Monday, July 27, 2009

a lot


I guess I'm lucky - my skin, which is always rather hard-wearing (let's be honest, I wash it once every day or, um, two, with whatever soap is to hand, and never take my makeup off before I go to bed, and it pretty much never does anything), survived two rounds of tamoxifen before it decided to return to high school. Amusingly, I first blamed it on being here in Charlottesville - three zits in two days (usually that would take months), and my whole forehead feels like a lunar mountain range, you know? I'm not amused. At some point, I realized that driving two hours south was a slightly less likely culprit than high doses of hormone drugs. Sigh.

I know those inane "your body is changing" books written by a childless male OB/GYN in 1955 always suggest that PMS and all its side effects would be more manageable if I quit eating chocolate, but I hope that whole gang knows what they can do with their unhelpful advice. I don't believe it, anyway.

I don't know whether the thyroid is helping. I feel much more exhausted than before, because of course I am not sleeping. And I have refused to exercise - probably a combination of PMS and cramps (timing is everything!), and it's too hot here for running to be tempting. Although it's a pretty area. So, jury still out on the synthroid. It must be helping, right? And when I start living on something other than grasshoppers and cheetos again, I am sure all will be well.

Also, having sampled the delicious pizza at the Mellow Mushroom with the DH the other night (he did come down to visit), I have decided I need to start making homemade pizza again (I used to do it reasonably often). I can use the same dough recipe, but this time I'm going to make the sauce from scratch: diced tomatoes (which I can buy canned in winter), basil, minced garlic, olive oil, and salt; and for the top, mozzarella, feta, and roasted red peppers, with maybe some oregano. Doesn't that sound perfect? And so simple I bet I could do the whole thing without a recipe (well, except for the dough). Ah, inspiration.


Of course, I've brought myself too near the kitchen and my will is too weak...I must share my latest discovery. Well, just one. I will spare you innocent people the whole gamut. No sane person would have not only read through all my insane house nonsense, but also followed the hyperlinks. But if somebody had, they would have seen this:

Tell me the copper stove at the top left is not the coolest stove you have ever seen. And where would a poor li'l DIYer who doesn't own, um, a television station ever find such a thing? Would you believe I have an answer for this? You would look here, as it happens.

And if you did, you would rapidly learn that it's a Chambers-brand gas stove, dating from about 1953. I am still very torn. That's 30 years later than my house was built. But, it's just the best stove ever, isn't it? I mean, the copper color is magnificent. It matches any color scheme and though the piece itself has an obvious vintage charm, the finish is completely timeless (I would be fine with a white or pastel enamel too, but the copper is just that much better).

And when I saw this gem, for sale in Washington, D.C., I think I literally stopped breathing temporarily.'s being offered for $1100. And it's unrefinished. So, um, even I can't make an argument that I should spend that much money on it. (I think I could see an argument for about $150 for a vintage stove and another $100 to have a plumber take a look at the lines and install it - that's not crazy, right?) That's the stove. And it's in driving distance.


Anyway, I can't pretend that that's all that's been wandering through my head lately. I know both my DH and I have had real struggles with our faith recently. His quitting smoking and my PMS certainly explain respective recent bouts of depression, but that's not the whole story. It occurs to me, at times, that I ought to give myself permission to be taking things hard. I have a good job (and I was about to write, and I have my health!). But, my husband has been out of work for months and it's been really hard on him. And I don't know where he'll wind up, or with what sort of work, and what demands it may make on both of us. I have no idea whether we'll have kids or if so when, and only slightly more idea what more medical procedures I'll have to deal with in the coming months and years - whether I get pregnant or not.

I'm only 27, but thirty will be here before I know it and in the intervening two and a half years, I think I should find more of a notion of where I'm headed. That's enough time to let go of having kids, if that's what I need to do (right??), and to remember what it's like to have a worthwhile life. It's enough time to scrape together a purpose and stop feeling lost and sorry for myself. Of course, I know I'm not actually moving - not even crawling - in that direction now. What's the Chinese proverb? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? If I don't start, I'll never make any progress at all.

But I don't feel ready to own all the things that are wrong with my life spiritually, to be brutally honest about what things are my fault and what things I was powerless to change. To acknowledge that I might have been sliding backward throughout my twenties, and be less now than I ever have been. To throw out everything I'm doing and do something entirely different. And I'm angry at the idea (my idea) that I should have to. I just tried to put one foot in front of the other. I'm no saint, but I've tried to do the next good thing. In more cases than not, I think I have. How could I be so lost?

I actually opened my Magnificat today and read through the morning prayer, and some things from the previous days. I saw several things that struck me, that I thought I would share.

From a reflection for Sunday:

[T]he root of human wretchedness is loneliness, the absence of love - the fact that our personal existence is not embraced by a love that makes our existence "necessary."

That just seemed to sum it all up right there. And from the reading for today's morning prayer -

I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them.

You're not kidding.

Something struck me in Sunday Mass - I had just had a huge fight with my DH (over who was right about the directions to the church. Yes, I know. Hormones...), and so I was really emotional and feeling everything much more keenly than I ordinarily do. I thought I had long since sorted out my many issues with my father - my relationship with him is still a disaster, but that wasn't my choice. My choice was not to be angry any more. He chose to love his children conditionally, and to behave abominably to me (and my younger brother, in separate episodes), and he won't make the effort even to say that he's sorry, or to make the huge reach out to repair a ruin of a relationship. And I can't really do it for him and I have done all of the trying I really have in me. I continue to keep in contact with him, but it doesn't accomplish much. I'll do my part, but I can't make him willing to admit what's happened, and want to really rebuild.

