Friday, September 30, 2011

Wimpy and self-involved...

There's really nothing like a sibling relationship to reveal how petty and self involved you are.  My brother has had a rough battle with thyroid cancer, so I had to get checked out, and when the doctor found a nodule on my thyroid, I had to make an appointment for a biopsy.  That appointment has been on the horizon for a few months, but, somehow, miraculously, I avoided thinking about it until the nurse called me back for the procedure.  Then the nurse announced that
1.  There would be no pain medication - not even topical anesthetic - because the pain from the skin puncture was negligible compared to the pain of jabbing a needle into my thyroid.
2.  The doctor would need to stab me in the neck (maybe she didn't use those exact words) at least three, possibly five separate times.
Suddenly I realized that
1.  This was actually a nightmare scenario for a number of reasons.
2.  Having a sibling with cancer is really annoying.*
When I get blood drawn, I come close to hyperventilating.  I can't look at any of the equipment.  During my last pregnancy, the nurse drawing my blood noticed my distress and asked sympathetically, "Oh, this is your first pregnancy?"  I had to admit sheepishly that it was my sixth.  (Pause here for a moment and imagine those last few days of my pregnancy with Bryan when I knew he was breech and I'd have to have a C-section.  I requested an ultrasound in the operating room just to make sure he hadn't flipped over at the last second.  I asked for a sedative.  Doctor:  We don't like newborns to be sedated when they're first learning to breathe.)  Couple this irrational fear of needles with the fact that I think necks are gross.  There are veins and collar bones sticking out and...ick.  After this whole ordeal I even got a little nauseous pulling the bandaid off my neck.

So, these realities came together for me as I was lying on the table.  I wasn't sympathizing with my poor brother, who has had a couple of hairy surgeries and a very difficult recovery.  I was thinking, "I'm 35.  He's 33, and he still annoys me."  It actually didn't hurt at all, but the grossness of the situation undid me.  I sat up afterward and started to black out.  The room started to darken.  The doctor sounded like she was at the other end of a tunnel.  They had to give me juice and crackers - to recover from the psychological damage of a medical procedure that hurt less than a blood draw.  Ridiculous!

* John is doing much better.
** The official results aren't in, but the doctor is 99.9% sure that my nodule is not cancer.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Biking weekend...

It's been a biking weekend. The grown ups did the Big Dam Bridge ride Saturday.

I was looking for organized rides in Houston and found the Tour de Donut, which may be the awesomest bike ride ever. Its a competitive ride. You ride 28 miles, and you get to subtract 5 minutes for every donut consumed on the ride. The winner last year had a finishing time of about 5 minutes. His actual time was about 2 hours. He ate about 20 donuts and thus beat the losers who finished in an hour and a half but ate no donuts. Here are Chris and I discussing strategy.

Mom, Dad and I took the brothers on a family ride yesterday. David rode his bike. Rand rode in the trailer. Jacob and Bryan took turns between the trailer and the trail-a-bike. I discovered that riding over the Big Dam Bridge pulling 100 pounds of kid is an entirely different experience from riding it on your own.

Here are some pictures from the trip.

Bryan insists on wearing his jersey backwards so he can put toys in the pockets.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Someday I'll want my vacation to include something more than a decent hotel room and a stack of good books, but not now. I'm reveling in solitude and laziness.

* So far the Flannery O'Connor collection and Prep get an enthusiastic two thumbs up, and The Uncoupling gets an unenthusiastic ehhh - not bad.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NYC day 1...

Chris and I are headed to NYC alone.

Comatose Rand on the way to Mimi and Grandaddy.

The boys hiding their eyes during the kissing part of Star Wars episode 2.

Chris sitting in an empty terminal after his dad and I insisted on getting to the airport 30 minutes earlier than he thought necessary.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 16, 2011

Yellow journalism...

David made a newspaper last week.  Here are the stories...
"Explosions at 11:30"
Today at 11:30 there was a explosion at Fall Creek near the swimming pool.  31 people were killed at the attack.  We think that Bryan Husband caused the crime.  Later at Ashburn Virginia there was a fire.  We think that Jacob Husband caused the crime.
"Serious Crime"
Today at Fall Creek Jacob stole a credit card.  We think that Bryan Husband is helping him.  At the bank Jacob and Bryan Husband robbed it and stole $6000.
Jacob Husband
Bryan Husband

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

To everything, turn, turn, turn...

Bad choice yesterday: Starting science after Rand had already started his meltdown, resulting in my meltdown. Anything we learned about electrons was probably not worth it.

