Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Year: Final Post

As 2011 drew to a close, I contemplated finishing the task I had begun in those first two posts: reliving all the painful moments, describing the few happy times interspersed among the tough ones. But time ran out. On December 16, I had an emergency surgery to remove my right Fallopian tube after my ectopic pregnancy ruptured. Then I was able to spend a much-needed week in Georgia with my family, and by the time I got back, I didn't feel like dwelling on the sorrows of the past year anymore. I was ready to start anticipating the new one. So I'll end that series of posts here, with the words I posted on my facebook page on New Year's Eve. They express my feelings better than a whole series of posts about each individual event could:
Some friends from Ecuador told me about Ecuadorian New Year's Eve tradition. They make an effigy representing the year and fill it with firecrackers. If it's been an especially bad year, they make a show of beating it before setting it off. I'd like to blow 2011 sky high after giving it a few swift kicks. It's been all kinds of terrible, and I'm not the least bit sorry to see it go. But it wasn't without purpose.
Hopefully, 2012 will bring a return to OKC, a teaching job, and a healthy pregnancy. But even if it doesn't, I'll carry the jewels left behind in the ashes of 2011 with me: a greater assurance of God's faithfulness and provision (being miraculously selected--against stiff competition--for a grant for Ken's business that we wrote together, getting health insurance in the nick of time before an unexpected surgery after being denied coverage, raising thousands of dollars to build a church in India, Ken's being able to quit his miserable OSU job to work for CRISALIS full time, among many other examples); a stronger relationship with my precious husband, who has prayed with me and cried with me through two early miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy; and a deeper commitment to my callings, writing and teaching (along with crystal clarity that I'm not meant to teach college, at least not now). 
Goodbye, 2011. I'm finally grateful for the gifts you brought, and just as grateful to see you explode.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Year, Part 2: Strike One

On April 18, I sent this announcement to my family:

By April 28, I had to take it back. I'd been bleeding for days and the ultrasound showed nothing. I'd miscarried at 5.5 weeks.

Already sluggish because of pregnancy and the fallout from The Big Test, not to mention one of the coldest winters in years (never my best season), I had fallen behind in my Intro to Graduate Studies course. By the time this happened, there was no way to catch up. I was behind in grading for my two classes of freshman composition as well, barely keeping my head above water.

While Ken was supportive and sweet, he was sad too. His job doing DNA sampling at OSU was miserable, and it hurt him as much as it hurt me to have to tell his mother in India that we'd spoken too soon. We just didn't understand what was happening with us. Why had we moved to Stillwater in December if I was just going to flunk out of grad school? What was God's purpose in all this? Why?

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Year, Part 1: The Big Test

It's February. I am sitting at a computer desk between two male PhD students, a poet and a lit guy. The literature student is into anarchy and probably thinks the big shampoo corporations are evil. Both men emit an odor of clothes worn for three days, bodies unwashed in the same span, and stale cigarette smoke. The computer lab where we've assembled to take the five-hour first year PhD exam is muggy, and as I stare at my computer screen, arms cramped into uncomfortable acute angles because the chair isn't adjustable, I know that I will not pass this test. I am barely pregnant, or about to be, and I don't yet know what kind of year I'm about to face. I only know it hasn't started all that well. Ken and I have realized in a few short weeks that we'd rather commute to Stillwater than be stuck here (it's too late of course--we've sold our condo). The weather has been especially brutal, and I am not enjoying my teaching assistantship one bit. I've spent most of January and the first few weeks of February avoiding. Because that's what I do when I'm anxious. Anxious about grading my students' work. Anxious about this test. Anxious with indecision about school, career, life. Anxious. How many times has God brought Philippians 4:6 to my mind? How many times will I need to remember it this year? "Be anxious for nothing," as the NASB renders the verse, can be read in two opposite ways, and though I know it means not to be anxious about anything, I often become anxious "for nothing," for no good reason. 

