Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wasted Food

With food riots going all over the world, pantries in America seeing more and more working people and families at their door, and even the price of popcorn rising at the movies, it's pretty damn depressing to realize that this kind of waste still goes on, every day...


(the pictures really say it all - particularly the college cafeterias. I remember those days...and even last night at Souplantation I didn't finish everything I took...shame on us all)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Getting down to the wire

So the near-constant contracting of my uterus is telling me that one day pretty soon (in the next three weeks, per the calendar), this baby is going to come out. Now the contractions don't hurt, so I'm assuming from everything I've been told that they're "pre" labor (or the less attractive term, "false" labor), although every now and then I wonder what if mine are just different from everyone else's and in fact I should be paying attention? But no, people keep telling me, I'll somehow just know when it's the real deal, it will be completely different and I'll just know. Right. 'Cause I've never done or felt anything like this before, so I'm sure it will be obvious.

Actually tonight at dinner was pretty funny because I was complaining that I was having all the painless contractions (well they are not so much painless as not paining me in the right spot from what I read), and J was like, "It's probably nothing - as long as you're not feeling constipated." And I was like, "Huh? I've felt constipated for two days!" And then he laughed at me. He's been reading Dr. Bradley's book (go him - I'm a bit shocked but I don't want to say anything for fear he'll be embarrassed and stop) and apparently that's what the good doc says it will feel like. So that was pretty funny. I imagine for the next few weeks we'll have a lot of those moments. A lot of "Should we be paying attention to this now?" but thinking it couldn't possibly be yet...

Then he keeps pointing out that I haven't lost my mucus plug yet (sorry, folks, things are going to get real physical here for a while, since I'm experiencing one of the more physical things one can do in life). And then I point out that maybe I've lost it in one of my dozens of midnight bathroom visits when I don't bother to turn on the light and certainly don't go looking in the toilet to see what's there. And then we'll both kind of look at each other and laugh nervously.

I don't really think the real thing has started yet, but it is pretty wild to imagine how fast it's coming. I mean, a friend told me today she's leaving the country on July 7, and I said, "No prob, the baby will definitely be here by then" and I realized OMG the baby is going to be here in the next month, pretty much for sure. One way or another. Unless I go against doc's orders and don't let them induce me. But still, we're pretty much at the end - I'm 37 weeks pregnant, which is full-term baby time. She's ready, physiologically, and it's just a matter of when she's ready otherwise to make her appearance.

Wow. And am I ready? Not really. I mean, I can't be. There's just no way to be. No matter how many lists I make, chores I finish, outcomes I imagine, savings I arrange, and shopping trips I make (the cold has derailed the shopping at the moment and we'd be screwed if she came this week, actually), there is just no way I will truly be prepared for this. I know that. And somehow, I'm not scared of it. I can't control it and it's almost freeing, how little control I have. It's so impossible to do anything about it that I can completely release it. Which is so unlike me. Maybe I will be not such a high-strung mom after all.

Just that word: Mom. Mommy. Mother. I thought to myself today, seeing my newly installed car seat, I'm going to be a Mother. Now that's a serious change of lifestyle. It's a change of identity. I can't even fathom right now what it will mean to hold this baby, to see her actually outside my body, not on a blurry screen, not as some figment in my imagination, but flesh-and-blood and crying and wiggling. I can't begin to imagine the scenario, how I will feel, so I won't. I kind of want to be surprised anyway.

Wow. Me and J as parents. Everybody's always told us we'd be great at it, but it's still like the biggest thing ever. We are changing our lives forever. And you know, it's really damn exciting. Sure, sometimes it's scary and daunting and stressful, but for the most part, I'm really happy.

I feel so fortunate that I got to wait until I was really ready to do this, and with the right person, and in the right life situation for us. I could have tripped up before, and it would have been OK but not perfect. And obviously it's not perfect now - we certainly aren't in the greatest place financially or whatever - but it's right. They say if you wait for the right time it will never come, but I found it. I got to wait for my right time. I'm really lucky.

