Saturday, September 23, 2017

Since this is the last day of earth.... (smile).

It's September 23 and evidently Planet X is cloaked. And I am going to sit and think and write about nonsense until the earth is obliterated--probably later this afternoon.

Life Analogy:

There are cruise ships who remain in the Bahamas. There are cruise ships that become tired of their boring lives and go storm chasing. There are ships who must travel the Gulf of Aden (the most dangerous place for ships on the earth for piracy) and those ships who end up in the Gulf of Aden because they made bad choices. 

Most people look at my life and think I am a ship who desires the drama of the Gulf of Aden or have made choices to end up there. Nope. Sometimes we are in a place because it is where God placed us. Believe it or not, most of my life I have had to keep my mouth shut because if I were to tell people too much of my life they would think I was lying or at least highly exaggerating. 

Nope. By no means am I saying my life has been particularly tragic. Not at all. My life has been... busy--eventful. I take my very unusual life and make gallons of lemonade in the form of amusing stories. If my life can make people laugh, then let's laugh! 

Take for instance, my memories of a certain year of my life as a preteen (or maybe it was a couple years, not sure). 

We lived, for a few years, in Dallas on the busy street of Royal lane. I was sitting one Sunday morning probably reading, when there was a dreadful noise. Some drunk man had, at high speed, crashed through our thick wood fence in the front of our home, continued across our lawn and hit a tree. He was seriously hurt. Ambulances, etc. 

Once, my father took out some trash and for some reason set fire to a bunch dried tree limbs in a pile by our house and it blazed. It became dangerous and almost set out home on fire. 911 had to be called. Fire trucks, etc. 

Another Sunday morning, my brother opened the front door to a large police deputy. My father was arrested for not paying a number of parking tickets. "Bye, bye, daddy!" (He was back fairly quickly.) 

One morning my horse jumped the front fence straight into morning rush hour traffic and freaked out causing a huge back up of cars. We were on the morning news. 

That same horse learned how to open our back door and several times was lounging inside our living room or kitchen when we returned from church or a vacation. 

We had an infestation of huge, huge rats. They looked like opossums. We children were scared and I think I tried to sleep on the kitchen countertop to avoid them at night. My father found the opening where they were getting in, under a water fountain (yes, in our kitchen we had a water fountain like in school) and when he tried to stop up the hole, he hit the water main and our house flooded. Like really badly. 

A tornado went directly over our house doing damage to a few houses, but not ours. I had to "save" my four younger brothers and sisters because my parents were not at home by overturning heavy chairs for them to get under and placing them in tubs with mattresses on top. But that wasn't a big deal compared to the rest because we were used to tornadoes in Texas. 

One night the ducks on the little pond we had in our backyard (yep, in the middle of the city of Dallas!) started quacking. Then helicopters began hovering over our backyard shining lights. Sirens, etc. It seemed some guy who broke out of jail was attempting to take refuge in our wooded backyard.

That's the stuff I can remember offhand--well, the stuff I can put online. I thought this was normal. In fact, compared to many years of my life that one was downright calm. But I pretty much thought that everyone's life was like that. I didn't go over to other people's homes very often because everyone wanted to come over to mine! Either we had a pool or we could go to the pool at our country club. We had a billiard table and ping pong table and six children (and all the neighbor kids and those who came from school for visits) and a big house and maids and lots and lots of pizza and soda and we had fun! All the time. It was a house full of party from sun up to sundown most days. Our home was loud. Loud with laughter, loud with fighting and losing children's shoes and being late for school and church and pretty much late to everything. 

When I was a kid, I was expected to give an excuse to the teacher for our tardiness each day. And I would sit in the backseat of our station wagon and try and figure out what to say. I had no idea! I was a kid. I just knew that when dad said to go to the car, I would and I would sit there and wait. And then we were late. Since I didn't know why, I had to guess. Thinking up new excuses each day was hard! But I tried to be creative... and honest at the same time. 

