Monday, January 31, 2005

WOO-HOO! All caps shout out to TicketMaster

TM and U2 make good on membership benefits

If I could, I would shake my booty online to show how jazzed I am. Ticketmaster emailed, called and offered me the purchase of a General Admission ticket on the right date for the right show. I bought it!

Lyrics for General Admission fans:

I'm ready to duke
I'm ready to dive
I'm ready to say
I'm glad to be alive
I'm ready
I'm ready for the push

The cool of the night
The warmth of the breeze
I'll be crawling 'round
On my hands and knees

Lisa and Steph, will those be our hands?

International connections

I've launched a new program through my Brave Writer business. It's a free email list that supports homeschooling moms who want to succeed at teaching their kids to write. I also offer support in the entire area of living language arts which bleeds over into just having a rich, interesting life at home.

In less than two weeks, there are about 300 women who've joined the program. My in-box is full of emails from moms who have questions and comments. Such a blast!

What's touched me the most, though, is connecting to moms from outside the U.S. I think back to my time in Morocco and France (oh, how the Internet would have been such a lifeline for me!) and just love that I can reach out to moms living in Papua New Guinea or Fiji! (Both last week)

Today, I received the sweetest note. At first I worried. The woman writing it had horrible grammar and some spelling issues and she was trying to tell me how well my writing program was working for her family. Cringe... until I got to the end of her note:

Well in me you have a rare case because I am applying and adapting  your amazing ideas to Spanish, so I have to work twice, and please you are a writer so excuse my English grammar because I am doing my best because in spite of I understand to read it,  I'm learning to talk and to write it. 

You are excused. I'm humbled.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Women vote in Iraq

(image from Fox News)

May today be the beginning of real salaam in Iraq.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Cause I could never understand, the mysterious distance, between a fan and a woman...

This week will live in my memory for one thing: the week that I identified with the marginalized. And the crazy thing is, I experienced it as a white, middle class, band fanatic.

The U2 presale is being dubbed, "Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday." Clearly, the demand for the Vertigo Tour outstripped supply as well as technology and thousands of "paid up" members were unable to obtain seats at all, or were stuck with nosebleed seats they didn't want. But undaunted by their anger and disappointment, these same fans (and me) attempted to purchase our tickets today on the day of general sales... only to be shut out again.

Entire venues were completely sold out in 15 minutes.

E-bay had tickets on sale before the open sales even began.

What's more interesting to me than the fact that I didn't ever get a General Admission ticket is the way various fans are interpreting this week's events.

Ticket holders shame the fans who didn't get tickets by saying really helpful things like:

"Life isn't fair. Get over it."

"You were only promised a chance to get a ticket, not an actual ticket. You took your chance and lost."

"I prayed and it worked for me. You might want to pray."

"Don't blame the band. They are awesome and it's a privilege to hear them play (and I'll be the one right next to the stage with my wristband firmly attched to my writst)." My note: since when is it a privilege to pay $40 in order to get an advantage to buy tickets and then not benefit from that advantage?

It's the stunning lack of compassion I'm observing between ticket-holding fans and those who were victiims of a deeply flawed system that sent me over the edge today. Some of the ones who got tickets credit their speedy typing abilities (I type really fast), others believe that they were just the lucky ones and that luck is one of those things that goes both ways (and don't want to admit that something went terribly wrong with the whole system).

Overall, though, there is a glib judgment against any expression of anger because they have tickets.

In theological terms, we call that attitude: privilege. Privilege corrupts. It's the sister to power.

The fans without tickets are rightfully angry, hurt, disappointed and disillusioned. Instead, they are shamed for expressing their feelings by the ones who got tickets.

I couldn't help but think of the following comparions:

Whites speaking of the conditions for African Americans—This is a land of opportunity. Take advantage of it. Use the opportunities that are there instead of complaining. Anyone who wants to succeed badly enough can. You must rise above the conditions of your poeple who have contributed to their woeful condition. (Similar to, You take advantage of the ticketing chances there are. Everyone has equal access—oh really?)

Evangelical Christians speaking of those they consider "lost"—There has to be real consequences to sin. It wouldn't make sense that everyone goes to heaven. People who are lost (and have never heard of Christ) deserve hell. (Similar to those who never got tickets didn't deserve to get tickets.)

Privilege is a dangerous elixir that makes us unable to appreciate another's pain.

I'm glad I got to identify with the marginalized fan this week.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

WCKY—Move over Rush

Air America Takes Cincinnati by Storm

I confess. I'm a talk radio junkie. It started years ago on Christian radio when my toddler only knew how to climb the refrigerator and tear up the house. I kept radio on in the background to stay sane!

First xtn radio: Rich Buehler and John Stewart in California (KBRT and the FM xtn station). Then: Rush Limbaugh "back in the day" (before Snapple went public and Dan had his national Bake Sale).

