A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum.
Ok that's a lie, nothing funny has happened lately and I'm hardly enroute to the Forum these days. But the Romans are quite busy right now, especially their Vatican counterparts just across the Tiber. We've just elected a new Pope, and by We I mean a bunch of old guys I've never met.
This was a very rare occasion, electing a Pope to replace a Pope who is still living - Pope Benedict XVI voluntarily stepped down from his PopeMobile and left his flock pope-less for a few days while all the world watched the smoke signals for the newly anointed. And the new guy - Pope Francis I from Argentina - gives the world's 1.2 Billion Catholics a new start. Not that the last guy was so bad, or good, but the Papacy is one of the few jobs that comes with a life term, and red, Italian slippers. Few jobs these days let you hang around until you die, I mean these jobs could be counted on one hand. The Pope typically has to leave this physical Earth in order to be replaced, as do other religious leaders, in addition to Supreme Court Justices, and the occasional rogue dictator (though I'm sure that last category rarely dies of natural causes).
In the short time that us Catholics were pope-less, there was much commentary and speculation as to why someone with a life-long, world-famous job would step down before his time. Not everyone has a job-appointed helicopter, lives in a swank, marble and gold pad, and holds the affection of over one billion followers. Who would give that up? Was Pope Benedict XVI weak? Was he crazy? Did he have something to hide? Or was he brave, responsible, and smart to know his limitations and to understand the magnitude of the process of selecting a successor? In other words, did he know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run?
'People' (names withheld) and circumstances have been telling me to fold 'em and walk away from this blog. Maybe that's a harsh interpretation, but it was a lack of support that felt like a kick in the face. And not a kick in the face by an elderly, spiritual man in soft, red, Italian slippers. No, it was more like a poke in the eye with the heel of a bedazzled stiletto followed by a blunt blow to the jaw with a steel-toed workboot. It hurt. And it was more hurt on a pile of hurt created by the everyday circumstances of late: A baby in the hospital, a sick family, job stress, impending layoffs, 'wintry mix', tax season, other stuff, and did I mention a baby in the hospital (read: medical bills, read: having used up all your sick days for the year by February). And when I wrote 'sick family' all of us were sick at the same time, it was so bad I instituted a curfew so we forced ourselves to sleep as much as possible because at this point I just don't think the pharmacy would give us any more antibiotics - even if we broke in, there would be none left to steal. Then there were two whole days of sanitizing: if it fit in the dishwasher or washing machine, it went in. Everything got put on the back-burner or shelved for a few weeks. Hence my three week gap in blogging, and even the title of this entry kind of inferred that the pope had not yet been selected, so I confess I started it a while ago and am just wrapping it up now.
I’m working on two other stories right now and I’ve got other ideas in the pipeline.
Our time entertaining a one year old in a hospital room for five days tapped into our ultimate resourcefulness: Cheerios can be counted (and dropped on the floor), latex gloves can be balloons, the up-and-down of an auto-adjusting hospital bed is very entertaining (albeit loud), and the gift shop sells balloons (the real kind). Most importantly, in that time I think Nicholas discovered books. Yes, books are rectangles with pictures and words that Mommy can read 38 times in a row before moving on to another one. I don’t even think I need to look at the words any longer to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Spring is coming, the days are getting longer, I’m hoping things are looking up. Next week we have a mini-trip to Las Vegas to visit with my in-laws. Typically this would be a great trip without hesitation as it’s been in the past. Now with baby in tow, it will be a vacation wrapped in a baby-stuff-schlepping adventure wrapped in an airport security-with-child challenge. Not that the kid should be packing, but I’m sure Nick will be the only child on the red-eye to Vegas. Our plan is to leave extra time to get through the airport. And by extra time, I just took another vacation day from work as a cushion.
I’m not ready to fold ‘em. I’m not ready to walk away. I’m not ready to run. Things have been difficult as of late, but there is always news here to report, from the Seventh Borough just as there is news in the Vatican, and I am sure we will have news to report from Las Vegas (not everyone get to visit the biggest party town in the US and stay with their family in a retirement community, but even the community has a bar and a pool). We solder on. We don’t give up. We pray for our intentions. We pray to our new pope, Pope Francis, we pray to Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers (and assuming also the patron saint of security pat downs?) and we pray to Kenny Rodgers, the patron saint of gamblers, because “The secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep”
Stay tuned for geology lessons right here in the Seventh Borough!