I is Understood

This post is from a few years ago. Long enough that I forgot most of what I wrote in it, so I’m hoping you did too, and it will all be new and fresh. AND I got really frisky and used hashtags in this updated version.

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Prudes are often self-appointed grammar nannies, making sure apostrophes are tucked in the cozy correct spots and participles don’t dangle dangerously.  The Tuesday Prude, however, hated diagramming sentences in school. Maybe it looked too much like math. When it was time to explore the beautiful world of grammar with our homeschooled prudlings, we choose a curriculum that didn’t technically require diagramming.

It was a good program and they learned enough not to embarrass me. The closest they came to diagramming was the requirement to pull prepositional phrases from each sentence and label the leftovers:  subject, verb, direct object etc.
Occasionally an imperative sentence reared its imperious head:
Shut the door.
Stop strangling your brother.
Rescue that dangling participle.

Where is the subject in the above sentences? We learned that the imperative is addressed to “you.”
You” shut the door.
You” stop strangling your brother.
You”. . .
You get the picture.
Their job was to label the subject as “You is understood.”
It was sort of fun to say. Try it. “You is understood.”

The fun didn’t stop when my boys finished school. There is a new way to use this rule.

It keeps the world from knowing just how inflated an ego I (aka The Tuesday Prude) am prone to.

One of the first rules a good writer learns: avoid beginning every sentence with the word
I.
Even in a blog, even on a Facebook status, or personal communication—start too many sentences with ‘I’ and readers get the notion that the writer is self-centered.

My readers would be right.

Ever hear the phrase “She thinks the world revolves around her?” Try as I will to convince myself that the world actually revolves on a tipsy axis, my id, ego and superego all argue the opposite. In the world of the self-centered, I am firmly in the middle.

Narcissism, however, wears thin. As an author, I don’t want to alienate readers. They want to believe I am interested in them, and I am. Truly I am. But I can’t seem to evict this nasty little core of me that wants to make sure no one bumps me from Centerville. Because no matter how much evidence to the contrary, deep down in my self-fascinated self is the idea that everyone else should be captivated with ME.

So I develop strategies to hide my absorption in spellbinding me. Look back and you’ll discover the sneaky ways I wrote an entire post about ME without once starting a sentence with ‘I’.
Sometimes, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to keep the
I-word anywhere but the engine part of a sentence. Unless one wants to totally convolute the syntax till the reader has to stand on his/her head to make sense of it.

That is where my ‘You is understood’ training comes in handy, with one crucial change.

Instead of writing
I am trying to avoid starting sentences with ‘I’”,
I drop the ‘I’ at the beginning of the sentence and it becomes a friendly, informal
‘Trying to avoid…”

The ‘I’ is understood but it sits modestly out of the reader’s line of vision, understanding that I am really the subject of me but not trumpeting the fact.

It gets easier:
“Loving this organic casserole that just came out of the oven!”
“Going to buy a new pair of jeans in a smaller size!”
“Just enjoying the cutest grandbabies on earth!”

All the above are just underhanded ways of saying:
#allaboutme  #mememememe #wanttoknowmoreaboutme #sureyoudo #stilldidntstartasentencewithI

Empaths: We feel your pain. Here, have some more.

Empath is psycho-shorthand for ‘someone who is empathetic.’

Empaths can put themselves in another’s shoes and experience their emotions.

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You want an empath around when you need more than someone to pat you on the shoulder when you are miserable and say “Poor, pitiful you.” That is a sympathizer. They serve a purpose. When you wallow in your particular wretchedness, the sympathetic person will not get overly-involved. The sympathizer will just feel sorry for you.
Then there’s the role of an aloof. This detached person sees your gloom, and wonders how you got there. And possibly is glad he isn’t in there with you.
Unlike the jurist—who will critique, censure, and castigate you from the edge of the pit of despair.

 
The sympathizer will offer you a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes we need sympathy. And sometimes we need cool appraisal from the aloof, to give us a sense of perspective on our hurt. There could conceivably be times when we  need the jurist, who tells us exactly what we did wrong (if anything) that got us into the pit, and MAYBE even instructs us how to get out.

 
But the empath will mourn with you when you mourn. The empath’s cheeks will burn when you are humiliated, and the empath’s heart will beat faster when you are afraid.
The empath will climb right into the ooze next to you and sob along.

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I could always, from the time I learned to read, put myself into a character’s shoes. Shoes? No, I climbed into the character’s skin and walked around in it. If I were a more open child and had shared these tendencies with my parents, they might have been able to act as aloof, or even a jurists, and convince me that too much empathy is too much. By the time I was about seven the damage was complete. There was no going back.