In fact, occasionally the principle would call all of us siblings together into his office and ask us WHY we could never get to school on time. He gave us all kinds of pointers of what we could do to help our parents so we didn't have to have tardy marks for as many days as there was school. Suggestions didn't help. Neither did threats. 

I remember the moment I walked into my homeroom class in probably third of fourth grade, just slightly late, and the teacher was reading a book about Christ and then the children sang a wonderful hymn or something like that. I thought that was so sweet! I asked the teacher what the occasion was--was this some holiday or was she just in the mood to have a little church service. With annoyance, the teacher looked at my fascinated joyful expression and told me, "We do this every morning! This is church school, we have morning worship.... everyday." 

I loved every single moment of living in our home because I felt loved. And I loved my darling little brothers and sisters and idolized my handsome, brilliant, athletic older brother. And when love is in the home, when joy is in the home, it simply doesn't matter if your life's ship keeps wandering into the Gulf of Aden. And my life seems to have sunk a heavy anchor there! 

There were lots of really horrible things that happened too--stuff you can't joke about--too much. 

(This is a tellable tale because it is so mild.) My father and mother sometimes had some hum-dingers for fights. Walls had holes in them the next morning. I used to conduct my own symphony in my mind at night when I could hear them fight from my bed--to drown out the noise, I wrote all kinds of beautiful symphonies--with especially wonderful violin solos and inspirational string sections swelling in wonderful, tender and Rachmaninoff romanticism. 

But sad was not the overarching memories. Mostly it was incredible joy. When small, I didn't really want to get married (mother told me I could not marry Jesus, my daddy nor my brother. Every other boy was icky). So I grabbed my many dolls set them on the bed together and explained to them how their daddy died a great war hero then began singing a soulful rendition of "Billy don't be a hero." Then, when the dying father part was explained, we would get to the actual living part where I would teach my children all they should know. I told my dolls we were too poor, since daddy died, to get them school desks. That was why they were on the bed.

I quickly changed my mind when my mother told me she had always wanted to marry a pastor. Well now, that sounded wonderful. I would marry a pastor. Then after reading "Little House on the Prairie" it was absolutely decided in my mind that I would marry a pastor who was a farmer and weekdays would ride on his tractor so I could gaze upon him at a distance in the large fields of our extensive farm as I baked bread in my kitchen and all our girl children would be in blue bonnets churning butter. 

But I was going to also be an actress and make lots of money and give it all away to the poor children in China. (Evidently my pastor-farmer husband did well, because we always had a massive home with maids in this same fantasy of my future life. Farmer Osteen-like.) And I would always manage to include, in these fantasies, family trips to the Austrian alps where our family would all sing in glorious harmony as we were escaping into the mountains away from the Catholics who were going to behead us for keeping Sabbath. 

Sabbath School, now that brings back memories. Once (again as a preteen) my mother braided my very, very long, stringy hair into a braid and looped it around my head. I was so embarrassed that to cover it, I put on a yellow beanie cap with a white propeller sticking out of the top. Very helpful in making me less conspicuous among my Junior Sabbath School class friends. Which may explain why today I still seem to do just the wrong thing to draw less attention to myself. 

I hated Sabbath School after I turned around twelve and having absolutely loved it until them. Kids were trying to be cool and they were disrespectful. So I asked the kindergarten teacher if I could help with the little children. She said yes. So each week I looked forward to standing at the door and greeting the children and pinning their little felt name tags on them. Then, with really poor judgement, but to my delight, the teacher would spontaneously set me in front of the kids and ask me to tell a story. I would make it up on the stop and with a moral so it would be appropriate for Sabbath School. I don't remember any of them, but I can imagine they would have been filled with tragedy and death and then the moral would be something like... and that's why you obey your parents when they tell you to make your bed in the morning. 

The teacher eventually promoted me to being in charge of my own sand table (a table with a sand box in the middle so that you could tell a Bible story with little figurines.) About six or seven children were at my table and I took this very seriously. I would study the children's sabbath school lesson and prepare each Friday night. I looked forward to Sabbath, being with all the children and getting to tell them sweet Bible stories. A lady went to the church board and complained about me saying I needed to go back to my own age group. So, I was kicked out. There were probably many reasons I should not have been in charge of a group of young children when I was still one myself, teaching all kinds of heresy among them, but believing I needed to be sent back to the den of teenage lions was not one of them. 

