Friday, April 24, 2009

Fundamental Breakdowns in Communication Are Fun

I got bee swarms and money trouble. A chick has disappeared in the laundry room and I'm hoping it doesn't fall out of the dryer, you know, dried. My house is a moveable feast of mess as piles and laundry baskets get shifted room to room, so I can feel like, in the space of one living area, I have accomplished something. And kabang-kaboom-kabap, I am also heartless, but not really. Just poorly informed, slightly judgmental and too quick to smack back, even when I'm trying to be more measured.
Oh, how often we can feel justified in coming down on another person, not knowing what the truth is. How easily we can be misled. (Honesty, for real, check it out.) I should be more sympathetic. I should be the slowest person in the room when it comes to conclusions and how quickly to jump to them.
I wish I knew people better. I wish people knew themselves better. I wish they knew me better. (I know what the next step in this progression is, something about knowing myself better, but I'm not going to say it. We're pretty familiar.) 
Where do the lies come from? Why do so many people dive so deeply into deceit they can't resurface? That isn't life. That's suicide with language, killing yourself with every word you speak. 
Sweet Jesus. And I mean that, completely. Sweet, sweet, sweet Jesus. 
I don't have a perfect marriage. But I have an honest marriage. Even when our gears aren't quite meeting up right and our talks are troubled, the ground is even beneath our feet. Betrayal makes a bitter, bitter heart; two bitter hearts, in fact. Add another for each kid in the mix.
Sweet Jesus.
Sweet, sweet, sweet Jesus.
Brew a dishonest tea, serve it as sweet, and you'll quickly teach your kids a different definition of life than you intended. Your every move, as a parent, informs your children. How you handle rejection, bee stings, torment, the truth, all of it, instructs them in how to be people; how to move through the world; what to look for in a relationship - spousal, professional or friend.
Teachable moments, all. And whether you're actively teaching or not, they're learning.

My problems - bees, dollars, dehydrated chicks, and mess - are no problems. They are fodder for funny stories, told later, over popcorn (except the chick part - that takes a special kind of friend). My life is the choices I make in how to conduct myself and who to surround myself with. And so far, I'm doing okay. 
What do you do when everyone's a villain and a victim of the other? I guess you can't pick sides, can you? And maybe that's better, drawing a circle in the sand around yourself, rather than wasting time with lines and divisions. 

Life is an inestimable joy. It is a gift, no matter who you believe bestowed it. Don't waste time gorging on refuse, when there is fruit to try. We all fall. We all break and splinter. But who do you want to be when you die? And how much time are thinking you have before you get there? And I'm not talking some afterlife, either. I don't care about some punch-card entry to Heaven on High. 
I'm speaking of the today. The now. 
The unexpected accident. 
The step off the curb. 
The hidden aneurysm. 
And you're gone. No time for teary apologies. No time to get right with your family. No gentle slope into death. Just WHAM. It happens. It happens to the good and the bad every day.
And this? This is the legacy? This is the last moments of you? 
Don't you think you're worth more than that?

Right now, the lives of so many people we know are in flux. So many of our friends are hurting and being hurtful. It's not up to me to sort it out. It's like a slo-mo tornado, ripping a path through the lives of people we love, and while we are screaming in horror for them to get out of the way, they are pouring gasoline and lighting matches...because what's a good tornado without a bonfire? 
Just make sure the kids have marshmallows so you can tell them it's a party. Maybe they won't figure it out.

(Damn. I am a heartless B, aren't I? Did I mention I have bees? And money problems? And a missing baby chicken? If it's dead in the dryer, I just hope it was a rooster. It's so hard to tell.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The three most dangerous words in English. Perfectly safe en francais.

