No, it is not Cotton. 🙂

Weaving The Fabric of Your Life

Weave the fabric of your life carefully. 

You hold in your hands the strands you have chosen

to use in weaving the fabric of your life.

It may be that you think some threads are more beautiful than others. 
And there may be others you think are muted and dull.  

But do not be fooled.
All of them are necessary.

If you are careful and treat each strand
with the knowledge that the finished composition
can only be one of beauty when all are woven together seamlessly,

then you will be able to look back on the fabric of your life 
and see that,
though it is surely flawed,
it was woven with
love and care –
making it the beautiful manifestation of your
heart’s desire.

That small feeling

of being a small person

In a very big world.

(I am not complete)

That rush of excitement

When confronted with the possibility

That you are not so small anymore.

(I am as whole as I can be)

That sinking dread of fear

When you contemplate

Your abilities and measure them out.

(I wish I were more)

That leaden feeling of commitment

When you pull yourself up and

Decide to be limitless.

(I am standing in my way)

That surging of inadequacy

When you see someone doing

When all you are is being.

(I am ideas without substance)

That blissful realization

That no one knows or can see

Any of it.

(I am the only one who knows)

That sobering responsibility

Of knowledge only you have

And you alone are your own judge.

(I am the only one who can redeem me)

We need wonder. 

This morning while most of us were sleeping (and some of us were hovering over our 10 month old who had spiked a fever of 103.2 out of the blue) Curiosity landed on Mars.

I had heard this was happening a few hours before on CNN.  But that was a 3 minute mention right before CNN turned back to covering the latest shooting for the next 3 hours and I changed the channel quickly to HBO to be entertained and irritated by the Newsroom for the 5th time in a row.

I came into work this morning and, after touching base with my boss whose vacation had been frustrated by me having to interrupt him several times last week, caught up on my Facebook and news. 

I read the story about Curiosity and thought how cool it was that we have an SUV tooling around Mars right this very second. 

Then I checked my Facebook and read status updates saying that, while cool and all, the $2.6 billion spent to get Curiosity to Mars was basically a waste of money.   

And once again I was frustrated with humanity.  But this has been true for the last week.

Really, folks?!  The money is spent.  Why can’t we just be amazed by it.?? I wanted to put in all caps on their statues. 

Someone said that “in better times I’d be all for it.”

Well, Mr. Killjoy, please tell me when would be a better time?

When we have stopped insane people from shooting up high schools and colleges and theaters and Sikh temples…not to mention politicians and 8 year olds outside a Walgreens in AZ?

When we have tracked down and killed all of Al Qaeda and their ilk?

When Syria is peaceful and the government isn’t torturing children so their parents won’t fight… because they are afraid that if the fundamentalist rebels win the country will roughly regress about two centuries in civil rights? (yes, you have to love the irony there)

When a woman caught in a tug of war between two men in Afghanistan isn’t publically shot to death because both of them want her and so they have her killed as if she was a toy they broke so neither one of them could have her?

When Israel, Palestine and the rest of the sandbox of the Middle East learn to coexist?

When Iraq gives up nuclear ambitions and Russia stops imprisoning journalists?

When, pray tell, is it a good time to travel to another planet?

Because if we wait until all the above is realized it will NEVER happen. If we waited until half that was realized, it would still never happen. 

Hell, if we spent that $2.6B on the homeless or put it towards the national debt it would barely make a dent.  

We just spent the entirety of last week with the Christian and gay communities in this country getting prideful, nasty and judgmental over chicken sandwiches!

We needed this.  We needed a Moonwalk Moment. 

But there was no pride of achievement here.  This was a footnote to most of us.  CNN should have been hyping this for a week.  NASA should have had Curiosity land in primetime and we should be watching this with our kids and marveling over it.  My 4 year old should have seen it. 

Someone should have written something amazing to be the equivalent of “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

But as it is I did not even know it was happening until a couple of hours before and in the middle of the night. 

