Why Don’t We Make It Stop?

Like much of America, I was anticipating James Comey’s testimony. That word holds different connotations depending on church or courtroom settings, one is met with support and compassion, the other the attempt to tear apart and discredit. Still, the expectation is that the teller is sharing their side of important events, their history, their understanding. I expected to hear some details that I hadn’t before, I didn’t expect to feel so deeply for Mr. Comey. After all, with his generally stoic expression and large build, he doesn’t generate a great deal emotion for him personally, maybe just politically. What I heard though in listening to his testimony triggered and surprised me, I wasn’t expecting to feel deep compassion for the former director of the highest cop shop in the land.

I didn’t listen to the hearings in realtime, a forced separation from the news of the day as I attended a conference and couldn’t even check in on twitter until late in the afternoon. I admit I was torn between attending this huge life changing event and gasp… it was #ComeyDay, how could I not be viewing and refreshing my twitter feed every 2 seconds? It felt like getting a mani/pedi on 9/11, how selfish could I be? Still, I knew the hearings would go on without me and I could catch up later. Now I see the wisdom of sitting the hearings out, waiting until I was safely able to absorb the words spoken. Hearing  Diane Fienstien, a woman asking a man, “Why didn’t you just tell him stop?” would push me into memories and hurts that required space for processing and healing all over again.

James Comey stands 6’8 and was the director of the FBI, arguably a position of power in both. He is educated and experienced. He has resources and knows his way out of tight spots. Yet, he found himself in a place of such discomfort that he left and immediately took notes, he asked never to be alone with this man, he leaked important documents to the our free press. He didn’t feel his power when in the room with someone who chose to cross boundaries and not respect his stated position, time after time. Oh James, I feel you.  Still, he is questioned about why he didn’t stop it, why he didn’t tell the other that it was wrong, why did he chose to go outside of his power base to leak his notes. Why? Ask any woman who has ever been harassed, raped, abused. We know. In fact, we have all been asked those very questions and held to those same standards.

If my heart wasn’t aching for him in that place, in that court hearing, I would have maybe celebrated the fact that finally a woman was asking a man the questions we get so very often. There was no party to be had though, not even a tiny bit of revelry as I realized my God, it is just always the same. Those who are victimized by power are to be held accountable, no matter how much power, no matter how much education, no matter how high through the courts we go. Missing the point that power is abused and must be held accountable, power, just power, no one else, well, if we don’t see it with a 6’8 man who couldn’t stand up to the president, no wonder little children will never be able to tell their parents and uncles and neighbors no. Who will ever believe them?

I heard in the testimony Mr. Comey gave that he said things in a cagey way, he tried to avoid answering direct questions, he tried to manage the awkward and potentially illegal position he felt he was being put in. He was startled at this new territory and unsure of his next step, his safe step. He says he sat still, didn’t change his facial expression, he froze. Yes, Mr. Comey, I know those feelings. I get that desire to stop and pretend you aren’t there, to shutdown and hope it will stop. To be in the presence of one who lies and know you are in danger, for your job, your reputation, for all you hold dear.  Regardless of your political leanings, just for a moment, stop and consider that we have an example the difficulty any of us feel in standing up to power, in finding our own voice, in protecting ourselves, when we feel threatened. At any level of a corporate chain or within the family or even seemingly within the highest ranks of government, perceived power is actual power when it is out of balance.

Ultimately, words matter. Words always matter. Certainly Mr. Comey’s testimony will be evaluated by others much smarter than me, those with law degrees and a full understanding of governmental expectations. Esteemed men and women will consider all that he said and didn’t say, looking for clues to fit an agenda. When I listened though, all I heard was a man who now knows what it is to experience fear from someone who he considered an assailant on his career and then in front of America, had to tell why he didn’t make it stop. He had to explain why he with less power didn’t control the situation.  If we hold Mr. Comey to this standard, is there any hope for the rest of us? Is there any chance that an abused wife will be believed, that a date rape survivor is to be believed, that a rape victim is to be believed? Why don’t any of us just make it stop? Surely we can just use our own power and resources and say no. Mr. Comey answered,”Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. …maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. I hope I’ll never have another opportunity. Maybe if I did, I’d do it better. ”