Consistently I've listened to John and Ken (KFI), Dr. Laura (pre-syndication and beyond—before her conversion to Judaism—Did you know she used to treat homosexual callers like decent human beings who were held to similar standards as heterosexuals in their relationships?), Bill Handel, and some of those KFI wacky Sunday night guys.

I moved to Cincinnati just as the John and Ken show failed here (no surprise—local talk radio discusses whether the flower shop in Clifton ought to be incinerated for painting its store purple, I kid you not!). John must have caused car accidents.

I was stuck with few choices so I continued to listen to Rush. Glenn Beck came on the air just as 9/11 occurred. Then Sean Hannity kicked Pat Berry off the air and you had one long white male conservative diatribe from 9-5. If you tuned in all day, you heard the same articles dissected by three guys using the same talking points—sometimes you couldn't even distinguish the difference in voices. It was nuts!

Needless to say, I am tired of it.

I want a woman on the air (for one thing) and/or someone who isn't just toeing the Republican line with his every breath and loyal nads. We need some critical thinking, for heaven's sake.

Glenn Beck thinks he is smart. He is not. Rush is smart and a good showman, and more human than he used to be. But he is blind to his myopias. Sean Hannity drives me crazy. He shouts over his guests and says the same things every day, especially how great his fans are and then they say back how great he is and then they go round and round about humility and how great they all are. Nauseating.

So when my Jon called last week to tell me to tune in to Jerry Springer, I thought he'd lost his mind. I had already heard Al Franken (a complete loser as a talk show —he's not funny) on the Internent version of Air America. I couldn't imagine I'd find anyone interesting on WCKY. But I liked Jerry Springer, amazingly.

Then last night I tuned in to Ed Shultz and Randi Rhodes (A WOMAN!) and was shocked. They were actually good radio show hosts. Yes, they are completely unabashed progressive liberals, but that is actually interesting to me since I just don't hear that position represented around me, like anywhere.

This morning, the Mark and Mark show had a segment about National No Name-Calling Week (sponsored by the LGBT), and introduced the segment calling the right "Neo-Con Fascists of the Death Cult" which I found hilariously ironic.

The big shock, though, isn't the hosts. It's the quality of the callers. I am still reeling. These are articulate people who call in. I can't believe that they actually sound like they have real points to make, that they can string together six sentences without needing the intervention of the host, and that they might have read a book once.

So I figure to give them equal time, I must invest about fifteen years of listening. Then I'll let you know what I think.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Recovering lost adrenaline: U2 ticket debacle

I, and thousands of others (not Lisa), did not get the U2 tickets we hoped for today in spite of our membership presale advantage. and Ticketmaster are responsible for the biggest presale debacle in recent memory. The TicketMaster agent I spoke with today said that in all her years working there she had never seen anything like it. Thousands of fans had passcodes they had paid $40 to receive, that did not work, that looked like they were working only to lose the tickets they thought they had secured (that would be me). It was an infuriating, unbelievably stressful hour of increasing despair.

I moaned, cried, scrambled, telephoned, emailed, posted, got angry, got sad and finally got tired. I'm out of steam.

For more details, visit the website. And if you are a disenfrachised fan, you can join the growing ranks of fans who plan to file class action lawsuits. ::Sigh:: As David said so well in the comments section of a couple of days ago: Heroes always disappoint.

On the brighter side:

I do have a ticket to see U2 in Chicago. Not the one I wanted (it's in the rafters) and I am still planning to try again on Saturday for the General Admission ticket I had hoped for, but it is a ticket and I won't let this bad management keep me from enjoying the fan gathering my two U2 buddies and I have planned for four years.

Lisa and Stephanie: my U2 posse—I'm keeping the faith!

Chicago here we come.


Monday, January 24, 2005

The View from Here

The snow is still on the ground. This is how it looked as it fell.

My Internet is down, my phone doesn't work and

presale tickets go on sale VIA INTERNET tomorrow. Is life cruel?

At least I found out that I can't count on my Internet 24 hours before that fateful hour.

Will travel to husband's reliable workplace to secure tix to Chicago tomorrow a.m. One stop with two shows in the entire midwest. Think these tickets will be coveted much? Hmmm?

Well, back to my Bacon Turkey Bravo at Panera with reliable wireless service. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Drinking tea with Bono

So U2 is set to announce tour dates on Monday. U2 members, of which I am one, have the "privilege" (after shelling out a mere $40 US) of purchasing two tickets during advance sales on Tuesday. Two. Two for the whole tour. Not four. Not two now and two later. TWO en toto. What a privilege. Maybe they'll let me shell out $40 more as a thank-you gift.

Uh, I'm not sure who is advising these U2 fan managers, but like, there are four members in the band. Each band member (except Adam) has a family with at least four members. Hey U2, only TWO of your family can come to the show together. Like, did anyone actually think about how lame the number 2 is in relation to a U2 concert?

Oh wait, maybe that's it. You-Two...

