imagine if we were so obsessed about cleanliness in our lives.

What if we live with a clean slate with Frank's obsessive cleanliness. We'd come clean with our business partners and start treating them as people, equals, with respect because coming clean with people means you lay it all out on the table and then you get your work done. We'd come clean with our friends and family. We wouldn't bicker like girls over stupid stuff. We wouldn't beat each other up (cause that can leave big messes) We'd live in a community of honesty, forgiveness and love. We'd come clean with our significant others. We wouldn't play mind games or think in manipulative manners. We would simply love honestly and commit to confess that love in order to make clean what living intimately with someone has inevitably made dirty.

Cause even though it seems that if you take two "dirties" (and by dirties, yes, I do mean people), and put them on a task, that task would end up unclean as well. But that's not what happens. Hardly ever. Two humans put their minds and talents together and they produce beauty. Six staff members brainstorm how to create creatively a worship service that reminds us of God's presence and then sends us back into the world; and when they seek to make it clean, God's sort of clean, and also lay it on the table clean (even if its our sin and isn't pretty) if we lay it clean on the table, it is actually made clean in the remembering, the forgiveness, the grace we receive when we trade what we've laid out for a piece of bread and a sip of wine. Clean. Nice.

And so perhaps my friend Frank is a little over the top with his cleanliness. So what if he cleans his apartment and then his maid comes in and cleans it again. He has also lowered himself to my bathtub filled with grime and has taught me much about cleanliness along the way...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

i'm excited about church tomorrow. yep, i'm one of those. i'm excited because i get to sing. i love singing in church. i love singing more than i love preaching. more than i love acting. more than i love art musuems. more than cats.

and tomorrow i'll be singing with the young (ahem) women's choir in church. and there's something very fulfilling about being creative with the beauty god has given you.

and that's why i love doing all the things in church i love to do. from acting to reading scripture to singing to preaching, it's not all that different is it? using beauty to communicate something about the world and most probably about god?

and it's good.

even when it's bad, it's good.

and so i'm ready to go to church.

to give back to god in the most honest way i can.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. This follows blessed are those whose spirits are low, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who are debonair, and blessed are those who hunger for what is right. All these previous beatitudes have to do with the status of our spirit, the way we view the world, what we seek from God, but in Matthew 5:7, the exhortations or “congratulations” (as we learned the first week that “blessed” could be translated) take a turn from our state of being to how we affect the state of the union, i.e. the people around us. Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.

Do you know what mercy means? Compassion is what first came to my mind, but outdid me and added five other definitions to this word.

1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.
2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, esp. to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.
And as an idiom
6. at the mercy of, entirely in the power of; subject to: They were at the mercy of their captors. Also, at one's mercy.

The origin of the word has to do with “wages” which stems from yet another word meaning “goods.” Synonyms include forgiveness, indulgence, clemency, leniency, lenity, tenderness, mildness. And its antonym is nothing short of blunt: cruelty. Cruelty is the opposite of mercy.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Shucks to the cruel for they shall receive cruelty.

Now the text doesn’t say that, but that’s where my mind automatically went.

This text is about our behavior, and it warrants a response from God. Martin Luther may have pushed the ball into the other court when he spoke against works righteousness in the corrupt Catholic Church, but he did that seeking balance. Today though we may live in a world that might need to push back the other way. Today we are told to touch our television screens to receive the grace of God. When grace has become that abstract, perhaps we should re-evaluate the scripture.

So Ann, are you telling me that if I don’t do these things then I won’t get to heaven?

Actually, I’m not even talking about heaven. I’m talking about responding to God. For although the text says that when we are merciful, then we will receive mercy, just before that it says when we are run down, we will find God; when we mourn, we will be comforted; when we are aware, we enjoy the world around us; when we long for goodness, we will find it. And so when we are empty, we are filled by God. And the natural outpouring of that fullness are the following beatitudes.

For who, who has been broken by the world and healed by God, can not help but extend compassion to another broken soul?

For who, who has been convicted before God of stupid, selfish acts and granted pardon, can not help but pardon others?

For who, who has seen the beauty of a sunset, the awe of the Pyrenees, and felt the vastness of a Texas sky in their heart, not help but grant kindness to God’s other creation?

Me. Me. Me.

I am filled and then I spill. I eat and then claim hunger. I find peace and stir up disaster.

What else is new?

And so after our emptiness is filled by God, we are reminded in scripture to share that with others. And in verse 7, what we are to give is mercy, forgiveness, undue pardon, kindness, compassion.

And I wonder about what that looks like when I’m forced to vote on the death penalty. How do I respond to terrorist acts against me or my country? How do I help the drug addict who communicates his needs through brown cardboard signs while standing on the side of the road? How do I react to my neglectful parents or abusive ex-boyfriends or cruel neighbors or lying bosses or manipulative teachers who have hurt me in ways I can only express in a journal? These are hypothetical situations, but it’s not like we all haven’t encountered someone face to face or whether we know them or not whose sin has response from us.

