So.

I am not one of those happy-go-lucky first time preggos oooohing and aaaaahing over Babies R Us catalogs and the latest trend in diaper clutches on etsy.  I am not racing out to register for shower gifts.  I am not really thinking of names.

Honestly, I’m not all that excited right now.

(Yup, she said it.  Unsubscribe! Fast!)

It might be the hormones.  I had basically non-functional ovaries for the better part of a decade, so any normal amount of estrogen/progesterone is too much for me, let alone the onslaught that is first trimester pregnancy.

It might be the part where I’ve been sick as shit for the last 6 weeks.  Not that I don’t love puking my guts out like every girl who has ever had a whiskey bender, but I don’t really care for it every day.  I also don’t like not getting work done, not getting out of my bed, and not having a clean house.  The constant puking plus my hell bent need to have a drug free tree hugging pregnancy (meaning no anti-nausea drugs) is not the best selling point on why having babies is the coolest thing on the planet.

It might be the part where we tried (and by tried I mean didn’t actively try but gave up any and all forms of birth control with a … well, it’ll happen if it’s going to happen approach) for five years.  Yea, FIVE.  The first 4.5 of those years, I was actively emotionally involved in the process.  I would chart my cycle as it progressed (or largely didn’t, thanks, busted f’in ovaries) and I would regularly hide in the bathroom waiting for those little lines to appear.  And they didn’t.  Ever.  Not once.  Somewhere in that last 6 months (or more, I don’t really remember) I became kind of disenfranchised with the whole endeavor.  It wasn’t working.  It was never going to work.  I didn’t even know if I wanted it to work anymore.

It might be that I had started planning our lives without the prospect of kids.  Or that I just decided what grad school program was the right one.  Or that the admissions committee just finally agreed with me.  It might be that a decade ago That Boy and I agreed that if we ever had babies, one of us would be taking care of them … limiting severely my ability to do um, anything, for the next however many years.

It might be all of it.  It might be none.  It might be that I’m some kind of perverse heartless creature incapable of love and living in a cloud of baby making remorse.  It could be the least popular thing I’ve ever written.

Yea.  That last one is probably true.

Em.

1. I am no longer capable of composing cogent posts, so you’re stuck with bullet pointed lists about crap that goes on here.  Aren’t you lucky?

2. I’m still sick and tired.  I hear it ‘goes away eventually’, but I feel like this may be lies propagated by the right to keep people from realizing how terrible they’re going to feel until it’s ‘too late’ to throw one’s self down the stairs effectively anymore.

3. Please don’t send me hate mail for that last one.  Joke, loves.  Joke.

4. Everything is still a mess and it’s adding to both my stress and anxiety levels exponentially.  I get stressed when things are a disaster, and now, because I’m less than inclined to do anything about it I start getting anxious that That Boy is going to begin thinking I’ve lost all motivation and become the world’s laziest bum.  I feel guilty about coming across as lazy because my Type A, first born, overachieving self cannot handle that perception and then I start getting anxious all over again.  Dear Valium, why can’t you be safe for babies?!

5. I’m also vacillating wildly between thinking this whole thing is awesome (we did (not) try for FIVE years to make it happen) and thinking it’s the end of the entire world.  I hear this is because hormones are eating my rational brain as we speak.  This, I do not like one bit.  I am not an emotional girl.  I cry twice a year, approximately.  I cannot have my rational brain eaten by sob inducing hormones and still maintain my reputation as a cold hearted badass.  Oy.

6. The campaign is still going.  I can’t say it’s going well or not going well, really, because I haven’t been there.  I feel like crap and I’m distracted and I just plain don’t want to be there.  Promises, be damned.  I hear I have a good excuse.  I cannot wander around knocking on doors for hours in the hot sun, because the entire time I will be plotting ways to kill an ice cream truck driver and steal his rocket pops.

7. I kicked Britt’s ass in Biggest Loser Part Deux.  The last month of which I was unknowingly incubating a person.  This makes me kind of a big deal.  I’ve also lost 10 more pounds since I found out I was preggo, 2 of which were in the last 2 weeks.  Thank you very kindly, Mr. and/or Ms. Parasite for your lovely addition to my metabolism.  The making it so I feel like I’m in the hull of a round bottomed boat in the middle of a hurricane without my SeaBands also helps.

