Eye contact

The parents never knew. To them, their children were kind. Sure, they were quiet around strangers, but that was to be expected, even desired. It kept them safe to be wary. They were sure their children were polite to any and all. Little did they know that their children’s eyes lit up only for them. Otherwise they were as cold as the grave, as dangerous as ice on a March pond.
It was easy for Jenny’s mother Stephanie to brush off concerns from her Mother’s-day-out program. They told her how little Jenny was hostile to the workers, that the other children stayed away from her. They were scared of her. Her eyes bored through, searching for hidden darkness. The children had never seen anything like this before. The adults had, those with sons who come back from the Army, scarred in body and soul. They made it back in body only. A part of them was still out there, searching for the enemy, always alert for danger. Some went one way, and jumped at every car backfire or firecracker blast. Some went the other – went dark. Kill or be killed. Do unto others before they do unto you.
Jenny’s eyes were like those folks, but she was only five. She had no reason to look that way. Both of her parents were loving and kind. There was no abuse of any sort. She was well provided for, wanted for nothing. Maybe if she’d had a sibling they would have noticed, the signs would have been heeded. Probably not, though. Siblings are always suspect. The petty rivalries and squabbles that naturally ensue guarantee that unfavorable reports were always seasoned with a handful of salt.
The boy named Arnold was the same. He first spoke on his fifth birthday, his eyes still dead. He was intelligible only to his grandmother, who translated his muttered birthday lunch plans as “a visit to McDonald’s” and not to “Aunt Dee” as he’d said. Even she didn’t understand why he said this, because the clerk’s name was Judy at the restaurant they frequented.
The problem was that he wasn’t here in this place. Neither child was. In bodies in this dimension, but otherwise elsewhere. Or else-when. Perhaps they weren’t defective, but inadvertent time travelers, unaware of their failure to truly be in one place at a time. How would their caregivers notice, after all, what with their own distractions? Perhaps these children were the newest iteration, designed by natural selection to never be truly anywhere. It was a good psychic defense against the insensitivity that was now endemic.

Art project as a distraction.

 

          So I started an art project.  Some people would call it redecoration.  It was an intentional plan to distract myself, and to give myself something that I could focus on and see progress.  I can’t fix what is going on with my parents-in-law, so I wanted something that I could fix.

          It started off as a need to fix a problem.  We had some ugly grout-tape in the bathroom.  Instead of caulk to bridge the area between the shower surround and the tub, we had this stuff that was in a long strip and it stuck to both things.  It kind of worked, until it didn’t.  It was peeling apart from the shower surround, and mold was developing.

          I was a little afraid to deal with it.  I was concerned that it meant that there was water damage behind it, and this was going to result in a really expensive remodeling project.   Water is as destructive as fire, but slower.   I kept trying to stick it back on the wall, and it kind of worked.  I asked my spouse to fix it and as usual it got put on the back burner.  And as usual, I slowly worried about it more.

          So I did what I do when I worry.  I got books.  Knowledge is power. I got every book on bathroom remodeling that my library branch had.  I decided that this was now a Project.  We’d save up our money and then we could do this right.

          Fortunately, when my spouse got around to pulling the weird tape off, there was no evidence of water damage.  There was a lot of mold, though, so I’m glad that it came down.  He put caulk in there instead.  It looks a lot better.

But by then I’d gotten the bug.  Thankfully it wasn’t an expensive project, but it could still be a Project.  We didn’t have to rip out the entire bathtub and shower and re-frame and put new tile.  That would involve hiring professionals.  There are things we can do, and that kind of stuff isn’t on the list.

          But I saw a picture while I was looking through the books.

bath1

It was beautiful Tromp l’oeil.   It is a koi’s eye-view of a pond.  I went running with it.  But I like goldfish and aquariums.  So that is what I’m doing instead. But you can’t do that to start off with.  Remember – paint the background first.

          So then there had to be a trip to Lowe’s hardware.  I went on my lunch break and picked up a few paint samples that were in the neighborhood of what I wanted.  I brought them home and gave the spouse a choice.

It isn’t really a choice.  I had already decided on what to let him look at.  So no matter what he picked, I would be happy with it.  This is straight out of working with kindergartners.  Too many choices is a sure way to stop any work from going forward.

Then came time to paint.  The room is too small for two people to work, and he doesn’t really “get” painting.  He more than makes up for it in being able to fix minor plumbing and electrical problems, so I was OK with that.  But it took three hours.

I’d forgotten that we had a dinner date with friends on Saturday night, so that meant I had to get this done on Friday to give it time to dry so we could take showers.   That meant I got started on actually painting this project around nine, because we had to have supper first and there is always the prep work to do for painting.

I decided to do this without any music.  I figured that it would disturb him.  I don’t play my music around him, nor do I sing around him.  That is something to write about for another day.