So how do we respond?

In anger, do we ignore them? Punish them? Kill them? Hurt them? Forgive them? Guide them? Help them?

In the movie clip above, the protagonist, Jean Val Jean has just escaped from prison, lied to the priest in order to stay the night in his house and then slipped out before dawn, stealing the priest’s silver wear. The police catch him and return him to the priest because Jean Val Jean has again lied to the police by telling them the priest gave him the silver wear as a gift. At this point, the priest has a choice to make, he may again sentence Jean to prison by acknowledging his sin and pressing charges, or he may extend mercy. And in a beautiful act of grace, the priest grabs the silver candlesticks from the table and says to the policemen, “He’s correct,” and to Jean Val Jean he says, “But my good friend you forgot I also gave you these.” This act of mercy completely changes Jean Val Jean from a bitter man struggling to survive by any means possible to an honest man who ends up mayor of a town and surrogate father to a little girl whose mother died in prostitution. Now I know, this is a play, not reality. But every day there are stories of people who extend mercy when justice would be justified. And every day there are people redeemed by that mercy.

People like you and me.

People who have been down, but have been raised up. People crying who were comforted. People humble, who were given beauty. People hungry for truth who ended up satisfied.

And because we have received the mercy of God, so are we called to extend that mercy to others.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

most mothers sing to their children on their birthday, others a carroll at xmas, or perhaps a lullaby before bed. mine sings to me on halloween. 10 til 5, the call came, "Halloween comes once a year when everything is still, the witches and the goblins come a creepin over the hill..."

my family is weird.

when amy and i used to cry and mom couldn't get us to sleep, she's put us in our car seats in the back of the honda and drive us around town singing the mizzou fight song. you'd think i'd be a football fan.

but i'm not. i'm a halloween fan. So tonight at 5pm, I came home, turned on the halloween lights, put on my orange and black argyle stockings and bat earrings, set out the candles on the sidewalk to my front door, poured candy into my big black pot and waited anxiously for trick or treaters.

They didn't start arriving until about an hour later, but they did come. most dressed in costume. some were older, some young. one baby was dressed as a frog. all the children (except the shy ones) said "trick or treat" and if they forgot that part, they didn't forget their "thank you"s.

my friends and i watched the halloween simpsons, csi, house and all the other good "scary" tv shows while we waited for kids.

the night was perfect until zorba bit me. please don't hold this against "satan's little helper;" he was provoked and i told my friend not to provoke him, but to no avail. the thrill and suspense of halloween was in his veins. and true to form, zorba bit, fangs to the bone.

oh well. such is life.

and besides, what's halloween without a little blood?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Has everyone prepared their Halloween costume? I have hung my orange and purple spooky Halloween lights, bought a cute but scary door hanging, and little cans with cats and pumpkins on them to put candles in and set along my sidewalk leading up to my door. I cannot wait to give out candy to kids. In Waco, poorer people would drive to the "rich" neighborhoods and get candy: kids, teenagers, adults even, all with bags asking for candy. Sometimes the parents would have two bags, one for their candy and one for the infant hanging on their hip. That was Waco culture. I'm curious to see what tomorrow night holds in East Austin...
"You look almost dead."

(I'm not, but other people are)

"Your eyes are really dark."

(I'm laying on your couch because I can't go home, and it was one year ago today - Sunday - don't you remember? I can't lay here and act happy when I remember that. They called me the other day - the lawyers representing the company responsible for his death. Do you remember one year ago when the deaths began and it felt as if they would not stop? The next one comes on Thanksgiving. Halloween and then Thanksgiving. Why did they have to happen on holidays? Those are days especially given to us to help us break from routine, to dress up and eat good food and not go to work and smile and love our family and friends - not bury them.)

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Amy! One week ago today, just seven days shy of your 27th birthday, you ran 26 miles in your first marathon! You are truly amazing, not to mention resiliant. I love you. Hope this next year just keeps getting better Dr. Pittman. You can do it! Remember Trekain in College? Run for your life. It's true, it's yours...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Should I do it? Should I get a dog? Everyone says no... "you have two neurotic cats," "dogs take so much work," "it'll be a madhouse," (as if it weren't already) "no, no, no, ann, no"

But I finally have a yard (even if it isn't fixed yet) and with the recent rains, i even have grass. I've wanted a dog to take on walks with me as a walking companion and as a safety measure. I've wanted a dog because they're different than cats and I just kind of want one. I've wanted one to bark at strangers (another safety measure) and scare them away from my house and yard (not that there has arisen a need for that yet, but i'm wishing for pre-emptive strikes here).