I listened in and while it was an official setting, what I heard was church testimony. The story of a man telling how he had been fearful and he shutdown and was now facing the consequences of his inactions. I listened with compassion and my soul responded to this big strong man with power who in the moment, was unable to access his own in a meaningful way, who did the best he could and will forever have to answer the question of why didn’t he make it stop. In church, we would surround the teller, the sharer, with hugs and pats on the back and thanks for sharing and appreciation for being brave. We would acknowledge that we are all broken and searching and that we gain strength from the willingness of others to tell their real stories. Mr. Comey, thank you for your bravery in telling, for being so open, for admitting that you were weak in the face of power. I trust that your story is not over, I believe that your experience will shape a new compassion for women everywhere who live out that very question every day. May God bless you and keep you.

Princeton Theological Seminary Conference

As an introduction to New Jersey, he fulfilled many of the stereotypes I have held through too many evenings watching bad crime shows. His cab was stained from sweat and luggage, even the ceiling fabric was torn and filthy.  While he drove not quite erratically, I was lulled into comfort only because of exhaustion. His english was second to a language my American ignorance couldn’t place. Only his eyebrows were visible to me, terribly unmanaged eyebrows that begged for notice, screamed for help as the hairs turned this way and that, reaching mostly downward in a slant that brought to mind harder times. I could only see his eyebrows in the rearview mirror, a device he seemingly ignore as he checked his phone for texts and directions and made calls to someone who was clearly debating the wrong side of an issue with him. He handled the cab like his eyebrows worked his face, jumping into other lanes and pushing his way up and over as he took me further from the airport. He didn’t speak to me, preferring those on his phone who knew his language and couldn’t see his hands even though he was jabbing and pointing as if they occupied the seat next to me. Welcome to New Jersey, his eyebrows told me. I sense your trepidation.

When not pointing and raising his hands to the heavens to underscore his position with his phone mate, he brought his hands to his mouth and chewed his nails. A cab driver  this outwardly anxious was driving me to my first writing conference, a place I was certain with each passing mile I had no business being. His eyebrows knew I was nervous, his nails told me they understood I was in way too deep.  Waiting for a sign, a signal that all was well with my soul, I could only see his hands with every nail chewed as far as possible and still he raised them to his mouth, hunting for a missed bit, considering there may have been some growth since the last stop light, a tiny edge he had to eradicate. My soul did not find comfort or reassurance in this cab.

During that anxious drive, I forgot all the signs and nudges and support that had brought me to this conference, I discarded them like the bits of fingernail my cabbie spat out onto his floor. I wanted something new with each moment to spur me on, a constant stream of encouragement to tell me this big thing was meant for me, that I was meant for it. In devaluing that foundation, I would never have enough signs, would never allow enough growth like the cabbies poor finger nails, if I looked to others for my affirmation. Would a chatty cab driver with a sparkling car really have meant I was worthy of this? Has it come down to that? Ridiculous when I step away but in the moments where anxiety likes to dwell, eyebrows that need a good plucking can mean too much and I forget to be kind to myself.

Stepping into new big territory is scary exciting and maybe worth chewing a nail or two. Removing the expectation that I do it all correctly and perform perfectly,  remember everything that is said and make the best connections, all hyperbole is at the root of the anxiety.  I am not the best or the perfect one, I am just here, checking out some seminars and talking to some people and seeing a beautiful campus. Practicing kindness to myself, a sentiment I now wish I had shared with my cabbie along with the tip I gave him. Surely that is more lasting than the money I offered, maybe not as immediately desired, advice from a stranger, who ever wants that? Still, be kind to ourselves, what wisdom rests there.

