Friday, February 29, 2008

Bid that Bond Back!

Something that I have enjoyed immensely about being married to my husband has been the opportunity to meet a few of the people he works with. They are some of the most unique and delightful individuals on the face of the planet. It seems like his would be a starched-shirt, Brooks Brothers suit kind of gig, but in reality the people who do the kind of work he does show up with the hems ripped out of their pants and mustard stains on their shirt. (I learned that they have to eat really fast 'cause having food or drink on the floor will get you a $200 fine.) But they've kind of got a "be casual, be smart, work hard" kind of attitude that I really appreciate. No pretense. (My husband, for the record, does not work with the hems ripped out of his pants and mustard on his shirt. Just for the record)

Anyway, I've learned so many cool words from both D. and from some of the people I've met. Words like "chubbed out." That might actually be a little profane, I'm not sure, but I sure do like to use it. You use it like "That position will get him all chubbed out." (Do you think that's dirty? Kind of sounds really dirty.) I've also started saying things like "Thanks a lot for #$&*ing nothing!" I got that from a guy who once said, after hearing an announcement from the Fed, "Thanks Bernanke, thanks a lot for #$&*ing nothing!" It amused me greatly. I say it often. They also have a tendency to send really really funny e-mails from which I benefit tremendously.

Here is a case in point from a guy who works for a firm you've heard of. I love it. Sing it to the tune of Sir Mixalot's epic masterpiece "baby got back." (If you don't know it, I can't believe I know you, but check the video below.)

I like Rate Cuts, i cannot deny!
You other Dealers are scared to buy.
And when my TradeWeb dings with no bids in place
and Salesman in my face.
I press "Done".... Then mark it back some!

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! Deep in a hole I'm goin.
My bonds they just keep on blowin.

Ohhhhhhhhh baby!, I just want a picture.
Cause I'm sure gonna hit ya.
My Risk Manager just started yellin,
"Those bonds you bought... you best be sellin!"

Something I feel really strongly about...Ramble On...

I hesitate to write posts like this sometimes because when I feel so strongly about a particular issue, I use strong language. And I hate to do that knowing that some people who read this only know me from what I write here. I feel compelled to be level-headed, or, at least kind. Unlike many bloggers, I think you probably can know me (at least a little) from what I write here, but I don't want anyone to see the part of me I like least: my snarky anger. So, trying not to be angry or snarky and trying to proceed with humility, I'm going to write about something I care very very deeply about. You might disagree. And I'm ok with that.

This morning, I read Mandie's post about Mark Driscoll's sermons (if you don't know who Driscoll is, now is a good time to Google) and her reactions to them. I'm home today with a terrible virus graciously given to me no doubt, by some hygienically-challenged undergraduate, and so I had some time to watch one about birth control.

Now, despite what I think might be some shared ideas between us, I think Mark Driscoll is, well, kind of a likeable jerk. One Seattle blogger asserts that he actually expressed the desire to punch two elders in the face during a sermon. And while I can understand his desire put out the lights of the ordained, it's probably not too indicative of a great deal of wisdom or restraint to admit it in front of your congregation (assuming that he actually did). That being said, I see some things in his teaching on this matter that I respect. And some that make me uncomfortable to say the least. Perhaps I should start with those things in the "respect" column.

Mark Driscoll likes women, from what I can tell, and he requires a lot from the men in his congregation in the area of personal responsibility. He also gave the most technically accurate description of birth-control methods that I have ever heard any religious person give. This is quite important because I fully believe that most Americans know little to nothing about the birth control methods that they are actually using. And I think pastors/priest should have an opinion about these matters and maybe, if the Holy Spirit gives them the freedom to do so, they should express them to their congregations. He also smacked some "home-school legalists" in the face in a pretty bold way. And it was funny. And maybe useful.

But he also said something tremendously scary. In a lengthy diatribe about "idiot" husbands (one that lent considerable credibility to the Seattle blogger) he said that the elders of a church are a higher authority over a woman than her husband. Yikes. In the interest of personal disclosure, I'm not a traditional "submit to the man" kind of wife, but I'd certainly rather submit to my husband who knows me and who has a vested genetic stake in the welfare of my child(ren) than to an elder who doesn't much care what happens to me. (Can you tell this is kind of an issue for me? I admit it. It's a stone-bruise.) Frankly, my husband and I know that one of us can't be well-adjusted or happy if the other isn't. We're just a symbiotic system, I guess. So, my welfare is important to him as is his to me. That gives him some rights, I say. The idea of submitting to anyone over my husband (who I don't really submit to very well at all, actually) is frightening enough to me as to elicit quite an emotional response. Cause, at least my husband likes me. Almost all of the time.

The other thing about this sermon that bothered me was Mark Driscoll's obvious dislike for feminists. Now, feminism is about as broad a pool as the Atlantic Ocean and there are many many different branches of thought. Some are irritating and profoundly anti-man and family and some are not. I could write more about that, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I do consider myself to be a feminist. And I hope not the irritating kind. (I like both men and family quite a lot.) So, I think Mark Driscoll shouldn't be so quick to pour the sea into a Dixie cup. I shan't rant about that any further.