So I was stuck, painting, by myself, in a small room, for three hours, in silence. It was a new kind of hell.

Instead of getting away from my problems, I was right up in them.  Everything I was trying to not think about was right there with me in that tiny room that smelled of latex paint.

I meditated on Jonah, one of my favorite characters who teaches me how to deal with problems.   And I remembered that he was stuck in that whale for three days.  So was Jesus – he was dead for three days.  You can praise God all you want, but you are still going to have to wait until it is time for it to be over.

That helped.  I was still in a foul mood, but at least I knew there was going to be an end to it.  It reminds me of the person who had a ring made that said “This too shall pass” as a reminder for the bad times as well as the good times.

The next day I painted the leaves on the walls, because that had to be done before the fixtures could be put back.  Scott was out of the house, so I put on music and sang along.  It helped my mood a lot.  It was also good that I started with something simple like long twisty leaves.

 

bath2

The next day I painted some fish.  I didn’t think I could.  I was planning on drawing them on watercolor paper and then gluing them on, or printing some out on inkjet paper and doing the same.   I’m glad I gave painting them a try, because I surprised myself.

bath3           bath4

bath5

 

I had gone online for some reference pictures and printed them out on my printer.  The resolution wasn’t that great, but it was a good start.   I transferred the outline of the fish to the wall by holding the paper to the wall and tracing the lines Really Hard with a pencil, so it made a dent in the wall.  Ideally, I’d have used carbon paper.  I didn’t have any, and I didn’t feel like slowing down by going and getting some.  Inspiration shouldn’t be messed with.  If I slow down, the whole thing could have come to a complete stop.

The transfer of the lines worked.  I mixed up some paint in a small plastic dish and went at it.  I learned as I went.  I used a dry brush technique for the fins.  I painted seven goldfish.   I plan to paint a castle, an old-time deep sea diver, a treasure chest, and a sunken galleon too.  Later.

Today’s the third day, and I feel better.  The room looks brighter.  I’m still not finished with the fish (they need eyes) but I’m OK with that.  The problems with the parents-in-law continue, but I’ve realized that isn’t my project.  I’m sticking with the stuff that is my responsibility and leaving that to their sons.

To create a book. Thoughts.

I’m having debates in my head about how to do the book and if I’m ready to publish. I realize now that I’ve already said it several times – it is already written, I don’t need to add more.

I’m still writing more, and I can and will always write more. I have finally realized that I can publish the new stuff later. I can republish old stuff and put it with new stuff if I find I’m writing a lot on one theme – like Communion, for instance. This book is a taste, a start, a beginning.

I’m weary and I worry about going through editing. But then I remember the only thing to it is to do it. Just start.

Also, then I remember the Jewish idea of the yetzer hara – knowing about it is helpful. I’m seeing all these distractions as a sign that I’m on to something good. It is a sign now, when I stop to notice it playing this game on me.

Just like how a child learns “this” feeling is a sign to go to the bathroom – “this” feeling of being distracted is a sign that outside influences are messing with me, trying to stop me from doing what I’m being called to do, what I’m made for. Sounds paranoid? It isn’t. It is actually very healthy. The idea of the yetzer hara isn’t mine, and it isn’t new. It was very freeing to learn about it. I’ve written about it many times before. It is an indicator to me now. I’ve transformed it from being a stumbling block into a steppingstone.

The idea of the yetzer hara needs to be introduced in mental hospitals. Heck, it needs to be introduced to people before they get into mental hospitals.

So the more I write about writing, the more I’m not putting my book together. See, it is a game, a distraction. This is all part of being human. I still feel a need to publish something every day. It is a way to stretch and clean out my head. But I need to use this unintended vacation time (the library is closed for remodeling) to work on my book, as I’ve said all along.

Perhaps there is a good reason I found out that Internet Explorer isn’t to be trusted. I was using it and Chrome to work on the book. I had my main blog open on Chrome, and I had the Empty Cross Community blog open on IE. I’d post from one to the other, and check to make sure I’d not already posted something. I created the second blog just to create file folders for my book. My first book. Which is already written, mostly. I’ve not added anything new to Empty Cross Community that isn’t already in BetsyBeadhead. It is just more focused – just the religious stuff. No rambles, no pictures.

I found out that IE is highly suspect, so I stopped using it. It is impossible to look at two WordPress sites using the same browser – I can’t log into both and look at both. It thinks I’m “BetsyBeadhead” when I’m on “EmptyCrossCommunity”. It won’t let me post to it. So I had to stop. I’m starting to see this as a good thing – it has created a stopping point. Start on the next part of the project. Stop adding to it. Start formatting.

Time to get going. Wish me luck, and say a prayer if you are the praying type. Pray that my words are of use to people, that they lead them towards God, and towards healing.