However, I do know that the Sikh temple shooter had a 9/11 tattoo and was “possibly” a white supremacist. 

I know Dan Cathy and a shitload of other Christians think we are “inviting God’s judgment” by even thinking about accepting gay marriage. And these people are so very proud of themselves for going and making him a shitload of money last Wednesday.  I know because my Facebook page was full of pictures of all the lines at all the Chick-Fil-As in my hometown. 

I know a whole lot about a whole lot of really bad things I wish never happened… like someone breaking into a woman’s house, carving “dyke” into her arms and stomach and setting her house on firelike underage kids posting pictures of themselves raping a passed out girl at a high school party and the rape victim almost went to jail when she tweeted their names… and, God help me, I know about Jerry Sandusky. 

I also know a whole lot about a whole lot of things so inconsequential and petty that I should never have heard of them… e.g. Kristen Stewart’s affair with her director, Steven Tyler has quit American Idol (a show I have never watched even once), that Elton John is dissing Madonna and that years after her death there are still picture books of Marilyn Monroe coming out, though most of us have never even seen Seven Year Itch

I know that there is a presidential election coming up and you have to pick a side: the Private Sector or the Government because apparently it is impossible to think that both are important to our way of life.  You have to demonize one and love the other.  You cannot be a reasonable person and think that Capitalism and Government are in an inextricably linked symbiotic relationship of equal importance.  And God help you if you are a moderate in today’s political climate.  You will just quit.  Ask Olympia Snow or Steve LaTourette

We have divided ourselves into groups.  And to a certain extent that is fine.  It is a part of the human condition to identify with a group.  We have always done it going back to the beginning of our history. 

The problem is that we are now living in the best time humans have ever experienced.  So now we have plenty of time to judge other groups.  We no longer have to band together to survive and mind our own group’s business.  We band together because we want to.  And what we really want to do in our group is judge other groups and list all the reasons why we would NEVER be a part of THAT group.  THAT group believes X and we believe Y and so we have to MAKE them stop believing X and FORCE them to believe Y.  It is, after all, what God would want us to do, right?

We ESPECIALLY like it if the other group is having some sort of sex our group forbids.  We LOVE to get our noses into other people’s beds and judge what they do there.  It is scandalous.  It is titillating. 

So, please, please, please, as a nation and a people, we need to be brought back together.  We need to be united in accomplishment and pride.  Not AGAINST something or someone but FOR something we can all believe in.

Landing an SUV on Mars could have been that thing.  But it wasn’t. 

And, really, how can we come up with something more amazing than that?

Going outside our solar system??  Yeah.  That would be awesome, right?  Everyone would think that was cool!  Wait.  We already did that.  I bet you didn’t even know it. 

So much for wonder.  We can all go back to bickering amgonst our little groups now.

I heard the door open and turned my back to it.  The cold draft from the hall swept through the room and I nestled even deeper into the covers.  I was annoyed at being disturbed from my slumber and eager to get back to the timeless oblivion of sleep. 

Her footsteps were light and quiet, but they irritated me all the more.  I wanted her to leave me alone.  But I knew she wouldn’t.  She never did. 

“Get out.” I said.

“No.  I am not going anywhere.”

I didn’t answer.  Mainly because I knew she was telling the truth – she would sit here and wait indefinitely, damn her – but also because I hoped she’d not disturbed me so much that I couldn’t go back into that dream world and lose myself again.  

No such luck.  She came over to the bed and sat down carefully on the edge. 

God damn her.  She was going to pull me out of this nothingness and back into life. 

All the sudden I was furious. Anger surged through me though I tried to ignore it and stay in my cocoon.  But I could hear her breathe and the sound of it infuriated me.

Why can’t she just leave me alone and mind her own business? I thought.  I feel better now than I did.  What is it about her that messes everything up? Why won’t she just LET ME BE???

