Friday, June 25, 2010

Religion and Morality by me, age 7

When I was a kid, I had some ideas about religion and I thought I'd share them with you. (I swear, I truly believed each of these.)

What is the best way to talk to God? You have to pray. It's kind of like dialing a telephone: you have to do the sign of the cross and all that. If you really want to get through to God as directly as possible, it's best to pray in a church. He really listens there.

What happens when you die? After you get buried, you go up to heaven to be with God. 

What happens to the money that's collected at church? That's God's money, so, obviously, the best way to get it to Him is to bury it. I'm pretty sure there's a special place behind every church where you bury the money that's been collected for God.

How do you become a saint? If you're a really good person, you become a saint. You have to really, really believe in God, too. When you become a saint, you get one of those glow-y halos around your head, like Jesus and Mary have. That's how you can tell someone is a saint. There aren't any saints around these days.

How old is Jesus? Well, Jesus wasn't like you and me. Jesus was born on December 25 and by Easter, he was a full-grown man. That's how they knew he was special.

How do you become pregnant? Once you get married, God knows to give you a baby.

What about people who become pregnant that aren't married? God sometimes makes mistakes, like when people get sick. So, sometimes people become pregnant that aren't married. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My first true love

I don't remember when it was I fell in love (I was so young!), but I fell hard and it was for life. Oh, Washington Local Library, you own my heart and soul. The library I fell for wasn't the most beautiful library nor was it very large, but it was the library I grew up with, so it will always be my first, the one I remember with the most love.

The library was filled with so many possibilities. So many books! (oh, it smelled so wonderful. Every library has that amazing scent to it. Don't you want to go into every library and just take it in?) I wanted to read every single book. A library is perfect for an obsessive kid like me: I will read every single "Little House" book. I will read every "Ramona" book. I will read every book on this shelf. And the next one.

When I was a kid, I read and read. But when you had a kid's library card, you had a limit to the number of books you could check out. I would check out as many books as I could every single time. With a little luck, I could maybe talk my dad into checking out a couple of extra books for me. I loved the summer, when I could spend hours reading. ("Go outside!" my mom would beg. "You can't read all day!" Oh, I think I can.) Like every relationship, there were bumps in the road. One summer I signed up for one of those reading programs where they would display the number of books each kid read. Piece of cake, I thought. After the first week, I brought in my first stack of books to the librarian. "I've read all these," I declared proudly. The librarian replied, "You have to read the whole thing, not just the back cover." "I know. I read all of these." I was so excited. I thought she'd be so impressed. Instead she insisted that there was no way I read all of those books. I realized that I didn't need a stupid program to read books. I took my books and never told her about a single one the entire summer.

The library was where there were some of my first milestones of growing up. One day you went from the children's card to the "adult" card. You knew you were growing up when you stopped reading the books written for children and start reading the books that were simply just written. When you got your books from the adult side of the library. When you learned the Dewey Decimal system. I started feeling like a grown-up in the library. (Is it any wonder that the library was the place I'd sneak kisses with a certain boy when I was in high school?)

I didn't always treat the library right. I wasn't always the best about returning my library books. I'd always have a book or two that got lost under my bed, in the back of a closet. I'm not sure why I couldn't get it together, but it was like this crazy thing I had to do. "Here's all your books back but this one!" Maybe it's my tell. Maybe some day I'll commit the perfect crime except I'll leave one overdue library book at the scene. But I'd like to think that the library wouldn't actually let me down.

You can save this post and show it to me in 30 years

Dear all of you who have a flexible schedule (you know who you are) (Don't make me say it.) (I don't want to say it, but: retired folks, stay-at-home moms, ladies who lunch),

I understand, you have a life as well. I get that. I really want to respect it. I know, one day I'll be in your shoes. But I ask you, no I beg of you, can you please try to consider time of day when you do things? You have all day. You have the luxury of time. (Yes, I am jealous. I'm sure that's not helping my mood here.) You can go to the grocery store at 2 in the afternoon. Heck, you can go at 2 in the morning and nap during the day. Why won't you please take advantage of that? I know you have complicated prescriptions. I know you need to talk to the pharmacist. But do you really have to do it at 5 o'clock when those of us who have been working all day just want to quickly pick up their prescriptions?

