Old Photos

WI found THE hard drive. You know, THE one. With ALL the things. As in EVERY picture I’ve ever taken, well, there are PLENTY of pictures remaining on my old Dell laptop that’s sitting in the chest of drawers in my old room at home, but they don’t count.

I did however find this picture – which claims to be from the early 2000’s

What in the world? I know, I know. We were in Little Rock for Barry and Charlotte’s wedding. This was a long, long time ago. And a very, very fun trip.

Which leads to a post that has been developing in my head for a while. Let me start with this, which I will come back to in a later post: I had a long training run on Saturday. In what has been an unusually mild winter, we ran 12 miles in the second bad snow storm of the winter. I have NEVER run in a snow storm. Much less miles and miles of hills in a snow storm. Much less packed snow, with runners whizzing past me like it is nothing! Thankfully there were plenty around me trying to figure out how to keep traction on the icy snow. When I finished the run I felt so proud of myself. It was so hard, it took a lot of persistence to do it, a lot of people ran it on a treadmill. I was so proud. Rightfully so. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. I was also really proud of myself for being ok being proud of myself. It was a HUGE moment of growth for me. I would normally feel really guilty for that kind of thing. No psychoanalytical understanding of why, just, normally I would.

As I look back through these pictures I realize that there are a lot of things that I am really proud of. One is my resilience. I am the come back queen. This is an incredibly important skill, as another thing that I am very skilled at is making mistakes. Now, I used to really resent this. Actually, hate it. I felt like there were blue-eyed, golden people who sail through life just getting it right. And in ways, there are. In some ways, that is, in fact a very enviable life. However; I have learned as one who makes many mistakes, the beauty of grace and forgiveness.  Not the everyday kind of forgiveness where you gloss over things, but the kind Patty sings about

Open your eyes boy, we made it though the night
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed
And I raise my voice to the air
And we were blessed
It’s hard to give
It’s hard to get
It’s hard to give
But still I think it’s the best bet
Hard to give
Never gonna forget
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

Man, there are days that those words ring so deep in my soul I think I can physically feel them. I am proud of myself for learning to communicate, for not backing down from conflict, for accepting forgiveness and for giving it. I have also learned that an apology offered in sincerity should be offered once. No one should have to beg. Obviously, forgiving doesn’t mean the situation doesn’t still smart… Take some time and space. This is one of the things I feel the most proud of in our marriage. When a sincere apology is on the table, but someone’s emotional water is still murky – we make sure that the edict of forgiveness is declared and a request for space is given. The harder part is that eventually you have to get over it, you’ve forgiven, you’ve got to go back over to that person you love and risk it all over again. I am proud of the ways that I have fought it out in many of my relationships. We haven’t always done it right, but those three women in that picture above remain three of my very best friends. I am really proud of that.

Speaking of that. Mimers. That one on the right. She got married to a guy from Little Rock. We didn’t know that when we were in my Dad’s backyard taking this picture… Nor could we have known that her marriage would lead to my own. I am so proud of the choice I made in life partner. Waiting until your mid-thirties to get married is like social suicide in the south. I had people offering me magic frogs in hopes that there was some long lost line of princessry in my blood. I went on some bad dates. Had some un-reasonable crushes. And one horribly broken heart, that I thought I might never recover from. I went back to that moment of love again and again, believing that maybe that was as good as it gets. And then disguised in an Old Navy Navajo shirt and some 1990 white washed jeans, Justin walked into my life and made me realize every cliche I ever heard was true. Every time AM told me to hold on, every story she told me about feeling the same way before UK was true and she was right. It was worth the wait. I am so proud of myself for not settling just so I didn’t have to be alone, because in the end, I would have ended up alone in a marriage I regretted – trying to make it work.

I am proud of myself for loosing lots and lots of weight and keeping it off. As you all know, I never thought I could run a marathon. AM&UK held my hand and carried me through 6 hard months of training and about 10 pounds of weight loss a month. I finished the first race in about 6 hours and 42 minutes to my dear friends running with me and cheering like crazy! I’ve run a few more races since then, lost about 30 more pounds and kept it off. I am incredibly proud of this. I struggle with maintaining a healthy balance of health sometimes, but the older I get, the less I care about what I look like or weigh and the more I care about being healthy and happy. I am also proud of growing in that way.

I am proud of myself for moving to Germany and I am more proud of myself for moving home. There were a series of incredibly hard decisions that went into both of those things, and consequences that were beyond painful as a result of both, but I can say with total honesty that both times were the more courageous acts I have executed in my life. I am thankful for the unrelenting support of AM&UK to remind me that I am NEVER stuck.

I am proud of my relationship with AM&UK. We were all in Brooklyn recently, telling stories and being our normal, ridiculous selves… Justin asked when my relationship with them really turned around. They shared a series of events, exactly the ones that I had shared with him, which led to the precious deepening of our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, when we tell our funniest stories – there is NO AGREEMENT and CONSTANT ARGUMENT regarding the “facts.” And I love that. We forged our relationship and intimacy together and I am so proud of that.

