Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's your silver lining?

Really, what can I write about? Is that the question? Really? It's been bothering me because I don't feel as if I've been blogging much. I love to write and even though I don't have "followers" on this blog--the live Feedjit and page view stats simulates an audience. That's exciting to me. That pushes me to write more.
But, really, what do I have to say? What do I have to write about?

I think the better question for me as a blogger is more what do I want to write about publically? What do I want to say, not just out loud on paper/screen, but to the person from Ho Chi Min City or Longwood, Fl who stopped by the blog this week.

I can't think about what matters in terms of writing without thinking about my purpose. What is the purpose of this blog, Pink Stone Days? What is the purpose of my blog? Here's what I said in an ealier post about the blog's name:

Though most days are mere pebbles from the rock pile, I thought I'd keep my Pink Stones in mind by giving my blog the name. Pink Stone Days are rare; exquisite days that make our forever-afters. They resonate beyond good, way beyond ordinary; they are the moments we cherish and wish we made more of when all seems lost.

Reading that description now I realize that I never really talked about my purpose. Why do I write here? I write in part to remember. I write to preserve pieces of my story for my family and friends, especially those that live elsewhere. I write to share: ordinary epiphanies and crystalline moments. In sharing I write to build community or at least the sense of it. The me-too feeling you get when experience is shared. I write to feel that I am not alone in this world. I write to record.

I named the blog Pink Stone Days because it has a deep personal meaning to me--a positive, pink, sunset with a glass of wine kind of feeling. I thought the name would focus me on the positive, on the pink stone, on the silver lining in every cloud, on the celebration. But sometimes it feels as if there is not much to celebrate, doesn't it?

It's been difficult to focus on the silver lining with all of the horror in the world. Did you read about the poor girl in north Florida? Her body found in a landfill? My friend's grand-daughter died unexpectedly last year --she was Collin's age. She died the day after Collin's birthday. I couldn't look at him without seeing Stephanie. I think of Stephie every night when I tuck Collin in--her family is in our prayers. A teacher colleague's son was killed in a car accident. The Bernie Madoff scandal, the economy, unemployment, health care--you name it and it's more serious or more important than any topic I could blog from my day to day.

So what do I do? Do I rant? Do I rave? Do I dish? Those don't fulfill my purpose, do they? Where's the silver lining for me?

This past week my pastor, Scott Abel, gave a rousing sermon about being transformed. We are transformed by our faith in Christ. Transformed by belief in God:

"Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your
bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your
spiritual act of workshop. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the
world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12: 1-2

Pastor Abel railed. He said that if we were still worrying--worrying about what other people think, worry about our jobs, worrying about things "of the world" then we aren't the transformed faithful God calls us to be. We weren't putting our trust in God first. I get it. Barely. I feel the idea of getting it. I glimpse it--when I roll-over mid-dream and feel God in my mind. It's in there.

It's my silver lining, isn't it? I mean like everyday. No matter what. Period. As my friend likes to say for emphasis.

My faith in God is not my opiate, but my promise, my hope, my belief in the plan and something larger than myself. My faith keeps my eyes on the ultimate pink stone: eternity.

Today, that's what I need to hold onto. If I have eternity, there's time. If I have etenity then how am I free today to be who I really want to be? To say what I need to say? I need to embrace it. Celebrate it. If I have eternity, I can live differently. If I have eternity, I can work at being the person I want to be. I can make amends or I can walk the talk or I can give 100%.

Today, that's my silver lining. Eternity. What do you think about that Montclair, New Jersey?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Orthodontia & Health Care

Did you have braces? I didn't. But, boy I wanted them. As a kid, I stripped twisty ties--you know those pieces of paper-wrapped metal you can use to close plastic baggies--and fitted them around my canines to fashion a retainer of sorts. Just enough metal mouth to make me talk funny and constantly tongue the backs of my teeth. Don't think I was the only weird one, I did this with friends. We made "braces" for our teeth and wore them around.

Collin had his second consult with the orthodontist this past weekend. They take amazing pictures of the mouth. Amazingly explicit. Lips pulled back, full-on. Do see that panoramic x-ray? Yep, that's Collin's mouth. My favorite part of the x-ray are his teeth buds just waiting to burst through his gums. Big teeth hiding in launch capsules buried deep in his gums. The perfect circles around those teeth--I just love them. Fascinating.

We first took Collin for a "look -see" at the orthodontist when he was 7. His front teeth are off the mid-line and quite turned. His canines are turned and crowded. He inherited my small mouth. Hard to believe I even have a small mouth, isn't it?

Braces happen in stages now. This is round one. For the first time, too, Collin went back to the chair without me. At the dentist, parents sit on a bench along a row of hygenists' chairs--of course, when Mom has cleaned our teeth, we're all just in the same room together. Last week though, the assistant came and collected Collin, telling me to "enjoy my magazine."

He leaves me in little moments like and I feel my heart catch of the thought of him off to college. Crazy isn't it? Is that how mother's feel the future in the everyday?

I ignore it, smile and settle into Better Homes and Gardens at the orthodontist. Next week he will get an expander. Braces follow.

But we'll need to pay for them first. When I was a kid orthodontia was a middle-school rite of passage. Parents saved up for orthodontia or bemoaned the cost over cocktails. I've got to check and see if we our insurance covers part of the cost. Collin's orthodontist offers payment plans, too--seems reasonable. In my day the dentist would just pull a few teeth to "make room" if you had an over-crowded mouth. I had several pulled and avoided braces. Teeth pulling is out. Maybe it was cheaper. Braces are in.

I'm teaching A.P. Language this year and we've done a lot of talking about rhetoric. We've been analyzing essays and images. The pieces we did on minimum wage haunt me.

How privileged am I to sit enjoying the magazines in the lobby of an orthodontist's office? How would someone who works a minimum wage job ever manage to pay for braces for one of their children? They wouldn't would they? The cost of this first round varies depending on how you pay for it. If you pay it all up front, you get a 6% discount. If you string the payments out over time, it's more expensive. If you have the money in the first place, why do you need a discount? Not only do quite a majority of people in our country not have the money, but they also don't have health care. Straight teeth pale in comparison to that.