“Miss Wende? Can I sing you a song?”
She is five. It’s right before Sunday School is to begin. Due to a flood on the east side of the building, our classroom is engulfed in mildew– I’m frantically moving us up two flights of stairs for the duration. Who knows when we’ll be back in our classroom? God does. And he’s not clued me in, so I’m bracing for the long haul. Pencils? Check. Markers? Check. Paper? Check!
So, I’m a little distracted when she asks, but I have enough clarity to say, “Yes. Just as soon as I get back. I need to run and tell someone something before class begins. But when I get back you can sing me your song.”
And when I get back, she does just that. Our temporary classroom is an old chapel, so she stands in front of the altar and belts out the first verse and chorus of “Let it Go.” Her soft blond hair is coiled into tiny little buns on either side of her head: looking every bit Elsa, singing her heart out. I can tell she’s been practicing. She knows all the words and she’s nailed that little pause before, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
“Miss Wende? Can I sing that song in front of everyone?” I’m busy keeping 14 kids ages 5-17 focused, so I’m a little distracted. I’ve grown accustomed to the pandemonium. I thrive in it, like wild things thrive in bogs.
“What do you mean? In front of the adults downstairs?” She vigorously nods her head. My brain quickly reviews the lyrics and then agrees, “Yes. I’ll get you a mic after church. You can sing during coffee time.” And then we’re off and running. Today, we’re “blinging out” our temporary classroom. Home should feel like home, right?
I’m busy with the older kid table: because their posters need more supervision. The most inappropriate things the little kids tend to draw are superheroes. “No, no batman at church.” I’m certain the Dark Knight wouldn’t want to be hanging in a converted chapel now Sunday School classroom anyhow.
A tug on my sweater: “Miss Wende? My sister says me singing that song is embarrassing. Is it embarrassing?”
Siblings! Why, oh, why must they deflate each other? Most of my class is made up of siblings. And I watch it every week: one rises, soaring into the air like colorful balloons: aloft with some accomplishment. And then a sibling grabs a foot: the proverbial Jacob tugging at a heel. Back to the ground you must go. Half of my sermons are on God’s love. The other half, a stealthy attempt to encourage the bonds between brothers and sisters: convinced if that’s the only mark I make, then I’ve lived into my call.
“Sweets, the real question is, are YOU embarrassed to sing that song?” Again with the vigorous shaking of the head. “Then, there’s your answer. Here’s the thing: when you’re a performer, or any kind of artist, there will be critics. There will be people who tell you that your art isn’t good enough or it’s embarrassing. That happens. But if making your art makes you happy, then don’t listen to those other voices. Just be yourself. OK?” She seems content with that.
“She’s singing that song in front of the whole church?” A voice from the older table –another of her siblings.
“Yes. And I expect all of you to sit in the pews and encourage her. Applaud her efforts when she’s done.”
“I thought we only applauded when the performance was a good one?” Says her older sister. Sigh. Clearly, I need to work on the message.
“It will be a good performance.”
And when church ends and the adults are milling with coffee I grab a mic: give it a quick test and hand it to this brave five year old for her moment in the sun.
And I beam through the whole thing, because she is soaring. She’s got a death grip on her mic, but she is fierce and brave and everything we want little girls her age to be. Her father sits in a pew with is cell phone poised to capture the moment. Her peers and siblings are also in the pews. Perhaps the message is getting through after all.
When she reaches the line, “I don’t care what they’re going to say” she shoots me a look and begins to smile. We share this secret: we can be artists and it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. The cold never bothered us anyway.
When she is finished, I retrieve her mic. She’s not sure what to do with it. And I give her the biggest hug. “You were awesome! Good job!” There is applause from the pews and from the adults with their coffee. They had grown quiet, to take in this little wonder with a microphone and a message.
A few minutes later, one last tug, “Miss Wende?” I bend down so that we’re eye to eye, “Did I really do a good job?”
“Yes, sweetheart. You were amazing.”
Photo now… words later.
Friday 28 February 2014: An Update
So, I’ve had this post open all week on my laptop. And I’ve meant to update it. It’s just been one of those weeks. It’s 8 pm on Friday night, I’m finally off of work for the week — though I have a ton of church stuff to do tomorrow. But it’s time for wine and a piece of my birthday cake (See’s candy IZ buys me each year!) — so why not a bit of review too?
Monday was my birthday and I actually took the entire day off. Scripts arrived for March’s 4th Sunday service: I spent all of 2 minutes looking at them and then put them DOWN.