One last thing. I am incredibly proud of myself for going back to school. I am proud of myself for the hard work I have put into it. I am proud of myself for doing so well. I am proud of myself for all that I have achieved. I am proud of myself for being invited to participate in the program that I did at Vassar. I am proud of myself for being on the Dean’s List, in Phi Theta Kappa, the Commonwealth Honor Society… I am proud of myself for being friends with the students in my classes, single mothers, young kids, international students, locals, recent immigrants. I am proud of myself for having fantastic relationships with my professors and faculty. I am proud of myself for being courageous enough to apply to the schools I am applying to. Even though there’s a chance that I might not get in, I am going to risk it. I am 34 years old, I have incredible life experience, I am a critical thinker, I am a contributor, and I would be an asset to any college or university smart enough to accept me. I am really excited to see which schools decide I am the right fit for them. I will be really sad to leave Community College though, this has been an incredible experience. I have had professors at BHCC that I will treasure forever. Natalie Oliveri, Thomas Hooper,  Khaled Abukhidejeh, Karen Hawthorne, Luke Salisbury…  Seriously. I don’t think they get better. I am so proud to be a student at Bunker Hill, proud of the student that I have become there, proud of the work I have done there and I will be proud to promote the school and the Community College system as a transfer student. Going back to college at 33 is no easy task. As a matter of fact, it has felt impossible at moments, but I have done it well, and I am really, really proud of that.

What are you proud of? I think it’s a really healthy thing to be able to look at our lives and puff up with a healthy pride at the things that we have worked hard for. I have not done the above things perfectly, and many of them I have not even done well, but that doesn’t mean I am not proud of them. In turn, spend a little time telling the people around you what you’re proud of. It never gets old. Ever. The entire world would be a little better off if we did a little less criticizing and a little more encouraging… In my opinion at least! On that note, I am really proud of you for reading all 1600 words of this post! Thanks for hanging in through this braggy pants post.

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Unplugged

So I’ve decided to do a Monday dump. The truth is, we go offline on Sundays, but really, for the most part we are kind of off line on Saturdays as well (other than my campaign for Jady Griffin to have 400 followers for his birthday.)

Needless to say, this unplugging means that a lot of things come up in reading or conversation and I thought this might be a good day to turn them over to you.

So the firs thing, is that if you are on Twitter and you like to be amused, you should follow Jady Griffin. His quotes of his son Tait are hysterical. His wife has a blog called Lark and Bloom that I posted for last mothers day. It’s a Christian blog, that has a lot of real life insight. You should check that one out also.

We didn’t directly celebrate Elvis’ birthday. But it’s widely known that Graceland

is a favorite of AM’s. Though I have to admit, I am not really sure that I know why… I need to follow up on that. Also. A line in the infamous Marc Cohn song, Walking in Memphis. In case you missed the horrific drama this post created. Anyway, peanut butter banana sandwiches for all.

Nope, this weekend we celebrated the release of AL from prison the hospital. We got an update Saturday morning on Justin’s Granddad, the lack of update since then probably means that Justin’s sister was in town. Hopefully we’ll hear something today. At last news he was doing better – breathing on his own. In our opinion no news is good news! We look forward to not frantically checking our phones to make sure that no one has called or texted with bad news. It was awesome to get the news that AL was going home! We offered lots of thankful prayers during prayers of the people last night for AL’s release and what we hope is Granddad’s continued improvement.

We LOVED this article in the Sunday Times. Be It Resolved. Seriously. So, for those of you who don’t know my AM, she has resolve of steel. She does most of these things naturally. When I showed her the calorie tracking app she has used it faithfully and her weight has stayed really consistent. It’s awesome. I, on the other hand, almost never use it consistently and I toy with 7 pounds like Sadie plays with boxes. I am going to be better about it though. I am resolved. Seriously. Anyway, it’s a great article and very pragmatic and scientific. So give it a read.

For humor. We live at the end of a dead end street. It dead ends into a cemetery. So people use our driveway as a turnabout. Once a month people yell at us or threaten to ram our car for waiting patiently while they use our driveway as a turnabout. Last night, after church, two cars were backing in to turn around and there were three cars parked in front of the fire hydrant so they couldn’t go there… There we sit. On the street. With two cars in our drive way. Three cars illegally parked at the end of the street and we backed up to let the cars out of our driveway so that we could get in, the cars, of course FURIOUS, thinking we’re backing up only to do the same thing they’re doing, not to park AT OUR HOME. I thought Justin was going to go postal. Currently there is a poster taped to a trash can in our driveway that says, Private Driveway NO U-TURNS. I think it got hit at least 10 times last night.

