Monday, November 24, 2008

Sad but true...

I have a bad habit: movie trailers.  I can't get enough of them.  True, I don't watch nearly as many since Little Two was born, but I try.  I have justified it by telling myself that as a stay at home mom, I don't have very many occasions to get out of the bubble that is my house, then out of the bubble that is Owensboro, and into the world at large; so I have to use whatever means available to me.  

As I routinely watched the most recently released movies a while back, I came upon The Lives of Others.  I immediately pulled up a new tab on my browser and navigated to our Netflix cue to add it.  Not too long later, I read a post about the same movie on my friend Danielle's personal blog.  Good confirmation.  Last night, we watched said movie; it was excellent indeed.  Afterwards, I wanted re-read Danielle's thoughts and so began backtracking on her blog to find the original post.  I kept going.  And going.  And going.  Finally, there it was -- I glanced at the date.  February 2007.  When the movie came out.  Almost two years ago.  I laughed in astonishment.  Unbelievable.  

All this to say two things: The Lives of Others is a great movie, and if it still happens to be floating around your Netflix cue, you should bump it up; also -- gone are the days of Wes and I seeing a movie in a timely fashion.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To Be or Not To Be ... That is the First Directive of Leadership

"The key to successful spiritual leadership, therefore, with success understood not only as moving people toward a goal, but also in terms of the survival of the family (and its leader), has more to do with the leader's capacity for self-definition than with the ability to motivate others." - Ed Friedman, Generation to Generation

The easiest thing to do is to do; the hardest thing in life is to be.  Lately, I have a had a hard time with both of them, and it is because I'm trying to figure out the "being" part.  I find myself transfixed at moments, searching, wondering ... "who the hell am I?"

A group has invited me to write an autobiography - including statements about my beliefs.   Only religious groups would have the audacity to demand such a thing.  Only egotistical, romantic idiots like me think they can actually answer their demand ... in a matter of days.  Anyhow, that invitation was the snowflake that has become an avalanche descending upon me - leaving me frozen in dread and seriousness.  

You know the damnable thing about being human?  No one can do it for you.  Only you can be yourself.  I have some really entrenched (and - obviously - valuable) opinions about who my wife, my children, my parents, my boss, my friends and my church should be.  But as for me, well, shoot, I can't really decide who I am.  Let's begin with this:  whoever God calls me to "lead", I will have to do so while using creative writing.  That will - at least - help stall that ever looming "being" question for a while.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Among the...Masses?

This morning's New York Times had this article -- Baby, You're Home -- about the rise of home births, specifically in New York.  It also mentioned The Business of Being Born, a documentary I have yet to see, but has been brought to my attention by a number of friends.  Hopefully, hospital administrators and OB's will start to see these trends as well, and (given their position of condemning home births) at least start asking how they can change current protocol. 

Monday, November 10, 2008


It's official. I have joined the ranks. I have adopted a paternal saying that falls deaf upon my son's ears. The saying: "Wyatt, listen to me."

I didn't even realize I was prone to this customary form of parenting until I said these exact words to Wyatt the other day, and before I could even get another word out Wyatt turned around and tried to ignore me. He knew what was coming: either correction or instruction. In this case, it was a correction - probably something about how he can't hit me with the zylophone mallet.

Seeing his indifference to my plea, I immediately played back a number of other times I had begun sentences, "Wyatt, listen to me." Usually, I try to turn him towards me, and I crouch down seeking to meet him eye to eye - hoping this will magically turn my son into Plato at Socrates' feet and will allow him to lap up my helpful counsel. To no avail. He is as persistent in his stubborness and sinful ways as a pre-exile Israelite. Or, at least that's how I choose to see it. The reality is much different.

When Wyatt misbehaves, it is usually because I have failed to listen to him, not the other way around. He usually hits me with the mallet after I have watched football for three hours and ignored him. So, when I sweep in and seek to put an end to his tirades, we are way past the point when Wyatt is ready to listen to me. Having listened to and watched me in my non-parenting, he is certainly not going to take my last-ditch attempts at parenting seriously.

This was all illustrated last night while I was watching the Colts play. Wyatt was sitting beside me on the couch, eating some popcorn (even sharing some with me). As I become more and more involved with the game, I became less and less aware of what Wyatt was doing. Anna - cooking dinner - looked over at one point and said I was staring straight at the television (Elise in my arms, mind you), while Wyatt was jostling the popcorn bowl to simulate a popcorn maker bouncing seeds all over the place. The result was popcorn seeds all over the couch, not popcorn. It also happened to produce one frustrated parent (me) and one "don't-you-ever-say-my-job-is-easy" parent (Anna).

That was a very long explanation to come to one conclusion: I am not that great of a listener sometimes. In fact, (when I'm watching sports) I am downright deaf - choosing to tune everything out except what I want to hear.