That's about the understatement of the century, as I'll soon find out. I don't know how much I'll be able to report it to you, but my world is going to turn upside down. And one day I'll come let you know how it was. Like I said, I can't guess how I will feel. Maybe depressed, maybe elated. Maybe disappointed or disillusioned. Maybe everything will just feel right, like it pretty much does right now. I don't know. I just know I want to live every second of it fully. I want to be there for this, for every moment of her first moments.

Anyway, if that's going to happen, I have to try to get some sleep. Haven't done that successfully for a few nights thanks to this nasty cold. Here's hoping I can catch up a little before the opportunity is gone for a looooong time. So good night.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Well Holy Moo

America got it right. It's like I have a new faith in our country...maybe the dark years really are finally over. If David Cook can take American Idol, does that mean Obama could really take the White House?

Dare we dream again?

Now we just have to hope that the management doesn't screw up this opportunity (also a potential problem for Obama!)

Eucharistic Prayer

Here's something easy: I can paste the Eucharistic prayer I wrote for the new service at church. I gotta say it's such a thrill to hear them actually say it. Now they don't do the whole thing, just the intro and then they skip to the Lord's Prayer. But still, it's my words, and that's incredibly cool.

One day I'll write a post about the service. It's going pretty well. The one thing I love is that they use real bread, and there's just something about the chewiness that is such a great metaphor to contemplate. Like you're chewing on Jesus, you're chewing on what you've experienced in the service. It takes longer and it slows your mind down and engages your senses so much more than a dissolving wafer. It does taste funny with the wine, so I have to figure a way around that. Maybe it shouldn't be a sweet wine (they use port I think) with real bread - maybe real bread needs a nice Zinfandel or Chianti. Interesting.

Anyway, here's my liturgy:

Eucharistic Prayer
Spoken while preparing the table for communion:

When Jesus lived on earth, he frequently provided food and drink to those around him who had none. In his first miracle he changed water into wine at a party; in his last days with his friends he cooked them fish on the beach. With sinners and religious leaders, with thousands and with just a few, Jesus would take bread and bless, break, and share it, as provider and host to those surrounding him.

When we come to this table, we remember that Jesus not only fed his friends, but feeds us today. In God’s ultimate act of solidarity and love, Jesus’ own body was broken, and is now shared with us; from his side flowed blood and water, which quench our thirst forever.

ALL: This is his body; this is his blood.*

When we come together to break bread and drink wine, we remember how God will always provide for us, and we remember that Jesus died to open the way to life. We offer God our thanks. We marvel at the mysterious communion which is here created between heaven and earth, and between ourselves. And we look forward to the day when we will join God’s heavenly banquet forever.

ALL: We ask the Holy Spirit to come upon each person here and upon this food and drink. We ask Jesus Christ to be our bread of life and the vine in which we abide. And we ask the Father to take us into his care and kingdom as beloved children. Eternal God, We offer You these gifts, and our lives, in gratitude and awe for your infinite love.

Here at this table, we speak words that echo around the world and across time. We say these words and do these actions because they make us, together, a church, and they make us, together with all Christians, The Church. Let us pray with boldness the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
And deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
Now and forever. Amen.

The table is prepared. As Christ freely fed those around him, so he desires to feed you today. Come and enjoy the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation.

*Here the elements may be raised and/or the bread broken.


I still don't have the energy to write about anything of substance, but I will take a moment to bitch about American Idol.

I can see how the judges, and the preteens, would love David Archuleta. He's totally in the AI vein of a champ: sings well, doesn't mind singing only ballads all the time, is pretty much consistent, and acts pretty humble. He's got all the qualities that shot people like Jordin Sparks to the top. And none of the qualities that would make me want to buy an album or listen to his song on the radio. In the grocery store, sure, on the elevator - I probably won't be able to avoid it. But man, he is such a snoozefest! Every time he sings J and I have to slap each other not to konk out.