But it occurred to me that when he failed me so completely, my path to peace was in recognizing (after a long while) that I didn't have a right to be angry, I had to live a good life no matter what he did, and I didn't need him to do anything in particular in order for me to be happy. And so I learned that he wasn't necessary to my life. It would be wonderful to be close to my father as I used to be. It would be wonderful if my DH knew the person who played such a huge role in my life, who features in so many of my stories, of whom he reminds me a great deal! But my father can barely manage to make eye contact with my DH. And a different world, in that respect, would be a better world - but I have to live in this one.

It occurs to me that my recent struggles with my faith have taken a rather similar turn. God let me down - he ignored my prayers, he dragged me onto a path that led nowhere, he left me lost, he scorned my substantial leap of faith, and I'm depressed and I so often feel alone and empty and unhappy. I could shake up my life enormously with a new project or direction to see whether a dramatic change would solve the problem. But that's sort of arbitrary and there's not much I really energetically want to do. So I wander aimlessly along. I think the two weeks in Charlottesville have been good - they've demonstrated, at least, that I don't suddenly hate going to daily Mass as long as it's in English. But it's not an entirely different world. And I guess I need to realize that it really has been a hard year, a hard few years; with many blessings, but with a lot of challenges too, of the kind that tend to strip away the strength I need to face the hard times, and that isolate me from other people and make me harder to love.

I've been toying with the idea of emailing a priest and asking for suggestions for a spiritual director. I don't know any local parish priests practically at all, which is ridiculous given how many Masses I attend (even though it's far fewer than it has been). I haven't gotten myself over the threshold and actually sent that email. But maybe I will.


On a less sad note, tomorrow is my DH's interview for this job. Friday night I dreamt he told me he'd gotten the job (probably because I talked to him about it right before I went to sleep). I'm really hopeful that this is what God has been preparing for us, that it will lead (it's a temporary job I think) to a position he'll love, in which he can use his gifts to do good work, and that will be a good situation for a family - even if it's only a family of two.

If you've a spare prayer, please ask whoever might listen for everything to fall into place with this one.

If you've borne with me this long, you deserve a medal - God bless you.

P.S. The landlord hasn't sent the lease papers back yet...wonder what that means.


  1. Prayers to St. Joseph for your DH! Men can really have a hard time when they aren't working or don't like their job. And PMS makes everything worse. Sounds like you and your DH are going through what we went through about a year and a half ago. Daily mass, some counseling, and lots of prayer got us through it.

  2. Stop it, you're making me hungry. Thinking about pizza now. With Feta, diced tomatoes, basil, and balsamic (I like vinegar).

    Go with the stove you like. Really. The stove may have been manufactured 30 years after the house was built, but it's not like the house and that model of stove never coexisted. The house was around when the stove was built: I call that connection close enough.

    I'm sorry you're having problems with your father. All you can do is what's in your power. I wish - really, really wish - we could shake sense into our parents sometimes, but that's not the way it works. They can be maddening. At least you're trying. Whether or not it comes to anything, you did your part.

  3. I've found it hard not to feel cursed through this whole IF process. But things will change. You can't know how or when, but they will.

    I had several very dark years in my late 20s. It's hard to predict when such years will strike; mine were the result of a divorce, right as I understood that I wanted a family and a certain kind of partner. It took years, but I found him. Then we battled IF together and eventually got lucky, after almost four years.

    I mention all this, just to let you know that these things take time. That you don't have to know now what to do, or how to solve the problem. That it can take years for things to sort themselves out. Not really what you want to hear when you're suffering and feeling abandoned. But just because you can't see the light yet, doesn't mean it's not there.

  4. I'll be praying for your DH and his interview!!

    That copper stove in DC is very cool, but WOW, that is alot of green to shell out for a nonworking appliance!! I hope you can find one that works for a cheaper amount!!

    I'll also be praying for you and DH as you guys get through this life together... that God will bless you with an extra helping of grace to get ya through this patch. Hang in there! :)

  5. I can tell you that, being so close to thirty myself, there doesn't seem to be anything magical about that age that allows you to just change who you are when you've hit it. If you wanted kids at 29, you're going to want them at 30. I keep trying to "scrape together a purpose" as you put it so well, and I keep coming back to the fact that my purpose is to be a just may not happen the way I wanted it to. I can't make myself dream of a career, as much as it would make my life easier at this point.
    Okay, this comment was supposed to be more supportive and uplifting, and I'm failing miserably at that so I'll just end with a good luck to your DH on his job interview.
    And thanks for the link to Brenna's blog - it was really encouraging.

  6. The copper stove at the top left is the coolest stove I have ever seen.

  7. Wow. Thank you for making chaper titles for this mini-book.

    LOVE love love the stove. I'm not sure DH would love it, since he's all about how the stove actually works (me not so much, since I don't use it as often as I should, hehe). But damn, that is gorgeous.

    I think it's normal for ANY faithful Christian to go through times of struggle with their faith. Add to that infertility and well, yeah, it's tough to be God's biggest cheerleader. You are not a bad person.

    I lol'd at how you said you were about to say you had your health... whenever I complain about things and try to remember the blessings in my life, health was usually 1 of the first things I mentioned, even though I never truly FELT thankful for it in the past. It was just kind of a given! So what, I have my health?

    But now, yikes, what I wouldn't give for the health of a fertile myrtle.

    Don't forget what you DO have: You've got rhythm, you've got music, you've got your man... really, who could ask for anything more?

  8. i'm 2 years past thirty... and now i'm thinking along the lines you are that 35 is my time to let go, but i pretty much know that time will come and go without letting go.

    that stove rocks.

    prayers for the job!

  9. Love the stove, hate the price. Wishing you all the best with everything!