Betty Duffy

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sort of a Weird Day

I got a cell phone not long ago and I don’t know how to use it. The only people who have my number are people whom I’ve called and who have saved my number in their memory. So I’m not sure why I answered my phone this afternoon when I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize.

“Oh my gosh. How ARE you?” the voice asked. It sounded like several people I know. I could identify the deep timbre of my Aunt’s voice, only there was no Southern accent. It could have been my girlfriend from college, the one with the nodes on her vocal chords. I just needed to hear a few more words to make it out.

“I’m good,” I said.

“Are you sitting down?”

I was in the car so I said, “Yes.”

“You’re going to need to be sitting down when you hear what I have to tell you.” At this point I might have asked the caller to identify herself—but it seemed that the conversation had gone on too long to reveal that I didn’t know to whom I was speaking. And I was intrigued. “Jan was killed in a car accident last week. The funeral was Friday.”

I felt bad. But I do not know anyone named Jan, so I could not muster an appropriate response in order to continue the charade. How hard it must have been for the caller to make this call and deliver this information, and now… it was wasted on me.

“I’m sorry, who is this?” I asked.

“Is this Lynne? Are you in Indiana?”

“I am in Indiana, but I’m not Lynne. I think you might have the wrong number.” I said.

“This is the number I have for Lynne. I guess I’ll have to email her.”

“I’m sorry. I was pretending I knew who it was.”

“And you got caught, didn’t you?” the caller said and hung up.

I felt a little off kilter after this phone call, not sure whether I had done something wrong, but indignant that this woman would call me and then get angry because of a mishap related to her failure to identify herself.

The first time I typed the above segment, I was about to press “publish” when my kids called me out to retrieve the dogs who had strayed into the neighbors’ freshly turned garden. I didn’t think it would take long for me to call them in, so I went to the door to yell. One dog came, but the other didn’t.

My neighbor two doors down yelled that the dog was over there, which is about four acres away. I started to walk that way, and my neighbor walked towards me with the dog, and by the time the animal was in my hands, I remembered that I had left the baby playing on the floor in the house.

The baby is now fifteen months old. He’s walking but he’s wobbly. The other day, he turned up with a mystery black eye, but it’s likely he climbed something, a chair or the stairs, or his brothers’ beds, and then fell.

I shook off my neighbor, and ran the dog into the house, where I found the baby standing on my desk, banging on my keyboard. Thank God he had not fallen, but the typing was gone.

I couldn’t really be angry about losing my typing. It seemed a sign that I need to just let all this stuff go. Stuff being blogging, about which I’d like to have an air of detachment. If anything about it makes me angry at my kids, I’m not going to do it.

So I went outside, with the kids this time, to see what would be revealed now that the snow has melted. And what’s under the snow is turds, lots and lots of dog turds.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful and warm day, and we will want to be outside, and nothing’s worse than being in a sunny yard with stale turds. So I got my bucket and my shovel and started to shovel ‘em in.

We are keeping two dogs for my parents while they are on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, meaning we have three times the turds, and my kids gathered around to marvel at the volume accruing in my bucket. They ran around the yard calling themselves turd-scouts, pointing out the piles for me.

I had a playdate this morning with some women from Church. They both homeschool, and that's great, and I might homeschool one of my boys next year--not sure. Anyway, I realized as I was driving home that I had cussed two maybe three times in the course of the morning with these women.

I really am not a very accomplished cusser. It sounds fake when I try to do it, because I didn't grow up cussing. My parents didn't cuss. I don't like the sound of cussing.

So I can only assume that I was subconsciously positioning myself as the dark horse of the group, being the only non-homeschooler.

Speaking of vanity, I feel compelled to explain that the writing around here is probably going to be a bit subpar for awhile. Detachment. I want to quit thinking about it so hard.

There will be no vignettes from this post making it into TS's "Spanning the Globe" this week, and I'm going to be ok with that.

One final note possibly related to my vanity:

I love my desks.

This is my bill-paying desk.

It has cubby holes for organizing papers.

This is my writing desk, which has lots of space on top for spreading things out.

My desks work in concordance with each other. If I had a swivel chair on wheels I could push off from one and spin around to the other, and feel important.
But I don't have a swivel chair, just this little oak one that I pulled out of the dumpster at the public library--and the fact that I mentioned that tidbit illustrates how vain I am about finding a good deal.


Anne said...

Let me add to your vanity a bit...I love your desks too, and I love the blue and white wedgewood china dishes about them, and the natural woodwork door and the oriental rug. Your office space looks beautiful!

Love that you got a deal on the chair from the library dumpster, who throws out perfectly good furniture! Lucky you!

Janet in Toronto said...