Maybe it's our ages, we're just unable to break out of the gen-X love for grunginess, so we gravitated to Cook. I have already found myself looking up his performances on youtube and letting them play in the background while I do other things. I'm basically creating an album of his songs, and they're not even his songs! (tho I have found some vid of his band pre-AI, for which he was a great singer but they needed better songwriters) Every time that man steps up to sing he does something interesting and different - or at least, he comes off like a rock star, like a person already ready for the club (perhaps not the arena, but that could come with the right band behind him). I'd totally see him live, and I'd totally buy his album. Because he's just interesting. Last night, he sang three different kinds of songs (Archie, predictably, gave us three ballads - yawn). And he actually seems to put some feeling into them, and occasional swagger. Archie seems to want to do that, but the poor teen is still too awkward. That's not his fault and he'll grow into himself and be great on broadway and in Vegas lounges.

In the meantime, I predict he'll easily win tonight. He's just the AI type: vanilla, bland, powerhouse ballad, polished stage presence, etc. And his win won't hurt Cook's career a bit - if anything, it will help it. The best runners-up - Aiken, McPhee, and I would wager, Lewis - go on to phenomenally greater success than the winners. The true stars who have won the show - I would argue that's only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood - benefitted from having very little competition from their runners up. The choice was obvious.

Cook might have even been better off in the #3 or 4 slot, like a Daughtry or Tamyra Gray. It's all about the proper management after the show, and some people get overshadowed by the machine and can't get out from under it. Archie needs that kind of control over his career and it will serve him well - he's too young and inexperienced to make his own decisions. They'll do it for him and I suppose we'll probably hear him on top 40 stations soon. But seeing how I don't listen to those stations, I'll just be pleased not to have to tune him out on my TV once a week.

Speaking of that, what was up with Simon last night? Why such a hard-on for David A.? I didn't understand especially how nutso they all were for the new song that he sang. I found Cook's choice far more memorable, and in fact it was stuck in my head the rest of the night. That's called a hook - that's a likely potential hit, when on one hearing you're still kind of humming the tune (plus you can remember the very simply lyrics). I can't remember a thing about Archie's song, except that line they all made fun of about seeing yourself as perfection in the mirror. Which incidentally could happen to the poor kid - I hope he keeps his feet on the ground. As long as his mom stays with him, he should be fine. He's headed for a fine long Manilow-esque life in showbiz.

And here's hoping that I'll get to hear again from Cooksie soon, because those youtube vids are getting a little old (except, of all things, the Mariah Carey week - I think I've listened to his version of "Always Be My Baby" a hundred times and I still like it - that is scary). So tonight will be predictable but, unlike the year Aiken was runner up, I won't have to be sad, because despite the AI machine's desperate attempt to keep Ruben relevant, he just ain't Aiken, never has been, and never will be, and the world knew that and voted - with their dollars - accordingly.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GMO Tomato

Tomato Genetically Modified To Be More Expensive

May 17, 2008 Issue 44•20 <http://www.theonion.com/content/index/4420>

PASADENA, CA—Geneticists at the California Institute of Technologyannounced Monday that they have developed a tomato with a 31 percentlarger price tag than a typical specimen of the vine-ripened fruit. "Byutilizing an exciting new breakthrough in gene-splicing technology,we've been able to manipulate this new tomato with recombinant DNA insuch a manner as to make it nearly as pricey as a similarly sizedtangelo," said Dr. Lee Nolan, who headed up the project. "Geneticallymodified crops such as this will be instrumental in helping averagegrocers keep pace with unaffordable organic stores such as Whole Foods."In addition to vastly surpassing similar produce in expense, the newtomato will reportedly wipe out four species of ladybugs.

ha ha

I'm sick. If you want mental stimulation, go read John's blog. He's done two of my favorite ideas of his in the last two posts: the Matrix as political philosophy (not epistomology - it's about Marxism not Cartesian/Platonic dualism) and the homoeroticism of Fight Club. Yeah! Fun!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm melllllting

Gawd, is it ever hot. And no, cat, it's not a good time to cuddle. My friend said that pregnancy makes you go down 20 IQ points and your temp go up 20 degrees. Am really feeling that in our fun 100-degree May weather right now.

