Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I have a perfectly lovely two days off work this week. This morning was lovely at Pecan Park. Mid-50s that felt quite warm by the end of my walking. The long-legged Twyla stayed ahead of me on the figure-eight loop the whole time. I wanted to catch up to her and say, Sister! Do you know your pace is 4 mph, which is about as fast as you can go without running?! She didn't even seem to be moving fast, because of those graceful long legs. (I felt squatty in comparison.) She was walking when I got there, and walking when I left, 2 miles later. She just lost her dad recently, so the walking is surely good therapy. (But then, she's been doing it a while.)

I was listening to author Mary Karr on NPR later on, and I thought, I'm not sure I can ever be a decent writer because I have not had that interesting a life! She has written three memoirs and has definitely lived an interesting life. She gave some great testimony about the power of faith in her later life and in overcoming her drinking habit. And she was a total agnostic about spirituality and religion her entire life. She said, "When you talk about spirituality to someone who is secular, it's like you are doing card tricks on the radio." It's amazing how people can go for many years without seeing God, and then, a light goes on. It's such a mystery, the mystery of faith. It is impossible to explain or to convey faith to another person.

There is something to the fact that many great artists have huge substance-abuse issues, or were abused as children, or struggle with depression and eventually take their lives. So I have to thank God for my wonderfully bland life, even if it makes it harder to be a great writer.

I wanted to talk about Austin a bit. Sometimes, I am just in awe of him, his confidence in himself. Seemingly out of the blue, he's become really interested in baseball. He decided to transfer from tennis, 1st period, to baseball, last period. Yes, it's not baseball season yet, but he and a few others can go out and practice anyhow after school, which is what he's been doing now that band is not taking up 8 hours of practice a week after school.

I immediately told him that he'd never make the baseball team! Bad Mom, Bad Mom, I know. I was just trying to be realistic, trying to prepare him for the blow of failure. But why be realistic when reality can be such a downer? That way leads to cynicism ... even spiritual death! So many kids' dreams seem like big fantasies, which is why too few adults have dreams of their own. But believing in those dreams can change the world. So who am I to not believe in my son?

Back to reality just for a moment: Austin has not played baseball since he was a wee little lad in Little League. But I really admire his guts for just trying it out, what with the extreme level of competition in sports these days. He and Andrew have been going outside to throw or for him to practice hitting, using this ancient equipment that we never got rid of. (I asked my husband the other night, "You mean we have a real baseball? Not just tennis balls?") So Austin's excited about it right now, and he is working on it. That's one thing I really admire about him. He has a lot of passion for life. He's always fully engaged in something, and has a lot of interests and talents. He has strong friendships and a delightful personality, if I do say so myself.

It's fortunate that the world series is on right now, and we've had it on. I enjoy seeing the athleticism that is involved in any sport, even baseball! It does have this stereotype of players standing around, chewing great wads of dip while scratching themselves. But then you see a player go all out to catch a fly ball, even slamming into the barricade to catch an almost-homer, or you see opposing players rolling over one another in the battle to reach the base first. Or watch the pitcher, in slow motion, looking like a space alien, his body is so contorted into the intensity of getting that 90+-mph pitch off. And another, and another.

I asked Austin today what drew him to baseball (which happened before the world series, by the way), and he said he thinks it's his kind of sport, an Austin kind of sport. OK. This may not last (probably not -- reality slipping in again), especially when all the other kids show up for baseball season, but kudos to him for having his own dream and pursuing it.

The other thing Austin is doing is participating in a youth praise band at church, which right now is just three kids: Zeke on drums, Katie (lyrics?), and Austin on guitar. So this now fills a slot on Thursday night that would have been blissfully empty. So we're up to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening activities, and a last football game this Friday. (Then Boy Scout camping this weekend.) Oh, well.

Andrew loved the last campout at Calaveras Lake. He really was anxious about it beforehand. I think he's an anxious kid, and that gets expressed as all this negativity about doing things. He gets stressed out at school easily, then comes home and often is mentally and emotionally tuckered out. He is my son, after all! But no one can beat Andrew when it comes to affection. He can be the sweetest child alive, and often is. And his mind works like no one else's. Andrew started writing down the thoughts that come just before you fall asleep, those weird ones that the conscious mind picks up and says, hmmm ... that makes absolutely no sense! I have to record some of his thoughts and sayings in his journal, which has been missing for a few months.

I just can't believe that it is nearly 2 p.m. It should be noon. There's always so much to write about. I also wanted to write about Christianity and capitalism, how some of the most conservative Christians embrace the free market, which seems to reward unethical behavior. Ethical behavior does not seem to extend to the almighty dollar.

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