Of course, I knew the answer.  It was her job.  She could no more leave me alone than I could stop breathing.  She would wait and wait and wait.  And when she could not wait anymore, she would do it anyway. 

I concentrated on my breathing trying to stave off my anger – and extend my hibernation.  And then I felt her hand stroke my hair.

DON’T TOUCH ME

Yet, even as I snarled at her, I knew I wanted to grab her and hold her tight.

She stood up and backed away carefully, her hands in the air as if I’d pulled a gun on her. I really did not know why I put her through this whole rigmarole.  We’d done this before… many times.  But this was a process and it had to be followed. She understood that better than I. 

All I felt was raw emotion and pain. The other had worked me over good. I did not know how long I had been hibernating this time.  There was really no way to know.  Time does not exist in this part of the mind. 

“Why don’t you leave me alone, you meddling BITCH??”

And with that the dam of internalized venom over flowed and spewed out of me in a turbulent, vitriolic vomit.

I struggled to my feet as rage kidnapped all my senses.  I could feel it pouring in hot tears from my eyes, hear it ringing in my ears, taste its bitterness and smell the stink of sweat and fear radiating off me. Yet I seemed blinded, or at least unable to comprehend the little I could see, as I stumbled around the room.

I fell into the desk and wiped all my beautiful research onto the floor and stomped it. 

I cursed myself and, eventually, God for my existence.

All the while she watched.  Tears ran down her face, but no sound escaped her lips.  She allowed me the release unmolested and without judgment.

And then, after the rage had hollowed me out and left me trembling, I fell to my knees and began my confession.

Only then did she come to me.  She knelt next to me and stroked my hair.  I grabbed her around the waist and held on with everything that was in me as the sins and guilt tumbled from my lips into her lap. 

She had heard it all before, I knew.  But this was a process.  One I had to go through over and over and over, apparently. 

When I was done, she rose in front of me, seeming to drift out of my grasp effortlessly, and pulled me up with her.  She led me over to the couch, sat me down and produced a basin and cloth from nowhere.  As she bathed my face, neck, shoulders and hands, the last remnants of rage, pain and sorrow eased and then left me.  My head that had been pounding stilled; my throat, sore from curses, healed; and my eyes, burning and swelling with hot pain, cooled and abated. 

“Now.  That is over.” She said.  “Better?” And I smiled.

I looked over and saw my desk had been restored.  My research carefully stacked again, just as I had left it before, I was sure.  The entire area was clean and ready for me – as if by magic.

“Why?” I asked.  She simply shrugged in response. 

There really was no need for her to tell me. I knew everything she knew. 

Just as I needed the other’s torment, I needed her healing.  Maybe one day I would reach a point where the other did not come.  Maybe one day I would not need either of them.  But for now I did. 

The other is gone – at least for now.  Only you can decide if and when she comes back.  Maybe she won’t.  I do not know.  What I do know is that you have to come out now.  You cannot hide in there forever waiting for time to take the reigns out of your hands. Then it will be too late and you will bear the blame for it.  And from what I have seen and heard from you, you don’t need any more guilt.  You have enough as it is, don’t you think?”

She kissed my cheek and all of the guilt, fear, blame and doubt blinked out of me.  All of the sudden, I did not know how I felt. 

I just was – and it was wonderful.

She went to the door but turned to me as she opened it. 

“I have told you this before.  I am telling you now.  And I will tell you again if you need me to – you are forgiven.”

And with a slight wisp, she was gone.

I sat at the desk with all my research around me.  My fingers itched and my mind raced.

I had carved out a bit of time and was looking to use it to my best advantage. I wanted to do something I could be proud of.  Mentally I checked in with all the outside forces that could pull me away from my task.  Everything was in order – or as much in order as was necessary  – and I took a deep breath. 

I was safe. I was happy. I had made it.

The bed behind me beckoned a bit, trying to coerce me back to its warm obliviousness, but I was only slightly tempted and refocused myself. 