In any case, all anxiety hell broke loose inside my skin at the news. I have two teens who believe they are going to see U2 this time. I have a husband who is on the fence. It's too late to shell out another forty just to get two more tickets that won't be together with the other TWO anyway...(and besides, the best arena—not on the floor—tix are going for, ::choke:: ::sputter:: $160 US!) I can't buy three tickets. I can only buy TWO. Now I can buy TWO and then one more later along with the other schlubs who didn't take advantage of the fine offer to ensure advance ticket sales... and then flip a coin to see who will sit alone in the nose-bleed seats....

Or I can go to more shows with the regular, not-as-committed fans who aren't spending all of their "family-trip-to-Italy" funds to see the band through binoculars in some ignoble midwestern town (You-Who?)...

Or I can breathe into a paper bag with my ($350 US) black and red iPod plugged into my ears and pretend this isn't happening, happening, happening...

What I'd really like to do:
Pull up a chair across from Bono, offer him some tea, square my shoulders and THEN give him a piece of... my..... m i n d....



Was I saying something? Mmmmm. Yeah, the two ticket idea is so great. I mean, I just love it. And all your songs. And you are such a good writer... Oh and I was just licking the stamp for my donation to all those poor little African kids.

And like, I can't wait to see you perform in that rock 'n roll capital, Indianapolis, and the $320.00 for two tickets is just no problem whatever....

Sign my iPod? Oh, you already did. ::blush::



Aren't they, like, the greatest band ever?

Friday, January 21, 2005

More and more and more snow!

Which means more and more and more shoveling.

I love snow to look at but this shoveling means I have to give up my New Year's resolution not to exercise for another year. My muscles are sore which I pledged to prevent by sitting on my duff typing rather than running around the neighborhood like some middle-aged woman in fear of cellulite and sagging arms.

Alas, my body is turning buff, much to my displeasure... yet to the general approbation of the masses.

(Photo compliments of my ten year old: Liam. He risked his barefoot toes in a windy doorway to capture me after shoveling the walkway.)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

White America

Last night was my second class for Black Theology at Xavier (where I'm a grad student in theology).

Each week is like entering a foreign country, learning a new language, discovering a different way of seeing, being, living. Each article I read, lecture I hear, documentary I watch, I find myself cringing at my lack of historical perspective, my deeply middle class white orientation to life and faith, and how peripheral the black community has been to what I think of as American.

At one point, I asked my teacher if some of this white disregard for the African American came from a kind of collective guilt that makes us deny the past, that makes us want to separate from what our parents and grandparents were a part of. I explored these thoughts awkwardly trying to wrap my mind around the fact that the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, for God's sake (I was three years old)! I mean, honestly, African Americans suffered under Jim Crow laws for 100 years after the Civil War and have only been "free and equal" for forty years. How have I not appreciated the implications of those facts? I struggled to express tentative ideas that might account for this disconnect in the white population.

My professor, who is African American, looked dumbfounded by my comments and responded, "I have no idea. I don't understand white people at all."

It was a moment.

I saw something in his response. Have I really seen how much I don't understand/know black people? How many assumptions do I make about other communities and groups? How well do I know my own community—what do I know of us? What are our denials, myopias, and privileges?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Trash Whores Get High

This is my group of Internet friends from the Trapdoor Society who visited the High Museum in Atlanta for the Van Gogh exhibit. My hands were cold and therefore my arms are crossed to warm up my fingertips.

What a wonderful time.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Van Gogh in Atlanta

Just returned from a wonderful get-away with my good friends from the Trapdoor Society (aka, the Trash Whore Society when the daughter of one of the members misheard her mother explain who she was spending the weekend with). We congregated in Atlanta because one of us lives there and she told us about an exhibit featuring rarely viewed Van Goghs. Like most art-admirers, Van Gogh is my most favorite painter. He expresses so much emotion through all those swirly lines.

It is remarkable to spend time viewing art and then have the time to really discuss it with friends, to go over all the details and the emotions his work evoked etc. I loved having artists with me to hear them work through how they might try to achieve similar effects.

For me, the viewing of art and sharing it with friends is like church. It's a spiritual high.

I've posted three paintings that we viewed here.

Van Gogh befriended the famille Roulin when he lived in Arles (in the south of France) and liked to paint them. I discovered that there are just scads of paintings of this delightful collection of people. We saw two of them: one of the postman and one of his wife. They follow:

Postman Joseph Roulin

La Berceuse (Augustine Roulin)

Of course, the reproductions here lose most of the vibrancy of the originals. And that's what makes Van Gogh so wonderful in person. The "extruded" paint (my new art vocab word for the week—which means globs of paint that raise off the surface) and the way the light bounces off the ridges makes the art come to life.

My favorite is one I have always loved as a print but just felt bowled over by it when I saw it in person.

Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night

(images taken from the High Museum:

I'll post more about the adventures of 12 women who know each other only through the Internet later when I'm rested and have time.

Friday, January 14, 2005

See you Monday

I'm heading out of town over the weekend to hang out with Internet friends and to go to the Van Gogh art exhibit in Atlanta GA.