I've been reading through Walter Brueggemann's commentary on Jeremiah recently (thanks J for lending me your copy for now), and he is quick to point out that Jeremiah's strongest word is that the people of Israel have ceased to listen; the Israelites have gone their own way, theologically turning away from God as guiding-parent and choosing instead to see what life they may find on their own or with the other attractive gods (aka "idols").

Keep in mind: Listening is the central command given to the Israelites, the very action (nay, inaction) that is meant to guide them as a people (Deut. 6:4-6).

"... what is commanded and required is listening (shema', Jer. 7:23.) That is all ... Listening is readiness to be addressed and commanded, to have life ordered by Yahweh. Listening is to cede control rather than to retain control ..." (Brueggemann).

Reading this, I am once again aware of the need to listen ... not just to my son, but - just as importantly - to my God. Both are two people who could use more of my attention.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Speedway

Wyatt has officially learned to steer and pedal a bicycle with training wheels.  Although mathematically his switch from the three-wheeled tricycle to the four-wheel bike seems a reversion, it is the only way he will eventually pedal on two, which may not be that far from now.  The dude can already cook.  

For the last two days, he's been tearing up a nice track in our backyard - a loop on the sidewalk/patio and through the yard with a pit-stop back to the grill area.  And, I've been tooling around with him on my own bike, practicing all sorts of neat tricks ... yes, that does mean I am once again setting a bad example for Wyatt to mimic.  Today, I was trying to launch over the basketball and somehow managed not to end-o.

Wyatt's bike happens to be a hand-me-down from a church member, and was a left-over after another child had her pickings.  The key word in the last sentence was "her."  As you can tell in the picture below, this bike is straight from the same people who designed LA Gear clothing and sneakers ... for females.  It is a sweet Barney-purple and hot pink with neon-sign lettering on the frame.  Radical.

One last thing about this picture:  Wyatt is looking more and more like boy and less and less like baby.  Seasons change.  Time moves in ways unimaginable.


PS by Anna: what Wes forgets to mention in this post is the fact that included in the speedway is a 6 inch ramp that Wyatt jumps.  Every time he passes me he says, "Bye Mom.  I love you, Mom!"  A good habit to get into, I suppose, if every trip runs the risk of being a "crash and burn."  :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Two years later

These days I'm feeling about the Japanese Maple in our backyard the way I felt about the Jacaranda trees lining our streets in Pasadena... 


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Change

So much whirls within my heart and head this morning. Yesterday was a momentous, world-changing day on several fronts: personal, communal, national.

I've been listening to Sam Cooke this morning, spurred on by a the song that came fresh upon me while watching the scene in Grant Park as thousands gathered to watch Barack Obama accept the presidency of the United States of America. The song: A Change is Gonna Come.

That "change" means several things on several levels. But one of the clear changes I witnessed was the shift from America as a white, Anglo-saxon, Protestant people to America as a multi-ethnic, multi-faith people. Actually, I think the idea of our WASP identity has been a myth we've tried to uphold for the last several decades. But, through the power of television, there was no doubt last night. You could see it in the two speeches delivered by John McCain and Obama.

McCain's speech - delivered in Arizona - was in front of a relatively small crowd of people that looked ... well, like me ... and not much different than a scene from an episode of Andy Griffith. Pan to the crowd gathered at Grant Park: diverse on almost perceivable level.

Perhaps this was the bias granted by the medium of television. But, I imagine that standing in both places would have generated the same realization.

The will of the people has been heard ... and the diversity of the people has been seen.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


My daughter has succumbed
for now
but not without tearing this home
taking my mind and pushing it
 full against my skull,
the ache of constraint.

Scream with all within you,
so it begins again.

"Are you not exhausted?"
I am dead

I hide behind speakers covering
my ears, to subvert reality,
to fill my head
that it may
Domesticity demands
exhausted lashings
to pierce my peace.
All has become a knot of entanglement.

And you, my wife, trapped and subjected with
It is you
  and me
that have born this agonizing joy,
this relentless life.
You framed yourself against my fetal curl -
  the flannel sheets our shared womb.
We were together again,
laying silently
a hushed comfort
while peace pulsed in
our own ways
beneath skin.
Across my body came your hand
interlocked and interlocking
my own.

That too was a knot,
like the way years add
rings to a Maple
and seasons form fibrous callouses
upon those trees.
There is much beneath.

Now  silence
except distant fan
and small motor.
The refrigerator hums.
And the rocking chair creaks its
protest to pressure and weight.
There you sit with
my daughter - 
sucking from you, satiating soothe
timeless calm.
We are bound - hand in hand,
mouth to breast,
mind to heart.
Pressed one upon another with
the irritation of pleasure.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Because when I file my taxes, I do so as someone who is technically 'self-employed', and ...

because I continue to discover that the best work, the most enjoyable work  is the work I feel called and gifted to do ...

I enjoy this quote from that wise sage, Wendell Berry:

"... working for the love of the work and to my own satisfaction - which are two of the conditions of 'self-employment,' as I understand it."

And, in that same manner of thinking ... a great song by B. T. Express.