I'm trying to help. Really. I think we'd both be happier if you weren't shopping when I'm trying to knock out a couple of things right after work. I know I'm no charmer after a day of work. I know I'm not the only one. And when I see someone in their just-from-the-pool gear blocking the aisle while they talk to a friend who also clearly had the day off, I might be a tiny bit snappish. Just a tiny bit. I don't want to be. But when I see your tan, your relaxed I've-got-all-day attitude, it sort of rubs me the wrong way.

I know that sometimes you have no choice. You go to make dinner and, oops, a key ingredient is missing. It happens. But when I see you with a cart full of food, as you slowly walk up and down every aisle, I'm thinking this wasn't that quick emergency.  

Like I said in the title, you can pull this out when I'm retired or have flexible hours. Really. It may be that I need a gentle reminder as well. In the meantime, please check the time and if it's rush hour, maybe you can put off your trip to the store until tomorrow at 10.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sometimes I forget what I'm doing, forget what I want

I love a list. I love making a to-do list and then crossing those tasks off. (I have a confession: sometimes I add tasks to cross them off. You know, you can't just put "take cat to vet." You put: "make appointment," "take cat to appointment, " "pick up cat's meds." Now you get to cross off three items instead of just one.) There's something amazingly satisfying about those blacked-out tasks. Even better, when you have so many of those tasks crossed out, you have to start a new list.

I make a list before I go on a trip. Well, actually, I usually make two: a list of things to pack and a list that tells me what I have to get done before I hit the road. There are sub-lists: books, electronic stuff, what goes in the backpack versus what goes in the suitcase. (I may have a problem.) If I have a long weekend, I make of list of things I hope I get done. (Oh, I hate it when something comes up that wasn't supposed to be on the list. Flat tire!? Oh, man, that's not on the list!)

I usually have a long term list going at all times, the oil changes, the yearly doctor visits, that box in the extra closet that needs going through. It always has those things I mean to do but can't seem to get to. Maybe if I put them on the list, I'll eventually cross them off. But I can never cross everything off that list. There's always that item or two that just can't seem to get crossed off, that I just don't really want to get to. I've been carrying "write a will" for years. I look at these items and think, one day, soon.

I made a list for this weekend. I have great expectations. I am filled with optimism. I come home, ready to start crossing things off.

I have left it at work.

Let's see what happens.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fitting the pieces together

I have friends who have places they can go that feed their soul. They go to these places and they are revitalized. They spend hours, just sitting, pondering their lives. Or they simply arrive, look around, say, "yes, this is it," and settle in. They just fit there. I suppose the closest thing I can call it is that feeling of home.

Some people are lucky enough to live in these places. There are people feel this way about their hometown. They never leave, sometimes sacrificing opportunities, but it doesn't matter to them. This is where they want to be. Money or a job won't replace this feeling. When I was younger, I had a harder time understanding this. I thought that they might feel trapped or resentful, but as I get older, I see that it's simply a different choice. It's the sweats over the tight jeans. Sure, the tight jeans make your butt look amazing, but those sweats are what you reach for when you just want to be comfortable and relax.

I know some people who didn't feel this way about where they grew up, but moved to a place that fits them. They came home in their twenties (or later.) I have the Midwestern roots, but there is a part of me that is more at home being an East Coast gal. (My graduate advisor used to always laugh when I would remind him that I was from Ohio; he said he would have guessed Brooklyn.) I like the pace, I like that you can be left alone. I know this isn't for everyone, but I want the kid at Target to ring me up, bag up  my stuff, and send me on my way as soon as he can -- no conversation or chit-chat needed. That said, I still haven't found that place that I would call home. I don't have a place that I need to visit or see or touch.

This is not to say that I'm unhappy where I'm at -- not at all. I really do like it here, and I really loved the Philadelphia area while I was there. But the feeling of fit, well, that's a bit more than I have. I wonder if it is something I can work on or is it something that just happens. Perhaps I need to do it bit by bit: first, a room in the house, then another, then the whole house. But shouldn't a part of of this feeling just happen? Shouldn't that place be reaching for me as much as I reach for it?

Of course, another thing I have come to realize is that home is within me. That I bring the sense of wonder and love and peace to the place that I am at. Perhaps this is what I need to focus on these days. Perhaps the friends of mine who have found home or those places they need to visit have simply tapped into their souls, allowing this to happen.

I am coming home, soon. I believe it.