God bless.


Martin Luther King Jr.

To celebrate MLK Jr. Day, I thought I'd post quotes from his speeches and letters. I'm now enrolled in the Black Theology course for my spring semester at Xavier and enjoyed watching a documentary of Dr. King's life on Wed. night. I can't understand why the Civil Rights Movement isn't given a more prominent place in our school educations. I lived during those years and yet didn't have a genuine grasp of what they really constituted or meant. To see police turning fire hoses and attack dogs on women and children is too awful to express. I found myself near tears.

The whole idea that segregation lasted 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation... who thinks about it? Well, not me. But I am now. I can see why so many African Americans feel that the struggle isn't over (as much as talk radio asserts that it is). It's been forty years. That's all. Half a lifetime. We want to move on so quickly and forget that our grandparents probably thought "negroes" were inferior human beings. We project ourselves backward into that time and assume we would have marched. It makes me wonder what I am overlooking today that deserves my attention and commitment.

I am also struck by how many similarities there are between Dr. King's thoughts about law and justice and those of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's (I wrote a lengthy paper about his letters and papers from prison last semester). There is much food for thought here as we think about the US role in foreign affairs as well.


All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.

I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

These come from a page of Selected Quotations of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Family Guy (TV show)

Has anyone seen this cartoon for adults (on Fox)? My teens are crazy about it... and with good reason.

Last night I saw my first episode of Family Guy. The baby talks all the time and is not heard/listened to by anyone. His mission is to eliminate broccoli from the planet so that he will no longer be forced to eat it using Pinky and the Brain kinds of schemes. He speaks with a sophisticated British accent and a highly cultured vocabulary to make his points.

Sometimes this baby hits one out of the park. Last night as his mother carted him off to bed (against his will, of course) he shouted, "Put me down you estrogenical tyrant!"

Next time I'm suffering from PMS, I think I'll shout:

Make way for the estrogenical tyrant!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Pretty American Missionary

My lower back ached. Hauling my seven-month pregnant body out the door for my daily walk was becoming more of a chore each afternoon. My belly had outgrown my purple djellebba (Moroccan cover up) so I wore a hand-me-down green pinstriped jumper. I was conspicuous as a foreigner, but it couldn’t be helped. Three miles to downtown. I could take the bus back. I walked, determined to loosen the muscles "down there" in order to have a natural birth. My landlady, the nurse, regularly pinched the medicines from her hospital to sell on the black market in our neighborhood, leaving the hosptial without treatments for admitted patients. She also knitted a sweater a day in winter. Nursing care in hospitals didn't offer a comforting vision of attentive, efficient post-op convalescence to say the least. So, I walked.

I merged with the main thoroughfare that ran from Fes to Meknes. I practiced my breathing and got my pace going, arms swinging, belly bulging. Not five minutes into my routine, I heard cat-calls from behind me.

“Hey pretty American. Where you going?”

"Oo, oo oo. Lady..."

No surprise here. Such harrassment was par for the course. But now I had a secret weapon to humiliate ogling men. From behind, my 24-year-old body didn’t reveal my big tummy. I swung side-ways to surprise my two don-juans; they gaped and then burst into laughter. They slapped each other on the arms and strode right by me pulling faces and making a few funny remarks that I didn’t quite catch. They looked back to double check that they had seen me correctly. And laughed again.

I burst into tears. I wasn't angry with them. I wept for them.

Not because they had tried to “come on” to me.
Not because they were rude.
Not because they were two in a long string of Moroccan men who saw right through my clothes to my underwear.

I cried because they were bound for hell and I had no way to save them.

I tried to fix my gaze straight ahead. I sang praise songs to distract me from the familiar tidal wave of anxiety that was mounting inside. Who was I kidding? Everywhere I looked, Moroccans were on their way to hell.

The taxis passing me were full of hell-bound Moroccans. The women with babies strapped to their backs, hands waving in the air, were heading for hell. The street vendors—going to hell. Everywhere I looked, Moroccans had no idea that they were oblivious to the most important fact they’d never know—that without Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they would spend eternity in torture. Torture—the kind that we don't even allow our government to inflict on terrorists. Hot flames, eternal solitary confinement, pain, horror unspeakable. I believed it all. I believed it more than most of the Christians I knew.

My tears knew no limit. I sobbed for the entire three miles. I had no way to stem the tide of hell-bound Moroccans, no matter how well I learned Arabic, no matter how many friends I made, no matter how much couscous I ate. Everywhere I looked, happy, bored, hardworking, lazy Moroccans were doing time on earth until they would be justifiably judged as rebels against God and sentenced to an eternity of constant, unrelenting, eternity-sized torment. I couldn't bear the image.