I say, "I love you." A lot. 
Awhile ago, my husband pointed out that while conversations between him and his family members nearly always ended with "Bye. I love you.", mine, with my family, rarely did. He asked me if I was afraid of telling people how I felt about them. I dismissed the notion pretty quickly, but went on to think about it...a lot. 
I mulled it over for a good long time before realizing he was on to something. I made the decision to change. I resolved to share my love more. And after awhile I found myself compelled to tell people I loved them all the time. 
As remotely as possible. 
Like, only if they couldn't actually immediately respond (voice mail) or if they had to respond in writing (e-mail and letters). It's not that I believe that everyone is ready to reject my love. I just don't feel the need to get that particular puck slapped back in my face. So, I'm forever sending notes and leaving voice mails for friends that simply say, "I love you. You are fabulous. I'm so glad to know you. You are worth so much more than you know." Because that's how I feel. And I figure, what real harm could it do? At the worst, some people might think I've had a bit too much to drink and gotten handy with the cell phone. Or that I'm rather sentimental and overly emotional and spend too much time on Facebook. 
I don't care if people think I'm an idiot for saying what's true. Some people never respond and others do write/call back, with thankyous and stories of how it was a welcome message on a bad day. 
That's all nice, but to be frank, telling people I love them is just as much for me as it is for them. A hug takes two people and both of them feel the warmth no matter who initiates the action. I am trying so hard to cut myself a break, to not be some old lady struggling with the same foibles that have slowed her down her whole life. So, if I can have room in my heart to love a whole host of imperfect beings, truly and from the bottom of my heart, there's the chance that one day, I'll look in the mirror and feel it, really feel it, about myself. (Ah, Jennifer, the self-serving humanitarian. Quick, someone tell Christopher Hitchens so he'll get of Mother Teresa's balls already!)
But it really all comes down to this: we have these friends who are having a hard time in their marriage. It's really rather heartbreaking. I want everyone to live in their own personal fairy tale, like me. They have been on my mind a lot. And I have been trying, in my own way, to keep them reminded that we care for them singly and together. 
I have been telling them that "we" loved them a lot. Behold the power of the pronoun. Loving as a group is much better than loving on your own (like synchronized swimming),  and a lot less threatening, apparently. My expression of individual love for one and not for the other has caused some serious hard feelings. And I am forced now to contemplate love and the expression of love as destructive forces as well as palliative and creative ones.
Does love have a bad side? Is there ever a wrong time to say, "I love you" to a friend, and mean it? I mean, Jesus loves you and that's alright. Why not me? 
As usual, with me in my little bubble of intelligent arrogance, my first reaction is to assume that the problem is not with me. And there is this nasty, niggling part of me that wants to fire off a hasty e-mail saying, "If you're so threatened by my saying I love the person you married and are now not so sure about, maybe you need to re-evaluate your own damn self instead of getting all snippy with regards a moi." But I'm trying to be better than that. I could tit-for-tatter any one of you to absolute shreds (tatters, even) ball-gagged and blindfolded. But what's the point in that? Life's more than "Booyah, bitch! Suck that!"  I want to be more than a pithy retort or witty rejoinder. There has got to be more to life than that.
While I might not be disposed to physical violence (85% of the time), I'd like to be nicer than verbally cutting someone off at the knees because, in a moment of personal crisis, they've rubbed me the wrong way. So, I'm thinking here. And thinking. And thinking some more. Taking a page from sister-in-law's book of wisdom and holding my sharp tongue.
I find myself wondering, "Did I actually do something wrong?" and "What if my saying, 'I love you. And I think you are worth it,' crossed some sort of line that married people aren't supposed to cross, causing the fight that caused the end of the marriage between a couple I really do care about (even though I find myself really annoyed with one of them now)?"
I could spend an hour telling you exactly what I meant, but why? I think it's pretty apparent, especially if you take a minute or two and look at the rest of my blog. It's basically all about love. Because isn't it? Everything? All about love? And what's ironic, is that the very person I told I loved is the one who opened that door for me. 
I have so scoffed at Jesus and Christianity and Christians. But this person is really the one that started the revolution in my heart that makes me really feel love for every stranger on the street. Maybe, though, I'm only supposed to feel it myself and not broadcast it. 
Whoops, I lost my footing and somehow ended up stepping in a whole lot of mess I didn't even know was there. It looked like solid ground, but the soil was thin, hiding straight swamp. And me on my cloud, floating high above it all, I'm not used to this sort of thing. 
I tell people I love them. I never thought there'd be fault in that. But there is apparently. Lover beware.