Friday, September 25, 2009

O Blog, Thou Art Not Facebook

Dear Blog, I've missed you. That poseur, Facebook, has been demanding my attention and dangling nonsense in front of my eyes many times a day. But Facebook offers momentary scintillation, or boredom, as the case may be, and yet it feels like some type of connection to the outside world during days that are filled with the minutiae of attending to the needs and wants of at least five people and one house. Lately, though, Facebook isn't even doing the trick.

Several mornings my eyes have opened and I've realized my stomach is in knots. Really, in the scheme of things, I do realize I have it pretty good. Loving husband, warm house, plenty of creature comforts, five lovely children, my health, a huge amount of autonomy in my life. It's just that within those good things, I have so many demands on me each day. I acknowledge that some or all of them are self-imposed, but big deal. Really, what does that have to do with it. The fact remains that each day, I get up knowing I need to spend 5-7 hours directly with Anna-Jessie on her schoolwork, while at the same time trying to manage Kepler's time so he is doing something other than watching DVDs all day, while at the same time being aware of what Joel is working on and whether he is keeping up, while at the same time being aware of needing to get to the laundry or dinner or grocery store or library or pay bills, while at the same time needing to oversee Eli's work because he still needs some help making sure he manages his time well, while at the same time being available for Valerie when she needs to have her math graded, while at the same time being aware that there are SO many papers that I need to handle, while at the same time knowing that I am NOT on top of the things I am needing to handle.

My sister calls this "stacking." And that's a really great word, because that is definitely what I am doing. But something is holding me back. Maybe it's as simple as making a list of plagues and nuisances, as Erica calls them. And then addressing them one at a time.

See? Facebook never gives me this much satisfaction.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Guess Who We Saw This Weekend?

Well, Mike and Stephanie, of course, since we met up in Chicago. Fellow HoneyROCKERS. They drove down from Minnesota, and we drove up from Cincinnati so we could share this concert together.

But, also, we saw Bono. And Larry. And Edge. And Adam. And they were RIGHT THERE. And they sang and played like the (letting the thesaurus help me here) matchless, superb, transcendent band that they are.

So, let me tell the story of going to the concert. First of all, kudos to my beloved Greg who is so much fun to be with, and who took some amazing photos. I will post several of them here.

I've always loved U2, but sometimes it has been from a distance. Saw them in '87 and '92 and then listened to toddler music and kid songs more than anything else for several years.

But they have always been in my heart, probably at least in part because I am the same age as Bono, and Greg and I feel like we have grown up with these guys. So, even if their music wasn't at the top of my playlist, I have admired them all along.

The first song I ever heard in concert was "Where the Streets Have No Name" at the Joshua Tree tour in 1987 in Chicago. The last song of the concert Saturday night (before the encores) was "Where The Streets Have No Name" so there was a little 360 for you!

The '92 Popmart concert was not that great for me. I was pregnant with Valerie, and I was most concerned at that concert that my as-yet-unborn baby's hearing might be affected! I don't even remember who the opening band was, but I didn't really like them. But the good part of that concert is that I knew if I ever saw them again in a stadium I was NOT going to sit all the way at the opposite end of the stadium. I wanted what I was seeing to match up with what I was hearing. That info came in handy as I went to buy tickets for the 360 Tour.

We bought tickets in March. September 12 was way, way in the future at that point. As the summer passed, I noticed that we were having a tighter budget and suddenly, I was thinking maybe we should sell the tickets and use the money for sensible things like shoes and broccoli. As I investigated resale value, I noticed there were MANY, MANY tickets for sale and they were not selling for face value, but rather were considerably less. I finally listed the tickets on ebay and StubHub on Saturday, September 5, after a very stressful week which included a lovely couple of meetings with the bank due to my unfortunate, but understandable, mistake which caused a costly little problem with the account.

As I always do on Saturdays, I drove to Crossroads to volunteer at the Info Center and attend the 5:30 service. On the way down, I called my beautiful sister, Mindy, who was out of town, but miraculously available. Cell phones are such a boon to mankind. Mindy is someone I know I can call and hear loving, compassionate support, and she seems to be able to get to the heart of whatever the matter may be, which she did in this case as well. By the time I arrived at Crossroads, I was in tears, but they were tears of relief and needed to be shed. I was learning a new role at the Info Center this night, so we got into that after I explained that yes, I was crying, but I was fine.

I love the music at Crossroads. The band is made up of professional musicians, and several volunteers, and they are GOOD. Robbie started singing, and I perked up -- a U2 song! I had not heard any U2 there before, but it was the perfect song for the service. The next song was "In the Name of Love." Another U2 song. (Here's Robbie.)

Hmmm, I thought. Isn't THAT interesting timing? I had been receiving a lot of encouragement from all sides to go ahead and go to the concert, but I had really gotten into a place of worry and stress. I noticed the fact of the songs, but really sat up and took notice when Brian mentioned something about a concert and about how it is "labor" to go to a concert. He wasn't talking about U2, but it definitely applied to me, since there would be numerous logistics to cover.