I didn’t have a clue where to begin, but I was about to find out where the beginning was. It was right here.  This is how it started.  And I smiled, inspired by that knowledge.

My moment of excited contentment was as brief as it was satisfying.

A stirring in the corner caught my attention at the very last second.  My stomach clenched and dropped immediately. 

“Dammit! I had been so very close this time,” was the only thought I had time for before I heard the laugh I already knew was coming. It was cruel and heartless… and familiar.

“Hmmmmm… Just what exactly do you think you are doing?” she asked.

I didn’t answer.  I was not allowed to speak.

She stood up in the corner.  She was much taller and stronger than me.  She was much more beautiful, as well… but in a leering, jeering way.  I had a hard time looking up at her.  She was terrifying. She spoke only truth, but her eyes flashed with sinister intent.  She knew her job and she was good at it. 

“Remember!” she said.

Oh, I did. I never forgot. Not really. I had just been doing a decent job of ignoring it all lately. 

“Getting a bit big for those britches, aren’t we? Starting to believe some of those lies you tell others? Starting to think you have something worthwhile to say?? Forgetting is what you are doing.  We both know I am always right and no one else matters. Here, darling, let’s remember exactly who and what you are, shall we?”

Her contempt was palpable – and, oh, so bitter to taste.  I felt I would choke on it.

My faced burned with humiliation and embarrassment. I bowed my head, but pleading and explaining would be useless… not that I wouldn’t try before it was over, though.  I sank to the floor in a puddle of self-loathing.

She smiled a beautiful, horrible smile and, at her bidding, the memories play out in front of me, each more painful than the last. 

She was at my side forcing my attention… taunting and crooning… her voice almost sweet: 

That is what you are really like (screaming and drama)… That is what your true character is (lying and cheating)…. That is just how smart you are (failing and losing).” She said, following along with the ghostlike images playing before me.  “This is why you cannot forget (mother).  This is how well you manage (daughter). You cannot ever hide it (the ER). You stink of it (the men).  I am always watching (the psych ward).  I will always be here to remind you (countless therapists). There is no escape (the jail cell).”

I suppose she believes she is doing me a favor by keeping me in check. And if you could see the failures, sins and wrongs she shows, you may very well agree with her.  Certainly I do by the time she is done.  She gives proof to validate every doubt and fear I have ever had. 

And, as always, she reminds me that only she knows me.  And if there ever were anyone else who really knew me they would see me the same way she does – pathetic, stupid, manipulative, unworthy. There is nothing I can do about it.  There is no running from it and no redemption is possible.  She will always be there to judge and punish. 

Ah, she is enjoying herself now and there is no stopping her.

Any feeble attempts to defend myself or protest her harshness are immediately slapped down.  There is no defense.  Haven’t I learned anything from her?  It doesn’t matter what others have done or if they have done worse.  My crimes are not to be weighed against anything outside or against anyone else’s.  Others are not her concern.  No repentance matters and no absolution will be given.  Atonement is impossible and she revels in my damnation.

Once she is sure I am stripped down and firmly back in my place, she loses some of her edge.  A bit of spite is replaced by pity. She almost seems to care about me. A part of me thinks this is worse, but most of me doesn’t give a damn anymore. 

Just let it be done and over. I look longingly at the bed in the corner, my earlier excitement and contentment utterly forgotten.  I will do as she says and forget my ambitions. I knew I would as soon as I heard the slightest sound from her.  They were silly anyway and easily abandoned again. 

Finally, after what seems like forever, I am allowed to take what she gives me and crawl into the bed.  I am too tired to cry.  I am too empty to feel.

Her work complete, she whispers a final warning and promise, strokes my hair and retires out of my consciousness as I happily sink into glorious oblivion.

Her grin fades like the Cheshire cat’s, but even in my unsettled sleep I know she is there waiting… and I shiver. She will be back.  It is the one thing I am sure of.; it is the one thing I know…then, blissfully, there is nothing else.