I have found many opportunities to practice self kindness and forgiveness as well, staying in a dorm on this magnificent campus. When I went away to college it was as a sophomore and I went straight into an apartment. Always envious of that dorm experience, all those girls building friendships and learning how to pee with someone right next to you, I finally now have my chance, if only for a week. I have learned to wake up without coffee immediately, to keep the key out to lock my door every time I exit, and to ask my neighbor for toothpaste because in dorms you do not leave you tube lying about. I have learned to forgive myself every time I have to dry my hands with toilet paper because I have yet again forgotten to take my towel into the bathroom with me, I am learning to be kind about how comfortable I have grown without even realizing all of  my luxuries. These small discomforts and disruptions remind me that I know nothing of actual suffering these days, or at least my suffering is minimal and internal and I can reach for tissues to dry my tears and fix another cup of coffee or pour a glass of wine as I choose. That is a very different suffering than most of the world. I understand the message the Spirit is sharing with me this week, anxiety and worry and the need for perfection, all these are emotions of choice for me. Kindness is also a choice, one I share with others but not as often with myself. My friend often tells be to be gentle with myself. Wisdom.

I listened to others stand bravely at the mic and read some of their soul out loud for strangers last night. They were met with kindness and no red pens to edit or scratch, no laughs erupted unless the material was intended to be humorous. Next time, I will sign up for an open mic slot, I will tell the next cabbie that I am going to a writing conference, I will tell him I am reading my stuff and I will remind us both to be kind to ourselves. And I will bring a spare tube of toothpaste.  What an amazing week, a gift of finding and owning my gifts.

 

Safe Room

If you hover around the church office often enough, especially if you let the staff know you are comfortable preparing food, the chances are great you will be called in to assist with a funeral meal for the family.  I have hovered, I have let it be known, I have made the requisite salads and set the tables. The call that came in this Friday though was different, would I be able to set up a hospitality room for the family, a place for them to gather before the service? This was no ordinary service, not the anticipated prayed over passing of a long-standing member of our congregation. This loss was of a woman who died so suddenly none of us had yet caught our breaths, a woman who was so incredibly alive and loud and vivacious, it seemed unnatural to consider her gone, even within our faith where we expect to find better questions if not answers. I said yes.

Her children and my children are the same age, they schooled together, teamed together, the girls had sleep overs and parties and studied together. While this woman and I were not close, we worshipped together. As I shopped for fruit and pastries, I wondered at the absurdity of it all and at my first thought when hearing the news: what will Stella be thinking? Please God let her be feeling the freedom to mourn. She doesn’t do death well, which seems an odd statement, is anyone good at it and then that takes us down a dark path. But still, she lost a teacher very early on and then a friend from high school committed suicide in college and she lost a grandmother and then another and she holds it all  in until she bursts forth with wordless tears that my heart was aching in advance for her when I heard this news. The mom in me went straight to my daughter, immediately wanted to comfort her, a luxury no longer available in the brokenness of our relationship.

Arranging tables, finding the cloths to cover them, an angel, a plaque, some flowers, only enough to disguise that the room is normally the setting for junior high youth group, I realized the walls and couches had probably already held a wide range of emotions and God would surely transform what I had been unable to. Boxes of tissues and pots of coffee, a bowl of fruit and some danishes, what could I possibly offer to this grieving family that would bring healing or allow space for their anger and shock? The busyness of it all reminded me of an old sociology class when we discussed death rites and I learned for the first time that funerals are for the living. I knew these tasks gave me something to do, a means to show love and respect back stage, I didn’t want to wander to close, this one was dangerous to my sanity.

I forced myself to stay within the sanctuary walls to listen as the daughter gave an eulogy, I couldn’t fill any more coffee pots or arrange any more chairs. Her words of cherished memories and lost dreams of the future and aching times of laughter and absolute brokenness of not having her mom available to process this, the hardest thing, those words destroyed the barrier I had established in order to lay out crosses and find the coffee cups. I wanted to hear about their relationship and I so did not. How many times have I lain in bed and imagined a cancer diagnosis or even my death and then the children come around, when it is almost too late or really is? Wondering what extreme measure it would take for them to recall our cherished memories, to fall back into times of our laughter and joy, to consider that I never missed a single event of theirs, what in God’s name will it take? So watching this family absorb a horrific shock, I could only selfishly wonder if my own children were watching also and wondering, considering realizing that they are wasting time that is not guaranteed.

