Friday, February 29, 2008

good to be back

after a week and a half that just didn't go as i planned - i'm catching up in lots of ways.
the kidney stone process was over a week long. that's just weird. it's hard to get work things done. and yet, work needed to get done. i did a wedding. i did lent lunches. i did sunday morning stuff.
but i missed a lot of things - worship planning, movie night, etc etc etc - and i hate that.
then, the kidney stone got better, and i was able to catch up on some stuff. not all of it, but some. that's not bad.
this past saturday we were at a drill team competition with our daughter and awesome friends the hansens; we left at 7 a.m. and got back at - oh, i dunno - 9 p.m.? san antonio and back. fun, but loooooooonnnggggg.
sunday was sunday morning journey stuff, then a shepherds' meeting, then spirit whispers, then academy awards, with no stops between. so, that's a freakin' long day.
monday got up at 530 a.m. and drove 3+ hours out to a small-men's-group retreat in the hill country. stayed up late monday night. got up at 9 - 9 a.m.! can you believe it? when've i ever slept til then? and the window was open, and the cool front had blown in, and it was heaven ... anyway, did hill country things, looked at a possible retreat center south of marble falls, and then home.
wednesday, again, one thing after another all day with no breaks in between, til i got home and just sat there, staring.

now, my life isn't usually like this. i don't like it, so it's not how i prefer to set it up.
but life happens. and ... it's okay. sitting there on vicodin, i got a lot of reading in eat, pray, love done. i'll talk about that book when i finish it; it's absolutely beautiful. and i don't think that's just the back pain plus vicodin.

and, here's a quote, about how life happens, and setting it up, and then letting it be what it wants to be:

20th century british author G. K. Chesterton wrote, "The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

more pee ... and less ...

so, i went to the urologist today, who took an x-ray at the office.
he looked at last friday's cat scan and the stone still in my kidney isn't a threat ... yet ...
the stone that was killing me thurs fri and sat was lodged above my bladder; it didn't look like it was there on today's x-ray. weird.
the urologist said that i need to continue to watch it - if the pain comes back, we're headed to surgery to head up into the bladder and beyond and look around and see if it needs to be blasted. if not, it's passed and i just didn't see it. or, it's just not noticeable on today's x-ray.
which is a little disappointing, since my back is still sore and i feel weird.

so, the report: i'm fine for now. i'm instructed to watch it, wait for pain, pay attention ...

good times ...
i guess i'm relieved ...

Monday, February 18, 2008

pee news

so, i got a call from the awesome dr. stephens this afternoon.
i have two kidney stones. that's right, not one but two. one is stuck in the right ureter, just above the bladder. there's a backup of urine behind it.
and there's another stone in that kidney, just floating around, waiting its turn to hurt me.

no wonder i've felt bad!
and no wonder i haven't seen a kidney stone yet!
and no wonder i've been confused!

peeing ... nothing more than peeing ...

so, my back isn't hurting ... my system seems to be returning to normal ... maybe i'll get a call from the dr. today about the results of my c.t. scan friday afternoon ... i dunno.
does it feel weird to anybody but me to feel like something's not quite right with your body, but not know what it is exactly, and therefore not know what to do about it, and yet, it's sort of okay, so just go on ahead and hope for the best, especially if you're feeling better ... ?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

cat uses mouse for manic revenge over unseen enemy

i don't know why this is so funny but it is.