Finally, (wow, this is disjointed) I think about my own feelings about birth control. I'm not opposed. I can see some good reasons to hold off on the making of babies, but at the same time, the idea that a woman should take a pill to "chemically fix herself for sex without the requiring anything from the man" (as Frederica Matthews-Green* says, more-or-less) is icky. Our society wants us to think that it is a feminist action to control our own reproduction by disrupting a beautifully functional and healthy system of the body. But that idea has to be one of the most anti-woman notions of the past Century. No one is asking that of men, I notice, and I think it valid to ask why.

The end.

*Frederica Matthews-Green read my blog once and I've never gotten over the thrill.

people in order

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wounded Creatures Grappling with the Truth

Human beings do not perceive of things whole; we are not gods, but wounded creatures, cracked lenses, capable only of fractured perception. Partial beings, in all the senses of that phrase. Meaning is a shaky edifice we build out of scraps, dogmas, childhood injuries, newspaper articles, chance remarks, old films, small victories, people hated, people loved; perhaps it is because our sense of what is the case is constructed from such inadequate materials that we defend it so fiercely, even to death.

Rushdie, Salman. "Imaginary Homelands." The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Eds. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin. London: Routledge Publishers, 2006. 428-434.

In this article, Rushdie writes about the fragmented identity of the British-Indian writer. He refers to our memories as the pieces of broken mirrors. Each piece is valuable, but they don't often make a unified whole. Over the past months, I've become aware of how fragmented my perception is, especially in terms of how I understand and interpret Scripture. My mind is small and incapable of sussing out all of the understatements and subtleties of Salman Rushdie's work. And that's something being that the sussing out the understatements and subtleties of literature is what I do the best. If this is true, I reason, how much more incapable of understanding Scripture am I? Surely, the Holy Spirit guides me and provides meaning, but to be frank, that's why I'm good at interpreting literature. The Holy Spirit enables me to do it. Why? I frankly have no idea. But he does. It must serve his purpose. How thrilling it is to know that God's purposes aren't always practical. Sometimes, he just goes for aesthetic pleasure. Amen.

But all that is beside the point. My point is that I still believe Scripture is God-breathed. But, I can't wrap my mind around it. Surely, I accept what must be my responsibility to try to learn and understand and apply, but at the end of the day, I'm just not able to do it completely. When I read T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, and especially when I try to teach it or explain it, I feel comfortable understanding something. Making meaning of something. However so small. It is understood that it really isn't possible to understand it as a whole. This is true of Scripture. To understand this and to try must be faith.

The application of all this to me is the undermining of spiritual pride. The idea that one individual, or group of individuals, can corner truth is the idea that prevents truth from being fully expressed in certain congregations. I shudder, for this reason, at the thought of ever again pledging to place myself under the discipline of a group of elders. I think doing this as an adult was a serious mistake on my part. I feel that I didn't, at that moment, understand that it is enough to submit myself in humility to all of my brothers and sisters as the scripture commands. I think to submit myself to a small group of men was idolatry. I really do. I am sorry that I did it. I am glad I could undo it. (This is such a hard issue for me. I don't pretend to fully understand what I think I'm figuring out. I just know that it feels really creepy and wrong. But then again, fractured memories and all that.)

Because, at the end of the day, our understanding of Scripture is subject to all of the abuses of which our fragmented minds can conceive. We see, as Paul said, dimly as in a mirror. How can we truly be in positions of leadership unless we are on our faces before God daily begging for mercy? Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy on me and on my priest who is worthy of my respect and who I believe to be called of you, but is at the end of the day, made of dust. Not many should presume to be leaders. Yet many do. Some things we can know. Yet many more remain hidden.

My prayer is that my confidence in Christ will be tempered with his humility and that I might speak the truth I know boldly, yet shrink from speaking my presumptions lightly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dear Stinkie Band Next Door,

You have two minutes to get off the crazy train before I come over and put a drumstick up your nose hole.

I'm trying to study over here.

**update: David reminds me that they have never once sold heroin out of their house. We have actually had neighbors to that, so I guess this isn't so bad. I'm feeling calm now. (Serenity NOW!) And you're not that stinkie, you're actually not so bad.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dreams of my Mamaw

Last night, I dreamed that I saw my grandmother in a blackberry thicket. She was about 18 years old and was wearing jeans and a faded work shirt. She she showed me an enamel bowl full of thumb-sized blackberries. Everything, she said, is so delicious here.

I called my sister this afternoon to tell her. (This is not the first time my grandmother has come to me in a dream.) She had a similar dream last night and my grandmother told her that she had to go to Jesus, but not to be sad.

I think this is God wanting to comfort us and let us know that our grandmother is safe in heaven and waiting for us. I love the idea of heaven being a place with thumb-sized blackberries and 18-year-old grandmothers in old clothes. (It's funny though, because my grandmother was beautiful and quite a clothes-horse.)