It's not hard to tell what's been on my mind lately. If it's not heartbreak, it's halloween. And there's been some nerve-wracking safety issues popping up lately in austin (as in every city) and maybe its the time of year, or maybe i'm finally starting to take everyone's warnings about safety seriously, but i've moved the "someday i'd like to get a dog" to "i want a dog."

I told amy today. She's driving to St Jo Mo and picking up Emmers on the way. That means she'll probably tell emily and then it's only a matter of time before the good news (or the frightening tale) gets delivered to my parents. So that's why I'm blogging about it - cause I know the ones who will freak out about it the most will find out by this afternoon anyway and by then it may be too late. wa ah ah ah. (that was for the halloween effect). Ineffective via internet, I know.

So that's the scoop. What do you think? Should I adopt a dog?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Traffic stopped on I35 Sunday, but not because of all the cars...because of all the birds. I'd never seen birds flying like this before. Granted, they were high in the air, but they were such tiny birds, not the usual v-flying or mass exodus birds one might easily spot this time of year. These birds were small and the clusters of them flew so slenderly that they looked like a line of smoke that seeps lazily out of the end of a smoldering cigarette held too long in a hand. They were ribbons flying through the sky, kite tails perhaps.

And I swear, they stopped traffic.

Perhaps everyone who slowed to peer up out their windows had the same curious reaction: what were those birds and what were they doing?

The elegance as they left what appeared to be downtown and their mass quantity was almost overwhelming, like we had wandered into a ball, but were still dressed in jeans or jammies. Their movement was georgous, breath-taking, peculiar. So peculiar that fast-paced Austin slowed to a mere 20mph on a busy highway, everyone, to watch the birds fly.

And fly they did. I don't know where, I don't even know where from, but whatever the situation, they flew gracefully away, catching everyone's attention on their way out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Okay, so I know this is the week of birthdays, (and i did't even do my cousin robbie's on the 19th), but here's another birthday shout-out to my former roommate, Mel. She used to be my partner in crime when it came to dating, not that either of us actually enjoyed juggling our dating schedules, but she's since left me on my own in that department. So rude. JK, Mel, I love you - have a most amazing birthday!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Lanceous. You deserve the very best; I love you. Always remember the mac n cheese in my tiny back apartment and wine on the large front porch. You're my favorite.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Potter! Potter woke me up at 5:30a.m. (I went to bed an hour and a half late last night and Potter adjusted his schedule accordingly). I discovered that instead of knocking things off my vanity he was attacking the bag hanging on my bedroom door. That bag held the mice I bought for him. Realzing that is was indeed his birthday, I slid out of bed, grabbed the bag, ripped open the package of mice and threw some out the door for him to chase. Of course, he did. I shut the bedroom door and slept for the few hours those mice kept Potter busy.

He really is a joy though. Potter makes me and my friends laugh all the time. If ever there's a lull in conversation, Potter's right there to run into a table, gnaw on our toes or pass gass in our faces. Love that cat. Love him. Love his crossed eyes peering up at me, love how he loves to be pet all over, love how he loves to pretend to be a mink hanging around my neck. He's a blessing, and I never use that word.

So Happy Birthday Pottery Barn, Ponce de Leon, Pothead, Gunter Gatsby...Potter. Mommy loves you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happy Birthday KC! (Under the hat). I know you don't want to celebrate but here's to you...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I was twice foiled at my attempts to get to work today, but finally arrived after the third departure from my house. The first time I made it to Airport Drive. "Crap, I forgot my cell phone." The second time, I almost made it to the Carver Library. The phone I had previously left at home rang. "This is Brinks Home Security calling because your alarm is sounding." Of course it is. In my haste to depart the second time, I had failed to turn the motion detector off. "It's just my cats, I'll go home and handle it... No, please don't send the police."

Turns out I didn't even need to leave that early because after two calls to Janet, the pastor's assistant, explaining each time the new deterrent, I was forty-five minutes late to staff meeting which didn't start until half an hour after I arrived anyway. Geez. I could have just slept in and started my routine later. I didn't sleep well last night.

Because the cats are causing problems, and by cats (for once), I mean Potter. He's just like his older brother Radley was. Like clockwork, at 4a.m. He awakens me to pet him, which I do, night after night, naively believing he will then lay down with me. Not the case, ever. From my sleepy palm, he moves to my vanity and proceeds to knock my make-up off of it. Awakening my vocal chords, I holler at him to stop. He knocks the hair-dryer off. I angrily jump out of bed, scoop him up and throw him out of my room.