8. This wee human wants me to eat gluten.  I’m trying not to indulge it.  Except the other day when I met Britt at Shish and attempted to eat my body weight in pita.  Nom nom nom nom.  That’s certainly not very Gluten Free Ann Arbor of me, but well … mostly I needed a transitory reason to say “Gluten Free Ann Arbor” again and piss off that stupid Yahoo group that thinks it owns those 4 words.  Ha.  Sorry.

9. My back hurts.

10. Oh, and while I’m thinking about it … I got into GRAD SCHOOL!  Yes!  Both programs!  Sweet!  Now, the part where I tell them I can go for a semester and then need to take a hundred years off to care for an infant.  Shit.  World, your timing is impeccable.

Em.

“Hey, um … are we ever going to have … uh, dinner again?”

Dearest parasite that I am incubating, please stop taking every last ounce of my energy away.  Sure, use what you need to grow into a normally functioning and otherwise adorable mini-human, but me thinks you’re getting greedy and power hungry these days.  You exhaust me.  I can barely move sometimes.  There are breaks of clarity where I think, “I should clean this living room! Now!”, but within a few moments of effort I am compelled by the couch monster to return to lounging.  If I had more couch monster fighting juice stored up, I could win that battle, but you keep taking it.

Not that I don’t love you and all that mushy perfect mother to be crap.

But seriously, kid, you’re killing me here.

Your soon to be uncle told me he is going to mutiny soon if I don’t start feeding this family again.  I don’t cook dinner.  I don’t even think up things other people should cook for dinner.  I clearly don’t go to the grocery store.  Reasons?  You.

I also don’t clean things.  My desk is a disaster.  The office is trashed.  There are so many finger prints on the glass coffee table panels that CSI would have a hard time deciding who murdered who in this place.  The dust.  Ugh.  I don’t even want to talk about dust.

I want to change all of these things.  I want to be up and moving and planning and cooking and shopping and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning.  I want to.

And you don’t.

Apparently.

Come on, wee little fetus, make a deal with me.  I’ll lounge around most (I know, how tragic and difficult) of the time if you’ll give me the occasional break from esophagus searing heartburn, dry heaves, and the inability to keep my eyes open through an entire rerun of Deadliest Catch so I can feed your soon to be family something other than … well, whatever it is they’ve been eating … I clearly have no idea and perhaps take a Swiffer to the entertainment center.

I think that’s fair.

Pretty please?

Em.

In a hot second, I’m going to talk about puke.  You may want to skip ahead.

I hate feeling sick.  I promise.  I mean, who doesn’t hate that creepy crawlie in the back of your throat feeling?  I hate when the room is spinning.  I hate knowing that retching is imminent.  I hate that I don’t even feel better afterward like you do post-tequila bender and pre-hang over.  Never ending nausea is not cool.

But then, yesterday I was pretty ok most of the day.  I wasn’t terribly ill.  I was able to leave my couch, drive my car, attend a social function, and eat food all without thinking about puke (or asiago cheese, which is what nausea tastes like to me … ick).  At first, I was stoked.

Then I started worrying.

These early weeks are the ones that require the most blind faith.  I can only know there’s a parasite (which I mean with the most endearment possible)  in there because the good people at EPT tell me there is.  I don’t have xray vision.  The little bugger doesn’t move around yet and remind me that it’s still there.  I haven’t seen it’s little speck of a self in black and gray yet.  All I have is a stick that turned blue, insufferable exhaustion and this nausea to reassure me.

And when that nausea gives me a (much appreciated) few hours of relief, I start to get concerned.

Is something wrong?  Is the tadpole still a tadpole?  Is it where it’s supposed to be?  Is everything going ok?  If it is, why am I not sick if I was sick yesterday?

And then, like magic, all I can think of is cheeseburgers and aged parmesan (up there with asiago on my list of things that currently smell like vomit) and we’re back to gritting my teeth and hoping it will go away if I just. don’t. move.

Somehow, my nausea is now my security blanket.

Tell me this goes away, please.

Em.

Almost a month?!

I really shouldn’t go falling off the interweb like that, probably.  It’s been weeks full of meetings and door knocking and 60+ hour work weeks.  I go to the office.  I come home.  I occasionally eat.  Then it’s time for sleep, rinse, repeat.  This has been a pretty successful system honestly.

Until a week and a half ago.

Because I didn’t feel well.  I was sick, and a sick Em is almost always a cranky Em.  I went to work anyway.  I tried to get stuff done.  I tried positive thinking and changing my food intake and drinking more water.

