October 2014

On the horrors of editing Twin B’s work

by Priscilla on October 27, 2014

There’s a big story project due at school today. We’ve known about it for weeks. This is why last night at 10 p.m. we were still writing and revising. I’m not going into great detail here because I think my daughter’s work speaks for itself. All you need to know is the following:

1.) The main character’s name is Joanna. St  Joan of Arc speaks through a painting to our heroine to go save France from Italy. I’m not exactly sure why Italy is invading France at this point in time. They already have the best looking bags, shoes and men. Maybe it’s a for croissant recipe.  Whatever it is, it’s bad enough that St. Joan is speaking through acrylics.

2.) Joanna’s mother is a photographer for Life magazine and travels a lot. The fact that Life is now defunct is of no concern to Twin B. After all, this is a work of fiction.

3.) Rod is Joanna’s mom’s boyfriend who, according to Twin B, is a really nice man and looks out for Joanna.

4.) Twin B, it appears, eschews quotation marks and doesn’t know to start each new quote with a new line.

So I’m reading along, editing and marking, not really commenting on the story line because that’s Twin B’s work, and since she left it to the last minute, I knew it was going to be bad. She knew it was going to be bad. I told her sometimes good work starts with bad work and just to “write though,” and get it done.

Then I come to this…

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So, I write this in the margins…

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Ok, a girl going to France w/ her mom’s boyfriend w/o her mom is creepy. Think of something else. Make him a stepdad.

Twin B’s father happened to be over and laughed when I showed him her work. Then he shook his head. Then I think his head was in his hands. He obeyed orders to go talk to his second born as to why this storyline wasn’t the best route to take, and I heard her say, Why? He’s like 50. It’s not like he’s creepy or anything.

In the end she acquiesced and made Rod a stepdad.  I would have preferred Rod be completely deleted from the tale. I’m still not sure where the idea for a boyfriend for mom came in. Her own mother certainly doesn’t have a boyfriend on the radar. Boyfriends mean shaving and brushing teeth. Who has time for that? But, I do tell her to make characters interesting and bring them into a story for a purpose. In her 10 year old innocence, Rod served a purpose, I guess.

There’s a lesson to be learned here…

I need to read my kid’s work more.

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Twin B is my romantic child. Not romantic in the sense that she is swept up in all things Disney princessesque, but romantic as in dreamy and sentimental. The phrase I hear most from the back seat inhabiter is, Hey, Mom, remember when….

She’s 10. There’s really not much to remember, and she’s been regaling her history in remember whens since she was four.

She gets no greater joy than hauling out family albums and going over pictures of times past…and over and over and over.  I’m going to share with you her favorites.

Here she is at her first T-ball game.

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Her first time on Grandma’s mini tramp.

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First time swimming in the lake. (To be fair, my brother made all of us sisters cry when we were kids so this isn’t all her fault.)

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First time at the pool with friends. (There’s a pattern emerging here.)

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First picnic with friends.

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First plane trip.

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…and hanging out with Grandpa. Did I mention she fell asleep during her own 3rd or 4th birthday party? I had to carry her upstairs, keep the party going for Twin A and the other guests, and then had the pleasure of explaining to her several hours later through many howls and tears, that yes, indeed, she slept through her own  party.

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Some parents shudder in fear thinking about the adolescent years.

I think I pretty well know what’s coming.

 

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And the Epiphanies Keep on Coming

by Priscilla on October 20, 2014

The other day while shaving my legs a thought struck me, and just like all epiphany strikes, crying ensued.

It was in the shower I first noticed that overnight several more tributaries of spider veins had formed and were now marching down the front of my left leg looking to conquer my kneecap. (Men get little blue pills. We ladies get stuck with little blue lines.)  I then noticed that the hair on my legs was long enough to impede any attempts of pulling my jeans over my calves later when I was dressing, so I grabbed that  Foamy Mess in a Bottle we women lather all over our legs before shaving, and when I began spraying the foam, the tears started coming down my eyes.