My imagination tried to rescue me. Maybe God would save Moroccans without my witness in some mysterious way. Maybe there would be many who would be given dreams of Jesus. Maybe God was about to pour out his spirit in an unprecedented move that would sweep the nation into the loving arms of the Almighty Christian God and I'd be there to watch and celebrate! I breathed in the moment’s reprieve while I prayed fervently for that to happen, for God to be a better missionary than me, for him to care more than I did… until another suffocating vision occurred to me.

How would I be able to tell these new Christians (assuming God would rescue these in the highways and bi-ways before me) that their grandparents and ancestors had been born too early to hear the good news? Their loved ones were already being tortured in hell. They had been born in the wrong place, at the wrong time. (Missionaries had only been in Morocco about a hundred years at that point. Perhaps a total of about a hundred conversions had resulted.)

More tears. We were a million dollars short and centuries too late. Millenia, in fact.

Morocco isn’t like America in almost any way. But it is especially not like a Christian country. Five times a day, a muzzein calls Muslims to prayer. Christmas is a work day. Ramadan (the month of fasting) is the high point of the year. Religion and daily life fuse at every turn from how they greet each other “Peace be with you” to how they curse “God give your mother a fever!” The core of who they are is Muslim, even if they are backsliders and hypocrites.

I'd always read that to be true, but living in the midst of it is something else. There's no relief from the inescapable evidence that Christianity in that world was not Good News, but Bad News. To convert meant that everything that gave Moroccan lives meaning, ritual, celebration, and relational cohesion would be thrown out the window in favor of an unknown quantity. In America, conversion meant joining a community of people who had potlucks and family nights, weekly meetings with music and a place to belong and serve. In Morocco, conversion meant job loss, alienation from one's family (and possible death), being on the government's "list" with fear of impending imprisonment, losing place in the mosque (the community center) and having to be friends with foreigners who speak accented Arabic, primarily (the worst punishment of all, as far as I could tell). What American would do half so much for a religious faith?

There was no simple answer to the unsaved millions, indeed billions, through history who hadn't heard the message about Christ. I reasoned that if we simply trusted to God’s mysterious ways to save those who haven’t heard, then we would be avoiding facing squarely the essential mission of the church as proclaimed to us repeatedly by pastors, forefathers in the faith and Jesus himself: Matt 28. It would have been much easier for me to live in the States near my mother while pregnant than in a foreign country preaching a message in bad Arabic that no one really wanted to hear! If I had believed that God would save them without my help, then I wouldn’t have gone to begin with.

The entire missionary enterprise would have been pointless.

It’s easy to feel good about a few Jesus dreams that God scatters through the Middle East when they are reported in American midwestern churches during missions’ conferences. But even dozens of dreams won’t compensate for millions upon millions who spiritually sleep through their days and nights without any revelation or insight into what Christians consider the core of reality, the truest message ever, the only message that saves a soul.

And it's not enough to say that faithful people will find God and be saved through Jesus without knowing it, as Lewis wants us to accept in his Narnia Chronicles. The numbers don't add up. Most people aren't "faithful" (Christian and otherwise) and doesn't that move us away from "saved by grace" and put us right back into "saved by works"? What constitutes a "faithful life" if we take away faith in Jesus Christ? How many people in the US, for instance, begin life by distrusting their spiritual heritage hoping that God will find them even though they don't know what they are looking for? It's so ludicrous that it can only work as an argument for those who don't want to feel responsible for the lostness of fellow human beings living in far away places and other times.

No. There was a real problem with the theology I'd believed and tried to practice. And I couldn’t face how deeply tortured this version of God’s love was until another ten years went by.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

My Spiral Staircase

I've come very nearly to tears five times today. I continue to make my way through Karen Armstrong's poignant and powerful biography The Spiral Staircase. Several people recommended this book to me, in particular, saying that I might identify with some of Karen's journey. On the surface, that seemed unlikely—she's British, I'm American; she was a Catholic nun, I was an evangelical missionary; she's remained single while I married at 22 and had five children.

Yet the spirit of her story is so familiar that I find myself writing my own corresponding chapters in my head. Her time in the convent reminds me of my time as an isolated missionary newly married in an oppressively male Muslim culture. How could that be? What could those experiences possibly have in common? And yet they were similar—similar in the earnestness of my desire to serve and know God, the willingness to subordinate my theological questions and experiences to those in authority over me (including authority like a literal interpretation of the Bible), the sense of alienation from self, the repeated and failed attempts to fit into the culture I wanted to adopt as my own, the chastising voice of my Moroccan landlady that might have been Karen's Mother Superior, the puzzling sense of failure at the thing I had thought God called me to, had designed me for...

She's got me thinking.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The noise that won't stop

I open my book The Pocket Muse and it asks me to write about the noise that won't stop.

There's a humming in my ears that won't stop. And an endless drone of electronics and noises in the room—the whir of the refrigerator, the creaking of my daughter's chair every time she leans back while typing IMs to her friends, the click of the keyboard that won't stop, can't stop because I have so much to do, so much to write and post and fix and prepare, so many connections to make, so many thoughts to silence so I can sleep when I should be sleeping, the pounding feet that charge down the stairs, followed by the clicking of dog nails on the old linoleum and the "Mom, I think Rocky needs to go pee"...