2 more hours of sleep. The door to my bedroom begins banging as if someone were incessantly knocking on it. Unable to sleep with that heinous noise, I open the door and Potter returns to repeat aforementioned procedure. Damn cat. By this time, I'm easily awakened and lucid enough to grab the water bottle and turn on the bedside lamp. We have a stare-down: me in my bed with finger poised on water bottle, he on the vanity with paw poised on jewelry container. "Potter, no!" I say very sternly. He looks at me, looks at the water bottle, and before I can even send the signal from my brain to my trigger finger to point and pull, he has knocked my jewelry container onto the floor, and shot under the bed from where I now have to fish him out.

After that cunning move last night, he got locked in the bathroom. The litter's in there, it's two shut doors away from my sleeping ears, and the cat likes to sleep in the tub anyway. It's a win/win situation.

...By the time 7a.m. arrives, that is.

Tomorrow I have to teach at church. Let's hope that I get more sleep tonight so that I may leave on time, finish my reading, prepare my presentation and have time to enjoy dinner with all the elderly folks who always arrive early.

But every night it's the same pattern, even with my high hopes for change as I groggily pet and coo at him.

And you know what the definition of insanity is, right? The repetition of a certain activity with the expectation of different results.

Maybe Potter will figure that one out after he gets locked in the bathroom again tonight.

And maybe I'll figure out how to keep the cats out of my bedroom in the first place...and to always put my phone in my purse.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Whenever my sister would get dumped by a boyfriend, it was not hard to predict what her next move would be. Obviously there would be the tears and the heavy reliance on our parents, but then there was also the mall, because nothing made Amy feel better about herself than "pretty underwear" or soft underwear or whatever. Once when Amy was a little girl (the most impossible little girl for a father to dress mind you), I remember my dad threatening to call Mrs. Bradley, our school secretary to tell her Amy wouldn't be coming to school today because she couldn't find the right pair of underwear to wear. Ooh, I knew the kid was in trouble then. I was of course clothed, winter coat, gloves and all, waiting with my backpack and trapperkeeper for my little sister to pick out the perfect pair of underwear and finally get dressed. Every day was difficult with Amy and dressing; even back then she had a distinct taste and style, and even back then, I had none. I digress. My dad was a trooper.

Emily had a car wreck today, and mother called me today seeking counsel, "I'm depressed." And why did you call me? "I'm upset, Emily got in this wreck... she went on with other woes. And poor Emily, she's badly shaken, and this couldn't have come at a worse time for her.

A first year student at William Jewell died this past week in his dorm of seisures. He was a KA pledge who played baseball and apparently danced great for campus sing. The night before he died, Emily called him out in front of everyone and said, "he does it perfectly, everybody watch him dance." And now his body is immoble. They had an immediate service at Grand River the night they found out, and his close friends went. Emily said she couldn't believe the campus minister could stand up there and talk. She was amazed (and a wreck). There was another memorial the next day. Jewell cancelled Campus Sing and all points associated with homecoming this week. So she was already upset about her friend's tragic death and then she totaled her car.

Then there's Amy in med school. Her mac crashed last week, and to retrieve the 9 months of research on the hard drive it'll cost her $1900 and that's after a 10% off coupin, a student discount and a "man I feel sorry for you" discount. She feels guilty about mom and dad always helping out, and for her birthday in 14 days she's asked for no presents because she knows she's already such a financial burden on our parents. Oh the drama.

Parents are amazing. At least mine are. If I can muster up half the patience my father had with amy and her underwear, my mother has with emily's cars, and then there's my mixed up if I can be kind to my best friend who just lost her brother in a tractor accident (he left behind two high school daughters) and who has to take care of her mom who recently fell, hurting her hip....if I can attend my daughter's best-friend from high school's grandmother's Hindu funeral....If I can be what my parents are to these people...

If I can swing all that with even 1/10 the grace and authentic love, I'll be happy. Even if right now, they're all sad.

At least we have our health. (don't think of Emily's knee - surely it's not that bad)

And at least we all have each other to go through this with.

That's what I told my mother. Those two things. And I meant them.

I left at the funeral two weeks ago in Waco, a woman named Alice: a mother who has burried her husband and now both her children. She has only a grandchild and some great-grandchildren remaining.

We have each other. And we'll have Christmas to have a big insecurity cry fest and then we'll have the best of time making fun of each other, waching or participating in the final decorations (depending on who you are), going to the movies (at least two) and singing chrismas carols as we walk around the neighborhoods. We'll eat at Barbosa's and then we'll eat all of mom's and grandma's and Amy's delicious dishes and I'll gain five pounds. It'll be fabulous. I bought most of your presents in DC, the rest I'll get in South Austin of course.

And it'll be great to be back together again adults and animals alike. Oh the animals. I won't even go there.

But until then, in the wisdom of my younger sister, I will put on my prettiest, softest nightgown tonight and go to bed. So that I feel good enough about myself to take care of my family.

