Saturday, December 31, 2016

Should Auld Aquaintance

I really was resigned.  I would do my best to raise my boys and then I could die. My younger son was 4, so 14 years, maybe one or two more.  The only reason I would wait was that I was sure no one would care about them, like no one cared about me.

I had done everything I knew to do.  I had finished High School, I had pushed myself through two years of community college.  I had lived on welfare and foodstamps, only to see them reduced because of the educational grant I received, the grant that covered child care while I was in class.  But I had done it, yet still I was finding no job that would allow us to live.

I drove my old VW across the desert, 50 miles, to my brother's house.  It was new year's eve, 1981.  My mom had volunteered to watch the boys, encouraged me to stay the night rather than drive back from the party.  Still, the highway was as dark and lonely as my life.  There was this one little light at the end.  A few days before, at our Christmas celebration, I had met my brother's friend.  He had asked me to come.  I was unbelieving.  A guy who didn't seem to be a creep had shown interest in me.

Later, hours into the first day of 1982, we lay together in the dark and made a promise.  We had already talked about our past relationships, began to share the things that had gone wrong.  We spoke the same language, and the promise may not make sense to people who don't.  It was that whatever happened between us, we wouldn't play games with each other.

We were both incredibly broken people, and it made for a bumpy road.  Abused and traumatized, each in our own ways, I struggled though depression and he struggled through crippling self-doubt.  We went through many challenges, often angry and hurting.  But we went through them together.  And we always kept talking.

I have never been able to have the depth and range of conversations, on anything and everything, with anyone else in my life.  Even when we were very angry about something, we talked about how we didn't want to talk about it.  No, we weren't perfect people, but he was my best friend.

Twenty-three years was not long enough.  Twenty three years and two months after our wedding anniversary his big old heart gave up.  I understood; he was so tired.  But even now, over 11 years later, I still miss him more than I know how to explain.

And for twenty-two years we both forgot our anniversary.  We would think of it a week before, or a week after, and laugh about it.  The last year, we remembered.

But always, always on New Year's, we turned to each other remembering that first promise.  We we not perfect, but we never played games with each other's lives and hearts.  We meant it.

Friends have gathered for parties tonight, I had a choice of a couple of different ones.  Some years I have gone, but it really doesn't go well for me.  I wish you all well with all of my heart, and I hope the year brings joys and miracles.  I hope you will forgive me for choosing to spend this night reminding myself that, what ever else I can say about it, I did always do my best to keep my promise.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Angels we have heard

It is something I often hesitate to mention, but I believe in angels.  Well, I'm not even sure if believe is the right word to use; I have occasionally seen and/or heard beings that seem to fit the name.  Not something that you tend to talk to about in everyday circles because people can look at you oddly.

Maybe it's that bit of Irish, or that bit of mountain. Sometimes I know things or see things I have no explanation for.  I could tell you stories, if you really want to hear them, but for now you will just have to take my word for it.  It isn't all the time.  And I'm not any crazier than most people I know.

My point is, I want to tell you about the one I saw last Sunday.  No, not with my actual eyes, though twice in the past when I saw them, it was just for a moment with my eyes.  But sometimes I see very clearly in my head in a way that just feels different and that I have come to respect and take notice of.  Now, it may well be a creative function of my best self or something, but if it shows me useful things, I see no good reason to disregard it.

Now, great scholars have searched scripture and defined angelic beings and really bored my pants off with hierarchies and such.  I'm going to keep it simple. Some angels guard and some carry messages.  I think others just like to sing and dance, maybe they all do.  But they don't run around in wings and halos. Why else would Hebrews 13:2 say " Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." (NIV) if they didn't sometimes run around just looking like one of us?

So I'm sitting, being quiet as you do in a quiet Quaker meeting, with my eyes closed, listening for the Spirit I call God.  I got this odd feeling that someone had come in and sat down across the room from me, even though it was pretty far into our time and I hadn't heard the door open. So I glanced over, and only saw an empty seat.  But when I closed my eyes, I pictured clearly a young lady, just as she got up and came my way.

