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Passengers

5 Mar

passengers_2016_movie-wideFollow me into the light…

Recently I became a little obsessed with the movie Passengers — the one starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Instead of watching any other show or movie (also because I now have a hard time finding quality shows that are not vulgar and violent), I pretty much just watched this every couple nights for two months straight. Every time I saw it I noticed something new, and I just couldn’t get over the storyline. I loved how it was this intricate, space-age Adam and Eve story.

I decided to Google “Passengers Adam and Eve” to see what other people wrote about it, because obviously I wasn’t going to be the only one who had thought about this. What I was surprised about, however, was how most bloggers and critics wrote about rape culture and what a terrible person Jim is. In several interviews, even Pratt and JLaw basically renounced (or grew quiet about) the movie as well amid this controversy.

That disappointed me. There is so much good to this movie, there is so much to ponder, and I don’t believe it to be about misogyny in the slightest.

The opening scene is of the spaceship Avalon flying at half lightyear speed as it comes across an asteroid shower. Despite the best efforts of the main shield, the biggest asteroid breaks apart in such a way that the ship is pierced, and through a hibernation pod malfunction, Jim awakens. That sounds exactly like a metaphor for conception and birth to me! Which brought me to think about: who among us chooses to awaken? It could be a choice, it could be against our will, but not many of us know whether we wanted to be on this earth, and a good many of us even wish we had never been born. But it is the ship (our parents) who decide to start the process of “awakening” us and an unknown force (God) who makes the ultimate decision of when and where we end up.

Many people have made the connection between the ship and Earth, both of which are traveling furiously through space. We are on a planet/ship which provides us everything we need, yet we are constantly journeying and never arriving, similar to how Jim feels as he talks to the bartender-android, Arthur, who is a wealth of wisdom, enlightenment, and information. Might Arthur be a representation of the Bible in this story? He is the best friend anyone could want, but he cannot replace Jim’s need to connect with another person made of flesh and blood. This desire, by the way, is given to us straight from God. He wants us to want other people.

Jim, meanwhile, is stuck on an island, alone, for the rest of his life. He is the first, and only, man on Earth, so to speak. You can imagine the thoughts that would occupy your mind if you were alone, surrounded by everything you need to keep living, including other humans just beyond your reach, but destined to die without ever talking to another human again.

This is where the story gets tricky. Many people are horrified and mortally offended by *SPOILER ALERT* Jim waking Aurora up. I concede that he is selfish, but then again, who of us isn’t? And I ask of you, who would do any different? And who of us would do worse, i.e. waking up lots of people (or something even more sinister)? Who would choose to live in deep depression, surrounded by 5,237 people, yet completely alone? And the key thing to consider is, Jim didn’t choose to wake up. He was woken up against his will, against the plan he had for his life, just as many of us don’t get to carry out what we think we want to happen in our lives. Things change, and we have to make decisions based on those changes.

There are two other important factors, namely that the ship is destined to blow up and everyone will die, unless, as it turns out, there are two people awake on the ship to fix the problems. In that case, Aurora truly would have died and never even known it; her story would be completely over if she, or someone else, hadn’t been awake with Jim. And I love how they make her a total badass — even more so than Jim. From the moment she wakes up, she’s confident, intelligent, driven, creative, upbeat, and doesn’t complain when shards of spaceship pierce her bicep.

Secondly, at the end of the movie, Jim finds a way to put her back into hibernation for the remainder of the trip… and he doesn’t hide it from her either! Her choice, in closing, after knowing “everything”, is to stay awake with him and finally come to peace with the life that she has been given, and not always seek more. She chooses to find the story — and the good — in her circumstances.

The ship’s name, Avalon, means “island of apples”. This obviously is referencing the Garden of Eden. Aurora means “dawn,” another reference to the dawn of mankind, when two awaken to the world and begin the story of mankind. James is a very biblical name in itself. There are so many “hidden” parallels, much of which I probably haven’t even discovered yet, that it truly makes this allegory a deeply moving experience for me. I love the acting, the atmosphere, the special effects, and that it shouldn’t be taken at face value, even though the face value is so entertaining in itself. I also completely love the role that Lawrence Fishburne plays. His opening line seriously sends joy through me every time I hear it.