I've been having annoying bouts with insomnia, too. I was really proud of myself because I only have to get up twice to pee most nights, which has to be some kind of record for a 9-months pregnant woman. But now after my first bathroom visit (anywhere from 11:45-1:45) I stay awake for a good hour or so following. Now this is considered normal, because by this point you're usually uncomfortable or obsessing about the nursery colors or whatever. Problem with my life is that I am awake not thinking about fun things like preschools and pediatricians, but instead whether I'll have a place to live in 2 months, and whether I'll have health insurance in 2 weeks (yes, despite the contract going through, the benefits have been cancelled and cranking up that engine again is going way too slowly for my comfort level). I mean, these are really not issues that any new mommy should have to have on her mind. I want my stress factors to be cloth or disposable? and how the hell am I going to squeeze this giant creature out of my rather sensitive little nether regions??

So that's a bummer. I try not to think about it but in the middle of the night you get bored and so worries creep in. I mean, even Jesus would go pray all night sometimes, and I'll bet you now & then it was about stuff that gave him anxiety. Oh sure, he'd be all "Don't worry about what you'll eat or wear" during the daylight hours, but come on, he had to get a little bit nervous now and then in the wee hours when one feels most vulnerable. Dude didn't even know where he'd be sleeping most nights, when he actually slept. I dunno, it gives me comfort to think of things tripping up Jesus, of him giving in to that all-too-human need to obsess now and then. Maybe he never did. But seems like that would make him not so much like us. Or at least like me.

Not that the savior should be like me. God help us all if that were true!

Anyway, I'm still on the search for someone to share this house with us in Berkeley. We are so lucky to have found it and it's such a great deal. I can't believe we don't have people banging down the door. I think people just haven't realized yet what the market is like up there. They'll be sorry when it's mid-August and they wind up with a 19-year-old pot-smoking roommate in a 500-sq-ft studio because they didn't think they wanted to pay less than market for a freaking full house. I mean geez.

I gotta keep the faith. God provided the house. God will provide the roommate. And just the right one. Just gotta keep praying for him/her to find us. Someone into babysitting would just be the final sign that, indeed, we are truly beloved of the Almighty.

Today there were baptisms at church, and ironically I have baptism papers to grade and should be doing that instead of this. And I will, soon. It's just so hard for me to get motivated. Goes with the loss of IQ/up of temperature thing. Plus I'm tired of grading, and of working in general. I was supposed to be taking it easy this last quarter, and here the quarter is almost over, and I have nearly no leisure time to show for it! I feel like my life hasn't remotely slowed down. What gives? I was going to be all blissed-out and yogified, into my meditation and reading books for pleasure. Instead I've had tons of singing engagements, too much work for my profs (I finally asked to be released from some of that work), and mostly have been dealing with the details of what needs to happen too quickly after I've given birth, when I will undoubtedly have no brainpower whatsoever.

And then what do I do? I go to church this morning and am all, sure, Barry, I'll write prayers for the service next week! Why not? Sounds fun!

20 points dumber. Just remember that.

Another sign of the dumb: we got terrifically lost on the way to church this morning. A church we've been attending for 8 years. Now I have the baby brain excuse, but I wasn't driving. Still, what a fantastic blowout that turned into. We've got to learn to turn down the volume a few notches before there's a screaming infant in the back seat. Or just learn how to navigate freeway detours.

Oh, I do have to say the they've been reading parts of the revised Eucharistic prayer I wrote in this service, and there is really nothing more incredible than hearing something you wrote as part of such a sacred moment. That is the liturgist's high. I'm so blessed to be already experiencing it. I should post my prayer here, huh? I don't think I did that already. Perhaps another day when I'm not under the deadline for grading.

Even today John said that my Eucharist was really good and should be part of Rite III. That's high praise from a serious traditionalist. BTW he's been adding to his blog. You should check it out, especially if you have any opinions on the Matrix movies. He's got this totally different interpretation that I think really works but nobody seems to have thought of before. Plus, he'll engage commenters. What a guy. [link to the blog is over there in my blogroll - he's at video ut intellectum]

OK, I have to get off the computer because it's too hot to touch anymore, and with the cat happily snuggled by my leg something's gotta go.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Three Cheers for Activist Judges!

When they agree with me, that is!!