Slide, goes the sliding glass door. Pound, pound, pound go the feet. Another pair race down the stairs, the door slides open again and "Rocky, come on!" as the two bound up the stairs once more. Giggles cascade down the halls and a strange dripping sound that I can't trace creeps into the air when the other sounds take a rest.

A clinking cup, and the shhhh of water—the faucet goes on for the "last drink of the night." The toilet flushes with roaring and splattering and plunking all the way down the pipes in the wall beside me.

My own voice reminds reluctant kids "Time to go to bed now" since they seem unable to stop all the restless padding on the creaky upstairs hallway to finally crawl under soft blankets.

The dog races down the stairs again. He chomps his late night snack, pushing the dried, same-old, same-old food around with his nose. Lap, lap, slurp goes the water onto his long tongue. He slithers away more quietly now. I hear him licking his chops.

Noises... crushing my creative voice that needs quiet... that I thought required quiet, that now seems to be saying, strangely enough, noises draw me in and make me take notice...

Rustling papers, a squeaking door opens and now the low volume of music I don't recognize comes from Johannah's computer followed by the rising "boos" from the Orange Bowl leveled at poor Ashleigh Simpson. The "bing" of email hits my in-box and the familiar tug to abandon what I'm doing to see what someone else wants...


The one sound that always gets my attention.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Yahweh, by U2

Some visuals to go with the first verse and chorus....

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street

Take these shoes
And make them fit

Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere

Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean

Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born

Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

I love this song....

Friday, January 07, 2005

Revising my site

My business is on a tear. I'm having so much fun, but I'm just about snowed under. I've got all kinds of pages to fix and revise and am feeling a bit like this:

See you soon!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Breaking out the champagne!

Clink, clink! Here's to Jon and me.

I can finally get off this nifty little slave machine, aka my iBook G4.

I am celebrating my five year anniversary as a business owner. The very first Brave Writer class began five years ago in January 2000. What began as an email list of about 20 women has steadily grown to a business that has served hundreds of families. We cracked the thousand mark this month. Woo-hoo!

In celebration and in further expansion of the services we offer, today Jon and I launched the Brave Writer Lifestyle, my newest Brave Writer program to support homeschooling moms in their desire to teach writing and language arts. Jon redesigned the logo and is responsible for the website design.

Check out my website:

Brave Writer

I've also started a Brave Writer blog:

Brave Writer Blog

We even figured out how to host the blog on my website. No blogspot in the URL.

I've learned more about html and css this week than I ever thought I would in a lifetime. Jon has the real skills, but I'm at least getting a feel for how things are done and am doing some of it myself.

Just had to celebrate a bit!

U2 Tour postponed

Not that this is where anyone who cares gets their U2 news, but just in case:

Along with today's Rolling Stone report that the tour has been
postponed, @U2 can share the following, which comes from a reliable

- Opening night has been moved from March 1st in Miami to March 28th in
Los Angeles

- Most dates that were planned for the month of March are being
rescheduled, some for the fall leg (see the Albany and Toronto rumors
at, which will likely go longer than originally planned to
make up for missed dates in March

- Concerts in Japan and Australia will likely be moved from late this
year to early 2006

- An official announcement of dates may come as soon as January 24

Important: This is all "word on the street" rumor at this point, and
nothing should be taken as official until it's announced by U2.

And finally:

Update: An announcement posted briefly at mentioned the delay
and had a quote from Paul McGuinness attributing the delay to
scheduling difficulties, with no mention of family illness. The news
item provided the following quote: "We've postponed the announcement
of the tour because the routing is still being worked on. As soon as
we get everything confirmed over the coming weeks, we'll let you

I'd love to go to LA to see them....

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Adventure of Living, By Paul Tournier

"'Nostalgia is a temptation for our Churches (one into which they often fall), nostalgia for the first century of our era, or for the twelfth or the sixteenth, or even for the first fifty years of the ecumenical movement!' ... History never repeats itself. We shall only be deluding ourselves if we hope to experience what others have experienced in a different age. The real adventure for us is our own day and age.

Every age is an adventure. Every life is an adventure. Every adventure has its own individuality, which cannot be mixed with any other" (41).


I'm a somewhat chaotic random personality who is bent more toward the urgent than the important, who is led by inspiration more than structure, who finds time to do all the little things that I love over and against the bigger things that feel hard yet necessary. In other words, I am allergic to organization and duty.

As a kid, my temperament lost my flute twice a month, my purse once a week, and forgot weekly assignment due dates every single week. Serious. I remember distinctly laying in bed at night worried sick that my flute would be gone this time, not willing to tell my mother so that she wouldn't worry with me, literally shaking in my bed and boots.