Folks, that’s amazing for me. Typically, I can’t help myself. I just launch in, and 4 hours later I look up and realize I worked on my day off.
IZ took me out to coffee… twice. Including a nice drive to Cannon Beach to our favorite coffee place and absolutely NO work talk. Instead, I talked about my budgies and my unearthly love of those birds. New Bird was a birthday gift last year, so he’s 1 year old! And of course that warranted a conversation. IZ has started calling me the “crazy bird lady”. Um, kinda.
I baked pizza, hung out with my men, did NOTHING all day. I think there was a trip to Goodwill. It was a lovely way to decompress–especially since the day before was a 4th Sunday service — and those are so much work.
But, taking Monday off means RUNNING all week. And that’s what I’ve done. I don’t think I’ve posted anything anywhere in days. No tweeting, no Facebook status reports, I don’t even think I’ve looked at this blog or Mireio.
Somehow, during this week I did manage to make this little toddler skirt for Barbara Kellie.
It’s made from a shirt I found at Goodwill on Monday: challis. OMG I hate sewing with challis. Never doing that again. I pulled so many stitches I could have made this over twice. But I think it turned out OK. I made it so the black skirt functions as a petticoat for the pink skirt. Remarkably, that worked.
Which means I won’t be able to recreate it. One offs are good, right?
And then there is this:
That would be Sophie, sunbathing beneath the line of an air-compressor. After two point something years of living in a disaster area: the house is finished. And by “finished” I mean, I now have no excuse to not paint. All the doorways are framed. Everything that should have been trimmed, caulked, or finished … is. Can I get a Hallelujah? Of course, having a construction person in the house all week was not without a moment of tears.
The entire process puts me back to the hell-hole that was fall of 2011. It’s a mild form of PTSD: (not to make light of that for folks who suffer!) I’m completely skeptical of anyone who dons a tool belt for a living. And somewhere along the line “make it work” started meaning “let’s half-ass” this. Folks, I’m spinning too many plates. Lots of them drop, but not because I’m half-assing anything. But because I’m giving my all to other plates. It makes me nutty.
But it’s done. I should focus on that.
Someone needs to paint this house now. I’m going to drink another glass of wine and consider telling you about my theme for the year.
Or just drink another glass of wine. See you… soon? (Oh, and I’m 44. That number is MAGIC. The fact my house is done… PROOF.)
My adorable Sisters-In-Love braved the gusty winds and torrential rain to visit. Bringing with them my gorgeous niece and her baby. This was the perfect way to celebrate! Iz and I got our baby fix.
Barbara Kellie, who is just 15 months walked straight into my kitchen and asked to be picked up. I was rolling out pastry dough, so I scooped her up and we gave the quiche crust a few rolls together.
Sigh, I live for these moments.
My social media streams are lit up like fireworks. With protests and fury over the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia this year. Many of my friends are disturbed by the culling of stray dogs in the town of Sochi and rightly so. For months, Russia’s horrific stand against basic human rights for its LGBTQ people has played out in the news. And while I don’t think we’ll see much “action” during the games, I fear for what will happen after the world turns its attention away in a few weeks.
And then there are the deplorable conditions (both for those who live in Sochi and those who are visiting) of the games. Buildings unfinished. Plumbing, what plumbing? The “don’t drink the water” memos. Sochi is a hot mess. And the games haven’t officially opened yet. Well, they have, but NBC doesn’t want you to know that until 7:30 tonight. But that’s a different post.
Yes, in its totality, the Sochi Winter Games are a debacle of historic proportions. My twitter feed is likening the games to Berlin and dropping the H word when talking about Putin. The pictures are demoralizing. And I get why many of my friends and social acquaintances are boycotting the games. Either from sheer disappointment or in political protest, it’s just not something they want to invest their time in. I can’t blame them, I really can’t. I get it.
Growing up, I didn’t have a television. So, when the games would roll around I didn’t get to see much of them. Long before the internet made news instantaneous, I had to rely on my friends to sum up the events of the previous night. Sometimes, we would be invited to come view the opening ceremony at a friend’s house. And the thing that always stood out to me was the interviews with the athletes. Even as a child, I could hear how excited they were to just BE there. How important this experience was for them: representing their country, meeting new friends, experiencing different cultures, and knowing that the eyes of their country were upon them. These athletes would talk about what an honor it was to carry their country’s flag. Or their jitters before taking the ice. Or how charming the host city was and how honored they were to be a part of the games. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Their tears heartbreaking. Their smiles. . . electric.