It is a story about humanity and love. It is a story about a man who does the very best he can, and in my mind, upholds the best of what humans have to offer, while still being mortal. It is a story about chances and what we do with them. It is a story about overcoming sin. It is a story about all of us.

 

 

 

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Coincidences?

18 Feb

This morning Walter taught me the sign for “I love you,” which he had just learned from one of the Magic Tree House books he was reading.

It looks like this:

I love you

I thought it looked like some kind of rocker hand signal, but alas, he was convinced, so I believed him, and he had fun both saying and “saying,” “I love you” to me all morning.

This afternoon we drove to Publix to get some shopping done (which now that I am a mom of two is less of a “chore” and more of an “event,” amiright? ha), and low and behold, our cashier had a tattoo on the inside of her arm near her elbow that was a hand signing “I love you”. I told her that I had never seen that sign before today (or if I had I did not remember), and that now I had gotten this second reminder of it in one day. She said, “Isn’t it cool the way the universe works?”

Universe (God), thank you for your constant reminders that there is love in this world and that I am loved. I am definitely in a season of my life where I need that external reassurance. And friend, if you are reading this, you too are loved. I promise, and the signs are there as often as you can notice them!

Dreams of a Gift

8 Feb

I have dreams… so many dreams lately. Every night I am exhausted by my subconscious.

One dream in particular has stuck with me. In it, I have just given birth to my third baby boy, whom we name Donatello (though in my dream I debate between Donatello and Donitello). We call him Donny. An old friend comes to pick me up from the hospital, but instead of taking me home in her car, she has brought a horse and buggy for me to drive.

We are, at the time, back in Atlanta, and I think to myself, “There is no way I’m going to get home fast in this thing!” (We actually have seen someone driving a horse-drawn cart in Asheville recently — in real life!) So, I drive the horse as fast as I can onto the on-ramp on the highway, and I crash the horse in the process. I know my friend’s wife will be very upset with me, but I say to her, “No worries, I can undo this so it never happened!” (We recently read Philip K. Dick’s Ubik for one of our book clubs, and parts of his sci-fi, psi, anti-psi, inertial, pre-cog world have entered into my dreams, which has been kinda fun.)

Once I un-kill the horse, from then on I am forced to go slowly and apparently have to drive by every home I lived in in Atlanta. I am so worried about finding them, passing them, and getting home to my new baby. I worry because as the hours pass, I know he needs to eat. There was lots more to this dream, but it was dreamed a couple weeks ago, so all that is mostly a feeling now, rather than clear memory.

Eventually I wake myself up, in the middle of the night, after four hours of driving around.

When I fall back asleep, the dream continues. I am, finally, at home with my new baby. Because I have just organized the boys’ closet à la Marie Kondo, the newborn clothes are on the bottom of the stack of boxes, tucked in the corner. I know I will make enough noise to wake up Walter to get to them, and we all know the rule about waking a sleeping child — try not to do it!

I get the baby half undressed, with his diaper open, before I realize I need to leave to go buy more diapers. It is just a short drive to the store (luckily I have a car this time), but on the return trip home I take the highway and get stuck in Atlanta traffic. I am despairing, because I left the baby on the bed, undressed, undiapered, and every second is counting here. I drive faster and faster and quickly get pulled over by a police officer whose ticket is not asking for money nor is it a reprimand, but it is telling me something about myself (another Ubik reference). Oh how I wish I could remember what was written on that ticket!

That is when I wake up, again, and it is morning.

The next day, as I talk to Dave about this dream, I remark how strange it is that we used the name Donatello. I am not a big art fan, nor a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, nor have I probably even thought of that name in 20 years. So I look it up, and the name is Italian for gift from God.

Gift from God!!!?!

It really shocked — or really, wowed — me to see that. I felt immediately like He was speaking to me. Since I had a miscarriage last year, and I’d really like to have another child, I’d like to hope it means He was talking to me and telling me that yes, I will have another gift from Him in the form of a baby. But, the other interpretation I’ve come up with sounds pretty good too. That in the midst of the anxiety and stress and complications of life, the superficial messes we create for ourselves, there is a precious nugget of goodness we can find, we can attach ourselves to, and that is God. He will be the Calm in the storm of life; He will be the Goal we are trying to attain. Look for Him, without ceasing, because He is what matters amid all the chaos of life.

My newfound faith is in its newborn stages, a delightful blooming of understanding and looking at the world a new way. I may get thrown off course, but if I keep my path headed toward Him, all His gifts will come my way.