[CA State Supreme Court just legalized gay marriage]

Video Ut Intellectum

Announcing with great pomp and fanfare the debut of my hubby's blog,

Video Ut Intellectum!!

It's going to be a place to discuss the work he does in his classes that combine theology, philosophy, and film. Should be some heady stuff. Check it out if those topics interest you and give him some comment love.

I always thought he was pretty brilliant, but I might be an eentsy bit biased. In all seriousness, he's been making up these really interesting classes for years (e.g. the Christian approach to horror movies, movies and the meaning of life, etc.), and any one of them IMHO could make a really cool book or at least would be something that could be taught at more places. So I'm glad he's getting his ideas out there.

Who knows? Maybe it will help him land some jobs or even get published. With the power of the Feminary behind him, I can't imagine he won't get noticed. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

OK, Lady, I love you, bye bye

(if you get that reference, excellent on you - brag in the comments and I shall pronounce you cool)

So I had a weird dream last night but it was so real that I had to check with J this morning to make sure it wasn't something I'd actually experienced. I dreamed we were in the car listening to NPR (definitely a regular occurrence) and we heard Hillary's concession speech. She had won the states yesterday, like most people thought she would, but she had decided that it was time to drop out and stop the party in-fighting. And just like that, she was the bigger person and everybody really respected her. And it was just so vivid and realistic - I suppose because it was what I've heard commentators saying she should do all week - that I really honestly woke up thinking she was out of the race.

Now I wouldn't necessarily not like Hillary in the White House, although some of her entrenched politics don't appeal to me. I do think that fresh blood is needed, and fresh ideas, and I'm just not sure she would make the changes I wish our country would make (not that Obama necessarily will either - he might not have the power). I was so disappointed when she backed off universal health care, for instance. But you know that's my pet issue.

Anyway, I have to admit that even though I've decided to be an Obama Mama (I really need to find a tee shirt that says that), I was a little sad about the loss of the first viable female candidate. I don't remember if I was sad in the dream or after waking up. But I felt a little twinge, because here it was the first chance we really had to make such a huge leap. Not that a half-black man isn't also a great leap forward - either way, really, history is made. But since I'm a woman, I obviously had the special affinity for the woman. It's the validation of us all being told since we were little girls that we could be president some day. It would actually make that promise real.

I do think it will happen in my lifetime, though, so I'm not anxious about making it happen now. And there's no way I'd vote for a person strictly because of her gender, no matter how historic that would be. That's the same mistake people made when they voted for Bush out of religious affinity. No way. It's about issues and what's best for the country, not about who is your buddy or most like you. I don't want someone like me but "embarrassingly superior" to me, as Jon Stewart put it.

So just so you know, the feminarian is all for women's rights, but not to the extent that we lose our sense for the principle of a thing. One of the great things about being a post-feminist feminist is that you can value your freedom of choice over the need to always make everything about women. For a time, that was necessary, but enough victories were won (not all, to be sure) that many of us now enjoy the freedom to really affect the world and to be able to think holistically. So thank you for that, you who fought before us.

I don't know when Hil will give it up, or if she won't at all and will be forced out at the convention. I don't think it would be good for the party or country for her to win the nomination at this point, though. Which is sad for me. But on another level, come on, we still get a great alternative! We should be thrilled that we had such a choice. And when the choice comes down to one or the other, either way we will have a vastly superior candidate to who we had last time, and who the other party has. At that point, then, the choice will be clear. I mean, I'm not into the 100 more years in Iraq idea.

So let's all keep our heads and not go do something stupid like abandon our greatest chance in a long time just because we're pouting about losing our candidate, ok? Thanks.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

No fear?

Generosity comes from a lack of fear.

These were the words in yesterday's sermon that cut me to my heart. They weren't even a major point, or the crux, but you never know what will be heard, do you? You never know what words of yours God will use to speak to someone listening.

I've been thinking more and more about how I felt that we needed to get back into giving. We had been holding back because of the upcoming dry period in income. Kind of thinking that we were tithing to ourselves, since I might go into the ministry and the money is supporting my training. Surely God wouldn't mind if we saved carefully to make sure that this would be covered. Or something - I don't know, we had some kind of justification that made some sense.