In thinking about whether or not to go to Chicago, I had piled up the facts that Greg would be driving home from Michigan on Friday, and back to Michigan on Monday, so he would already be doing a lot of driving, let alone adding in 300 miles each way to and from Chicago on the weekend.

By the time I heard the U2 songs and what Brian said at Crossroads, I decided to characterize that as some sort of message, maybe even from God. But it was at that point that I said, "OK, I'm up for going! Let's do it!" We had two extra tickets, and had thought months ago that we would like to offer them to Brian. We had never gotten around to that, and by this point, I decided he wouldn't be able to use them anyway since the date of the concert was the date of the first double-Saturday-service and I figured he would be speaking.

Greg decided to offer them to Chuck Mingo, who also speaks at Crossroads, because he had recently described Bono as one of the best theologians of our time. Chuck declined the offer because, actually, HE was going to be speaking on the 12th, rather than Brian.

So I emailed my friend, Christy, at Crossroads and she sent out an email for me to the whole staff, offering the tickets as a gift. First email I got was from Brian! He was interested, so I called him right away. But after we talked and he asked for time to think about it and I agreed, I got to thinking about the other emails I had received. One, from Patrick, expressed an enthusiasm and sentiment that I was really hoping to engender in someone. So, off I went to my sacred space to pray about what to do. I didn't want to make Brian mad by taking back the offer, but I wanted to offer them to Patrick. In my prayer journal, I "heard" God telling me that Patrick's response was a gift to me and that He would take care of Brian. I went ahead and called Patrick, who was ecstatic, and gladly accepted them. But, in an hour or so, when I was getting ready to call Brian and let him know the tickets were gone, Patrick called back to say his wife couldn't go, so he was sorry but he couldn't use them.

Next day, Brian called in the morning and had decided against going. He was enthusiastic about having some sort of contest in the staff meeting that morning to give away the tickets, so I told him to go for it. Soon after, "Jamie" called to say she had won the tickets. She was going to pick them up from me on Friday. Sadly, on Friday, she called to say that she had the flu and would not be able to go to the concert, but that the second-place person was Patrick and she would let him know they were available. Patrick called me minutes later and we arranged for him to pick up the tickets Friday morning.

At the concert, Patrick and I texted back and forth about what we thought about what we were seeing, and if I hadn't already been thrilled that he ended up with the tickets, I was for sure delighted now, as his role as videographer for Crossroads had sharpened his eyesight to be able to appreciate the logistics and technology in a unique way.

All in all, the time leading up to the concert was special, but the concert itself was beyond special, and will hold an extraordinary place in my heart for always. Every time I remember being there, singing with 65,000 other people, dancing, smiling every second of the show, I just feel a very deep happiness and thankfulness that everything worked out the way it did.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Review of "Adam"

Way too many loose ends. Questions the movie creates but fails to answer.

Adam’s father has died and now he is alone. He eats the same breakfast, All-Bran cereal, and the same dinner, macaroni and cheese with broccoli and chicken on the side, every day, presumably microwaved. Here’s the well-stocked freezer, with the mac n cheese on the top shelf, and the bags of broccoli and bags of chicken sharing the lower. We see the macaroni and cheese supply gradually dwindle. As an element to show the passage of time, it works, but we are left wondering what he does when the food runs out, which it certainly will as he methodically makes it disappear one package at a time.

And how about that magic washing machine? Adam works his way through a closet full of suits, and soon we see empty hangers and a bulging laundry bag. It is at this point in the movie that he meets Beth, his new neighbor, outside the laundry room in the basement of his building. Standing next to Beth at the washing machines, he stuffs the entire contents of the laundry bag into the machine. Suits? At least twice as much clothing as could fit in any washing machine? No detergent? And yet everything works out just fine as we see him well-dressed shortly thereafter. Give me one of those washing machines!

The lack of attention to detail was distracting to me.

And let’s look at Beth herself. A young woman, in New York City, just recently badly hurt by a man, and just moved into a new apartment. How realistic is it that someone like Beth is going to pursue a relationship with a man who, to all appearances, is in his own world? Why would she do that? What compels her to go back to him after he is clueless about helping her with her groceries, sitting by while she struggles up the stairs?

When the two of them go to Central Park to watch the raccoons, they experience a magic moment together. The next morning, he leaves her a new laundry card because he didn’t put anything on the park bench to soften it for her. How is it that this man who has almost no ability to discern what someone else is thinking or feeling is able to realize how much she would have appreciated something to soften the hard park bench?

I suppose that this movie accurately represents what it’s like to have Asperger’s syndrome, but I don’t really know for sure. Overall, it was hard to care about Beth’s character. Although I loved the scene when she was helping Adam learn typical gestures and mannerisms, and the fact that she really did help him, neither character really moved me deeply. The movie needed more grace, more mercy, and more love.