In the morning, I'd wake with singleminded determination to get that flute. (I loved the black case with the lime green fur inside it as much as the flute.) I'd arrive at school and like a guided missile I'd retrace every step from the day before until I found that flute. I always did find it. I was often late to first period math as a result, which may account for my miserable failure in Algebra II all those years later...

Ironically, I did well in school, earning mostly A's and making both my parents and teachers believe I was a "good student." I've had a surprisingly organized brain for thoughts and ideas. I can usually pull those up a lot faster than I can locate my keys.

But the "era of losing things" (which began in 5th grade and reached its peak of intensity in junior high yet has continued to dog me well into adulthood), of not knowing where my "stuff" was, of arriving to class and not having the current event again for the fifth week running cut a groove into my psyche that I have traveled down thousands of times since.

For the past two years, I've experienced anxiety - the "you need to breathe and do yoga" kind. And now it's generalized to the stupidest things. Last night—case in point.

A little rain never hurt anyone... unless it wakes you up at 3 a.m.
We are now swimming in water here in Ohio. It's starting to look like Minnesota there has been so much melted snow and rain over the last few days. Little lakes in our front yard, side yard and everywhere I look. And unfortunately, at 3 a.m. I realized that there would be a lake in our basement by morning. Now at 3 a.m., who can do anything about it? No one. But I actually stared at my dark ceiling worrying about it, slighlty sick to my stomach, chest constricting my breathing the way asthma used to.

I worried that the rain would mean that our dog would keep peeing in the house. That I'd find that pee with my new slippers and ruin them. That I'd have to go out in the rain to the store to buy more Febreeze. That he'd choose to pee on my theology books or the big Shakespeare volume under the bench. My fantasies ran in a million directions, even went so far as to consider new and better locations the dog could pee. Had I really been on a tear, I could have written some post-it notes and put them in "better pee locations" for Rocky's viewing and peeing pleasure.

As if that weren't enough, I suddenly remembered that the AM Vets (charity) were coming for our used clothing, that the two big bags weren't on the front step and the step would be wet from the rain which meant protecting the bags from water, and collecting the jumble of loose cords and Christmas lights from the same porch so that the AM Vets wouldn't get greedy and take those too... Then I had to consider what conatiners I might have free for all those loose cords and wracked my brain walking in my imagination through a highly cluttered basement, mentally tripping over dress-up clothes and screw drivers.

Then while thinking of charity, I remembered that I was supposed to jumpstart Noah's old car in the rain so that we could give it away too, which would mean getting my clothes and hair wet and possible electrocution. Now electrocution didn't worry me nearly as much as standing in the rain soaking my clothes and hair, not sure if I'd get the yellow end on the right postive or negative part of the battery.... Turning the key and hearing nothing....

This went on and on until I finally just stopped my mind with a mental shout: Shut up!

I started breathing and relaxing my body. I drifted back to sleep.

Today, I am going to face my rainy life at a little slower pace and do a lot of breathing.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

U2 "All Because of You" on tonight's Orange Bowl

To redeem the fact that I have to root for USC (being a Bruin, it was a difficult decision, but I can't root for Oklahoma... that's a state I've never even heard of!), U2's new video for "All Because of You" will be aired during halftime.

January 03, 2005

"The video of U2's All Because of You will make its world premiere at
halftime. ABC will air a two-minute version as the backdrop for the
first-half highlights. ESPN's SportsCenter will feature the entire song
played over full game highlights."

(courtesy of Matt McGee and the folks at, best fan site on the web)

sTill CraZy in LoVe After aLL TheSe yeaRS!

21 years ago this month, Jon waltzed into my life and has never left. Yesterday, on his day off, he spent all of it moving my two websites to a new server (one isn't even for business; it's just for fun), making phone calls, redesigning my logo, reformatting every single page and template for Brave Writer and never once complained. Did I mention that he's amazing?

Here are some photos taken by our
California Fashion Model Photographer friend: Patricio.

Down by the O-hi-O River.

In our backyard...

Oo la la! (Kids, close your eyes)

Mr. Amazing

Best techie, friend and lover award

Thanks Jon... for everything.

Je t'adore,

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Fog of War, I mean, the Teen Years

Jon and I watched “The Fog of War” the other night. Robert McNamara gives an apologetic for his involvement in the US military during WWII all the way to Viet Nam. To say that I felt a distinct chill in the room as I considered the implications of his “lessons of war” when looking at Iraq would be an understatement. Should be required viewing for everyone.

But a more satirical purpose for his lessons of war presented itself to me today: therapy for the parents of teens.

As I wrote down each of McNamara's lessons, I saw an uncanny correspondence to raising teenagers. So I’ve adapted his lessons for what I call “The Fog of the Teen Years: Lessons for Parents of Adolescents.”

So how do you really feel about it, Bob?

Lesson #1
Empathize with the Enemy
Empathize: Walk a mile in their moccasins with their iPods plugged into your ears. I’ve found that the secret to teen thinking lurks in the lyrics to their favorite songs. To gain empathy, one must spend time decoding those lyrics.