Claire was trying to control her aggravation.

This was the third time in as many days that she had complained to Jim about the garage refrigerator.And the problem had been ongoing for weeks, if not months by now.  Her frustration was rising.  If that thing went, she would have one hell of a mess on her hands, dammit.

She could not fix it herself, that much was obvious.  She needed help.

Jim was no refrigerator mechanic, by any means, but he was closer to being one than she was.

And, besides, he was the man, dammit.  Busted refrigerators fell under his jurisdiction.  As did roof repairs, yardwork and bug disposal.

When was the last time he’d been grocery shopping, washed laundry or cleaned out the freezer of said frige, uh?  Yeah.  Probably the last time she’d had a baby was when.

She could feel her anger and aggravation rising.

She felt she had two choices.  She could become the stereotypical nag that society seemed to predestine her to become…

Or she could come up with another way.

She did the dishes and pondered the situation.

Later that night, once Jim was done with all he needed to do for the day and got himself comfortable in his Lazy boy, Claire sat down in his lap and put her arms around Jim.

“Honey, do you remember our first date?” she asked.

“Of course, I do, babe,” Jim replied, sweetly,

“You remember how you took me to dinner at that wonderful sushi place you knew and ordered for me?”

“I do.”

“And then you picked out a movie you thought I would like and after we walked along to river holding hands?”

“I do.”

“What were you thinking about?”

“Well, babe, I was thinking about how beautiful you were and how smart you were,” Jim said with a mischievous smile.

“Sure, you were.  I know you.  You were thinking about how many dates it would take to get me in bed!” Claire only half-joked. She knew her husband.

“Well, that was part of it.  I did want you.  I still do,” he pulled her closer and kissed her.

“Did you like impressing me with your knowledge and manliness?” Claire asked innocently.

“Of course I did.”

“And do you remember when you broke my corkscrew and then went and bought me that fancy-schmancy one that like shot a thing through the cork?”

“Yes.  I was trying to impress you.”

“I have to admit you did a good job.  Cooking me dinner, taking me to the symphony, building me that bookcase over there.  I still love it the best of everything we own, by the way.”

“Your wish is my command, my love,” Jim said.  And Claire knew he still meant it.

“Well, honey, I need you to remember those days.  I need you to remember when I was your new girlfriend Claire who  had recently caught your eye in that ridiculous professor’s philosophy class.  The one who wore lounge pants and pony-tails to class. The one who you asked no less than five people in that class if they knew anything about me.

I need you to remember that guy who I first noticed before either of us had ever set foot in that class.  By the time it got back to me that you were asking about me, I already knew you lived off campus, had come out of a sour relationship with that bitchy sorority chick, what’s-her-name.  I knew all this because I saw you the first day of class and wanted you then and there.

How cute you were when I caught you watching me. You made me melt when you caught my eye.

“Do you remember those days, honey?”

Jim smiled.  He did remember those days very well. How cute Claire had looked.  She’d seemed almost shy, until the professor had said something she deemed ridiculous and she called him on it, eventually arguing her point until he gave in.  Man, she’d been fun to watch from a distance.  All he’d known is that he wanted to spend time with this girl.  He wanted to get to know her.  And, yes, he’d most certainly wanted to get her little spitfire self in bed.  And the sooner the better.  His smile widened at the memory.

“Honey, it may have been 17 years ago and lots may have happened to the college kids we once were. “

“I know, babe.  But it has all been worth it.”

“So, honey, I need you to do something for me.  I need you to be that guy who watched me from across the room.  Who wanted to take me and show me the world.  And who really wanted to get me in bed. The one who really wanted to impress me, fix things for me and just generally be my man.

“Think you still got it in you?” Claire said coyly.

“Yeah, babe.  I am your man.  I am up to whatever challenge you have.”

Claire leaned forward and kissed him.

“Oh, good, honey,” she paused before nervously continuing, “because I really need you to do something about that damn frige in the garage. It is pissing me off and I cannot do anything about it!”