Have I Changed?

4 Dec

My mom asked me a couple visits ago if I thought our move to Asheville had changed me.

It was hard for me to answer because I think I’m always changing all the time. I am nowhere near the person I was 10 years ago or probably even 10 minutes ago. Even though many times I feel like the same person I was at age six. These thoughts are both comforting to me and a source of anxiety at times.

But maybe what she was really asking was, “What do I feel Asheville has changed in me so far?” This is a question which I had no good answer to give her when she asked, but I’ve been thinking about it every day since then.

I think the best way to put it is, retreating to the mountains has made me retreat from the rest of the world as well. It’s amazing to me that after almost 33 years in one city, four months in another one makes me see Atlanta in a whole new light. While it is a pretty Southern town, it is also a busy, bustling city and part of the rat race. I think a country girl has always been inside me waiting to be let out. I am drawn to the Laura Ingalls Wilder/American Girl Doll (when they were about history)/Janette Oke types of stories, and now I’m trying to live a little bit more like that. I dream of heading more towards the ideas the Amish have, where mechanical technology is preferable to electrical. A deep rooting into the earth, a connectedness.

While my fondest memories of my childhood were running wild throughout our neighborhood with my friends, I didn’t have the stars. The city is so absorbing that even in the suburbs it is hard to see what’s going on in the universe. Here, I look up at the sky all the time and am falling in love with everything astronomy has to offer. Star myths of the past and space explorations of the future…

I’ve definitely been unhappy at times during this transition. I desperately miss my people in Atlanta. We had developed a really solid home base in Marietta the year that we were there in terms of homeschool and the YMCA and of course the friendships that we garnered throughout our years in ATL. Some of the things I’ve tried to replicate here so far have only disappointed me. But I’m not giving up. I gave myself a year to feel at home and I’m not even halfway there.

I worry about the boys not growing up in a neighborhood, especially since we homeschool, and if I can provide all that they need to have satisfying childhoods. But growing up in the country has its perks too, and I’m so excited for all the plans I have for our land. We planted some rose bushes yesterday, and it filled me with happiness to see our family work together to add beauty to the incredible nature that surrounds us here.

One step at a time!

IMG_20171203_181728_824A cute little bear we found in our front yard.

A Time for Renewal

24 May

In the past month, as Spring has come to the land again, we’ve been out and about celebrating with friends and family.

I attended my first Seder dinner, which might have been my single most moving religious experience yet. A new friend couple who live in Inman Park had us over for their first time hosting Seder at their house.

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It was a beautiful dinner with great friends.

The next day we drove up to Chattanooga to celebrate Easter with my in-laws. The rituals of Christianity are always interesting to witness.

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And it’s a great excuse to dress up to celebrate the rebirth of earth (well, in this hemisphere)!

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A couple weeks later we went to A Perfect Circle concert. Finally. It was my first time seeing this band live, although I’ve seen Tool seven (nine?) times and Puscifer three times. All three bands are led by Maynard James Keenan: vocalist, poet, musician, and guru. Seeing him perform is usually like “church” for me.

He started his show with giant black and white shadows of the band, then turned the primary colors to red and yellow (the first colors we supposedly see as infants after black and white), and then spent most of the rest of the show in purple light, which I imagine as a very complex and enlightened color.

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Keep it coming, world! This is fun!

 

Trumpcare, Obamacare, Whatever

5 May

It’s all the same mess to me. As a health care consumer (do I consume health care?), I am thoroughly disgruntled by the entire scam.

I am a relatively healthy person, and so is my family, thank goodness. Yet what we pay for health care and insurance is outrageous. Dealing with fertility testing, treatment, pregnancy, and birth recently just solidified my feelings regarding the health care industry in this country.

One thing I will never understand is why there are not menus at doctor’s offices where you can see, upfront, how much a procedure will cost. When hit two years ago with a surprise $1,200 bill for a test that included saline water, a plastic syringe, 30 minutes of my doctor’s time, and my fallopian tubes (not fun), the billing department literally could not even explain the charges to me. But I owed it to them anyway.