I still felt terrible.

I still feel terrible.

And then I (possibly the second to last person on the planet to consider this possibility) figured it out.  And I spazzed, for a second.  Then I ran up the stairs and woke up That Boy (certainly the last person on the planet to think this an option) from what looked like a pretty content sleep at 8am.

And I told him.

Well, not exactly, because I have a really hard time saying that word yet, but I dodged around and euphemised it enough that he got it … even in his sleepy eyed haze.

And then I think I cried a little (great.  it begins already.).

And then I saw that smile on his face.  That unstoppable ear to ear uncontrollable smile.  And I heard him call his mom … excited, breathless … beaming.

It was then that I realized the finest thing this week isn’t the ‘good news’, but the absolute joy it brought to my staunch, stubborn, largely stoic That Boy.  There’s plenty of time for this tiny unseeable thing to be in the spotlight.  Today is not its day.  Today is about catching him secretly smiling at me.  Today is about him calling everyone on the planet because he can’t contain himself.  Today is about this moment reminding me of what an amazing man That Boy is.

I love him.

A lot.

Probably more now than I did last week.

(even when I want to throw up)

Fine, indeed.

Em.

ps, please go check out Amy’s Finer Things Friday.  This post is linked there.  Go read the rest of them.  Great things are happening.

Has it really been 11 days?!  Hm.  I suppose so.  To my credit, I did write a draft halfway in between that I was seconds away from publishing until my better judgment stopped me from defaming my dearest That Boy on the internet out of anger.  Justified anger, but anger regardless.

Then, I really didn’t have anything else to say that didn’t somehow link to that situation in my angry brain, so like our Kindergarten teachers told us, I couldn’t say anything at all.

Let me catch you up …

A friend of mine is campaigning for the state house of representatives.  A long, long time ago in a hot van somewhere between NYC and MI, a conversation was had by a group of college friends.  It was all about big dreams and sweet changes and how we’d do shit our own (coooool) way if we were ever to run and/or be elected to office.  We were (um, are) political science nuts so this conversation was much preferable to us discussing reality television or the Yankees.

In the course of those hours of talking big talk we all promised we’d be there if anyone ever grew the cajones to walk the big walk.  Fast forward to now (uh … 5 years later?  I don’t exactly recall.) and low and behold, one of us got his shit together enough to do it.  That means drop everything and help run a campaign so we can fulfill our promises, laugh hysterically about the people that answer the door during neighborhood canvassing, and if we’re lucky, screw around in the spinny chairs at the State Capitol some day.

We’ve matured so much in five years.

Then, of course, there’s other news.  I went to work yesterday (high school kid job) for a meeting with next year’s potential new and returning students.  That meeting went well.  We had a staff meeting afterward where someone was kind enough to tell me (after knowing for 2 full fricking weeks) that the school board is proposing a change to the payscale I fall under.  Change.  Hm.  I mean, I guess, the state is broke and they’re passing on that broke-ness to the schools, so it makes some sense that they need to change things up a little.

Except, they’re proposing a change to my payscale that changes it from “not a whole lot, gosh we should give that girl a gold star for feeding a family and keeping the lights on with it” to $0.

?!??!

Yea, you read that right.  ZERO F’IN DOLLARS.  And of course, the school would never “ask me to work for free” so they’re quintessentially telling me I volunteer to work there for nothing or my program is canceled.  Done.  Goodbye.  Sorry.

Great.

Awesome.

The best news I’ve ever heard.

(/eye rolling bitter ass sarcasm)

That’s a lot to swallow.  I’ve been at this particular school for 5 years.  I’ve been doing this particular job for at least 8.  My kids gain so much from their participation, I can’t even explain it.  They go to law school.  They become doctors.  They get full ride scholarships.  They stop acting like idiot children and start thinking like non-window licking adults.  It’s amazing.  There’s huge bang for your buck as far as my minuscule paycheck and program budget are concerned.  I dare anyone to get the same impact for the same money.  It can’t be done.

The best part?

The athletic coaches are excluded from this proposed payroll change.

Are you kidding me?!

Are you telling me the kid that dicks around playing mediocre golf for two seasons gets more from that experience academically than my state champion policy debaters?

I don’t think so.

But of course, athletics always get their way.  For no real reason.  It’s not even like the athletic teams at this school are any good.  They win occasionally.  Sometimes.  I mean, they’re not world class or state renowned or fricking magic.  They’re … alright.  Mediocrity buys you a new stadium and a special pass to keep on spending as much money as you please while excellence kills your program.