In the weeks before this exam, I've spent about three days studying, if all the little snatches are added together. My peers have been fretting over this thing for months--memorizing poems, boning up on theory, but I am paralyzed by anxiety, and I procrastinate. I play word games on the computer, become fascinated by economics and Scientology ( provides hours of horrifying reading.) In short, I don't prepare, and I don't know why.

I end up finishing only two of the three questions in five hours. After a few weeks, I receive a letter in the mail informing me that my exam has been thrown out since I did not answer all three questions. Turns out, five other people are in the same boat. I find out later that there is a huge controversy. Several of my peers have written two superb (in their opinion) essays, and it is only necessary to pass two to be accepted into the program. The problem? None of our essays are even graded. The faculty has determined that there is some sort of conspiracy to only answer two questions, and they take the unprecedented step of having us all retake the exam.

When I get the letter, I have already decided not to teach in the fall. I am now several weeks pregnant, and my extremely emotional and exhausted self is behind in a class (Intro to Grad Studies) for the first time in my life. I will not catch up, and my teacher will not grant me an incomplete. Before the semester is complete I am sure that my graduate school career is over.

My Year

Ever wish you could start a year over knowing what you know now? It's not that I want to go back and correct a lifetime of mistakes--for better or worse, they've made me who I am. But this year is one that could use a fresh start, a fresh perspective, a rewrite. I know that God is building something in me that might not get built without the stretching and stress of this year, and I am painfully aware that some friends have suffered during this same time beyond my capacity to understand. But it's been a tough one.

I haven't blogged in a long time, so I realize that the audience for these stories is extremely small. But for the first time, I'm getting it down in writing, and that seems important somehow. In the next few posts, I'll be sharing several chapters of my 2011 with you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A New Beginning

I've decided to start blogging again, mostly as an antidote to Facebook. The last time I made an announcement of this kind, I wrote one additional post. That was over two years ago. 

But I feel like this time will be different, not only because I'd like to get to 152 posts eventually, but because I just have a few things I need to send out into the void, to use Kathleen Kelly's expression. "So good night, dear void." More to come.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Late notice

Bangalore, India, 18:25, 25 August 2009: Sorry to let everyone know we're alive at such a late hour. We've been here since very early this morning, but I haven't had the chance to get on the computer. Cousin Kevin set me up with the tricky modem so I could write you.

Both of our flights were good. Because of the way the times were written, I was confused about how long we'd actually be on the plane. I'm dumb. :) The flight from ATL to London was seven hours and ten minutes. They are five hours ahead of Georgia time, so we got there around 10:30 am London time. Then we had a layover for a few hours, during which time we rested and ate nice baguettes from a place called EAT. Pretty cheap, too--£2.95. We also looked for a dictionary in the airport bookstore so as to ascertain the spelling of the word adze, which we had argued over during travel Scrabble. Sadly, four out of four British flight attendants do not know what an adze is. "What do they teach them in these schools?"

The flight from London to Bangalore was only nine hours, forty-five minutes, but of course it felt like longer because we arrived around 4:00 a.m. Bangalore time. All the customs people were wearing masks, and they shot a scanner-type thermometer at our heads to get a reading of our temperature. Very accurate, I'm sure. I slept around five hours on the flight. They served us curry for supper and some other spicy thing for breakfast. Good, but a little bit acidic when coupled with OJ. Good thing there was yogurt, too. The only other thing I did on this flight was watch The Soloist, which Saige had recommended to me. Amazing that "Wanda" could turn out to be such a great actor. Jamie Foxx is definitely the standout act from In Living Color, huh? And Robert Downey, Jr. is amazing, too. He is Steve Lopez. You don't think RDJ or Tony Stark or random druggie. You just see the character. I love that about him.

