About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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Wednesday
Mar272013

I almost blew my house up

Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical.

We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles.

We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it.

At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow

and all winters we are alive on the earth.

We are important and our lives are important,

magnificent really,

and their details are worthy to be recorded.

-Natalie Goldberg, "Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the writer within"

 

Four months after our house caught on fire, we were living in a rented condo connected to fifty other condos all lined up like townhouses, but taken care of by a condo association and an HOA, so they were called condos.

One evening, I almost blew the condo up.

 

We had a gas burner stove.  I lit the pilot light and then turned the knob down to the lowest setting so I could simmer soup for dinner.  The oven was also on with a pizza inside.  Then I took baby Kyrie upstairs to read books before bed.

Michael took the pizza out of the oven for me, and then he and Malachi drove to the store to get milk for the next morning's breakfast.

 

While he was gone, I came downstairs from reading to Kyrie, and noticed a gassy smell. I checked the stove and the oven was still on, so I turned it off.

 

About fifteen minutes later, Michael came bursting through the front door saying, I can smell gas outside the house. Is something on?

 

As he was running towards the stove, I told him he left the oven on after he took out the pizza. He checked the burner under the soup, which I had forgotten to do.

The gas flame had gone out, meaning the burner had been spewing gas into the house for a good 30 minutes.

Michael turned the stove off, turned to me and said, if you had even lit a candle in this house, or tried to relight the burner, the entire place would have blown up and only me and Malachi would be left.

I nodded at him. I said nothing.

 

There are some things too big to try and wrap your mind around.

I did not try to imagine what might have happened, or how very close we were to being destroyed by fire again.

Instead, I got a bottle of white wine out of the fridge and proceeded to drink half of it.

 

I have no idea how the pilot light went out.

I have to admit that if I had smelled gas and the oven had not still been on from cooking pizza, I would probably have checked the pilot light on the burner, seen that it went out, and then tried to relight it- which would have blown up my house.

I guess.

 

I don't really want to think about it.

I'm writing about it now, because it seems like something I should document: how obscenely close I always am to tragedy, even when it feels like I am safe.

 

The next day I went to see The Hunger Games at the movie theatre. 

Reading The Hunger Games series got me through the first weeks after the fire.  I had another world I could go to and forget about my own crazy postpartum emotions (I'd birthed my fourth baby eleven days after the house fire), and the epic swings from absolute loss to absolute gratitude that kept me in a constant state of mutual adrenalin and exhaustion.  

 In my raw need for escape, I might have overidentified with the main character, Katniss Everdeen.

I saw myself as a warrior, bow and arrows in hand, fighting for my life while foes tried to attack me from every dark corner of the forest.  Sometimes, while standing in my closet trying to pick out an outfit, I would whirl around with my (imaginary) bow in hand, ready to shoot my next assassin. 

 

I met two friends at the movie, all three of us as crazy about Katniss as we had been about Edward Cullen (it's true. I freely admit that while Kristen Stewart makes me ill, I love me some Robert Pattinson...except I wish he had been given better scripts because he descended further into moony, pansy-ishness with each movie sequel)

I watched The Hunger Games trying to suppress my awful gas- the kind that, if you hold it too long, bubbles up into your stomach and gurgles like hunger pains, to which I convince myself the person sitting next to me must think I am hungry.  But truly, I know they know I just farted.

On the way home from the movie, I had to unbutton my pants, and drive hunched over the wheel.

Then I got stuck behind a fire truck- a fire truck that was heading right for my house. I was certain someone had blown the condo up, this time for real.

Until the truck stopped a couple roads before my turn off, blocking me in so I had to watch a fireman jump out, grab the hose, and lug this huge piece of rubber, like trying to manipulate a boa constrictor, across the sidewalk and hook it to the fire hydrant.

When I got home, I threw my purse on the couch and lunged for the floor so I could lie there with my butt up in the air like a little baby trying to relieve the pressure on my swollen stomach. 

If I still had any delusions of grandeur about being Katniss Everdeen, the gas blew them all away.

In fact, gas in general blows away our delusions of grandeur, don't you think? 

Sometimes, when I am feeling down, I remember that even celebrities fart.  Even Katniss Everdeen.  

Gas is like the reality check that holds us in our places- we are magnificent creatures, and also so very human.

We begin as the infant, "mewling and puking in the nurses's arms," and we end in "second childishness and mere oblivion."

 

And in between?  

We buy cheese.  We almost blow our houses up.  We read books to our children.  We cook pizza.  We survive house fires.  We watch movies.  We fart.  We fight.  We love even when it hurts. We believe in what we can't see.  

We are wounded warriors.  

 

 

 

Reader Comments (4)

"I saw myself as a warrior, bow and arrows in hand, fighting for my life while foes tried to attack me from every dark corner of the forest." ... but aren't you? (aren't we?)
Characters like Katniss help to remind me of our constant battle and the warriors we are, we need to be. There was a time not long ago that I was telling myself ... even warriors must have to step out of the fight to gain their strength back, right? ... but then God showed me that the reason I was feeling SO worn down in the fight was because the battle had actually picked up and I was right in the midst of it. It was time to press into Him more. (I'm not always good at remembering this, but the strong, warrior characters in books and movies do help to remind me. :) )

"12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." Eph 6:12-18 (NLT)

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

Dawn, thank you for sharing this. It's like Part Two to my blog- that we truly are always warriors, even when we feel like the wounded in the hospital. I find it amazing that you shared this specific verse. My word for my year is GROUNDED, and vs. 14 about "Standing Ground" is one of the verses I am clinging to this year.

March 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterTrinity Wilbourn

Yes! I really think the Holy Spirit is trying to awaken the warrior inside us, so it doesn’t surprise me too much that we’ve got the same verse. :) “Grounded” … Love it! My motto for the last couple years has been learning (studying, trying) to “live like a Warrior … not a Worrier“… And, of course, since I started “claiming” this I’ve been hit with anxiety attacks (which are nothing like the panic attacks I use to have … they are so much worse) and some days I feel like I’m losing my mind with the battle that rages inside it … the battle rages on. I know I need to be more disciplined in the fight … it’s time to go pull out my sword and get my shield up. ;) The other verse I’ve clung to for most of my life is

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God…

But it wasn’t until last year that I went back and read the whole chapter.
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD Almighty is with us;the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Once I read that, it really took the meaning of what I'd been clinging to to a whole new level ... really tied in to how I've been feeling and makes me cling to it even more ... right on through the battle. :)
(BTW … thanks for sharing so much, Trinity … helps to know we’re not alone.)

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

'God is within her. She will not fall." This verse- every time I read it, I think it says, 'She will not fail," and then I realize it's "fall," not fail. Because I will fail. But I will not fall, because God is within me.
I also think the language surrounding the "Be Still" verse is so incredible. It's absolute chaos- wars, the earth melting, uproar, burning shields with fire, breaking the bow and shattering the spear....and then: be still. Know that I am God.
Thank you for sharing all of this with me, Dawn. It helps me take a deep breath and brings me back to the knowing that I am hidden inside a strong fortress :)
Love,
Trinity

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrinity

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