So I, I will paint you in silver.
I will wrap you in cold.
I will lift up your voice as I sink.

Your sins into me,
oh, my beautiful one, now
Your sins into me. (AFI, Silver and Cold)

Couldn't be clearer. This teen is singing to his dad's Lexus that he just towed to the body shop after that "unfortunate incident" in the parking lot at the Metallica concert, right?

Lesson #2
Rationality will not save us.
As Dr. Michael Bradley says in his excellent teen survival guide Yes, Your Teen is Crazy, teens are brain damaged. Typical parental unit comments like “Check the oil” and "Drive carefully" are utterly pointless.

Instead, invest in a triple A card and a cell phone. (Oh, and three sets of keys... don't ask me how I know that's important...)

Lesson #3
There’s something beyond one’s self.
There is? Oh, wait. The Internet, that's right. DSL for every teen.

Lesson #4
Maximize Efficiency
Which of course means let them launder darks and whites together. Strip the sheets off their beds when they happen to have rolled out of them at 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Remake the bed at about 1 a.m. since they are sure to be elsewhere at that hour.

Lesson #5
Proportionality should be a guideline
So if he decides to grow his hair halfway down his back, remember that’s better than growing it as long as Cher’s. If she pierces her ears all the way up both sides and adds an eyebrow ring, at least she hasn’t succumbed to the pressure to pierce "hidden parts." He may get a speeding ticket, but hey, he's not in prison!

Lessons 6 through 11 later.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Spiral Staircase, By Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is a well-known theologian and author of best selling books like A History of God. The Spiral Staircase is her personal story.

The following passages are my underlines in the first part of the book. I found so many of her experiences resonating with my own and then others, intriguingly different. I'm always amazed at the complexity that is a part of the spiritual journey.

On the whys of leaving the convent
"I mourned the loss of an ideal and the absence of dedication from my new life, and I also had a nagging suspicion that if only I had tried just a little bit harder, I would not have to leave" (6).

"I had not left the convent because we had to do public penance but because I failed to find God and had never come within shouting distance of that complete self-surrender which, the great spiritual writers declared, was essential for those who wished to enter the divine presence" (9).

On praying daily
"For several hours a day on every single day of the year, I had to confront and experience my abject failure. In other ways my mind was capable and even gifted, but it seemed allergic to God" (42).

"I would sometimes wonder whether it wasn't a bit like the emperor's new clothes: nobody ever experienced God but nobody dared admit it. And then I would mentally shake myself. How could God reveal himself to a nun who harbored these shocking doubts?" (44)

"Our whole existence had had God as its pivotal point. The silence of our days had been designed to enable us to listen to him. But he had never spoken to me" (39).

On leaving the religious life
"Beliefs and principles that I had taken so completely for granted that they seemed part of my very being now appeared strangely abstract and remote" (16).

"One of the chief effects of my education so far had been an acute consciousness of everything that I did not know" (16).

On abusing your mind
"It seemed that I could no longer operate as an intellectual free agent. You can probably abuse your mind and do it irrevocable harm, just as you can damage your body by feeding it the wrong kind of food, depriving it of exercise, or forcing your limbs into a constricting straightjacket. My brain had been bound as tightly as the feet of a Chinese woman, and I had read that when the bandages were taken off, the pain was excruciating" (39).

Isn't it remarkable to look into another person's experience from a different world, culture and time and see your own experience mirrored within it? And at the points of disconnect, it is still something to behold an honest confession of how life was experienced for someone else that challenges my presuppositions about how it ought to work.

Reinhold Niebuhr

"Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but doubt."

The Journey, By Mary Oliver

Image courtesy of

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

2005: Looking forward to...

U2's world tour
Woo-hoo!! Hope to see them at least twice—once with family and once with two U2 groupies. (Love you, Fellowship of the Toe Ring).

Trip to Italy
Our family is traveling to Italia to see my very hip aunt and uncle and their two kids, and to eat gellato. Very good gellato in Italy.

Society of Biblical Literature Eastern Conference
My first opportunity to see what academics do with all those papers they write. I may or may not present a paper (have been invited to) depending on my work load. But I'm looking forward to going no matter what.

The Launch of the Brave Writer Lifestyle
I've revamped my business and anticipate seeing more moms helped with making writing a natural part of homeschool.

Repainting our Bedroom
I will fight, tackle and conquer the boudoir aka "the Goat Sacrifice Room." Eighteen months ago I made the ill-advised decision to paint the back wall of the room red. I tried out various reds on the walls in various lightings before deciding on the "perfect" red... which turned out to be about as romantic as a barn door or strip mall Chinese restaurant.

Then as if the walls knew how scary they were, the paint literally began to bubble and peel in entire sheets right off the wall leaving behind spidery splatches of red. Definitely blood splatter—like some Old Testament priest's artwork. Of course as I tried to remove the rest of the paint, the wall came with it and now it's a big blotchy mess of spackle and spidery red lines.

What will you do this year?