I avoided Sabbath School for years. I remember standing outside the door and dreaded walking in. I would stall with all kinds of methods. Then my dad started teaching my Sabbath School and it turned into a love affair. My dad was so happy and his enthusiastic love for the Lord (and the kids) lit up the room. I was so proud of him. Soon it was standing room only. My dad did more than just teach, he bought a bunch of backpacks and would take the kids on weekend hiking trips to Turner Falls, Oklahoma. 

After a couple years, he too was weighed and found wanting by the church board and he was asked to leave. He was way, way too righteousness by faith. They wanted their kids to hear more from Ellen White and how they would one day have to be martyred for the Sabbath by demonic Catholics and apostate Protestants who worshipped on the wrong day--Sunday. Then, I began helping my mother in the cry room with the babies so I could avoid Sabbath School. I loved helping with the other babies--my mother was busy taking care of my baby sister. Because of my own experience with babies, young mothers often found my advice shockingly helpful. 

When I was thirteen, I opened up a summer daycare for mothers at a local church so that they could attend women's meetings there. They even had an exercise program. There were only a few children, but I was a natural. Once when a mother came to get her child, I told her that the baby had been fussy because she was teething. The mother looked at me strangely, "How do you know she is teething?" I shrugged. A week later she informed me that I had been prophetic because a tooth had broken through the baby's gums a couple days after. That seemed pretty obvious to me. But it was nice to be thought of as some baby guru at my age. 

Then there was my inability to ever learn an instrument. My mother gave me violin, flute, recorder, lessons, eight years of piano lessons. I can't play anything. I was also enrolled in summer lessons for math, ice skating, ballet, sewing.... I still can't find a needle in a multiplication stack. I am not so sure it is my inability to finish something, but my parents inability to get me to class on time. However, I was so thankful that the fashion show for the sewing lessons took place on a Sabbath and I couldn't attend. I would have rather put a beanie with a propeller on than walk down a runway in that think I sewed. 

Then, my mother decided I should drive so I could help her in her new real estate business.  The driving class I was enrolled in was 75% pagan young men who scared me. You know... non-Adventists, young hoodlums who did unthinkable things with their.... non-sabbatarian ways. My knees knocked each time I had to go to class. The teacher spent most classes showing us gory films of car wrecks. I was working for my grandfather at the time and wore strictly business clothes and my parents would drop me off immediately after work. This particular class I was wearing the newest style of a wrap around skirt neatly tied at the hip. The teacher asked us to bring up our tests and lay them on his desk. As I was walking to the front, a young man grabbed the end of my skirt tie and soon I was standing at the front of the room without a skirt. I grabbed the skirt off the floor and retied it. In those days we had no cellphones and at the moment I had no change to call my dad on a pay phone, so I fled out of the room, out of the building and hid around the corner until my dad showed up. Which of course was an hour after all the other kids had left. 

My parents actually told me I had to return to this class to which of course I sobbed miserably. My grandmother sat me down and said, "You did nothing wrong. Walk right back into that class with your head held high acting as if you did it on purpose!" So after skipping about three classes I finally had the guts to go back and sure enough, we were very late. Upon arriving, I peeked into the classroom to see that it was well underway and packed except for a seat IN FRONT! What evil could I have possibly done in my life to have deserved this moment. I held my head up high and walked into the room and took a breath before I began making that very long walk down the aisle to the open seat. 

All the young men looked back. As I walked they broke into a strip tease chorus, "dada dah---dad duh da dah...." I felt faint. After class the teacher called me up to talk and my entrance must have been performed to meet my grandmother's expectation because he asked me if I had lost my skirt on purpose. I did not return. And did not get my driver's license. And my father chastised me for wasting all that money. I finally got my driver's license when I was seventeen, my senior year at Valley Grande Academy boarding school, wearing pants. 

