Work and Love

Yesterday I hit “Send” on an email, putting in a bid for a program evaluation for an NGO here. My prospective co-evaluator M sat next to me, taking deep breaths and then a cigarette to calm her nerves, but I felt serene.

It didn’t start out that way though.

When my husband sent me the call for proposals, I read through it, thought “that’s do-able,” and then had to do some serious introspection to figure out how I really felt about it. What was my body telling me? I read the Terms of Reference and felt nausea as I scanned through the standard formatting – the list of acronyms, objectives, deliverables – just the language of it took me back to March when I was beyond miserable working on another evaluation for an NGO in Albania. During that awful time I thought about leaving my husband; we all got sick, it was just the worst.

But then I thought, this one could be different. And maybe I should give it a chance to be a different experience.

So… I decided to go for it. On Sunday, my husband took the kids to church and lunch and park while I worked for about 4 hours on the proposal, and after a bit of frustrated venting via text about just some of the idiocies of the nonprofit industry (seed grants that are somehow supposed to magically transform into “sustainable” sources of funding? It just doesn’t work that way) things kind of started to flow.

When I look at my CV, I even impress myself, so why do I always look at myself through this lens of deficit? You know what, I was taught to look at myself this way. My favorite teacher in high school once said in a church meeting, “Oh, but I love worm theology” (the idea that sinful humans are lowly as worms, to God be the glory, we deserve hell, we owe eternal life and salvation to Jesus, etc.). I have a hard time remembering that this belief is something I learned, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Anyway, with the job, the timing is awkward – I’ll be at a conference + visiting my sister for a 10-day period in the middle of the data collection phase – but I feel good about my colleague, and she badly wants the work.

And that was definitely a factor in deciding to go for it – I don’t need this, and in some ways I’d be a little relieved if we don’t get it – but if in doing this project I can help out a friend, I’m in.


The other story – on a completely different note – happened yesterday, too.

So a few weeks ago I took Illyria to a hospital here for a brain MRI. It was kind of traumatic for her, she had to have oxygen and to feel my hand on her leg to get through it. It was incredibly loud and strange. (I’m happy to tell you more about what we learned via e-mail – e.phantzi at yahoo if you want to write me.) So yesterday when the kids were playing with their leopard family stuffies I pricked my ears up as a parallel scenario developed there, with one of the leopard children.

The mother leopard, Lea, couldn’t figure out why rainbows would flash into existence whenever she hugged or cuddled Leopardy, who is also the only one of her children that is pink and purple. The parents each have elemental powers that combine differently in their children, but Leopardy had never shown signs of any of the expected powers – like lighting speed, or being able to produce endless heat. So she called the doctor for a house visit, and the doctor referred them to a scientist who could tell them more. Lea took Leopardy to the lab, where the scientist (a fawn) examined him and showed the results on a giant screen.

[I was holding my breath – what would the results be?? I just felt like this was going to tell me something crucial about how Illyria sees herself and the MRI experience.]

“Your son has a very unique structure,” the fawn told Lea. “It’s something I’ve never seen before. Every cell of his body is filled with and made of love.”


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