She could have been anywhere from 16-36, slightly built, with an unruly tangle of bob length curls and laughing eyes.  She was wearing a cute little summer dress in sky blue and pink bias plaid.  She sat down right next to me and kind of put her arm across my back and got close to my ear.  I thought at her "Who are you?" and she kind of giggled and said "An angel, of course."  

No, I didn't hear the actual words out loud.  Do I have to keep explaining this.  Yes I hear voices in my head, no I am not dangerous.  Yes, it has often been quite helpful.  And so, knowing angels sometimes have messages I said/thought "Did you have something to tell me?"

And the angel said "Fear not."  Yeah, just like the angels in scripture. They come and light up the sky and say FEAR NOT! 'cause everyone is, like, quaking in terror.  Pretty cool stuff.  So I waited for what came next. 

But that was it.  She was gone. 

But you know, that is not a bad message.  I'll admit it, I'm pretty good at fear.  Current events don't help that much.  Maybe I need to do some work on that not fearing stuff.  

Now, as you have gone this far down the rabbit hole with me, I might as well take you the rest of the way.  How do you not fear?  Well, being a good little Bible student, I know that. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." (1 John 4:18, NIV)  

On one hand, this is a very personal message to me, to go ahead and step out on a few things that I have been holding back on because of fear.  I really debated before deciding this was also a message I needed to share, not to tell you but to remind you.  There are so many things stirring up fear right now.  Remember love.  Remember that no matter what fear and evil would try to tell you, you are loved, and you are loved with perfect love, because that which is perfect cannot love any other way.  Fear not.

Friday, December 2, 2016

what is up with my name?

I have heard about body dysmorphia and, more commonly discussed lately, people who feel they were born with the wrong gender.  But I have never felt I had the right name, or at least not that I can remember.  It never felt comfortable on my tongue.  I never liked introducing myself.  I have learned to respond to it, but it has never seemed to be me.

So why haven't I changed it?  I could never think of any name I felt more attached to, that I would like more.  Even my SCA name, as much as I like it, is a specific person, it is not the everyday me.

More recently I have been thinking about my writing, and more specifically, submitting some of my poetry.  I googled my name, and there is apparently some well known math person who has it.  I had considered using a last name that is rumored to have been the name that should have been my name (long story), but I was still stuck with the Paula part.

Paula is meek.  If I looked different, Paula could be a bit exotic.  Paula is too classy for the room, unlike me.

Paula is anxious and insecure.  Paula is a victim.

The past decade or so there has been this second dynamic happening.  People who were my elders, who knew me as a child, have been disappearing into the next great adventure.  And somehow in the process, I started thinking about how my mom used to call me PK.  No one else ever did.  This is what she called me when things were going well, when she was happy and relaxed.  This is what she called me when she was pleased with me.

And I googled PK with my last name, and nothing came up.  It is unique.

So now I'm in a process of figuring out how to go by PK.  Most people call me mom, Grandma, Sadb, or Mama Sadb.  People at work call me Paula; it is right there on my badge.  I haven't talked to anyone else in person since I let this be known and changed it on Facebook.

But thinking about it makes me happy.  PK is more confident.  She has less anxiety, is a little less concerned about precise times and numbers.  She is me, but just a little better.  PK deserves to be loved. I don't know why this name would make such a difference, but it does.

I think I do not know all the differences yet, but I think PK doesn't really care to eat much meat, likes her rock music a little harder, and is more easily bored with TV.  I mean, this is still creative, spiritual, funny/quirky me, but a little more fiesty.

It is a scarey thing, at anytime in life, to decide to go public with some kind of identity change, just because it makes you happy.  I wonder what else I will get bolder about going after.  This could be interesting, I hope that I am brave enough to stay on the ride.