to pee or not to pee

i've had three kidney stone attacks - one a few days before my 28th birthday, when our son was a month old or so; it was at lunch and i couldn't stop peeing but i couldn't pee, and my back started hurting horribly. a woman at the lunch meeting said, "You need to drive to the hospital right now. You're having a kidney stone attack. Soon you won't be able to see straight." turns out, her ex-husband had kidney stone problems; she knew what he'd gone through.
i had my next one when i was 39; it hit one midday and i was SO bummed out because they say if you've had one kidney stone, you're likely to have more; your body just makes them.
the drs had suggested that i give up drinking tea, because of some acidic somethingorother. so, i did - anything to not have kidney stone attacks ever again. so, 11 years go by, and i have another attack. a day or so later when i go see my
dr, i ask about the tea, and he says, "No, no - tea doesn't have anything to do with it. It's calcium; your body just makes kidney stones." so, that sucked! a. because i was going to make kidney stones, and b. because i'd laid off tea (my favorite) for eleven years, for nothing!
and then i had one two and a half years ago, when i was 44. it was the day before david gentiles' first sunday as a part of journey ifc. poor man! welcome, glad you're on staff - hey, guess what! you've got overnight to prepare a talk for tomorrow to a bunch of strangers! ... that's baptism by fire. i would've worried more about him at the time if i hadn't been at the hospital doped out.
i went to the urologist after that attack and he said to drink enough every day to produce howevermuch urine. he said it doesn't even matter what it is - water, tea, gatorade, juice, etc. (i think that's wrong; i'm sticking with water; but anyway.)
so, now, when i'm having a kidney stone attack, i know what it feels like. all the other times, i've gone to the hospital to get pain medicine and for them to take x-rays or cat scans or whatever to see where the stone is, if it's passing from the kidney to the bladder or it's stuck, and then sent home either a. when the stone has passed, or b. when they're satisfied it's going to pass. and you get to pee into a funnel with a strainer, and catch the stone, and take it to the dr, who gives it to the lab, to be analyzed to see what your kidney is producing.
the "pass" part means it's traveled from my kidney down the ureter to the bladder. the ureter is this small tube lined on the inside with these little nerve ending thingies that move the urine from the kidney to the bladder. if a stone has formed in the kidney (it can look ragged like a grass burr, and it's made of hard chemicals, hence the term "stone"), when it heads down with urine into the tube, it rips against the little nerve ending thingies and that's where the pain comes from. it's across your back and into the middle of your body. it's awful. lots of screaming. panic in the streets. meanwhile, your urine is being backed up by this blockage, and so it's difficult to pee. and it hurts. like you've held it too long - but you don't get relief when you go.

so, this past monday, i notice my urine is reddish. "i need to drink more water," i thought to myself - even though, in the last 2 years, i drink water straight out of the tap all the time. all day. that helps keep the kidneys flushing, as it were. the blood was there all evening monday, and then tuesday. so i called my dr, and went in for an appt thurs a.m. by that time my urine was back to good old light yellow. but i gave 'em a urine sample at the dr and sure enough there were traces of blood in my urine. SO ... by then it was getting increasingly difficult to urinate. and then the back pain started, yesterday. i called, got a prescription for pain meds, went to the clinic for a c.t. scan, and headed home. stayed home. took pain meds. didn't want to go to the hospital and pay all that out-of-pocket expense, just to come home and pee into a strainer til the stone came out.
(btw, it's not the peeing the stone part that hurts, at least not with the small stones that i've always gotten; it's the traveling from the kidney to the bladder that HURTS!!! once it's in the bladder, there's room. unless you get bigger stones, in which case, they get stuck stuck, and then other measures have to be taken.)

so, i'm home, missing my daughter-and-her-drill-team-hosting-a-big-dance-competition-at-the-high-school, and-i-was-scheduled-to-help.
i have a wedding i'm doing at 3 today.
i have journey gathering stuff tomorrow. my favorite. i hate hate hate to miss being with these people.
and, dear dear friends who now live in maine (bastards!) are here for the day tomorrow.
the pain seems to have backed off some, but i haven't seen a stone in my urine, and it's still difficult to pee. that's bad; that means the stone or stones are still in there ... waiting ... to hurt me ...

so, pray that the stone moves right along, and that i'm okay. if it's a bladder infection, that's different, and the dr will figure that out too i suppose. but i got my c.t. done yesterday afternoon, so i don't know if my dr will even get to see it til monday.
ALSO, i'm finding lots of resources re prevention and treatments on the web and other places that i'm going to use from now on. screw this!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

i drink your milkshake ... proper usage

if you've seen there will be blood, go read this culturally important discussion about how to, and how not to, use the phrase from the film.
if you have not see there will be blood, go immediately and see there will be blood, and then go read the discussion.
unless you don't want to travel into a meditation on the complicated effects that greed, money, religion, ego, hope, family, ambition, the american west, and the american dream have on people. in which case, you're missing a great opportunity to check the mirror.

A Precious Few

my dear friend mike who is a complete and total stud and deep and beautiful human being sent me this poem.
had to share part of it.
if you've been in the space this poem meditates on, you know.