Shit.

Now, lest you think it’s all doom and gloom, the board hasn’t made a final decision yet.  There’s still time to rally my alumni and parents and go make a toddler tantrum scene at the meeting in June when they’re making the decisions.  It’s on like Donkey Kong now.  I will fight for these kids and this program and my job until they have to drag me off someone if necessary.

There’s a storm brewin’, y’all.  I’ll keep you posted.  If you think your kid goes to my school, I’d love to have to tell the board how much you love and adore me (and my not working for zero dollars).  If you have any muy bueno legal advice, bring it on.  If you could start saving your quarters in case I end up locked up for my shenanigans, I’d much appreciate it.

Em.

1. We had pizza for dinner tonight.  I made my lovely family a terrific thin crust that they all thought was pretty tasty.  Thinking myself a badass, I also thought I’d try to make GLUTEN free pizza crust from scratch (because the only ‘mix’ I had on hand was my ridiculously over priced but amazing bread mix).  Yea.  About that.  So … take a box of graham crackers and subtract all forms of sweetener.  Then leave them out on the cupboard for a week to get stale.  Slather with pizza toppings and toast the snot out of them in the oven.  They will resemble dust in texture and … well, burnt dust in taste.  Yum.

2.  Some days, I fricking hate being GLUTEN free.  Knowing that I can’t cheat only makes it worse.  F this jazz.

3. I do not hate ice cream.  The local walk up ice cream place (which is far less ‘local’ than I would prefer … stupid living in the country) reopened so we headed down there after dinner tonight.  MmmmmmicecreamIloveyou.  My mother suggested we make it out summer goal to eat everyone of their 24 flavors, excluding the crap “kid ice cream” (superman, cotton candy, etc).  I think this is an admirable cause to take on … except the part where I can’t eat the ones that have cake in them.

4. I want someone to come clean my house so I don’t have to do it.  Mostly, the basement.  And by clean, I mean haul away the crap I already know no longer needs to live here.  Applications and interviews available through the comments section.  Compensation negotiable (by which I mean, largely nonexistant … unless I can pay you in crappy GF pizza).

5. I got a very sweet email today.  It kind of made my day.  The end.

6.  My desk is a disaster.  I am fearful the Department of Desk Safety may come knocking and take my lovely french colonial desk (and by lovely, I mean you can’t even tell it’s partly particle board) to live with a foster family that will love it enough to not pile unending crap on top of it.

7.  I had the shortest employment stint I’ve ever had this week.  I mentioned before that I was offered a job with the US Census.  After 2 days of training (well, one day of training and one day of them pretending we didn’t spend all day screwing off with the fingerprint pad) I was told my job was contingent on me upholding their departmental non-disclosure agreement.  The one that stands in direct conflict with the state law I swore to uphold years ago when I was granted a medic license (Fun fact: I once took 27 credit hours in one semester so I could finish my medical training at the community college while trying to finish my bachelors degree programs at the university.  Indeed, I was a crazy person.).  Yea.  Abdicate my previous responsibility (and sworn personal integrity) for some schmuck job that only lasts 4 weeks?  Not happening, US Census, so sorry.

8.  Other opportunities to fill in the income gap created by giving the Dept of Commerce the proverbial finger have already started appearing.  I couldn’t ask for them to be so speedy.  I’m just here for the ride.

9.  I dropped off my graduate school applications today.  I couldn’t mail them.  Mostly because they were due today and I finished them  yesterday … and because leaving those beauties in the mailbox instead of personally watching them arrive at the admissions office was terrifying me.  Please cross your fingers or knock on wood or cast some awesome sacrifice to your heathen deity for a speedy acceptance letter to arrive in my mailbox.  I will worry myself into a hot mess of heartburn and pacing regardless.

10. It’s still 74 degrees here, even after 10pm.  Please don’t let this be a sign of some bizarrely hot summer where I spend an entire 3 months melting profusely all over town.  We do not air condition our house.  We barely heat it, let alone cool it.  I hate that.  Well, I hate it when it’s hot.  I don’t hate it when the electric bill comes.