When I gave birth, the hospital charged me $3,000 just to use a “private” doctor (whom they almost failed to get into the room before my baby was born). They charged me $1,000 for cold packs I never even touched. I spent less than three hours in the labor and delivery room and a day and a half practically being tortured with inedible food, constant wakeups, and needle pricks in my recovery room, only to be charged around $13,000 for the whole shebang. I shudder to think what the cost would be if I had used any anesthesia.

The question I wonder is, am I truly paying solely for my care? Or is this some kind of crowdfunding?

We need to be a cash system. There needs to be transparency and competition between doctor’s price points — and the ability to negotiate cash costs with your doctor. We should have catastrophic coverage only (which would include long-term illnesses no matter how old you are). We need to be encouraged to save the premiums we are charged every month, building up equity for any problems that should arise. We should be able to keep someone on our plan no matter who they are or how old they are, as long as we’re willing to pay for them.

My guess is that our income is high compared to much of the country (and low compared to others — hello middle class!), and I find health care costs to be overwhelming. It didn’t get better for us during Obamacare, and I don’t see any change in the future with Trumpcare. I can only hope I’m wrong and that someone in power will see the light.

health care costs

Marriages Aren’t Easy: The Fable of the Incense Burner

10 Sep

But if you’re lucky — and you work hard, yada yada yada — they’re good anyway.

The weekend of July 4th we got in a huge fight. It was one of the more difficult times in our marriage, with me being so sick and blaming David (I don’t get mad during labor, I get mad during first trimester!), David working all day and then going to work on the new house every night, us living with various parents and a 3 year old, all our stuff in boxes scattered around the house, and suddenly switching from battling 2-year infertility to dealing with medical bills and un-Godly nausea… Let’s just say it all came to a head that holiday weekend. Why is it that vacations are often good times to get sick or in a fight?

While we weren’t speaking to each other, and we had just moved back in to the house for the second time, I went to buy incense to try to get rid of the horrible, poisonous smell of the house that apparently no one else could smell (thank you first trimester). I came back home and mentioned to Dave that I didn’t have any way to burn it, and without comment he then went and made an incense burner for me.

This is how I know I married a good man.

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I had no idea what he was sawing in the basement — I rarely force myself to go down there because it is very messy and dirty — prepping that 1,700 sq ft space for habitation will certainly be another fun, multi-weekend project! The loud noise made me curious (obviously), but I was patient (which is unlike me). He then came upstairs with a piece of wood with a hole cut at just the right angle and a groove for all the ash. It was hard not to feel loved, even if the fight wasn’t resolved yet.

Walter loves burning incense too since that’s one of the many fun things he learned to do at his Nini’s house. He also made me a burner later with this play-doh-like toy he has. Like father, like son, and I’m glad about that!

One Planet, One Experiment

21 Aug

I just finished a remarkably good book, Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It is a book that is going to stick with me a long time and continually keep me thinking. It changed my world-view. There was so much provocative information that he shared that I’m sure I will need to read it several more times.

The book seemingly got more intriguing and expansive the smaller he focused, when he was talking about living cells and how crazy lucky it is to be “alive,” and how reckless humans are in taking care of what we are surrounded with (including ourselves, which he didn’t talk about but my mind immediately went there). His last page really hit home.

“I mention all this to make the point that if you were designing an organism to look after life in our lonely cosmos, to monitor where it is going and keep a record of where it has been, you wouldn’t choose human beings for the job.

But here’s an extremely salient point: we have been chosen, by fate or Providence or whatever you wish to call it. As far as we can tell, we are the best there is. We may be all there is. It’s an unnerving thought that we may be the living universe’s supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously.

Because we are so remarkably careless about looking after things, both when alive and when not, we have no idea – really none at all – about how many things have died off permanently, or may soon, or may never, and what role we have played in any part of the process….

The fact is, we don’t know [about extinction figures]. Don’t have any idea. We don’t know when we started doing many of the things we’ve done. We don’t know what we are doing right now or how our present actions will affect the future. What we do know is that there is only one planet to do it on, and only one species of being capable of making a considered difference. Edward O. Wilson expressed it with unimprovable brevity in The Diversity of Life: ‘One planet, one experiment.’

If this book has a lesson, it is that we are awfully lucky to be here – and by ‘we’ I mean every living thing. To attain any kind of life in this universe of ours appears to be quite an achievement. As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better: It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp.

We have arrived at this position of eminence in a stunningly short time. Behaviorally modern human beings – that is, people who can speak and make art and organize complex activities – have existed for only about 0.0001 percent of Earth’s history. But surviving for even that little while has required a nearly endless string of good fortune.