This morning, I remembered that if our baby is a girl, we're going to name her after my grandmother. Wonder if that is a sign. I am so excited to find out...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Parliament House Hotel

So, me and David and our good friend Jason "Boom Box" Harmon went to see the implosion of the Parliament House Hotel this morning at (yes really) 6:30. Here is a video taken by some people standing directly beside us. You can see "Boom Box" pretty well and you can see David and me crossing the street if you've got a really good eye.

Suffice it to say, it was awesome.

Here is the video from Dykon Explosive Demolition (the company that actually did the blowin' up.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

This makes me feel better

So, when I got home, I found this on Obama's website. Which makes me feel better about Obama, but much much worse about his supporters.

(Except for you, Twilleys. And Judee. Well, maybe this just makes me feel worse about this dumb lady.)

"This is a volunteer office that is not in any way controlled by the Obama campaign. We were disappointed to see this picture because it is both offensive to many Cuban-Americans -- and Americans of all backgrounds -- and because it does not reflect Senator Obama’s views. Barack Obama has been very clear in putting forward a Cuba policy that is based on one principle: freedom for the Cuban people." -- Obama Campaign

Obama Supports Communist Murderers?

So, do people just not know who Che Guevara was? That's shameful. Shame on you, Barack Obama. And to think, I stood up for you when people said you were the anti-christ*.

(I still do not believe Barack Obama is the anti-christ.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Viva La...What??

This is Barack Obama's Houston campaign office. Yes, that is a Cuban flag with Che Guevara's face on it.  Not cool. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Baby Fats, That's Me.

Belly o Rama and his friend the Happy Budda

I think I'm showing a little bit! (Unless it's just leftover Savannah Shrimp Po Boy.) 

Monday, February 11, 2008

Conference Paper

Here is the paper I presented at the SWAC conference this weekend.
It isn't really "scholarly," so it won't (I hope) be a terribly boring read.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

This afternoon, I'm leaving for Savannah with David to present a piece I'm writing (I know. I'm STILL writing it) on the creative process of the writer for a workshop at the SWCA conference. I'm nervous. I'm worried that I'll make my team members look bad. I'm worried that I'll make my professor look bad.

I hope I can do a good job. God has to make this work. (And that's always what I say, and he always comes through.)

Say prayers.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Baby Bumblebee

When I sit in the obstetrician's waiting room, I try not to make eye-contact with the other women. I don't, however, try to avoid eavesdropping on their conversations. I am always amazed at the great number of people some women bring to their appointments. Today, I saw a woman with her parents, her husband's parents, and her sister. I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if they had spread out a picnic basket and broken out a bucket of chicken and some Lone Star. I overheard another woman with a daughter in her twenties filling out paperwork. The mother had the clipboard on her lap and was asking her daughter questions like "When was the first day of your last cycle? What? You don't keep track of that? You should. You need to be able to answer that question. Make sure to tell her how irritable you've been and that you're constipated. When are you going to tell that boy about this?" I found this incredibly odd. If her mother had followed her around with that clipboard for her entire life, she probably wouldn't have found herself in the obstetrician's waiting room with her mother. (I'm just saying.)

People are weird. Pregnant women are weird. I think this is just how it works. I find myself getting weirder by the moment. I think this might be irreversible. Today, it took the obstetrician a few minutes to find the baby's heartbeat. In the past, she's found it pretty quickly, so I began to worry a little bit. Don't worry, she said. He's probably just a stubborn baby boy. And I thought, if David were a fetus, he would without a doubt hide from the thing trying to hear his heartbeat. And then I thought that this baby is going to be a carrier for both of our genes and I laughed out loud. I know he will come into the world with a personality of his own, bearing the mark of God in his own way, but he will also come into the world with Irish passion, German logic, and plenty of Weird. I imagine him floating around in his amniotic fluid, with his beard and his glasses, listening to his i-pod and reading the Wall Street Journal. Just a little longer until we can know if he is a boy or a girl. I'm excited.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sweetness Follows

Dear Susan,

We are pleased to inform you that your abstract has been accepted for the 2008 TTU Symposium of English Studies, “Shifting Paradigms: All Things English.” Your session will allow a twenty-minute reading or presentation of your paper. At this time, if you have any technology needs, please respond to this email so that we may prepare to accommodate your request. You may find more information and the registration form by visiting our website at We look forward to seeing you on March 15th!

Symposium of English Studies Committee
Tennessee Tech University

When the weather's fine, when it's sunny outside...

The priest said that the baby can hear the liturgy and that it is good for him to hear his parents singing hymns. When he hands me the host, he says Susan, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ for you and your baby. I like it.  The priest says a lot of things that I like. After what feels like a long season in the wilderness, I feel like I've found a church where I can really worship God and find a place to learn how to be of use to someone. This has been good for me. 

I wanted to make this a long post, but the other thing I wanted to write about just doesn't want to be written. And it's time to take Corduroy to the vet. And I'd like to put my stretchy pants on first.