In a world where being notorious can make you a “Star” Olympic athletes are Super Novas in contrast.
The TV commentators would do back-ground pieces about the host city and give all of us folks back home a taste of this world that was, for at least two weeks, magic. And you couldn’t help but want to be part of the magic. To be an Olympian. And because you couldn’t be — you revelled in being part of the moment. There are iconic Olympic moments we can all point to: moments that marked a sport in ways we can all identify with. Moments of courage. Moments of determination. Moments of utter defeat.
Moments that those athletes will hold in their hearts forever are also moments we, the audience, witnessed. We watched with baited breaths and cheered with abandon. We wiped tears from our eyes, and mouthed the words to our National Anthem as our athletes stood on podiums and our flags majestically rose. Proud to be American. Or Canadian. Or French. Or Russian.
We rooted for the underdogs. We cheered for the victorious. And we wept with those who came so close. All of them, elated to have just been a part of something special. All of us, privileged to bear witness to the remarkable: Super novas bursting across our television screens.
The Sochi games are plagued with problems. There is even a twitter account to collect all the horror in a humorous way. My heart breaks for the Olympians who have worked so hard to get to these games. I don’t think this is the Olympic Games they expected. So, it is tempting to throw in the towel (I mean, have you seen the freak show of an uniform the USA has to wear tonight? Memo to Ralph Lauren, NOBODY looks good in white pants) and boycott. To not watch. To make a political statement. To side with human rights and dignity.
And you are free to do so, whatever your reason. But I will be watching the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Because every one of these athletes deserves a magical moment. Their handwork deserves to be seen. Their determination deserves to be witnessed. I am so sorry if these games are not all they expected or deserved, but I don’t want to part of that failure. So, I will watch. I will cheer with the victorious. Weep with those who came so close. And I will bear witness to the magic they create: holding the other part of their memory. All of their determination, the sacrifices of their families, their sheer grit and determination to get there was worth it, because their moment was amazing — and I, watching from my living room back home, witnessed it all.
I took this photo yesterday in Starbucks and posted it on Instagram with the caption, “for tomorrow we cleanse. . .” not realizing that the paper beneath my cup sums up my advice for a happy marriage. “Talk things out. (have a ) sense of humor. (Sometimes) cut a rug.”
Oh, and the definition of true love this week is agreeing to a cleanse because your adorable husband doesn’t want to do one alone. It might also be the definition for divorce by day 6.
Our little family at the Ocean. . . a little trip to Manzanita last Saturday
So, it’s the New Year. Is your list of resolutions as long as mine? I figure I’ll wittle it down a bit and then maybe talk about it. This is a big year for me: turning 44 and that seems like a magical number. Worthy of big intentions and endeavoring.
But for now, I’m just hanging out with my little family, watching murder mysteries, and avoiding all the chores I should be doing.
Should is such an ugly word, anyhow.
But this much I will give you, I’m easily charmed. And I think, if I can remember that this year — or even be motivated by it, there is hope.
What I am not, at nearly 44, is a risk taker. Little things make me happy and change is not my friend. Not for the reasons you might think: I’m happy for things to be different. I’m just essentially lazy. If you want to make it different, I’m down with that. If you want ME to make it different, I can’t hear you.
Example A: Any suggestion of moving, I immediately shudder and sputter: “I’m going to die in this house. In fact, I hate moving so much, they’ll bury me in the back-yard because it’s too much effort otherwise.”
This is not true, of course. I suspect a move is closer than even I can imagine. But, oh, how I hate the idea of packing. And that’s just one example.
My in-laws are in their late 70′s early 80′s and they are the epitome of change resistant. They’ve earned it. It’s not a criticism, but an observation. And a realization, that in my mid-40′s I’m well on the road to saying, “Oh, that’s too much of a bother.” Over the holidays, IZ and his sister were chatting via FaceTime and my FIL just waved his hand… it’s not for him. I can identify, I feel the same way about cell phones. I practice that hand-wave, often.
So, I don’t know how I’ll cut down my list of to-do’s, must change, resolve to endeavor: but one thing is very clear to me. It’s time to face my fears and embrace this notion of change. This crazy idea of being connected to the outside world . 2014 may indeed be the year Wende gets a cell phone. (you should know I’m breaking out in a cold sweat just typing that sentence. Let’s just move, OK?!)
And no, I will not give you my phone number. I said I was easily charmed. Not stupid.