 
That year, our family stood on the sidewalk in our little town, cheering as a parade went by. I think candy was thrown. (I wouldn’t have cheered as much otherwise.) When I heard jeers of some rascally-types up the street, I raised my eyes from the Bazooka Bubble Gum piece at my feet, and met those of a truck driver. He and his truck had somehow gotten caught up in the middle of the parade. All thoughts of that hard brick of pink adhesive wrapped in an incomprehensible comic disappeared. My heart and soul flew into the truck with the man. I was experiencing the humiliation from the jeering children. I was aching for the moment I could break free from the parade, park my truck on a private, tree-lined street, and salve my wounded spirit. The rest of the parade was spoiled for me. I was one with that miserable driver.

 
It wasn’t till decades later—I’m embarrassed to tell you how many—that I could call up that painfully vivid memory. And realize with a shock that the truck driver wasn’t humiliated or scarred or crushed in spirit. He was bored and had a route to finish and just wanted to get out of that treacle-slow speed of a small town parade.

 
And that is the problem with empaths. We might feel your pain. But some of us (I hope I am not the only -nth degree empath out there) will add more pain to what we think you are feeling. We might project, on you, our own perceptions of what we think your emotional state to be. We may assume you are reacting as we think we would. A seven-year-old should never suppose that she is simpatico with a middle-aged truck driver.

 
Us -nth degree empaths might be feeling your assumed pain long after you have moved on to a place of peace, contentment and even happiness. We may picture you in the Slough of Despond when you are actually only splashing your way through a mud puddle, regretting nothing but your dirty hem. We can be found weeping with you even while your joy is coming in the morning.

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The life of an empath is a tough one. Our emotions are constantly roiling around inside, looking for more tribulation and anguish to weep over. Sometimes we can be the most frustrating of friends.

 

 
But when you are in that pit, and the jurist has pronounced judgement and walked on, the aloof is peering over the edge wondering how you got there and how you’ll get out, and the shoulder of the sympathizer is too far to reach, wait for the splash. The empath has jumped in with you, and might even stay there after you’ve climbed out.

Version 3

#youtoo

#youtoo

You must have heard of this one. It’s more extensive than the #metoo campaign. #youtoo transcends race and gender and political parties. It’s in history books and news, both fake and not-quite-fake. It positively blankets social media. We don’t necessarily brag about it, but goodness gracious. We sure do practice it.

We’ve been adherents since we were children. The first time I remember engaging in #youtoo, I was about 4.
That rude gesture—the sticking out of the tongue, sometimes accompanied by a “NYA-nya” sound (difficult to articulate perfectly while the lips were occupied with keeping the tongue extended)—was strictly forbidden.
In case you got lost in the syntax of the previous sentence—I was ordered to NEVER stick out my tongue.

Then my cousin came to visit. My older, cleverer, mischievous cousin. She drove me to distraction one day by being older and cleverer. And more mischievous. So I chased her around the house.
She beat me to her car, leapt in, locked the doors and stuck out her tongue.
AhHA! An unwritten rule in my code of conduct was that when an older cousin disobeyed any commandment, all bets were off.
The command was null and void.

I stuck my tongue out at her.
Whereupon she promptly shouted with glee. I heard her through the closed window and knew that somehow something had gone wrong.

“I’m telling! You stuck out your tongue!”

I couldn’t deny it. But there was that null-and-void addendum.
“You did too! You stuck yours out first!”

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“No I didn’t! I pulled my bottom lip down and stuck it on the window!” She demonstrated. It did sort of resemble a stuck-out tongue. She was fairly dancing with delight as she exited the car to head for the nearest authority figure.

Cousin could have been pulling my leg. It still is a leg undeniably easy to pull. But all I remember was the dread knowledge that now I was in for it. How to explain YOU TOO to the first authority figure on the scene?
YOU TOO=any infraction of any rule is sanctioned when someone else of equal or greater stature does the infraction also. Try explaining that with a 4 year old’s vocabulary.

4 year olds still practice YOU TOO. So do 40 year old politicians and 400 year old nations.
We may not say harsh words in the course of an argument. Unless someone else says them.
We cheat on income tax because everyone else does.
We don’t declare war. Unless someone else does. Or at least does something warlike.
“You started it!”

#youtoo has always been around. Look at Adam and Eve, for goodness sake.