Saturday Again

Saturday afternoon,
Or something.
The way you feel
When you should be resting
But you’re not.
All the milestones and deadlines
Are passed,
You’re screwed,
Thinking that another week is about to start.
The dog, knowing your intentions,
Steers a wide path.
Perhaps the family
Will not be so lucky.
Perhaps you
Will just check out.
Your fates are in the balance…

So, you think,
“Maybe light and dark are not options.”
“Maybe black and white are brothers.”
“Maybe Mother is the grey,”
“Her children, no color at all.”


“Where does it go?”
“Where does it go?”

You might imagine a cosmic receptacle
For all the good stuff,
With fancy shelves and labels.
You might also imagine a cosmic shredder,
Spewing out debris from the crappy stuff --
Looks like a comet,
A million light years long.

I look up and strain to see.
I inhale and exhale,
And try to take it inside me.
I reach out with my hands,
Wondering what I’m touching.
Almost in prayer,
I’m all alone again,
Perhaps until Sunday morning
Or something.

There are things
Worth believing in,
A Precious Few.
They cling to you most tightly
When you let go,
Guide you like gravity,
As you travel,
Keep you warm
In the howling winds,
Speak to you
As you sleep
And dream.

personal air impact

i just heard an esurance ad on the radio; in it, esurance was assuring us that in using more online forms rather than paper, they're helping the environment.
the disturbing thing was that the ad contained phrases that, i promise, were all about reducing my emissions, changing the way i release unhealthy waste into the atmosphere, and not impacting the air around me. it was so funny i thought it was a joke ad, but apparently it wasn't.

so, i think my wife and kids will be buying me esurance immediately. in fact, i think this ad, once the word gets out that esurance can reduce men's waste emissions into the atmosphere ... well, just buy esurance stock right this minute.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

journeyworship on yarn day

yep. that's how we ... un-roll ...

god songs

i've been tagged by bob carlton to list my top ten songs about God. here we go. in no particular order:

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2
Shelter From the Storm by Bob Dylan (and i love the version by Jimmy Lafave)
Across the Universe by The Beatles
Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder
Beyond These Shores by Iona
Where the Streets Have No Name by U2
True by Sheila Chandra
Woodstock by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
I'm Not Worried At All by Moby
Agnus Dei by Rufus Wainwright

these songs speak to me. are they about god? are they about what my experience of god is like? whatever.

Monday, February 11, 2008

jesus says ...

yes, seriously, this is the gospel. albeit in postmodern terms. but still.

no, really, go ahead.

sorry - it's been a whole week since my last post. a busy week. our daughter's birthday party. many, many things going on with our faith community - not crises, necessarily, just lots. in-laws in from out of town. another birthday party for our daughter. an all-day drill team dance competition.
anyway, i've missed you.
when i'm writing, it's a sign that things are healthy for me. no, wait, that's too passive a way to say what i mean; rather, when i'm writing, it's a sign that i'm paying attention, listening - and that i'm taking steps to be healthy. (my friend shelton says "spiritual fitness.")
when i don't want to be spiritually fit, i can find SO MANY ways not to be. i can:
  • watch tv for hours. i can justify that by watching home improvement shows, movies with depth or human insight (citizen kane, animal house ...), or documentaries. about, for instance, the movie animal house.
  • rearrange my itunes catalog. download songs and add them to my itunes catalog. look for album artwork for the stuff on my itunes catalog.
  • straighten the garage - but not really make it any different.
  • eat. or not eat.
  • run errands.
  • avoiding.
  • update facebook (a new way for me to invest time and energy in something that doesn't really make my life any more healthy. great. why am i signed up? because my friends are! is this like 6th grade or what?)
here's the weird part: when i'm spiritually healthy, taking steps to do things with my day and week and reading and body and soul that feel right and help me breathe, these things often take far less energy than doing the things on the above list. when i'm trying to zone out or avoid, doing the items on the above list, it takes energy to keep my head and heart from repeating, "dude, what's up? you hate doing this shit.
  • go outside.
  • work in the yard.
  • call a friend and say hi.
  • write.
  • read something meaningful.
  • take a nap.
  • work.
  • pray.
  • journal.
  • hug your wife.
don't do this other dumb stuff that you hate wasting yourself doing. get up! quit it!
... or, you know, if this is what you really want to do, then, really - go ahead. but you don't like it, and you know it."
i concede that when there's a lot happening just logistically in my life - a daughter's birthday and in-laws here, and a house to clean to prepare for that visit, and a few evening meetings at the jifc warehouse, and special stuff to prepare for lent, etc etc etc - slack time just becomes less available.
but still. i can choose for my life to be completely logistically full, if i want to.

it's good to have a jiminy cricket. is it Love? my soul? god? my deep inner knowing? whatever it is, i'm glad it keeps reminding me.