Darn it, God. Seriously. In the shower? Shaving my legs! This is when you are going to speak to me?! Moses got a burning bush. Samuel got a nice whisper in the middle of the night. Balaam got the talking donkey. Saul got a great and blinding light, and he was a bad guy.  I mean a reaaallly bad guy.  I’m a not-so-horrible middle aged female who cuts her own grass and uses her CVS card to her advantage. Throw me a bone, here. Mary got an angel…AN ANGEL! Yes, I know Mary was the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but my point here, God, is that it would be nice if you stepped up your game with your Epiphanies for the Irreverent Sister.  I know, I know. Still.Small.Voice. Who am I to decide whether the still small voice is heard on the mountain top or in my bathroom shower, which by the way has an overhead fan inhabited by squirrels. (The former Mr. TIS discovered this when he came over to fix it. The Former Mr. TIS is turning out to be a great Former Mr. TIS, and for this I am grateful because too many women in my position cannot say this.)

My epiphany had to do with fear. Like many humans I struggle and have struggled with fear and doubt for years, and growing up with a family of geniuses who just get things done has only exacerbated my conflict because I look around at all their accomplishments and wonder what the heck is wrong with me? Why do I put hurdles in my way?  At 40 something I should be some kind of accomplished something or other, but I’m not. I’m a woman with spider veiny legs along with a stretch marked riddled abdomen trying to shave her legs while squirrels are well into their 3rd game of Bowling for Nuts right above my head. Also, I switch between 1st and 3rd person a lot when I write.

Somewhere in the middle of hoisting my second leg up to the side of the tub in order to not pass out while bending over to reach my ankle, a memory shot threw me.

It was the memory of my father joking with someone, I don’t know who, but they were talking about my getting married, or not getting married as the case was,  and Dad said, I don’t worry about Priscilla running off and getting married just yet. She’ll have to find someone who makes more money than I do.

I knew immediately that this memory was important. Why now? Why here?

God.

Simply put, it was a God Thing.

My dad wasn’t a sexist patrician who believed a woman’s place is  in the home.  He never once said  that because of my sex I’d just have to rely on the menfolk.  He didn’t relegate me to the pretty girl who stood around at parties flirting shamelessly with monied males, laughing at their gawd-awful jokes.  He just knew his youngest child had some pretty expensive tastes. He was also quick witted with the driest sense of humor this side of the Mississippi.

I came along  in the 54th year of his life. He’d practiced medicine for 30 some years by then. He’d become pretty good at buying and selling real estate. The struggles most dads have to work through while their children are young, he’d already conquered, and I was on the receiving end of his triumphs. I never wanted for lessons or activities or educational opportunities.  I did want for a car, but Dad thought Mom’s Suburban was just fine for me to drive…and this was before SUVs were cool. The only people who drove Suburbans were contractors, ranchers, antique dealers and mothers with eight children.

But sometimes Satan, or evil or whatever you want to call the spiritual force in our world that likes to fill our minds with doubt, uses seemingly insignificant jokes or moments long forgotten to plant a seed: a seed of doubt,  seed of fear; and in that tiny moment,  what I heard instead of a joke, was the message, This girl needs a man to make the money for her because she is not capable of doing it for herself.  I don’t for a minute believe that’s the message my father intended to convey, but that is how my soul received it…and that is the lie I’ve held onto for over 20 years.

Many of us face enormous fears while slogging through divorce. Maybe it’s the fear of losing companionship. Maybe it’s the fear of dying alone. Maybe it’s the fear of feeling you will never be happy again. I think for a lot of women who worked for years, then gave up the career for the kids, it’s a fear of having to start all over and not having the money to live out the rest of our lives.

Right there in my shower, as I stood crying under the shower head using up all 50 gallons of water running through the hot water heater, I faced my fear. I realized where that fear originated. I recognized who authored that fear, and I cried with relief. Jesus was right, the truth really does set you free.

In these past weeks the fear of not knowing what I’m going to do to make the money I need to survive, is fading and the truth is emerging that I don’t need a man to do it for me.  My heavenly father/mother has given me all the resources I need for this exact moment in time.  God has given me the mind, the education, the contacts, the skill set and the chutzpah to do whatever it is I was put here on earth to do. Sure, I may have to go back to school and  retrain my brain in certain areas. Yes, my days now start much, much earlier in order to accomplish all the tasks I used to share with the girls’ father. Yes, it’s going to be hard, but who out there doesn’t have a hard life?