Instead of comparing our own rule-breaking, our own infractions of codes, our own sin, against the righteousness of God, we compare to others. If they are doing it too, we might not be any better than them, but at least we are no worse.

Dear Lord. We are sowing the wind with our devilry and reaping the whirlwind of compounded evil. All because of “You too!”

“Conservatives, you are cruel to immigrants.”
“But liberals, we have proof that your politicians are too.”

“Democrats, you support killing innocent children. Look at abortion.”
“Republicans, you support killing innocent children. Look at your illegal wars.”

“Women, you are demanding rights based solely on your gender.”
“Give us a break, men! You think you don’t do the same thing?”

Europe accuses the U.S. of discriminatory practices against minorities and the U.S. can point to a thousand years of mistreatment against the Romani people.
The United States North snips at the United States South about various procedures and policies and prejudices and the South, with good cause, can point out plenty of examples where the North does the same thing, just dressed up differently.

And nobody changes and nothing gets better because as long as someone of equal or greater stature is doing something similar, we don’t have to quit.

The world points at Christians for hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness and ignorance and Christians point back and—
Whoa. Wait a minute. This is where it has to stop.
Christians, of all people, are the ones who cannot point the finger and say “YOU TOO!”
The only standard to compare ourselves with is the one our God has set for us.
When someone else breaks a rule, that rule isn’t null and void for us.

We’re different, my brothers and sisters.
We can’t use anyone else’s sins to justify our own.
Instead, let’s take a giant step back from #youtoo.
Maybe, at least in the household of faith, it will go the way of #Jeb!2016 or #travelingpantsuit.

 

Combo Plate

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Something good, linked via “and” with something else good, becomes twice as nice.
Love and marriage, bacon and eggs, buttons and bows, Mickey and Minnie.
A lot of my favorite things double their pleasantness when I join them.
I started a list of some favorite combos, old and new. (The new haven’t replaced the old. Just joined them to make an even more superior combo.)

Favorite Combos by the Prude

Quote and the reason
New: “I have made this letter longer than usual only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” (Blaise Pascal)
And I am always in a frenzy of word-cutting to get my manuscripts pared down to the required length.
Old: “Be not the first by whom the new is tried nor the last by whom the old is laid aside” (My father quoting his father quoting someone else.)
And it kept me from being trendy, gave me a horror of group-think, and helped me fight an inborn tendency to stodginess.

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Dad, trying a new combo of his own

Beverage and concurrent activity while imbibing
New: Bulletproof coffee and watching local news
Old (very old. 1970’s old) Diet Dr. Pepper and sunbathing

Author and character
New: Patricia Wentworth and Miss Maud Silver
Old: Josephine Tey and Inspector Grant

Color combination
New: Sage and red
Old: Sunshine yellow and cobalt blue

Sacred song and place to sing it
New: “Merciful God”* and a worship service with my brothers and sisters
Old: “How Great Thou Art”** and a country road, walking, as a melancholy teen. Feeling all nature-y.

Word & its association
New: Hiraeth—A nameless longing and homesickness for a home you can’t return to, or that never was. And the longing for a Home that we’ve never seen.
Old: Serendipity—A happy accident. And my dad explaining the meaning.

Entertainment and simultaneous drudgery task
New: Old B&W Falcon or Charlie Chan detective movies and ironing.
Old: “A Christmas Carol” (1938 or 1951 versions) at midnight and wrapping Christmas gifts.

Flowers
New: Any color and any other color as long as it results in a riot of color
Old:  Wild chicory and Queen Anne’s LaceSONY DSC

Scents
New: Balsam and Cedar
Old: Pumpkin and Spice

Flavor
New: Dark chocolate caramel and sea salt
Old: Clotted cream and jam

Food
New: Naked cheese curds and ranch dip (Wisconsin is basically bathed in ranch dip)
Old: Chili and cold white milk

Poem and location to read/recite it
New: “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
and sitting on the patio just after sunset when it is still light enough to read. With feet propped up on the sandbox.SONY DSC
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Old: “Irish Peasant Song” by Louise Imogen Guiney and walking along country roads being melancholy. (no car as a teenager meant my pensive self was resigned to moody trudges along country roads.)

Version 2

This is it. The road I walked along as a melancholy teen, reciting poetry and singing hymns. Sort of the opposite of Betty and Veronica

I try to knead and spin, but my life is low the while/ Oh, I long to be alone, and walk abroad a mile;/ Yet if I walk alone, and think of naught at all/ 
Why from me that’s young should the wild tears fall?