11.  Speaking of electric bills, we have hot water again!  The water heater died on Monday, and the replacement arrived today (3 days ahead of schedule! yes!).  I am not so stoked about the hit our savings account took to make that happen, but I am pretty elated that the new water heater uses something like 1/100th of the energy the old one did (that math is completely made up, but I swear, it’s a LOT less energy).  That Boy spent the day installing it.  If I can’t find him later, I think I’ll check the basement.  He’s more than likely sitting there staring at this new machine, drooling and mumbling, “Ooooooh, prettttty.“.

12.  Sometimes, I wish water tasted less like water.

Anything wacky going on in your neck of the woods?  Having a fabulous week?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Em.

This post is linked to Jen’s 7 Quick Take Fridays over at Conversion Diary.  You should go check it out.

Welcome to the third post (you can see the first here and the second here) in a series I’m calling “Churchin’”.  It seeks to explore spirituality, theology (without the theologians), and current events all under the overarching theme of Life as a Journey as the core of religious understanding and experience.  I’m going to tell the story of how I ended up where I am, and the road I’m walking now that I’m here.  I welcome the addition of your stories and comments as well.  Remember, I’m not out to stand on a rock and proclaim myself the best religious scholar of all time, nor the teller of absolute truth, so please be gentle.

—–

In the lead up to Easter, I prepared myself to take communion for the first time …. ever.  I confessed.  I prayed.  I sat in silence reflecting on the enormity that leaving the way my life used to be behind in an ancient ritual really was.

On Good Friday, I was ready.  I wrote previously about my plan for that day.  I  hemmed and hawed trying to decide if I was really ready (like, super human ready) to offer up everything I used to be for something new.  I worried.  I was convinced I was one minute and convinced I wasn’t the next.  I was terrified.  I had  never (ever!) taken communion.  All of that transubstantiation stuff aside, it’s still a huuuuuuuuuge deal.  It’s a ritual, sure, but one that says to G-d and everyone, “Hey, I’m in this for the long haul”.  Was I ready to say goodbye to life as a Jew?  Was I ready to commit to something so entirely different (and beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but chunking out a part of your identity for the last 10+ years is difficult at best)?  I don’t make G-d decisions lightly and I’m inherently a hotbed of anxiety.  The two together?  Terrible.

I steeled my nerves in the parking lot before walking into Church.  I was alone, and I figured that might end up an ok thing … because then no one had to know.  I didn’t have to explain anything.  I could be anonymous.  I walked in the door ready to do this thing …,

And they didn’t have communion.

Le sigh.

Ok, I thought, I’ll be ready for Easter Sunday then.  I’m sure they’ll have communion, and what better symbolism than dying to my old self and being resurrected through communion on Resurrection Sunday?  Perfect.  Picture perfect, in fact.

And then, they didn’t have communion on Sunday either.

But!

What about my perfect plan!?  What about my profound experience?!  What about my life changing moment, surrounded by 3 or 4,000 of my closest friends (whose names I don’t know) on the perfect day?!  Hmph.  I was pouting for sure.  I am a planner by nature.  I don’t like it when things go differently than I envision them going.

This, of course, is probably the reason they don’t work out in the first place, so I can learn some lesson about me not always being in control … a lesson I’m still working on (along with one about not writing run on sentences).

I resolved myself that I had missed my chance, but that there would be another one some time (I mean, come on, it’s Church … they kind of do that communion thing a bunch).  I would just have to wait it out, and when the time was right, the opportunity would present itself.

And then there was yesterday, the 25th of April.

I saw the elements set up around the stage when I walked in.  I started internal panic mode immediately.  What if today wasn’t the perfect day?  What if I wasn’t in the right mindset?  What if I couldn’t think of anything profound to say?  What if G-d wasn’t listening today?  What if I went through with this and didn’t feel anything?!  Would that mean this whole process was for naught or wrong or a waste of time?

(Note to self: Stop worrying so flippin’ much.  Calm down, crazypants.)

During the opening prayer I kept distracting myself with the ongoing “Yes, let’s do this” versus “No, today is all wrong, I’ll just wait” conversation in my head.  I missed the first part of the teaching … well, I heard it, but it didn’t sink in well, because I was worrying myself sick.  Today is the day, no, next time, no, today, no, today isn’t right, let’s wait, no.

Ugh.

Yes, it really sounds like that in my brain.

Then I heard, ‘sometimes, when things don’t go right … don’t go how you planned … when you don’t get the outcome you’re looking for, you just have to offer it up as a sacred sacrifice and let G-d do the rest’.

Huh.

Probably true.