Mostly it just started when we weren't going to a particular church anymore, and then we got out of the habit. But then this story about the cyclone really hit me, and I decided to give a little to Episcopal Relief and Development (which I encourage you to do also - they have churches on the ground actually getting aid to those who need it). Still, I gave out of our abundance - J just got an online class to teach, so I figured we could afford to give a bit. I didn't give the last we had or even close. But I felt like I could give something because this little windfall had come our way.

But that's not how it is supposed to work, is it? Generosity comes from a lack of fear.

I realized I've been living in near-paralyzing fear for several months now. I feel like I'm drowning in worries and schemes, trying so hard to make everything work out with the insurance and the unemployment and the family leave income. Today I called around to all the agencies again, and crunched the numbers one more time, and it looks like we'll qualify for the family leave, which then would qualify us for the cheap baby insurance. But we actually won't know until we apply, which won't be until August (J's contract extension went through until July 15, which gives us benefits until July 31. Yay on that). Whee - there's just no way to know for sure until we jump in!

So I have to wait to know what's going to happen, which you may have guessed I really hate. But I have no choice and worrying about it won't help anything, right? Just gotta let it go until it's time to think about it in a couple months again. Really, I should enjoy this time off from the issue.

And if it doesn't work out, then we'll start working on other options like buying individual coverage or using the school's (which is overpriced but at least it's something). Worst case, baby goes without for a little while and we take her to free clinics or something. I will have to get something while in school, and J will go without also, which will work fine as long as he's got his prescription meds written out for a year's worth (which you can usually convince a doc to do for you when you explain that you're losing your insurance). I don't like him being without insurance, but there's no way we can afford it for all three of us, and since I'm required to have it, and it's most important for baby to have it, he gets left out. That's just part of our fabulous healthcare system - forcing families to choose who is worth covering. Sorry, daddy. Hope you don't break anything.

I'm tired of obsessing about this stuff. I want to be free. I want to be free of fear and live generously.

It's not like terror fear, but just anxiety and frustration. I have this nasty heartburn from it, too. I mean, it's partly from the pregnancy, but it's also very much exacerbated by the stress. And I know the stress hormones are bad for the baby, and I have extra guilt over that, which in turn stresses me out further.

How can I even begin thinking about being generous? I'm so crippled by fear. I'm so freaking weak and I hate that. I want to be the kind of person who can just trust God that everything is OK, that God takes care of me even if I can't get the ideal situation going. I don't know why I require such control all the time.

I don't like being this way. But I also hate our stupid system, I hate how confusing it is and the way I'm in this bind trying vainly to figure this all out myself. It shouldn't be this hard! And you know what sucks? If you're not as smart as me, or not as honest, then it's so much easier for you. You just guess at answers or outright lie, and you get the help you need. But because I'm trying to do this exactly right, it's far more complicated.

So should I stop trying to do it right? Is that part of living without fear - not being afraid to break the rules (which I'd do only in ignorance, not on purpose)?

No, I don't think that's the solution. I wouldn't want it even if it were.

What I know is that when you live generously, your money situation may not improve, but your attitude about money changes, and that in turn changes how you view your money situation. So you may not have any more than before, but you don't care as much about what you have (or don't have). It's so much more about perspective than about bank balances.

It's not mine to begin with. And really, I'm happy with that. I don't worry about getting rich or even solvent! I really just want to know that my family will have health insurance. That's all. It's such a huge thing to ask for in our society. Dumb-o.

But I want to be generous, and much more, I want to be rid of the fear. It's painful and messes me up. It makes life a slog instead of a joy, instead of allowing me to just enjoy the good things. I focus on the stress, the things I can't change, the things I won't know about until later, the things I can't control. Why do we do this to ourselves? And it's all in the name of being a good citizen, a responsible parent, a good planner and provider.

Are we supposed to give up on those noble goals? Is that part of living without fear?

I don't know how to work through that phrase. I just know that it hit me in the gut. Generosity comes from a lack of fear.

Until I get the second part, I'll never get back to the first. I've had both before. They got lost along the way. Lost in all the unknown.