The shower-sodden earth, the earth-colored streams/  
They breathe on me awake, and moan to me in dreams/ 
And yonder ivy fondling the broke castle-wall/ 
It pulls upon my heart till the wild tears fall.

The cabin-door looks down a furze-lighted hill/ 
And far as Leighlin Cross the fields are green and still/  
But once I hear the blackbird in Leighlin hedges call/  
The foolishness is on me, and the wild tears fall!

There you go. Some of my favorite combo plates. Got any others you can share?

*Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Stuart Townend

**Carl Boberg

Well. Shoot.

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Well shoot. Shoot, shoot shoot. I wasn’t going to be here today. I was going to have cancelled my WordPress subscription before it automatically renewed. I was going to pen a gracious farewell letter, telling you that with the million (to the nth power) blogs out there, don’t for goodness sake waste time on this one.

Because honestly, some/most people who stop in here do it out of duty. No. Really. They love me and want to support me. So when my sisters/sisters-in-Christ/cousins/really nice people see I have a new post up, they stop in.

Hopefully they like what they read. But The Tuesday Prude won’t change the world. Believe me. I tried. Yet the world is still full of saggy pants and rude words and  apostrophes scattered hither and thither in singular plurals, isn’t it?

I was going to end my letter with a smiling and still gracious suggestion that the time you would have taken reading The Prude could be better spent picking daisies, watching little children laugh, practicing bird calls and taking selfies.

But here I am.
And you know why?
Because I forgot to cancel WordPress.

And now I’m feeling guilty. I post once or twice in almost never, but I’m paying for each word I don’t press here at The Tuesday Prude.

The journey of a 52-weeks automatically-renewed subscription begins with a single post.
My plan is to write something every week. Just to justify the money that was automatically deducted from my checking account by WordPress.

There will be fluff. There will be criticisms against sloppy dress, an excess of publicly-displayed skin, egregious grammar errors and unpleasant behavior.

There will be conscience appeasement too. I’m a Christian. One of those people who is supposed to bubble over with love for Christ and fellow humankind. I should want to share the Good News with everyone I meet.
Instead my tongue twists into a knot a sailor would envy and I can’t think of a word of witness.

So maybe that journey will start here too. Maybe if I get my love for my Savior and my awe at grace and my gratitude for mercy on cyber paper, my tongue will eventually follow.

We’ll see. I’ve stalled out on plenty of journeys, be they weight loss or exercise programs or cleaning schedules or devotion time.
In other words, this might be the start of a string of posts.
Or next Tuesday might pop out of nowhere and I’ll tell myself “There’s always next week.”

Either way, don’t take time from a beautiful life to read my blog just from a sense of duty. But if you can wait on that selfie, stop by. Might as well. The post is already paid for.

I blame the mourning dove

 

mourning-dove-1980911_1920Have I mentioned that two of my predominant characteristics are sloth and short-mindedness?
The first is just a more dramatic way of saying I’m lazy.
The second means I can’t see the end of my nose from my face. In other words I can’t anticipate outcomes. I could never play chess or any other game of strategy. I can’t plan my murder mysteries past the next page, which makes for many painful writing sessions.

It snowed here over night. A lot.
I feed birds.
The connection between the above is that I’m too lazy to maintain bird feeders, and I don’t care if squirrels or the occasional possum snacks at the feed on my patio. The grandchildren and I enjoy tossing the food out the back door and watching the birds on the patio eat lunch.

The sloth-bird seed-snow connection occurred when I was too lazy this morning to shovel off the patio. I just swept a clear spot however far I could reach from the patio door.

The mourning dove-shortmindedness connection comes in because a mourning dove was on the stoop outside the door looking in wistfully.
I could almost hear him say “Please, mum, could we have some more? Ours is all covered up.”
(Another feature of my nature is assigning anthropomorphic qualities to everything. I’ve been known to apologize to inanimate objects after tripping over them. Wouldn’t want the footstool to have hurt feelings.)

So slothful me swept off the back stoop and 18 inches of patio. (I was, to give myself a little grace, in my robe, and it was barely light out yet.)
Short-minded and imaginative me rewarded the mourning dove by sprinkling food on the stoop, where he could enjoy a little mid-morning snack since he had been so polite.

Then I heard the thunk. Sure enough, a plump little junco had been going for the food on the stoop and flew right into the patio door. He got blown back into the snow and sat there. And sat there. And shivered. In spite of my prayers and begging forgiveness because I should have anticipated this, he continued to sit.