My phone stayed silent, I received not the first text or email. These children did not heed the warning, this close to home reminder that moms are not permanent and are not perfect. As I grieved with this family, I grieved for my own as well. We have what they don’t, what they would give any thing for, we have another chance. We have time together to fix what is broken and to create new memories for later reflection, we can laugh again. All of their stories now will included wishes that their mom was present to witness this, to hear that. My children could have that and won’t. If a death around us makes us consider our own mortality, I considered the dying breaths of my family and realized yet again that only God can save us. My fantasies are useless, merely the desperate last attempts of a mother who has tried everything else.

As I stowed away tables, emptied carafes of coffee, exhaustion overcame me, not from transforming a room but from holding out hope. The weight of wishing on the backs of other’s sorrow is so ugly, so sick, such a clear sign of disease, shame washed over me like their tears. How could I have been so hopeful that this time of their greatest loss could be a place of reconciliation for me and how could I not? Wondering at what God wanted me to hear, wanted me to see, what deeper message than the one I was seeking on my phone, surely there is more because I was asked to serve as a witness, to be an observer. What God, what do you have for me?

Sometimes loss is senseless. Sometimes it is a horrible shock and takes years to absorb and we fight against the truth of it. In the end, all we have to rest on is our faith.  I wrote on the whiteboard in the junior high room these words, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18.  I thought it was for the family, if they happened to glance in that direction. I now realize it was for me as well. Families caught up in the long death of estrangement never experience a funeral, are not given a comfortable room to grieve. There are no pots of coffee and friends gathering to share memories. We take our last breaths alone, as all the dying really do, with God.

Lucky

Bringing the two clovers like trophies, I thought he would celebrate how wonderful, how amazing I am. It is difficult to impress him these days, this child who prefers back-flipping on the trampoline and concocting ever more intricate battles with powers that always overcome mine. Impressing a 6 year old who is racing into boyhood and has little time to notice nature with me or wonder about the relationship between vinegar and baking soda is quickly becoming beyond my reach. Thus the two 4-leaf clovers I spotted on the way down the hill, a particular gift of mine, this finding of luck in the midst of grass, surely I thought, surely, this will bring wonderment back onto his face. With no shame I admit I wanted him to for even just that moment between bounces and flips to think I had done something special.

He stopped long enough to look at one, rejected them at first and then took only one as if we were going to battle the clovers, my God why does everything have to be your guy against my guy these days? He asked if they really bring good luck. Hedging a bit, still holding out hope for my superior ranking in his eyes, I blathered on about how lucky it is to find them and that we will watch to see how our day goes. Never satisfied with my first answer, with my blathering, he asked how can they bring good luck, what about God? My instinct to grab my special clover back, push him on his smart little bottom for a “playful” bounce and retreat back onto the porch must have come from just too many skirmishes where I lose to his higher powered bot. Really, he wanted to bring God into my moment of cool? Mic dropped by a 6 year old.

His clover was tossed to the edge of the trampoline, the leaves curling drying in the sun. He already knew that our specialness doesn’t come from how many leaves we have or how high we can jump or really which powers we create in the battle. It all always comes back to God. I brought him a gift to show him how important I still was, looking for affirmation that I fit into his expanding world, he gave it to me, as unexpectedly and lasting as only a child who carries his faith more firmly than the treasured rocks that always fill his pockets or the blanket he clutches as he drifts off to sleep. My worth is not bound in my ability to spot what is unique in a clover pile, if I never find another 4 leafer, if I never find a means to impress this child with Pinterest science experiments, the work is already complete. How is it that I cannot remember this but go looking for luck in the grass?

Later as he curled up under blankets next to me, indulging in screen time racing monster trucks and whooping with each bashing and crashing, he took a moment away just long enough to announce, “Gran, you are so nice.” I hadn’t brought him anything, I wasn’t doing anything. Nice wasn’t the descriptor I had been aiming for but when I received this gift, I knew I had my trophy. My moment in the sun had arrived, empty-handed and offering only me, this child took notice and affirmed that I was enough. Not flashy or carrying extras to make me stand out, I was just enough right there on the couch with him.I want to share the messages of God to this child, instead he more often speaks them to me: “Stop trying so hard, I already see you. ”

In the end, my day was lucky, the kind of luck that comes when your faith is firmly rooted in the One who made the clovers and the One who whispers in the voice of little boys. One day those reminders that I am enough may sink in so deeply that I will stop striving for affirmation or trophies or winning with extra powers. Until that day, I am lucky enough to have this child around to remind me. “Yes, Plum, God made the clovers. Our blessings come from Him. Isn’t that nice?”