Friday, February 1, 2008

leviathan in the closet

the new movie "cloverfield" is about a monster that attacks new york city. it comes from deep in the ocean. i noticed in the movie's ad in the austin chronicle (one of my weekly musts) a reviewer's tag line that said "cloverfield" is like the 50s horror films "it came from beneath the sea" and "the creature from the black lagoon." both monster movies about a monster from deep in the seas.
monsters have always been out there, in the darkest or most dangerous places. places where human beings have a tougher time surviving, physically - or can't survive: the deep ocean; the dark places in the forest; the desert.
leviathan is the sea monster in the bible that's so scary that god says to job that only god can control leviathan.
ancient myths have all sorts of monsters - grendel, the minotaur, the dragon, medusa, the kraken. they come from the wild places. even the gods are monsters sometimes - they're out there, somewhere, watching, and show up to screw with human beings.

there's the witch in the forest who lures children into her gingerbread house. or the wolf. or the giant.
there's the giant shark in "jaws." or the other big monsters just beyond the borders of our village.
there's the devil and his demon servants, ready to pounce.
or it's the japs, or the injuns, or the commies, or the terrorists, out there, threatening us good people. we must destroy them so that we can be safe.
they all represent something "out there" that can get us. so we have to make sure we're safe within our village, and when we're threatened, that a hero will come and rescue us or a king will protect us.
superman and batman and spider-man step in to help; they're heroes who look like us and protect our cities. or, at least, as in "war of the worlds," we find people with whom we work to survive the attack of the aliens who are coming to take over our world and drive us out.
there's also the wicked step-parent - snow white has one; so does cinderella. (what is it with walt disney and female villains; did he have a mean mom or something?) (and what about "the wizard of oz" - it's another freakin' witch.)
in the age of the rise of science, mary shelley writes about a monster created by a scientist - but, as in jurassic park, the monster reflects back to us that we shouldn't've fucked around with something we don't understand. (this is godzilla, too, and the monster movies of the 50s in which a giant somethingorother emerges because nuclear energy stirred something up.) zombies, too.
but increasingly through the 20th century, and especially since the 1970s, the monster isn't out there. the monsters, the dangers, the secrets ... they aren't far out in the wild places.
to use sirius black's phrase, "the devils are inside the walls."
in modern monster movies, where we live is the wild places. the monsters are under the bed. in the closet. on the other side of the patio door. whispering our names when we pick up the phone.
freddy kruger ("nightmare on elm street") lives in our dreams. michael myers *"halloween") comes into the house. the killer in "scream" chases us and won't stop. the ghosts are in the house in "poltergeist" - and they steal your little girl and try to get rid of the rest of you.
we're in our spacecraft with our crew, and an alien shows up. inside. with us. or - inside us. we've been violated. raped. trapped. it's "alien" or the hal section of "2001: a space odyssey."
count dracula who sneaks into your bedroom, and snuggles up, and exchanges your blood - your life's essence - with his. zombies take a bite of your friend, and your friend beomes a zombie. not dead, not alive. ugh.
then there are hannibal lecter in "the silence of the lambs" and anton chighur in "no country for old men." they have no conscience. they will simply kill whomever they need to. no guilt. they're not normal.
their presence tell us that what we fear the most, is ourselves. a part of ourselves we can't control. we want to kill it and destroy it, but it is a part of who we are.
so, these myths, stories, movies, are our cultural dreams for repeatedly looking into the darkness, and then defeating it, or at least keeping it far away. we need to do this. the human experience is full of fear - of what will harm us. of what's scared or threatened us, from way back in our childhood. so, we have to tell these stories, so that we can look at it, and survive. we can dress as a monster on halloween and end up taking off the costume and eating candy.

it would be lovely if there were no such dark side to the human being. but then what would we dream and sing and talk and make movies about?
and yet ... jesus keeps saying, "don't be afraid." i'd love to be that highly evolved, but i'm not there yet.