And I could get them back but I just have to let go. And that is so incredibly hard. I can't believe how hard that is!!

But I feel better today. I feel like there's hope - it could all work out. The numbers look good, and I know my plan of action. And even if it doesn't work out, that's not going to be known until August. So let's enjoy this last month of pregnancy! Let's enjoy our last couple months of income and insurance! How nice to have a job, and the extra little adjunct jobs, and for me to be working a bit too. How good of God to provide in this way.

So perhaps rather than trying to conquer the fear first, I should just start with the generosity instead. Just start giving again, not paying attention to what that might mean 6 months down the road when the savings is gone. It's always been God's money - I've never had a problem with tithing off the top immediately until this last year. I mean, in all my life - even babysitting money. It was always 10% just wasn't mine.

So we'll just add up what the tithe will be on whatever we make this month and give that. And we'll do the same next month and next, and then income will stop, but at least we'll have given a good amount by then. It will help, too, because our church is having a bit of a shortfall at the moment. I'm not going to pledge though - pledging, for some reason, inspires me more to guilt than to action. I'd rather just give it and not feel like I'm meeting some kind of bill or demand. I want to give freely, generously. From a lack of fear.

Yeah, this will be good. Thanks, Carol for those words: Generosity comes from a lack of fear. Perhaps it can work the other way around, too: A lack of fear comes from generosity.

Wouldn't that be great?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Popularity of food books

And this is why my dissertation, if I can keep it from being too academic, could become a bestseller: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=87295

Ha. I'm such a freaking trendy person. Not on purpose.

This baby is killing my ribs. Her butt is so hard. How is her little bottom so hard?! Aren't they supposed to be squishy??

Southern California has been cloudy for two days straight. Spent most of yesterday mourning this fact in bed. Spent today overworking. Am tired and depressed. Where's my friend the sun? And how will I survive in another climate?

Hey, J's contract extension got approved. Hasn't gone through yet (and unfortunately Kaiser has been informed to cut our benefits June 1, crap), but is verbally approved. Super. Thanks for praying. Still gotta figure out what to do after that, but it's a start.

His summer classes didn't get enough people to officially go, but they are trying to work out a way for him to teach the students who do want to take them and maybe pay him half. Half's better than nada.

One of these days I have to get out and buy everything my baby needs. And I am thinking that should not wait too long. But if I get all prepared and then she doesn't show for a month, I'll be pissed. I'd much rather she show up before I have stuff. Not that it would be convenient, but it would mean she's here, and early, which I'm SO on board with.

Well anyhoo I thought I should write something. Am still trying to get the Berkeley housing situation to work out and am also working out which classes to take. On the plus side, there's an anthropology of food class that it looks like I can take, and the profs are going to have me write a paper on religion & food instead of doing the exams. That should be really fun. The material is all "food literature," so it will be important and foundational to my work.

I do have to say that, despite being overly tired and feeling overly-whelmed, I am really excited about my new school and town. There's tons to do and I get lost in the details (house! pediatricians! insurance! classes! movers! roommates!). But every now & then I've got to make myself stand back and see that in fact, this is going to be a great life for me and for us. And then I have to be grateful, no matter how grumpy the sky is outside.

Friday, May 02, 2008

They're finally getting it

Front page LA Times today: High food prices may put farmers on a subsidy diet

The story goes on to explain how finally, finally lawmakers are making some connections between the subsidization of crops (particularly for ethanol) and the rising cost of food. How maybe, just maybe, it's not the smartest fiscal policy to give big subsidies to individuals earning over a million a year, whether they're growing crops or not (just owning farmland can get you subsidies - see the recent Bill Moyers report on this, based on the Washington Post's excellent investigation into the abuse of subsidies by landowners in Texas). Or to throw so much federal money behind ethanol as our only biodiesel solution, when in fact it takes as much petrol to create ethanol as you get at the end of the process. Even Bush is saying that it's gotten out of control, and when Bush is actually standing up against payments to the rich, you know things are serious.