Honoring Those Who Served

Another Memorial Day, another opportunity to honor those who have served in our armed services, those who have lost their dreams and sacrificed their desires in battles that I can’t begin to fully understand. I absolutely am thankful for the men and women who have fought those wars and left us early and I am grateful even for those who served and lived and then returned to work and build families and communities. My battle is deeper, or bigger, with the concepts of fighting and killing and the senseless wars that we engage in around the world and the ways in which young poor people are given little option but the military as a means out of poverty. Always somewhat of a rebel, I have not been a flag waver just because we have one, I ask more questions. The current most distressing condition of our country begs for more questions, it seems our most patriotic duty, to really honor those who have fallen, is to ask the really hard questions right now.

I wonder at the label “Patriot” and how that has been so perverted to include those who spread hate and divisions and allow our country, our America!, to be infiltrated by the Russians. More and more evidence is surfacing that the elections were rigged, that the administration has been working back channels, that many of the GOP are in the pocket of Putin. I am no history major but I have read and watched a good deal about the McCarthy era and just cannot figure out how we have swung so far. During that time, the mere hint, a whisper, of being Communist got people blacklisted, changed the course of their lives. Now hearings are being convened again, subpoenas are issued, alarms are going off and excuses are made, flags are waved. Some people do not even want to look closer, to ask any questions, they are so filled with hate for Hillary that they cannot fathom anything said about their candidate is true. Tuned out, backs to the screen, fingers in their ears. How is that patriotic?

As the wreaths are laid today and the old pictures are posted on social media and families gather to remember grandpas and uncles who fought in wars long ago and aunts who have served more recently, I just have to ask what those who have fought would have us do? Blindly trust, shut down journalists, allow unskilled family members to take over in the West Wing, watch as Foreign Governments sound alarms? What did our fallen brothers and sisters give up their lives for? Wasn’t it that we would live free? Free to follow our Constitution, free to allow all the branches to work effectively in checks and balances? Free to worship? Free to serve each other and grow in our diversity and welcome those who are tired and hungry? Anyone who has served overseas has witnessed the ravages of war and understands the wealth we have here and the duty of our land to share and welcome those who are escaping tyranny. We grow stronger as a nation by listening to each other and to smart people in true journalistic endeavors who show us not only what is happening on battlefields but behind closed doors and during election nights and within the Oval office.

This Memorial Day, may we truly honor those who have given all by giving our all to keeping this land free. May we ask those tough questions of ourselves that may force us to admit we got duped. May we open our doors to those who are needing refuge from mass incarceration or the new war on “different.” Our grandpas and uncles and aunts and mothers will thank us for making their sacrifice worth it.

Right Here

The sound of his feet tromping up the stairs, down the hallway reached me before his voice, calling out, “Gran where are you?” Those feet that no longer fit into little boy sizes, are reaching into adult numbers with each new purchase of shoes. I remember those baby feet, how I kissed his soles and sniffed the very infancy that rose up, never musty never dirty. His feet are large now, often filty and filled with bits of sock and smelling of the day’s sweat and gym class and time spent at recess. School is out though now so shoes are only for going to the store or church so toes are most often covered in mud and bits of grass and always something under his nails. Those feet were carrying him upstairs to find me as I was hidden away on my balcony for just a few moments to read the  chapter in the latest book I had downloaded.

He was searching me out to ask if he could have a cup of shaved ice, the equivalent of any other child asking for ice cream. His grandfather sidestepped the decision, unable to give a firm no to those blue eyes and that smile. Those eyes are wicked enticing, he moves his eyebrows just like his father, it is a terrible wonderful combination when unleashed on those who don’t have a shield in place. Already the girls in the neighborhood gather and swarm and jockey for his attention. I want to warn them, I know what a boy with that kind of charism can do to a girl. I watched them ride their bikes back and forth in front of our house, looking craning trying to get him to come play or issue an invitation to join him but he ignored them, preferring to sit on the trampoline with me and roll balls of play doh in a game where points are scored in a system rigged against me.