And tomorrow we will wake up to God's day. God's special day. And we will be reminded that through the heartache, the financial troubles, the car wrecks, the life wrecks, we have each other but most importantly we have God, who admittedly will not fix our problems, but help us through them. God's presence is everywhere. Look for Her calm spirit. Feel loved by His open arms. It will be good. Between the jammies and church, we'll be alright.

I love you.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I'm sorry I've been so delinquent in blogging, but every time I've gone to write a blog, my internet has been down at home. Argh. No comment.

What was I going to blog?

Damnit. It was good. I had two posts going in my head last night and now I can't remember them.

Was I going to write about how exhausting Thursdays are? How last night I came home at 10:30p.m. and laid down on the couch feeling like a tired out little kid? I just completed a full day of school learning the dewey decibel system, and then played all afternoon outside on the patio - little house on the prairie - with tricycles. And now I'm asleep on the couch. Will my dad scoop me up, cradle me in his arms and lay me carefully in my bed to complete a good night's sleep?

Will he?

Or maybe I was going to blog about what finally arrived. Not a long awaited package, not a visitor, not a promotion, but a cold front. It finally arrived yesterday at 5pm... a few days late if you listen to the meteorologists. And I slept last night with the air turned off for the first time since I bought my house, and it was wonderful. But today it turned out to be hot again, so that feels like false advertising so perhaps that wasn't what I was going to blog about.

I can't remember.

Tonight I celebrated the birthdays of two friends, so I guess I'll blog to them. Ginny and Bria - love you. Fun parties tonight. Bon chance with all your adventures.

And may your internet always work and if not, may your memory always be keen.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Yep, it's still hot here. I'm going to read by the pool.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Question: Who do you believe?

The Contestants:

Your parents, who raised you (thank god), and have for that reason witnessed your greatest failings and your greatest accomplishments but, truth be told, not much in between because you've been gone for over 10 years...

Your friends, who have stuck with you through thick and thin, who have also seen you at your worst and best, and don't really give a flying flip about either because they're not that into titles and they think "shit happens" to everyone, but they've also only heard your side of the story...

Or Yourself, who really believes that you are learning to be a mature person; that overall you've made the best decisions for your life. I mean, look at yourself!

You're one of ten chosen pastoral residents in the nation (at least that's what some other contestants told you to put on your resume). You're talented, and you know your gifts and how to use them. You're "cute" (as the old ladies as church like to call you) even if you don't have your sisters' unfading beauty. You're articulate, funny, creative, enchanting and charming. You see needs and you seek to meet them. Thanks to your parents, you have a heart for the marginalized and thanks to your friends, a mind keen on creativity. And heck, you've got a great body even if you're "pushing 30" as your sisters love to remind you.

Dad, you taught me to go for the gold. Mom, you taught me to stand up for my rights. Friends, you taught me that love is unconditional and I am so thankful for you all.

But right now, I'm sticking to myself. I don't even want to be analyzed by my therapist.

I mean think about it. How many people offer commentaries on our lives every day? How many people put themselves in the running for running our lives or our thought processes every day? The commercials on TV want to tell us about ourselves, the media wants to inform us of who we are and who we should be, people on buses listening in on our conversations always have their two cents to add, then there's co-workers, neighbors, bosses, in-laws. Geez! We're constantly offering each other advice and insight, and I'm left with my head in my hands wondering, who do I believe?

And so on a personal note, if everyone could just not ask questions, not offer opinions, just for a little while, maybe for only a week. Please just let me be me with my thoughts and my empty coffee can.

You filled me up, but one day the bottom of that coffee can broke, and the pennies cascaded out the bottom. With your love, I repaired the can, but now every time a penny or a rock or a token or a memory is dropped inside, it clinks loudly, reverberating against the metal, and I'm reminded of how empty I feel right now.

It will take a little while for it to fill back up. Do you understand? So please, continue to love me, but i can't handle any more opinions.

I have to work out these deaths, some literal, some metaphorical, and I have to find the resurrection. It may take three days and I may not recognize it when I see it, but I'm confident when he calls my name, I'll be changed. And I'll believe.



But we must be silent and I must go to the garden or I might miss him.



Friday, October 06, 2006

This was my short spoken word last night at Beresheth kicking off our study in worship of the Beatitudes...

The Beatitudes. Truthfully, I don’t know much about them. I managed to remember they were at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, but that was about it. Upon reading it, I discovered there were 8 beatitudes – perfect. That will finish out 8 weeks in October and November for Beresheth and lead us straight into Advent. However, then I discovered they were in Luke too and that in Luke there are only four beatitudes and three woes. Didn’t fit my schedule. Not nicely nestled in the Sermon on the Mount. Sticking with Matthew’s version.