So I put on gloves and opened the patio door to pick him up. What was I going to do with him?
Good question. Short-minded, remember?
Maybe I planned to put him on near the garage service door where the snow had melted because of lousy insulation.
But it was what we like to call a moot point.
He flew away.
Rejoicing, I ran for the shovel (being fully dressed now) and cleared a fair portion of the patio and tossed out fresh seed and swept any remaining temptation from the stoop.

And I promised to never again be so lazy or short-minded.

That’s when the mourning dove gave me a knowing wink.

 

Photo credit: edbo23 at Pixabay

Well, we sure stink

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PHOTO CREDIT: PIXABAY Rasterlocke

I had a post all ready. It was this correlation between the disregard for human life as exhibited in the glut of school shootings, and the legalization of abortion.

My reasoning was that, no matter what we call it, or how good the rationale might be for it, abortion takes something that was alive and kills it. And an intelligent kid is going to wonder what makes a life a few minutes after birth more worth the government’s protection than a life a few minutes pre-birth?

Then I was going to espouse my theory that some disturbed people have internalized the question and come to the conclusion that there is no difference between a defenseless infant in the womb and a defenseless student in a classroom. Any excuse might do—the child is unwanted, the classmates are mean. The child has a birth defect, school discipline is unfair. The child and everything it represents will compromise parents’ quality of life, the school and everything it represents compromise the shooter’s power. So might makes right in both instances.

But since I research almost everything I write to death, I started checking on extreme abortion stances. That led to sites on extreme eugenics and that’s when I tore up (in a virtual sort of way) my 846 words ready to be posted to this blog, and decided it was time to kick the human race in its virtual rear.

Seriously. Humans are jerks. I, a human, raised by humans, am sick of humankind’s collective jerkiness. I am ready to resign my citizenship and become a dog. But the dogs probably wouldn’t have me.

What was I thinking, that our problems started with abortion? It’s just another scab on the leprous human condition.

Before 1973 and Roe v. Wade, “separate but equal” laws were in effect in many states and if you think blacks had access to perfectly equal toilets, jobs, drinking fountains, voting rights and schools, I have a lovely little farm with forty acres in Chernobyl you might like to buy.

Most of us pro-life people know that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was an advocate of sterilization. Oh, and she might have had some racist opinions to boot. But wouldn’t you know it. Just when I point my finger at her as a prize jerk, it wobbles over and lands on…Clarence Darrow! Yep. A big advocate of eugenics. While he didn’t support the killing of “imbeciles and morons” (because someone had to do menial labor for the intelligentsia. Truly.), he was all for chloroforming babies seen as unfit. Oliver Wendell Holmes helped make forced sterilization of “undesirables’ the law of the land.

Well sure. They were liberals. What do you expect? Then my finger jerked over and landed on none other than Teddy Roosevelt. And Winston Churchill. What? My conservative heroes? Then there’s Alexander Graham Bell. And even Helen Keller. Say it ain’t so, Helen!
All promoted, at the very least, sterilization of anyone who didn’t meet a certain standard of intelligence, ambition, productivity or morals. At worse, some advocated outright killing of the “unfit,” from infants to adults.

Of course we stunk as humans long before the early 20th century. We stunk before and during and after the Civil War and our “slaves are three-fifths of a person” policy. We stunk in France when we slaughtered each other in the Reign of Terror of 1794 and the massacre of Huguenots two centuries earlier. We stunk in Russia with the starvation of millions, with pogroms against the Jewish population (think Fiddler on the Roof). We stunk in Victorian England when children were just cogs in factories and we stunk during the Crusades when Christians massacred Muslims and we stunk in China and India and…well hey. Can you name a place where humans haven’t stunk? A time in history when some human wasn’t treating another human as something less than a human?

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PHOTO CREDIT: PIXABAY ranjatm

Seriously, I’ve had it. I don’t like us. I don’t even particularly like me. I was all ready to call out abortion (which should be called out as one of the most noxious). And then I start wondering when in the history of people that we’ve ever smelled really, really good? Never. NEVER.

Aren’t you glad I’m not God? Because I wouldn’t have died for us. I wouldn’t give grace and hope and the Spirit of the Divine to such a group of jerks. I would have tossed our putrid selves into a pit, sprayed some Lysol on our lingering stench, and left us to rot.

Not that we’d have an opportunity to rot. We’ll slaughter each other first.

 

Note- once I get over my snit I’m going to write a post on whatever is true and right and noble and lovely. Because really, if God didn’t give up on us, why should I?