No planet X yet.

Our family sang together, at church and sometimes as parties. Eventually I sang solos. For my eight grade graduation (at a tiny ten-grade elementary church school in Dallas) I wept as I soulfully sang Barbara Streisand's "Memories." Adults asked me what on earth I could have caused me to be so melancholy about an eight grade graduation. Liz Duncan and Jana Workman were going off to school. How could not the entire world weep at such a terrible break in the force of nature?

I sang a solo for a Friday night Vespers in a Richardson, Texas SDA church, "There's just something about that name." It end's on a low note, but I was going to hit the note an octave higher. Everything went fine until that last note. Not a sound came out. I stood on stage with my mouth poised open for a dramatic ending and someone shut the sound off. Not even a squeak came out. I ran out to my friend's van and cried. That night I learned a very good lesson for people who perform in public. It served to help any later stage-fright: No one cares. I was expecting cruel and relentless mocking from my friends at school and no one even remembered it. Whew. Life went on... and I was not the center of the universe.

Many more glitches happened in my public performances that were a lot worse. But I learned that if you laughed at yourself, you gave your audience permission to laugh with you and they bond with you because of it. All except when you are at your universities' vocal jury for your graduation requirements and you forget your words and start inserting the words to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" poem. I thought it was hysterical and as I walked off stage, my vocal coach had to stand up in front of the vocal critics and explain that I had three children (one sick child) and couldn't adequately prepare. They didn't flunk me.

I sang at a little Italian Inn in Fort Worth and one day I will have to tell that story. But it's sad. Why would we want sad on the day a planet is going to plunge into earth and exterminate life in the universe? Although it looks pretty beautiful and sunny out. Huh, hmmm.....Shouldn't life be a divine comedia? I don't know... maybe armageddon by extinction-level impact is pretty funny when you think about it. Maybe your ship being stuck in the Gulf of Aden isn't such a bad thing.

Who really wants life to be easy, anyway? I suppose if we all had easy lives then nothing would ever be funny. Isn't an anvil falling on one's head funnier than someone sitting without anything ever falling on their head? Anvils teach us a lot. We should thank God for anvils.

I have so many stories of my childhood: falling baby owls, fireflies, living next to celebrities in Jewish neighborhoods, long walks in bad neighborhoods with my siblings on a trek to get home at night when our parents forgot to pick us up as school. Hiding in bushes outside in Dallas Fair Park in the middle of the night when my parents forgot to pick us up after the Dealy Awards, getting to wave at President Reagan as he passed by in a limo and he waved back at us. (We were the only ones around--so it was for us)....

Practicing to be an actress so talented that Betty Davis would ask for my tips. Not that I wanted money or fame. That was not it for me. Acting was my way of getting to be someone heroic for a little while. I wanted to play Joan of Arc, Madame Curie--heroines who took tragedy and turned it into triumph. I wanted to change hearts. Inspire others to live for greatness. I memorized Shakespeare and learned all the Rogers and Hammerstein's lyrics. I was prepared.

I figured my life would be of little significance so being able to play these heroines and make their lives sing for my audience was my contribution to humanity. I grew up in the days of great musicals. When I turned eighteen, Broadway and Hollywood were no longer doing the great films and plays. It had turned to pure filth. I don't care how "redemptive" the story might have been, I know I didn't want to play the smutty character in order to all of a sudden have a redemptive ending. Entertainment doesn't need to drag you through the filth in order to show you how bad the world is. I think we all know it pretty well. We need hope and inspiration. American entertainment forgot that.

One thing I have learned well from all my drifting along in the Gulf of Aden, is that when the storms settle, when the pirates find a better ship to attack, enjoy the peace. Look out upon the great mysterious seas and imbibe the wonder of it all. I know this Planet X thing is ridiculous, but it gave me the excuse--along with some weird dizziness, to stop this morning and write down some wanderings of my memories. Happy and sad. And life has been full. At times I feel I have lived several lifetimes.

You guys have a wonderful day!


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