So, here’s the deal. No more fear. No more living in fear. No more listening to fearful voices asking What if? or  whispering You are never going to make it. You can’t possibly.  Mark Batterson writes in his book The Circle Maker, Pray like it depends on God. Work like it depends on you. I’m going with this.

Today, I’m telling fear that what my father said all those years ago is not my truth. It is not my destiny. Maybe in the future based on my big dreams, bigger  prayers and hard work, this irreverent sister will be in the same place financially as her father was at age 54. Anything can happen in 11 years. Anything.

 

 

 

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These past few months have forced me to take stock in my life – past, present and future. I’ve discovered I need to change some thought patterns, and slowly I am morphing from  Rachel Dratch’s SNL character, Debbie Downer, to Al Franken’s, Stuart Smalley.  I’m not speaking affirmations like “Gosh darn it, people like you!”  into my mirror…yet.   I am learning, however,  to catch the negative messages I normally accepted about myself as they enter into my heart and mind and usher them out before they start nesting and setting up house in the seat of my soul.

I’ve had an epiphany today, and I have you all to thank. I don’t know if you are aware of it, but my, oh, my, so many of you are celebrating anniversaries and having family pictures taken.  I know this thanks to my Facebook scroll.  Folks, you are the sharing fools! Happy families everywhere – mom, dad and kids frolicking in the leaves, hanging off of fences, shoving wedding cakes in each others faces 20 years ago.

Sometimes I can take it.  Sometimes I can’t.

Sometimes I click the “like” button. Sometimes I slam the cover of my Macbook shut.

Sometimes I crawl under my bedcovers, curl into a ball and sob. Sometimes I think, “It is what it is,” and throw in another load of laundry.

Thankfully, the slamming and the crawling are growing farther apart in incidents, and the “It is what it is’s,” are winning the battle for my brain, and when my brain and heart start to view things differently, that’s when I have epiphanies. (I love saying “epiphanies.”  It’s a fun word to say. Go ahead, say it out loud.  Also, say “exacerbate,”  it sounds like another word that I was taught was naughty so I kind of smirk every time I say it.)

My epiphany today was simply this. My marriage didn’t fail. My marriage ended. I don’t know about you, but I don’t define 19+ years of two people trying their hardest to make it work a failure. I don’t call twin girls who light up the world with their kindness, empathy, honesty and humor a failure.  I don’t call hours upon hours of volunteer work with young people and thousands of dollars donated to organizations that work with kids, a failure. I don’t call working to better soldiers’  and their families’ lives a failure. I don’t call lying in bed together, holding hands and praying for loved ones and situations a failure. I don’t call Thanksgiving meals with families and times around the Christmas tree a failure. I don’t call evenings on the couch watching whatever it was I wanted to watch  a failure. (The Former Mr. TIS was always good about this, because he knew if he waited long enough, I’d fall asleep, and he could change the channel from Law and Order rerun #278 – which I’d always swear I’d never seen before – to SportsCenter.) I don’t call the “Special Sandwich” he’d make me for breakfast just because or the midnight trips to Taco Bell or the trips to the store to buy yet more diapers –  both of us wearing babies strapped around our necks – a failure.

None of it was a failure.

It simply ended.

So, this message is for those of you out there facing the great unknown of the future brought about because something in your life is now past tense. It ended. Please hear this. It wasn’t a failure. You aren’t a failure. You didn’t fail. It. Ended.  This message is for pastors, teachers, counselors and anyone else writing books or speaking publicly about divorce. Can we please quit using the term “failed marriages?” Do you have any idea what this does to the psyche of the humans hearing those terms…over and over and over? Do you know what it does to a child to hear her parents’ marriage “failed?” What does that mean about her? What does that make her? Marriages end for a variety of reasons, and most of us who are divorced moved heaven and earth to try to make the marriages continue. They didn’t. They ended. Period.

Here’s the beauty of endings be they movies, plays or books…or real life situations – no, they aren’t always happy. Neither are they  always satisfying. We sometimes think, “Well, that doesn’t make any sense at all.” But endings can mean something else. They can mean we get to pick out another book on the shelf. There’s another movie to see next week. Another play has another opening night. Endings don’t mean The End. They simply mean we get to experience another beginning…and beginnings can be a glorious thing.

Just ask the Creator of All Things New.

 

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