I said yes to the shaved ice as we made a deal about dinner, I was somewhat drunk on the book I was reading and the momentary peace I had experienced and the birds and those eyes and that smile. Lost in the moment of just being gran and not worrying about vegetables and protein, I said yes. Anticipating that he would take those large feet and his prize back down the stairs and out the door to rejoin his grandfather in victory, it was an easy deal to make. I didn’t want to get up yet to make more food and clean the kitchen again and disturb the Saturday evening. He didn’t scamper though, he climbed onto my lap, ignoring the other chair on the balcony and wiggled and nudged and scooted until he found a way to fit his growing body onto my shrinking one. His feet reached almost to my outstretched legs, as I rested them on a stool, his head no longer nestles under mine but blocks my view.

He complains that I get more screen time than him, that I can “always be on my phone” and he can’t. Taking that opportunity to show him what I was doing, that I wasn’t playing games or killing zombies, he still wasn’t impressed. He saw the words and so offhandedly said, “No gran you were writing and you posted that.” In turns wowed that he understands that I write and had mistaken the John Irving novel I am reading for something I could ever do, if only because he read none of it and only saw a flash of it and at this point in his literacy has no taste for good books, and then dismayed that he equated gaming and reading as endeavors of the same measure when completed on a device,  I explained the difference between books and games.  I told him that he had unlimited time on my iPad if he is reading. My phone was snatched away with his sticky fingers as he searched for the book apps we downloaded, apps he ignores to instead kill zombies and race monster trucks. While he explored the possibilities, I noticed the day streamed along his arms and  legs, the moments of marker that left the pages and touched his skin, the places where water fights had removed patches of dust blown up by bike skid-out competitions. I smelled the boy in his hair as his head rested on my shoulder and remembered that these moments are moving as quickly as the images on the screens. How many more times will he choose to ignore the kids who come calling in order to play with me?

After another water fight that I did not agree to and absolutely lost and then his bath where he got to warm up in bubbles with more battles of guys who are missing some limbs because the beasts like to sneak in and eat bath toys, we read another chapter of Harry Potter. I wanted to read the books to him first before he saw the movies, to entice him into the world of magic and reading just as his father was lured in but Mama showed him the first movie and who can stop there? So we were backtracking and the gift of a lovely illustrated volume given by a former babysitter who knows the power of JK Rowling and also how special this little boy is was our vehicle into the story. Curled up next to me, growing more limp with each paragraph, he listened as the day eased away. Impossible not to remember reading this book to his father, not to remember saying, “Last chapter” and hearing, “NO! one more!” until he chose to take over reading by himself. Hooked, the child who wouldn’t read, mastering the task because he had to know what would happen next. Plum already knows though and wants me to get to the part with the snake and the part with the girl in the bathroom. We won’t get there tonight, the trampoline and the bike and the water battles and a warm bath ensured his body was betraying his words and he was sent off to bed.

I see his father most when he is sleeping, those blue eyes that are exact replicas closed to me. I see the resting face and I watch, wondering at his dreams and knowing when he wakes his feet will be a bit bigger and his fingers a bit longer and his eyes a bit more charming. While he sleeps though I can look at him and see the son I no longer can gaze at and know that each child only visits for a season, they nestle onto laps and ask before they get snacks only for a short time before they read to themselves and take their own showers. I know this gift of moments all add up to him choosing different playmates and one day kissing the feet of his own children. One day he will tell the stories of growing up fully surrounded by the love of his grandmother, his cousins will wonder that they were kept from those kisses and ice creams and water fights. He will love his friends and spouse and children and live out his faith in large part because of the moments I don’t steal away on the balcony but spend reading Harry Potter and cutting up strawberries for him.