When the music started for communion, I didn’t have a plan.  I sat and I bowed my head and I started talking (not out loud, lest the people next to me think me crazier than I appear).  I offered up all those things I made plans and goals and 389 point action steps for.  I let go of the uber-control I try to have on what we eat (by which I mean I plan and worry and don’t execute particularly well).  I let go of trying to micromanage my brother (for whom I still can’t stop acting like the parent I was to him for part of our childhood) and the hurt that comes from him making decisions contrary to the ones I would make.  I let go of stressing over the no baby dilemma.  I let go of worrying about people judging this Jesus thing I’m doing these days (or at least, I tried to … A for effort, ok?).  I sat and I said, “Here.  You take it.”

And then I cried a little.

Don’t worry, no one saw (or I like to believe no one saw … please tell me no one saw).  Whew.

And I got up out of my chair, walked to the end of the line, prayed the Our Father while I waited so my brain wouldn’t have time to revolt, knelt down, and took communion.

Wow.

I have a hundred more thoughts than that, but the most all encompassing is just those three simple letters.

W-O-W.

No turning back now …

Em.

I looooooooove trash talking Britt about this challenge.  This is especially true on days like today when she’s eating drive thru french fries and I had salad for two meals.  I have until Memorial Day to lose a higher percentage of body weight than she has or I’m out $50.

$50?!

What the hell was I thinking?

Oh yes, that she’d spent all her time eating chicken wings and homemade bread and pasta and other assorted shit I can’t eat so that I could have a calorie advantage without having to work too hard.

No longer.

After approximately 1 million years of my nagging, she finally got herself tested for GLUTEN issues (a post you should go check out if for no other reason than she’s also giving away Le Creuset … for mentioning which I think garners me an extra entry).  And, of course, she’s all gung ho GLUTEN free.  I get these text messages about GF this and GF that and how she feels so much better blah blah blah blah blah.

This is great.  Honestly, I’m stoked she feels better.

But her not eating bread is going to cost me this frickin’ contest, me thinks.  Not eating the majority of refined carbs was my advantage.  Now she’s not eating them either.

Shit.

Help me out here, friends.  Any new and brilliant ideas you can offer up to give me an advantage?  Ideas that don’t include words like run or jog or work out for 18 straight hours?

I would really hate to lose $50 to a girl that won’t eat lettuce.  Ok, I would really like to not lose $50 regardless, but the sheer number of hours of my life spent chewing on roughage that she hasn’t had to endure would just make it worse.

I’m already pop free and GLUTEN free.  What’s next, loves?

Em.

Welcome to the second post (you can see the first here) in a series I’m calling “Churchin’”.  It seeks to explore spirituality, theology (without the theologians), and current events all under the overarching theme of Life as a Journey as the core of religious understanding and experience.  I’m going to tell the story of how I ended up where I am, and the road I’m walking now that I’m here.  I welcome the addition of your stories and comments as well.  Remember, I’m not out to stand on a rock and proclaim myself the best religious scholar of all time, nor the teller of absolute truth, so please be gentle.

—–

(So, this may be the longest post ever.  You have been warned.)

When we last talked, I was telling you about my largely unreligious childhood.  We did have some exposure to Church (I use the capital C to specifically highlight the institution that is doctrinal religious gathering) occasionally.  My mother’s parents would babysit us on Saturdays while my parents worked so that they could bring us along to their Episcopal Church at the pre-crack of dawn on Sunday mornings.  (funny story: they went to a Lutheran church when my mother was growing up because my grandmother’s Episcopal family couldn’t agree with my grandfather’s Methodist one about what denomination was betterlame)

We didn’t go to Sunday school or the nursery (unless it was my grandmother’s week to volunteer).  We sat on those very hard pews for what felt like decades and spent more time coloring or fighting with each other than we did listening.  When everyone got up and walked up front for communion we went along so we could (be forced to) kneel next to my grandparents and have our foreheads anointed by the ‘Stinky Oil Man’.  Afterward, we went out for pancakes.  Those I remember vividly, any mention of Jesus or salvation or G-d were lost on me completely.

On my father’s side, my great grandmother babysat for us during the week.  My father is Catholic, but I don’t think my great grandmother was much for choosing sides.  One summer, just before my 9th birthday (I think … I really have no official idea), we were driving home from some errand when my great grandmother saw a sign at the local Assembly of G-d church for Vacation Bible School.  She was an interesting lady, my Nonne (that’s little kid speak for ‘Granny’ apparently), and once she had an idea or a plan, there was no stopping her.