Good choice yesterday: Playing with Rand instead of trimming the roses. We dropped handfuls of leaves and flowers and watched them float to the ground. I want to relish this season with him when gravity is fascinating and hilarious.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, September 3, 2011



against the wall, the firing squad ready.
then he got a reprieve.
suppose they had shot Dostoevsky?
before he wrote all that?
I suppose it wouldn't have
not directly.
there are billions of people who have
never read him and never
but as a young man I know that he
got me through the factories,
past the whores,
lifted me high through the night
and put me down
in a better
even while in the bar
drinking with the other
I was glad they gave Dostoevsky a
it gave me one,
allowed me to look directly at those
rancid faces
in my world,
death pointing its finger,
I held fast,
an immaculate drunk
sharing the stinking dark with

Charles Bukowski

Historical note:
Fyodor Dostoevsky was sentenced to execution for his participation in a politically liberal group. He was blindfolded and led to his execution. As he was literally facing the firing squad, the Czar commuted his sentence to hard labor in Siberia.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Taking back my ticket...

I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov and falling in love with it all over again.  So brace yourselves, the next few posts may be Karamazovian.  I came across this passage that is a beautifully stated argument against the existence of a benevolent and powerful God.  Really it's not so much
Evil in the world -> There is no God
Evil in the world -> There is a kind of God I don't care to participate with 
I think it's a beautiful argument for the seriousness of sin and why love must imply judgement, why the cross was necessary.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Here Ivan Karamazov is explaining to his brother, Alyosha, a devout believer, why he cannot accept God. He refers to a peasant boy who was caught playing with a landowner's dog.  The man had the boy torn to pieces by dogs in front of his mother.
Listen:  if everyone must suffer, in order to buy eternal harmony with their suffering, pray tell me what have children got to do with it? ... I understand solidarity in sin among men; solidarity in retribution I also understand; but what solidarity in sin do little children have?  And if it is really true that they, too, are in solidarity with their fathers in all the father's evildoings, that truth certainly is not of this world and is incomprehensible to me.  Some joker will say, perhaps, that in any case the child will grow up and have time enough to sin, but there's this boy who didn't grow up but was torn apart by dogs at the age of eight... You see, Alyosha, it may well be that if I live until that moment, or rise again to see it, I myself will perhaps cry out with all the rest, looking at the mother embracing her child's tormentor: 'Just art thou, O Lord!' but I do not want to cry out with them.  While there's still time, I hasten to defend myself against it, and therefore I absolutely renounce all higher harmony...  I want to forgive, and I want to embrace, I do not want more suffering.  And if the suffering of children goes to make up the sum of suffering needed to buy truth, then I assert beforehand that the whole of truth is not worth such a price.  I do not want, finally, for the mother to embrace the tormentor who let his dogs tear her son to pieces!  She dare not forgive him!  Let her forgive him for herself if she wants to, let her forgive the tormentor her immeasurable maternal suffering; but she has no right to forgive the suffering of her child who was torn to pieces, she dare not forgive the tormentor, even if the child himself were to forgive him!  And if that if so, if they dare not forgive, then where is the harmony?  Is there a being in the whole world who could and would have the right to forgive?  I don't want harmony, for love of mankind I don't want it.  I want to remain with my unrequited suffering and my unquenched indignation, even if I am wrong.  Besides, they have put too high a price on harmony; we can't afford to pay so much for admission.  And therefore I hasten to return my ticket...  It's not that I don't accept God, Alyosha, I just most respectfully return him the ticket.
That's how I felt after we lost Ellie.  "God, your world sucks.  I return my ticket.  I don't care to participate."  But the gospel - that a price was paid, paid by God, for any horrible thing that ever happened to me (also for any horrible thing I ever did or that happened to someone else, but those things don't cause me this kind of angst).  God paying the price makes the difference.  So, I've snatched back my ticket, though with a disgruntled attitude at times.

When I read this passage what struck me most is that it's a beautifully written argument for the justice of God.  God cannot just forgive.  He wouldn't be good.  His goodness implies his justice. Horrible things happen, and they require a response, a payment.  In Reason for God, Tim Keller quotes Miroslav Volf, a Croation who lived through the violence in the Balkans.  He said:
If God were not angry at injustice and deception and did not make a final end to violence - that God would not be worthy of worship...  It takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis than human non-violence [results from the belief in] God's refusal to judge.  In a sun-scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die... [with] other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.
It feels nicer to believe in a God who forgives, regardless, but, deep in my soul, I don't think it's safe, and I don't think it's true. 

Popular Posts