Anyway, it was windy and nice outside the airport, and Amma, Cousin Jimmy, and his wife Gretta were waiting for us. Amma had beautiful flowers for me. We had about a twenty minute van ride to their house, and Kevin was up waiting for us. We sat around and had tea and chatted. Yes, British tea with milk and sugar. :)

Later, we had a special breakfast, holige, an Indian sweet bread. Ken told me they only make that for special occasions. Then we each had baths and naps, and we slept from a little after 10:00 until almost 5:00 p.m. It was wonderful. When we got up, Amma had late lunch for us: fried cod and ladyfish, spinach, rice, and lentil soup with vegetables and curry. Yummy. I ate with my fingers just like Ken did. Then we had tea and biscuits, and now I'm here at the computer.

It's hard to believe I'm a world away. There's more to say, but for now just know that I love you all and I'm alive and I'm having wonderful time.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Honest Scrap Thingamadoodle

Well, Josh tagged me with this meme, so I guess I'd better do it. It's not like I have 152 post ideas or anything. I won't be tagging folks or anything (so I'm totally breaking the rules--hence, I'm not "accepting the award"), but I'm sure I can think of at least ten honest things to say. Whether or not they're old news depends upon how well my readers know me (or how often I've bored them with details).

1. Steve talked about pretending that his life was fully televised--my fantasy was similar, but it was more like I was always being interviewed. Whenever I had alone time (such as on the toilet or in the shower), the interview answers would begin. Sometimes I'd play the interviewer, too. Oh, and the person being interviewed wasn't always me. Often it was a character in a story I was formulating--based on a movie, on recent news events, etc.

2. To be painfully honest, I occasionally still slip into interview/story mode. It's the writer in me. I always start in the middle of a conversation, too, like there's this invisible ellipsis hanging in the air between conversations.

3. Though there are piles of clothes in the floor of my closet waiting to be washed right now, every piece of hung clothing is perfectly organized--not by color (that would be too anal)--but by type: sleeveless shirts, vests, short-sleeved t-shirts, short-sleeved shirts with buttons, three-quarter-sleeved shirts w/o buttons, etc....

4. I have a ponytail in a bag that I meant to send to Locks of Love almost three years ago. I was really disappointed that the hairdresser didn't take the time to cut individual pieces to make it all one length, and I was afraid LoL wouldn't accept a layered ponytail--so the wind was totally taken out of my sails about sending it. I have successfully sent at least one ponytail to them, though.

5. One of my family's favorite shows when I was a kid was "Greatest American Hero," a show about a bumbling superhero who could barely fly. I still love the theme song. So Eighties!

6. Saige and I used to try to sing every song from i 2 (eye), our favorite Michael W. Smith tape, in order, from "Hand of Providence" to "Pray for Me."

7. One day in middle school, I refused to allow Saige to borrow my HUGE silver earrings unless she promised to call them aquatacian (a word I made up) earrings all day long. I made sure to have various people at school ask her about her earrings so that she'd have to use the word.

8. My sense of humor is pretty particular. I mostly love wordplay, not sarcasm or nastiness, though the occasional
bit of over-the-top silliness will get to me (Dumb and Dumber, anyone? "Just the bare essentials, man.") I'm pretty sure I'll need the man I marry to think I'm funny, and I'll need to "get" his sense of humor too, whether he's a regular comedian or not.*

9. I'm addicted to paper towels. I've gotten better, but sometimes I'll just carry them around and forget they're in my hand or my pocket. I seem to have inherited this trait from my grandfathers, whose TV trays or recliner areas were often littered with Viva or Brawny towels that were wrinkled up but still good.

10. One of the ways I conquered some of my OCDish behaviors years ago was to make myself use the same towel more than once (I used to wash them every time). Washcloths are another story. :)

Guess that's enough weirdness for one post.

*2017 Update: I guess the one who has a sense of humor on that one is God. My husband Ken, whom I had just met and would marry that August, doesn't always get my humor, and being from different cultures, we don't share many of the references that make me funny to family and friends. But we still make each other chuckle with silliness and inside jokes, and we laugh with genuine joy at the antics of our almost five-year-old stinker, Raj.