The first weekend of summer break is drawing to a close, the burn pile is gone. I struggled to light it after too much rain had dampened it all. I wanted to roast hot dogs and make s’mores but just couldn’t get it going. Knowing he was going to be disappointed, I tried to explain about water-soaked wood and that another week of sun would do the trick. I reminded him that patience is good. With his most serious face and those blue eyes shining, he asked me if I remembered our family motto.  Muttering excuses, spouting reasons, I tried with all I had to explain. Still, he asked me, did I not remember? Yes, Plum, I remember. “We never give up.”  Confident that he had left me to my task with my confidence restored, he went about playing and I called in Chef to actually make the burn pile ignite. Hot dogs were roasted, s’mores were made. Our legacy and his to us, the simple reminder that if we want something badly enough, we will make it happen. This child is proof everyday that doing all the hard work and smelling the stinky toes will bring deep joy of snuggles on balconies and giggles on the way to bed. This little boy who is ushering in summer for the 7th time with bigger feet and blue eyes that can read without my help calls me back to the moment and away from worries and remembering and wishing, “Gran, where are you?” “Right here, sugarPlum, right here.” Contact established, we are both exactly where we need to be.

Radiate

Welcome to Summer

I was involved in a rescue attempt yesterday, called into the fray when my tiny cat was in the yard and didn’t budge even though the two 100 lb.+ beasts came barreling at her.  She stayed fixed in both her spot and her focus, this little feline who generally leaps away at the very sound of the door opening. She is not a fan of the beasts though they love her, affection  shown with huge slobbering tongues wiped along her body, itty bitty nips with their massive jaws as they urge her to play. No, it meant she had a critter in her sights, one she may have lovingly nibbled or swiped with her delicate princess paws. I could have left her to her natural need to take all of the beast frustration out on the smaller rodents she meets, but the door was already open and the beasts were heading towards her before I realized the circle of life was in full swing in my back yard.

Much rushing, yelling, pushing ensued as I tried to protect the mole that I despise on account of his being a rodent though it was nothing personal and tried to protect the beasts who would surely try to lick and nibble and I was near to vomiting at the very idea of that. Plum came to see what all the excitement was and jumped each time I by turns tried to scoop up the critter and then recoiled when I almost did. I was stuck in a game of Survival, where I have to throw someone else off the island to save myself. In my defense, I am truly terrified of rodents and I know they can jump really far and they run scittering really fast and I would have died if it got on me and I am not convinced Plum knows that whole call 911 thing, he may have taken the opportunity for unsupervised screen time. While I lay there dying, more rodents would come, it was a true horror film playing out in my mind as I sought to catch or not to catch and to keep the beasts away and they are seriously quite strong. Ultimately, I stayed on the island and the rodent ended up in beast mouth which may have saved me momentarily but I realized then rodentinsidebeastmouth was even more disgusting because beasts enter our home and rodent mouth is EWWW and dear Lord is it only the first day of summer break?

Much shouting at Plum to help me corner the racing celebrating beast who joyously held the rodent in between his jaws as he zipped by at a lightening speed.  For the very first time in his entire life Plum decided he needed shoes on. Shoes!  I am in survival mode level 999 like all his games and he abandons me while he seeks shoes. At the last second I shouted for him to remember to shut the door but the last second was really the too late second because he didn’t shut the door and the rodent breathed beast ran into my home.  The kid still had no shoes, the dog was inside with a mole covered in slobber, I was having an anxiety attack and it was only 8:30 am. This is why day drinking is a thing.

The beast was cornered and removed, jaws firmly clamped and tail wagging excitedly, onto the back porch where he was ordered to “Drop it.” I didn’t have a watch on or access to the microwave timer but I believe this continued for at least an hour as the mole drowned inside my happy beast’s huge mouth and my Plum offered him treats and bones and beast #2 just on the other side of the door barked angrily at being kept from all the fun. Admitting defeat in the entire chain, I ushered Plum back in and left the dog outside to think about what he had done. He promptly spat the no longer scittering or leaping mole onto the porch and waited to be allowed back into the house. You know that game adolescents and men who never leave adolescence play on each other, where you reach for the car door and they drive away, leaving you on the curb? Each time they promise not to do it again until you are ready to kill them but still, over and over you reach for the handle and they scoot the car just out of reach? My beast is an adolescent. Touch door handle, beast grabs his treasure.  I walk away, he drops it. I knew I was being played but damnit, the rodent was right at my door.

I don’t believe there is a lesson here for me except to scan my full yard before allowing my beasts outside and to make sure Plum knows that if granny falls over dead in the yard this is not extra screen time. Welcome to summer break, friends.