Of course, Matthew’s is different than Luke’s. Whereas Matthew says blessed are the poor in Spirit, Luke just says blessed are you who are poor. Matthew says to the poor in spirit belongs the Kingdom of Heaven. Luke says the poor have the kingdom of God. Are these differences theologically substantial, or are they just different ways of talking about the same thing?

So I looked at what “poor in spirit” meant. According to Song of Solomon the poor in spirit are those “who live in humble acknowledgment of their impoverishment before God and who lift up hopeful prayers.” David Garland juxtaposes the proud with the poor in spirit who “throw pride and caution to the wind in desperate appeals for help.” Likewise, Dom Crossan notes that the Greek word used denotes a desolate situation. And as the quote read states, Jesus called blessed “not the poor but the destitute, not poverty but beggary.” So is that different from Luke’s plain old “blessed are the poor?” N. T. Wright says no. He states, “I do not think there is much actual difference between Matthew and Luke at this point. The contrast upon which we should focus is not between material and spiritual poverty, but between the way of the powerful and the way of the powerless – who are likely to be the poor in all the senses, certainly in first-century Israel.”

And Israel was oppressed. They were all around destitute.

Quite different from the state you and I live in today.

We live in a mostly free country with a mostly ethical sense of morality. My religion isn’t suppressed, my civil liberties aren’t oppressed. In general, politically, we’re doing alright. Not well mind you, but compared to first-century Israel, or to 21st century Palestinians, we’re doing okay. Even the poorest of our poor in America can usually locate a soup kitchen.

But Matthew isn’t talking about money in this passage, he’s talking about spirituality.

Humility, some would say. Beggars before God. One scholar notes that in Aramaic the word poor in Matthew means bent down, afflicted, miserable. Juxtapose that with the word for meek in verse 4 which means bending oneself down, humble and gentle and I get a sense that poor in spirit has very little to do with how we choose to be spiritually. It seems imposed. Spiritually impoverished because we have no choice to be anything but. If I am meek, I move my body into the submission of bowing down, but if I am afflicted, I bend down due to external weight.

And that I get. And that I almost like.

Because it’s nothing I can control.

Many scholars call the Beatitudes the New Testament’s Ten Commandments. Matthew makes many references to Moses with regard to Jesus and there are many similarities. Dreams about their births, the slaughtering of male children by a ruler, people fleeing into exile, both fast for forty days and nights and both ascend a mountain.

There are distinctions too though. Matthew is careful to note these. Whereas Moses is taught by God, Jesus does his own teaching. Moses speaks in the name of God; Jesus speaks in his own name. Moses’ face shines with God’s glory, Jesus is transfigured. And the list goes on and on.

And of course whereas Moses brings Commandments, Jesus brings congratulations.

Congratulations to the poor in spirit! Beatitudes speak of happiness acquired by someone. In the Greco-Roman world it was a lovely bride, excellent children, moral stature, wisdom, wealth, honor, etc. Needless to say, poverty, humility and suffering didn’t generally make their list. But Jesus offers congratulations on these states of being and for what will come as a result.

A new way of being Israel. A new way of being the children of God.

And again Jesus calls to examine our hearts. For a rich old man may be just as spiritually estranged as a poor young boy because external circumstances do not determine the status of our spirituality. They may encourage or hinder it, granted, but what lies inside… hurt by the church, hurt by people, confused by evil, longing to be accepted and made whole… the status of our spiritual health is what Jesus congratulates here.

Congratulations Ann, you can’t make yourself whole so quit trying. Only God can accomplish that.

Congratulations Ann, you alone cannot fill up what is empty, so stop trying.

You cannot make your spirit light, you cannot make yourself powerful, you cannot heal what has been broken, free what was oppressed.

Only God can do that.

Enter the kingdom of heaven. Enter the reign of grace. Enter the policy of compassion.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Moxi, I love you and I'm sorry about your grandma. Her obituary was beautiful though and mom said the funeral was neat. I wish I could have been there for you Mox. You are in my thoughts though... Miss you.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The world is always changing, it's true. At some times more quickly than at others.

But sometimes, the world stays just the same too.

The same gold, 1980's BMW still pulls slowly out of the driveway next to 2825 where I sit on the porchswing and watch. Around me the chairs are still fixed in a circle from the night before where yet again a community gathered to drink and speak to life and to each other.

Another chair is broken because of my friends on that porch who are all bigger than me, and have all managed to break something of the Eades over the years due their the largeness of their lives.

I cried another hard cry last night because 2825 is a safe place to cry. I was put to bed by the same little girl who greeted me four years ago with welcoming arms balancing books and a little black kitten, who now at 10 years old knew to bring me jammies, turn on the sounds of rushing water, and put allergy medicine and water on the bedside table. I fell alseep in a safe bed with the same cat crawling over my tired body all night long.