Claire waited, not sure how Jim was going to take it.

After taking a few seconds for it to register, Jim looked at her blankly, then he laughed out loud. Claire could still surprise him after 17 years.  He kissed her.

“Yes, baby, I am still your man.  I will fix the frige, have it fixed by a repairman or replace it by next Saturday.  Does that work for you?”

“Yes, honey, that works. Thank you so very much,” Claire grinned and kissed him sweetly once… and then again more deeply.

“Now how about you take me to bed… and find out if I am still the little spitfire you thought I was.”

“Your wish is my command, babe.”

Being that this weekend is Father’s Day, I’ve had some shopping to do.  Like every woman in my situation, I struggle with what to do for Father’s Day  – and I have three of them in my life. 

Ezra’s dad and I are divorced but we have managed (with lots of soul-searching and knock-down-drag-out text fights over about a year) to come to terms with the fact that he and I, along with Jay, are raising this child together and we all love Ezra and have his best interests at heart.  We get along very well now, especially for people in our situation.  I am grateful for that.

In that spirit, he very nicely got me a Mother’s Day gift that he let Ezra pick out. So last night it was my turn.

Ezra and I went to dinner and then went to a collegiate sports store to get his dad’s gift. 

Another thing you have to understand about me and my family and our Southerness is that we are an Auburn family. 

Big time. 

My dad went there, Jay graduated from there, Jay’s little brother is there now.

I was raised to be an Auburn fan from birth.  And I will do the same for my children. 

This is a BIG deal down here in the South.  The SEC rules the roost.  The other day, my brother posted a simple, “100 Days!” on his Facebook page and I immediately knew that it was exactly that long till the first Game Day of the 2012 season (it is down to the 80s by now! Yay! I cannot wait!)

Ezra’s dad, on the other hand, is a graduate of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. Yes, the very Texas A&M who left the Big whatever conference and are coming to the SEC this year.  And playing one of their initial SEC games against Auburn in Auburn. And being that the Corps is the oldest military student organization in the country and Ezra’s dad was in the Corps band, which never missed a game his entire college career, he is a bit of an A&M fan in his own right. 

Never during the years I was married to Ezra’s dad did this become a real issue. I will watch any college football and as Auburn and A&M were in different conferences they never met up on the field. 

Until this year.  So this is gonna be fun. 

I have already done my best to inoculate Ezra from his father’s A&M influence.  He has a myriad of Auburn paraphernalia from the pennant hanging in his room to pom-poms, jackets, hats and other such items. 

More importantly he watches the games with us.  Mostly because he has no choice, but we also try to explain it to him and play football with him.  You know, make it fun and teach him.  It will be a whole family deal. Sawyer already has Auburn gear to grow into (he wore his first AU shirt in the hospital when he was born – you get the idea?). 

It is a full indoctrination program we have going. And Ezra’s dad has both noted and commented on this on several occasions. 

Despite that, and with full recognition of the fact that I am such a big person spirit of thanks and Father’s Day, I bought Ezra’s dad an A&M flag he could fly outside his home with pride for A&M’s first season in the SEC.  He will come to understand why the SEC is the most respected conference in the country and he will, eventually – provided A&M can hang – enjoy that same pride. 

But a part of me was a bit concerned about purchasing something that could be used to undermine the Auburn training Ezra has had up till this point.  So when Ezra asked very sweetly if he could get a little plastic Auburn helmet for two bucks at the register, I smiled and bought it for him.

And this morning when I dropped him off at school, he wanted to take the little helmet in for an additional show-and-tell. Hm, imagine that. 

“Can I take the Auburn helmet to my Daddy’s house, Mommy?” he asked innocently as he got out of the car.

“You sure can, love. I got it just for you to keep at Daddy’s house, ok?  War Eagle!!”

“War Eagle, Mommy!”

We high-fived.

That’s right Ezra.

Exactly.