So I am just taking this as my birthday present for this year, thank you very much. Maybe there's still time to salvage the farm bill. Maybe help can be found for the food banks and the millions starving around the globe. Not to mention the fact that it's quite likely that I'll be in those food bank lines sometime in the next year, and I'd really love it if I could get a veggie now & then.

Yeah, I'm not thrilled that it took such a crisis to make people wake up to what some of us have been advocating for over a year, but at least, at the eleventh hour, we might see some changes. It's at least still getting press, which is quite remarkable in this election year (esp considering it hasn't been that much of an election issue, beyond the way the cost of food hurts worse in the bad economy).

Speaking of bad economy, looks like J's summer classes don't have enough students to go. That's a big ouchie - about $6000 of income that we won't see now. That was going to pay for the move and help us get through the summer (and the possible extra insurance we'll be paying for). It's frightening, but I'm trying to just trust that everything will be OK. He might still be able to do it as an independent study, which would bring in about $500. That's better than nothing. Plus I'm actually putting in a lot of TA hours, so I'm contributing. We won't have that nice cushion of savings we were hoping for, but perhaps in the end that will work to our advantage, helping us qualify for Medi-Cal. (still haven't worked out the contract extension yet either, but apparently it's just winding its way through bureaucracy, and hitting walls like when nobody knows who has the authority to actually do something - gotta love that)

Had a bit of a rollercoaster ride this week with the housing situation. We are working out the lease details on the little house we found and I am beyond thrilled to be actually on the cusp of having it! I have longed and prayed for years to have a little space to call our own - to get out of apartments. And in California I knew ownership just wouldn't be possible. So this is truly incredible. We didn't even find the place - the owner saw our ad and contacted us, which is why I'm so sure that God just gave it to us. And I'm so tickled by all these little things that most take for granted: having a dishwasher !!!! having a washer and dryer !!!!!! having a back yard (and permission to plant a garden) !!!!!!! Having two actual bedrooms for ourselves, one for us and one for baby or one for sleeping and one for studying, whatever we decide. It's just such a gift.

But we can't afford it alone, so we have to find someone to share. And we actually found a really wonderful person moving there for grad school like us, from Atlanta. Nice guy and seems to fit us well. The only drawback with him is that he can't afford to pay much, which means the burden of the rent falls on us, and we have to pay more than we really want to (the plan at this point is to just take out loans - which unfortunately will include unsubsidized, a first for me - to cover rent for a year, just so we don't have to worry about that). Then on Wednesday this amazing thing happened: a couple contacted us, and they were also a great fit with us, and being two people they could afford to pay more, in fact to split it with us, which would put us in a WAY more comfortable situation. That was huge! Plus I loved my initial chats with them. But again, the coaster went careening down when they had second thoughts yesterday. Hopefully they are still going to look at the house, and maybe they will like it and it will work out. But we are probably back to our single guy and paying more than we want to. I mean, it's worth it, it's where I want to live. But it's just so difficult when this other perfect thing comes along and then drops away. Just kind of painful. (plus I liked the idea of having another woman in the house, and she'd even already offered babysitting...oh did that twist the knife!) Owie.

Mostly I'm sad b/c our personalities and interests really jived. But the money hurts too. Esp right now when there seem to be so many other ways that money is slipping away: car repairs, vet bills, and there's just SO much to buy for the baby! And the shower didn't really help that much in the necessities department, though we got some cute things that we'll use, but the registries have been sadly neglected. So we have to prepare to get a lot of stuff from our own pockets. Fortunately craigslist has already worked well on that front, and we will keep buying used as much as we can. We will take our list to the consignment shop and go nuts. It's funny...I wonder if my poor kid will ever wear anything not handed down. I kind of hope not. I really want her to learn to conserve and recycle, and that's exactly what we're doing. There's way too much baby stuff out there already anyway! (although we are getting some fabulous handmade things, quilts and a sweater and mom/grandma's making a sock monkey!, which to me is equivalently desireable to recycled items)

Anyway, that's the sitch on our end. Some ups and downs this week. But tomorrow is my birthday and I'm just going to try to have a nice day. My dear friends are hosting a Buffy musical singalong, and I can't think of a more fun way to party!