What I’m writing . . .


Evangelical Baby (Memoir, Part 5)              

Back at the farm my boyfriend was busy planting beans with his dad’s old 3020 John Deere.  He got in contact with a group of Christian counselors, InterFaith Counseling, and set up an appointment.  I didn’t have any money to pay for our couple’s therapy so he footed the bill.  Oblivious to all this drama was our little girl, suspended in my womb, whirling and twirling as she slowly added cells and fat.

The first and only time I went with my boyfriend to talk to our InterFaith counseling team, a Catholic priest and a Lutheran therapist, they seemed sympathetic to our situation.  But they told me I needed to tone it down a notch, because I was pressuring my boyfriend into marriage and he couldn’t see beyond my anxiety to discover whether or not he truly loved me.

I finally understood what Tina Turner was warbling about.  I was starting to shed any allusions I had about love being the answer.  Actually love was beginning to feel like a high school thing, a second-hand emotion.  There were more important things to consider, more pertinent things, like how I was going to raise a child by myself?

What I’m writing . . .

Death Benefits (essay)

Life presents all kinds of challenges.  That’s what the minister told the congregation standing behind the polished wood casket at the front of the church.  It was like he was reading my mind.  As I was trying to respectfully remember Aunt Eunie, I couldn’t stop thinking about how difficult it might be to get urine samples from her nieces and nephews . . . (to be continued).


What I’m writing . . .

Evangelical Baby (Memoir, Part 4)

My boyfriend’s hypocritical sister suggested we see a therapist and work out whether or not we loved each other enough to get married.   Marriage, love, and now baby were all pieces of my predicament.  Sadly, these pieces seemed all out of order now.  Maybe a counselor could help us.

Meantime, most mornings I found myself in a beige waitress uniform walking (since I didn’t own a car) two miles across the interstate overpass from my apartment to the truck stop restaurant I worked at.  Each day I thought about the degree I had in history, the one with the focus on medieval Europe and the Reformation, and wondered how that degree was going to help me pregnant and in debt.

Debbie, another waitress on my shift, was someone I talked to about my pregnancy.  “Listen, you’re not even showing yet. If this is your first pregnancy you probably can keep working and no one will know until the last trimester and you figure things out.”

“Thank you for saying that. You must have kids?”

“Nah. I had three abortions before I finally got a tubal.”

I was so shocked I started madly busing tables, as if cleaning tables with a dish rag could somehow rid my ears of what Debbie said.  Why didn’t Debbie use birth control?  I could see one slip-up, but three?  Obviously, Debbie was not an Evangelical Christian.  But still, three abortions.  I’d never seriously considered abortion because in my religion if birth control was wrong, and extra-marital sex worse, abortion was the third horseman of the apocalypse (doom and damnation prophesy from the Book of Revelations).   I was beginning to see how my religion was waging war with my young woman’s body.

What I’m reading . . .


Sometimes (a poem)
by Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

What I’m writing . . .


Evangelical Baby (Memoir, Part 3)

Driving back from the gynecology clinic knowing the results of the examination we were both initially subdued.  Then, he looked over at me in the passenger seat and smiled broadly, “I’m going to be a father!”   His smile didn’t faded when I started questioning him about when we should tell our families, and next steps . . . like maybe marriage, one those dusty old institutions people still seem to participate in.

The good news, if you could call it that, was now as hormonal 23-year-old’s we didn’t have to worry about pregnancy.  The bad news was, just like that old blues singer, Tina Turner, sang, “What’s love got to do with it?”  That was a great question considering that in our religious backgrounds, love was supposed to have everything to do with it.   For the record, I was in love with my boyfriend.  He, however, seemed more smitten with the sex.  Such an old story.

So I got that waitressing job I’d forecast to the college Finance officer at a truck stop a couple of miles from my apartment and my boyfriend went back to the family farm, driving the hour into town to visit me for conjugal visits at least once a week.  He put off telling his parents about our growing dilemma, but finally broke the news to his sister, a social worker and also an evangelical Christian.  She was shocked and disheartened for her brother and ironically, curious about why I hadn’t been on birth control, as if the big Christian taboo of premarital sex was okay as long as there was protection.

“Hypocrite!” I thought, but I didn’t say anything.  She on the other hand, insinuated there was some sort of entrapment, that I’d figured out a way to force my boyfriend to marry me.  I was so offended.  Overall, not a great introduction to his family.

What I’m reading . . .

Buddha Brain

Genre: Meditative, Science, Nonfiction
Buddha’s Brain, a book that responds to this question: Why am I not happy and how can I become happier?

Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius has something important to tell us about how the brain functions and what that has to do with mood disorders.  Hanson and Mendius, a neuropsychologist and a neurologist, believe that the basic tenants of Buddhism: mindfulness, virtue, and wisdom, can be applied to the three fundamental neural functions of the brain:  learning, regulating, and selecting.  I found this book both helpful and fascinating, the way the authors explained how the teachings of an ancient religion have something significant to say about healing the mind and improving our emotional health today.  “We get upset about being in pain, angry about dying, sad about waking up sad yet another day.  This kind of suffering–which encompasses most of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction–is constructed by the brain.  It is made up.  Which is ironic, poignant–and supremely hopeful,” Buddha’s Brain, pg. 12.

What I’m reading . . .

Genre: Mystery, Women’s Lit

A question this book asks:  Can you be more loyal to a friend(s) than your mate?

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware is definitely chick lit, but it’s a good story and well told.  It’s one chosen by the Reese Witherspoon book club, which may or may not be a good thing.  It’s a tried and true formula.  Four women have a dark secret from their school girl days.  Now as adults, they’ve come together once again to stave off new questions about the body that was buried.  Ware, a British author, keeps the suspense going and does a nice job describing the rugged English coast and the kind of people that live there.  What makes this story interesting to me though, is actually a subplot, the relationship between the narrator, Isa (one of the four women) and her partner, Owen.  Isa says she loves Owen, but their child together, and her old friends, always seem to come first.