Thanks for keepin' it real! Cussing in front of the homeschoolers....tsk tsk! When we lived in an Atlanta suburb, I once told a neighbour that I'd been to a peace rally in DC and the colour just about drained out of her face. I could see myself being mentally written off. Except that we waited at the same bus stop with our kids every day.

And I am TOTALLY jealous of your deskS. One more thing for confession this month.


Anonymous said...

In the course of your thinking on detachment, I recommend a couple of sources:

1. "An Now I See," by Fr. Robert Barron. There is a section on detachment in the book, but the whole book is terrific. And Fr. Barron's website is also very helpful. I have been listening to his weekly podcast for six years now and it has changed my life.

2. "Ascent to Truth," by Thomas Merton. There are several great passages about detachment in there. I have used some of them on retreat before and would be glad to send them to you.

Detachment is something that I never heard about until I was in my 40s, even though I have been a Catholic my whole life. I have pondered for the last decade and it has entirely changed my perspective, for the good.

BettyDuffy said...

Anne, the only bad thing about my "office" is that it's actually our dining room, and as you can see, I have used up all the space and left no room for a table.

Janet, I have homeschooling friends who actually do cuss occasionally, but this friend does not, and told a story later in the morning about how she told a family member to stop cussing around her, because he was obviously trying to provoke her. In hindsight, I realize that I, too, was trying to provoke her--and I'm not sure why. I think I might have some sort of passive aggressive feeling going on that I need to evaluate. And I think it's because I know that this person considers homeschooling a moral decision, and conventional schooling an immoral decision. And her stating her opinion to me in such terms felt like it's own sort of passive aggression. I should add that this is a friend whom I love and respect, and so it comes as sort of a surprise to me to see my little act of aggression put into words.

Anon, thank you for the resources. I'm checking out Father Barron's website, but if the Merton passages are easy to send online, I'd love to have a look at them. My book buying budget is on the wane, and working through the website is going to take some time. You can email me:
bettyduffy2 at yahoo dot com

Anne said...

Betty, don't feel bad that it's your dining room. My home office is a little 3 drawer dresser with an old kitchen chair that was falling apart, tucked between by bed and my clothes dresser. I scrunch over to reach my laptop and I know that it is terrible body mechanics. Plus, if I want to go to bed or change my clothes, I have to take the chair back to the kitchen or I can't get through! Making do is what makes life interesting sometimes, isn't it? Still, the dishes are beautiful! (And so is your writing-even when you're blocked!)

TS said...

Speaking of vanity, I feel compelled to explain...

Praise tends to stifle the Muse, so I apologize for my part in that. Or do what I do (on second thought, don't do what I do) and blame it on Lent. Seriously, if milk nose-sputterings are wrong, I don't wanna be a righter. Or writer.

BettyDuffy said...

The proverbial bathrobe...I love it.

mrsdarwin said...

I love that our writing desks look almost exactly the same, except that our bows a bit in the middle and the drawer isn't crooked.

The first thing I thought when I finished the anecdote about the phone call was that you'd gotten a prank call. I think the person, if it was a real call, was a bit out of line to be offended, but I suppose that's excusable in the circumstances. I guess all you can do at that point is be thankful that no one was really calling you with that news.

I don't think you need to worry about whether your writing is up to "standards", because what you have to say is interesting in itself, and you tell it well.

Hope said...

All my adult life I have continually said something in social gatherings that means I am not like you. I do it less these days but I still do it. It usually means I am feeling insecure about being me. Which is so ironic now that I type that.

You might want to skip my blog post today and certainly my links. Way too many swear words. I didn't grow up with swear words either but I have to say that sometimes they do the trick just right to express my feelings.

Pentimento said...

I grew up with swear words and I always swear when I think it will shock or impress someone. I'm trying to stop, though.

And the best thing about the desks is . . . your cello!

BettyDuffy said...

Hope, I think you nailed it: "I am not like you." And it is related to my own insecurities--absolutely. The easiest way to reconcile differences or the fear that I don't fit in is to pretend I do it on purpose.

Also, I was thinking about why it was important for me to note that these friends of mine homeschool--and I realized that although there are huge variations among home schooling families, in a Catholic circle, saying someone homeschools is sort of shorthand for exactly how Catholic these people might be, and also provides a rough estimate of where they fall politically. I will try not to paint with such broad strokes in the future.

Lisa said...

Weird? This seems like a very real day to me. Especially the way you processed it. :) I love your desks. And, about the cussing in front of HSers thing -- I like that you "humbled" yourself instead of putting on a halo. I respect that. As a homeschool mom, I'd like you better for it. (Well... um... unless you started sounding like a truck driver or something...)

Suburbanbanshee said...

You have a lovely home. Wow.