I held another black baby in my arms today at the Eades as Holly has taken another child with a child under her wing. I sat cradling another frail bird as her mother mends her broken wings and cleans the house for money Holly doesn't have.

Everything changes and nothing changes. We thank and question God.

Everything changes and nothing ever changes.

And that's why I needed to come home.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ruth Ann Foster, 59, passed away at her home in Hewitt, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Oct. 3, at First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas. A memorial service will follow at the same location at 1 p.m. with the Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, pastor of Waco's Calvary Baptist Church, officiating. Ruth Ann Foster, an Ashland, Ky. native, was Associate Professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. She earned a Bachelor of Theology degree from Clear Creek Baptist College, Pineville, Ky. in May 1978. She excelled academically and went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree in 1982 and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in New Testament Studies in 1989. She served as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Religion at Texas Christian University (1984-91) and then moved to become Minister of Education at Manor Baptist Church, San Antonio (1991-94). In 1994, she became one of the founding faculty members of George W. Truett Theological Seminary. She was involved in every aspect of the early development of Truett Seminary and was a beloved and effective teacher. She firmly believed that female students attending the seminary should be encouraged to explore their giftedness from God. She was held in the highest esteem and admiration by her faculty colleagues at Truett Seminary. Dr. Foster is survived by her mother, Alice; a nephew, David Foster of Ashland, Ky. and his wife, Annette; a great niece, Beth Foster; a great nephew, Jeremy Foster; a cousin, Connie Marshall and her husband, Roger and her life-long best friend, Jane Kerns and her husband, Ken of Lexington, Ky. Mrs. Foster and her family wish to thank the people of Odyssey Health Care Hospice and the Truett Seminary family for their warm and untiring ministry during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Dr. Ruth Ann Foster George W. Truett Theological Seminary Endowed Scholarship Fund at Baylor University, Box 97026, Waco, Texas 76798-7026. The family invites you to leave a message or memory in our "Memorial Guestbook" at September 14, 1947 - September 28, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Today is not the greatest day of my life but it is another day in my life; whereas today was the last day of Dr. Foster's.

Ruth Ann was my Into to Theology and Greek professor at Truett Seminary. She was fairly young, quite spunky and even allowed me to submit a prayer request one day in class because i was traumatized that I had to wear all white grandma shoes to my new job at Applebees.

Remember that? Forgive me Ruth Ann, I was only 22.

The insulation man (who finally arrived after two weeks to put insulation in my attic) fell through the ceiling and into my bedroom this afternoon. I laid down on the floor of the FBC office in a state of shock about the hole as Ruth Ann laid down her life and left an even bigger one.

I remember the last time I saw Ruth Ann. It was 11 months ago at Kyle's wake. I had just seen his body, and came out of the room unable to control my tears. I saw her sitting at a table, so I sat down in her safety and sobbed. She patted my back and said she was sorry, but she had no words of consolutation for me. She was going to have to argue this one out with God. Maybe now she will.

A man fell down through my ceiling and Ruth Ann, you ascended up into heaven.

Promise to come back down and teach us all about it.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I come home to a computer. Not to a person. Not even really to the cats. They've started ignoring me unless I'm feeding them or lying down with a blanket they'd love to sink their paws into.

Granted usually every night someone is at my house. Last night it was Frank. Tonight KC. Tomorrow night Grant and Amy. My house is a safe place for friends, and I think many of them consider 5406 a second home in a lot of ways. My neighbors may think I run a brothal though what with the people who frequently crash on my comfy couches.

But not every day. And tonight KC just came over to prove he could upload my ipod songs to my itunes. He was right of course, but after proving himself, he scurried off to the Side Bar to watch Project Runway and maybe meet a girl who doesn't think he's gay.

But I'm not the only one.

With an empty house I mean.

One of my friends doesn't feel at home at his house even though he has four roommates. I pray for him.
My sister comes home only to a dog and a cell phone, so I pray for her too.

And others have more family than they'd care to admit.

I remember one friend in high school who lied to one of our teachers about her brother. She said she didn't have one. Oh really, the teacher said, knowing she did. Nope. No brother, my friend responded.

I lied once and said my parents had been married before and that in reality I had an older brother by one of my parents first marriages. But I was in grade school. And I was adding to my family, not subtracting.

Still, it was a lie.

And 20 years later I lie on the couch and reflect on family and life and my empty home.

Someday when I stop buying computers and ceiling fans, I'll begin classes for foster parenting. Then I'll share my love and care for a child who desparately needs to learn about family.

Because I've got a lot of love to give the world. And it's just not being fully utilized.

Or at least, that's how I feel when I come home to an empty house with a computer, two cats and a couch.