Every day for a week I went to the Assembly of G-d Church with my adorable brown paper bag lunch.  We made crafts.  A lot of people talked about how awesome Jesus was.  That was all well and good, but gushing about this guy JC wasn’t so helpful to a girl who hadn’t the foggiest who He was.

On Friday, there was a big program in the sanctuary (until then we’d been in a building next door).  They showed a movie about a far away kingdom and everyone wore their little paper crafted crowns and cheered for the good guy.  They kept the lights turned waaay down, and offered up what I now know is referred to as an ‘altar call’.  Adult volunteers worked the crowd, finding child after child to bring (drag) to the front to ‘accept Jesus’. I averted my eyes.  I tried to look really busy flipping pages in the hymnal.  I was really unclear what was going on, but I knew I didn’t want anything to do with it.

And, in a moment that would shape my understanding of Jesus and Christianity for the next 15 years, they found me anyway.  First it was one volunteer speaking quietly to me about love and friendship and rainbows (ok, maybe not actually rainbows … ).  Then it was two of them talking Peer Pressure 101 about how all the other kids had already ‘given their hearts’.  Then it was three of them with me, in a corner in the front of the sanctuary talking big about how my parents would be proud (my parents?! the ones that didn’t even know I was there?!) and this would be the only way I got into heaven and there would be cookies at the end.

And I caved.

Because I was a child.

And I said what they wanted me to and it meant nothing to me.  Nothing at all.  Not a damn thing.

Reflecting on that day as a grown up, I’m disgusted.  Those people and that experience are part of the reason I made a decision to have nothing to do with Christianity for most of my life.  What good is a religion that seduces vulnerable children with fear and promises of food?  I didn’t want to be one of those people with the lying and misleading and manipulating.  If that’s how they acted, their G-d, their Jesus, couldn’t be the kind of person I wanted to be buddy-buddy with.

—–

(fast forward to my 14th year)

I was feeling kind of lost.  My very expensive (and largely overrated) psychology degree tells me every teenager feels like that most of the time because they’re trying to hash out exactly who they’re supposed to grow up into.  I felt like some part of me was missing.  I was really compelled that part of that absent feeling had something to do with my complete disassociation with religion (the divine, the universe, the afterlife, or something …).  I started searching …

I did what every nerd on the planet does, I started reading things.  The Qu’ran … the Bhagavad Gita … a Tripitaka … the I Ching … the Upanishads … the Talmud.  I went to a bunch of different services (well, as many as a non-driver’s license holder in a rural-ish area whose parents have no idea she’s on an out of the blue spiritual quest can).  The more I read, the more I was drawn to Judaism.  I’m not sure I’m ready to share the ins and outs of that decision making process, but suffice it to say I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out before making a decision.

I found a rabbi.  And then another one (long story).  I studied the Tanakh and the Midrash.  I had that awkward conversation with my parents about how I was disassociating myself with their religion (even though they were only vaguely associated to begin with) … and let me tell you, that went great (/sarcasm).  I learned (well, I tried to learn …) Hebrew.  I attended synagogue.  I ate kosher (most of the time … damn you bacon for being so delicious).  I fasted on Yom Kippur and rejoiced during Tu B’Shevat.  It was a happy medium for me.  Judaism was the foundation of Christianity, but without the massive recruiting effort.  I identified as, prayed as, and lived as a Jew for the next … well, I still kind of do.

Judaism was a safe place for me.  It was tradition founded on 5000+ years of practice.  It was a community worldwide.  It was belonging.  Judaism taught me that there was in fact a G-d (crucial on the more than one occasion I was convinced there wasn’t), that I could talk to Him (Her?  I’m ok with either, neither, or both), that life had meaning.  Ugh.  All of that sounds terribly nauseatingly mushy, but it’s real.  It happened.  I was there.  Ha.

—–

I tell you all of this so my present tense conversations about religion will make sense, so that you know where I’m coming from when I don’t understand how this or that part of doctrine is practiced or needed, when I speak in abstraction because I still struggle to say the word “Christian” with anything other than complete disdain, when I still cannot believe how bizarre this journey has been, when I stand in awe of the little things like a child with new eyes (because I am one, basically).

Stay tuned (if you’re so inclined), loves, I promise there’s more to this story coming …

Em.

Past Tense