We really are at the beginning of it all. The trick, of course, is to make sure we never find the end. And that, almost certainly, will require a good deal more than lucky breaks” (477-8).

The book reinforced my theory of humans being just another “germ” on planet earth, just easier to see than, say, the invisible bacteria that exists in multitudes everywhere (which Bryson does talk about). The question is, are we going to be a cognizant, helpful type of invasion, or will the earth eventually kill us off in favor of other species?

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Thinking about Brexit, and Happy Independence Day, btw

4 Jul

Because I’ve deleted all news apps from my phone, have no cable, and rarely search out the news, I had no idea what was going in Britain until my Facebook newsfeed popped up with all sorts of Brexit and I can’t believe the vote passed memes.

What I find interesting as I reflect upon the anniversary of our Independence Day, is how many of my FB friends were against Brexit.

They want their independence, y’all. Their freedom!

Isn’t that what we want most here in the United States after all? What we fought a war over?

And here the EU and GB get to part ways (for whatever their reasons) without the bloodshed of war, and y’all decry their right to do that? There is talk of overturning the vote, that somehow it didn’t count? Well guess what, that is democracy. And when you take away the power of the vote, things get tricky and usually pretty bad.

It’s reasonable to be scared of change (folks who regret their “Leave” vote and Americans worried about the economic impact), but there are people much older than you, who want change, who are sick of being told by other countries what to do with their land and money.

The world has enough strife. Let’s accept and support our brothers and sisters in their quest for Independence, just like we celebrate and support ours every year.

Cheers, folks, and don’t get blown up by fireworks today.

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Photo taken from Atlanta History Center’s FB page. Photograph ca. 1955

Not Everyone is a Fertile Myrtle

17 Jun

Sometimes we’re just Moaning Myrtles.

I fluctuate moment by moment on whether it is a blessing or curse that there is no baby #2 yet. Walter himself, who screams and cries all the time when I hold every friend’s new baby, said to me recently, completely unprompted, “I want a little brother or sister.” And what am I supposed to say to that?

This month I swore we would stop “trying.” But since I’ve started charting, I can see things on paper that are happening inside my body. I thought for sure this was the month. I was calm. I was silently excited. And then, broken inside, yet again. What can I do but wait, month after month, trying every piece of advice, trying not to care, trying too hard, not trying enough… It is overwhelming in its solitude. I don’t want to talk too much about it, but I don’t want to be silent either. I want to enjoy life and enjoy what I do have.

I have changed, though. I am sensitive to other mothers-to-be, and that’s not like me, or how I really feel. I like to be especially supportive of pregnant women and new mothers, as that is my passion. But when I hear a friend complain about something related to pregnancy, it makes me want to scream. Seeing a pregnant belly either makes me envious or want to cry. But this isn’t about other people. It is not a comparison. Other people aren’t more lucky than I am, and I am not more lucky than other people. That’s not the point.

Whatever is, is meant to be. It will lead me to where I am meant to be in the future too. Maybe I still will get my four babies (oh please not all at once!). If anything, it has made me appreciate even more the crazy miracle that is procreation. I have loved Walter since the moment I knew he was coming — since the moment I knew I was ready for him to come! — and yet this has still made me love him more. I don’t want to spend my life wanting something else. I want him to know that he is more than enough for me, whether he ever has any siblings or not, though I know he will make an excellent older brother. Once he gets over letting me hold another child of course!

Walter class photos Spring 2015 - Individual
I am so beyond thankful for this one it is unbelievable.

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My handsome boy with his handsome haircut.

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But I like the hippie hair too! Too hot for these Atlanta summers!

I watched Labor Day while on vacation, and Kate Winslet brought to life the struggle so many women have with fertility — though I don’t want to fall apart so completely like she did. It seems everything I read or watch lately reminds me that it’s not easy for everyone to have lots of babies. I almost think it would be better to never get pregnant again than have miscarriage after miscarriage or a stillbirth. But women live through that. We live through a lot. Those who have large families get judged for having lots of babies. Women with one child (or none) get nagged to have more. Though part of me does want to ask if they wanted more and couldn’t have them. I love hearing everyone’s stories. There are billions of them out there.

And mine is just one more to add to the collection.