I need a roommate.

Or I need to join a commune.

Or I need to go visit my family in Missouri. I miss them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yesterday, an off day and an odd day. I started it by waking up, a novel idea on most days for me. Then I raked leaves, and Tommie noted that I hadn't been around much. Yeah, I'm a workaholic I said, trying to muster an excuse. It was true that I had worked 8 days in a row without a day off. That at least constitutes one week of workaholism.

After the leaves, I headed for the flowers which I watered and began to pull the weeds away from. However, as I grabbed one large unwanted green apendage to the dirt and wood chips out marched, no flooded, ants ants and more ants.

Now many of you know how I feel about ants in Texas; my feelings initiated one unfortunate night at the edge of an apartment complex in Waco where I held back the hair of a puking roommate and first felt the sting of death. So I hate ants. Nothing has ever relieved my anger. So I marched inside and grabbed the pesticide (don't read this part Michelle) and mixed an appropriate amount with water and headed back outside. My plans were thwarted however, when I discovered that the already dilluted brew had to be hooked up to a hose to spray. Still furious with ants still spewing forth from the ground I yanked the lid off the container and just poured the poison all over those damn ants.

Granted, I probably killed my plants too, there's a chance. But I'd rather kill a plant or two with my anger than myself, and if I can release eight days of tension on some no good nothing poison packin' ants, I'm gonna.

After my yard had returned to dust what with the leaves gone (Lord knows it doesn't have grass) and mother earth easing back into her hole of oppression, I ate lunch with an old friend. Well, he's not old, he's only 20, but I have known him for two and a half years now. That's about par for an "old friend" in Austin. We ate at Pei Wei, a restaurant I mostly associate with an ex-boyfriend, but with very good, not very expensive food. I pulled a fortune that satisfied me out of a cookie and stored it in my purse to take home and put up on the fridge with all the other good fortunes on small pieces of white paper that give me hope.

I had dropped off my car at Groovy Automotive, my favorite car-fixing place in Austin and it wasn't finished yet, so my old friend dropped me off at a new friend's house and new friend and i went shopping! Determined to have a thoroughly productive but fun day, I had decided this oddly off day would be the one in which I would spend the money Grandma gave me for my ordination to buy a computer. She and Grandpa had bought me a computer when I graduated from College, and i've not had a new one since. Needless to say, it was time.

The mac store was a delight and although I received a disturbing phone call regarding my car and $750, I pushed forward determined to anny up on the quality of my life.

On the way home from the mall, I remembered that I had also wanted to accomplish a hair cut since I have to sing in a wedding next weekend. Plus I felt I needed a little lift if you know what I mean even after having successfully shopped. So new friend and I went to his barber shop on South Lamar, and I entered a world of wonder. His styist was booked so I sat waiting for the next available person. He pointed out one barber across the room, "My stylist can't stand her. She does full shaves and cuts, and literally I saw a bushy man she shaved for like an hour sitting there with probably 20 nicks on his face and blood pouring out." Gross, I replied. I don't want her. "You won't get her. She's a barber."

I got her.

Of course.

So I'm already nervous and she then she asks me if I've ever had "the razor." Sorry? Huh? "The razor cuts your hair and makes it fuller than just regular scissors do." Oh. Okay. My hair's naturally limp. So whatever. Let's do it. So we wash and shampoo and I appreciate the head massage and then we return to the chair to begin to chop.

"Could you stand up?"


"I'm a perfectionist and your hair is curling (huh? you are cutting my hair right?) and i think I'd do a better job if you stood.

Of course you would. So I stood for almost 10 minutes with stylists and customers walking around me. It was the weirdest hair cut ever. Eh-ver.

And it took for-eh-ver.

So fun with the new mac that cost more than what Grandma gave me (of course - don't they always), was put on hold a little longer as I retrieved my now $500 fixed car and took off during rush hour to sing with my woman's choir at a nursing home. Sans choir director because she had to move to the piano because we were sans pianist, we performed fairly well. Having resurrected Route 66 from the fall of last year, our audience loved it, singing along with all the old songs. Nothing lifts the spirit more than giving to people who could not be more grateful.

By the end of the show, as I sat outside in the dark quiet air, I felt calm, cut and collected, and I returned home finally to play with my new computer loading music and pictures to my hearts delight.

I sit now in front of my new mac laptop writing my first mac blog. My newest friend asked me today if I had even slept since I last talked to him, but I assured him that after hours of playing on the new computer last night I had indeed gone to bed and to work today. Granted I returned home at 5 and started playing again (even though I should be reading and exegeting Genesis 3 and 4). But that's to be expected. Even ambitious, driven women get distracted by toys, art and beauty.

It's to be expected.

You got that? Expected.


And off.

That's me.