Warning – small political rant. I’ve never lived in a state where primary advertising is reachable. It’s something else. Anyway, there’s this ad out. I won’t mention the candidate. However, the indication is that faith=moral and non-christian/non-jewish/non-mormon faith=immoral. As I said earlier, we go to church. Yesterday after church, we were pulling out of our parking spot, a cabbie almost slammed into the left side of our car trying to get around us and the woman behind us tried to cut around us on the right – while on the phone, with the window down, screaming profanity. Clearly, I responded by rolling the window down and responding in kind. Moral? Probably not according to a man who uses the word zany as an insult. History has shown that both the atheist and the zealot’s capacity for morality and immorality are on parr, and the religious man is the very one who should carefully head how he yields his claim of piety. You would never find an atheist behaving in the same manner. I think it’s pretty dangerous to associate morality exclusively with three specific sects of faith, and statistics show that in fact that is EXACTLY what Americans do. Just something to mull around, and ask yourself.

So there you have it. The tree is down. Epiphany, Little Christmas is past, AL is home, Aunt Sue’s Chocolate Cake is almost gone, and the temp outside is finally above 30 so I need to go for a run. Happy Monday everyone. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget…

Anchor & Key

So, I’ve been working on a bit of a business venture.  It’s called Anchor&Key, we’re on Facebook  and Twitter.  It’s new. I’m an amateur.  I’m booking shoots on a sliding scale of what people can afford.  A bottle of wine, or money.  So if you know anyone in my vicinity, please refer me, or refer them.

The blog project is going well.  We’re raising money for the orphan project again.  So I’ve been working on that – which counts for class.  The Anchor&Key project counts, we had a test, which was a two day pass, so needless to say, you’ve seen the gap here.  But I am going to keep it up.

I am going to do relevant Fridays.  The Economist comes out on Fridays, so I am going to try to do a little “blip” or “blurb” on the week.  I know most of you are friends and I know lots of you aren’t that into the news or NPR so I am going to try to deliver what’s relevant in bite size pieces.  I think in an election year, with this kind of economy we should all know what’s up.  We should all also be aware that Hugo Chavez is probably, in fact dying.  That Jessica Simpson is now confirmed pregnant. Kim Kardashian was married for 72 days, I have been married for 425… You know.  Things that are relevant.  I kid.

In other news…

My two new favorite magazines this year have been Anthology, which I discovered by chance and gladly paid the $38 for and treasure my collection of and panic when it doesn’t come because I want to make sure I have the full ‘anthology.’  I am no less neurotic about the gift subscription that Lady A gave me of Garden and Gun.  When we moved we went online.  We called, we wrote. The sweet editor of Anthology emailed me and assured me that all was well, not to panic, the issue was getting mailed later than she hoped, but if for ANY reason, I had one ounce of problem, she would take care of me not to worry about it.  Garden and Gun on the other hand, has required three follow up phone calls to three failed online attempts to change the address.  Then I didn’t get the promised magazine, so I emailed.  They told me they were sold out (anthology ruined) but not to worry, Mr. Keogh (it was a form email) they would extend my subscription by one magazine.  ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Needless to say I emailed them back.  I got another form email.  (All of these emails come late in the night – so weird)  So I called two days ago, yesterday, today.  Finally yesterday I took to Twitter and Facebook.  Finally, today, they responded via Facebook and asked me to call a different number than I have been calling.  I am not impressed.  Friends.  Their magazine is online.  They have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed.  I like the magazine, but I cannot recommend them after this experience.  If they are on your wishlist, cross them off and give your money to someone who truly represents something that you want to give your money to.  I could not recommend something more highly than Anthology. I love the magazine, the content and the staff.  They certainly aren’t so proud of themselves that they treat their customers this way.  I will tell you this.  I spent a week with the editor of WWD in NY and she certainly did not act with haughty carelessness that G&G has.  It really is truly unfortunate that they think so much of their product that they do not believe they are in a customer service industry.

I would like to end this blog in this way.  It is unfortunate that we no longer live in a customer service society.  It is sad that we no longer live in a society where people are kind.  My dear friend Jessica posted a really frustrating post on her facebook wall last week.  Fresh home with her son from Africa.  She was trying to assimilate him to this culture, two new siblings, electricity… They were jetlagged… And people were glaring at them at the grocery store as they were working out proper behavior and responses and both were trying not to weep in the store.  She said she wished she had signs explaining the situation. I just read the post and wished people were kind enough to realize they don’t always know  what’s going on and should be hesitant to judge so harshly.

Anyway, I wasn’t free to call Garden & Gun IMMEDIATELY upon receiving their message.  A dear family friend is in town this semester and he’s been doing all these great speaking engagements that I haven’t been able to make it to, but I made it tonight and it was fantastic.  So interesting and engaging and intellectually very very challenging.  I am mulling over some very interesting questions.

How does this economic recession compare to the one that Reagan navigated us through in the 80’s?

One of the reason’s Bush was re-elected even though he was incredibly unpopular is because he was viewed as a very, very strong leader – Obama is not viewed as a strong leader, though I think he is ironically probably a much stronger leader than Bush was – will this perception of weakness cost him this election?

Do we view music in advertising as relevant only to youth – particularly political ad campaigns?

I know, I know.  Bizarre.  But my thoughts at the end of this day.  I’m off to a Steve Jobs documentary, math homework and a dirty dirty dirty martini.  Spread the word about Anchor&Key.  Give me a like, a follow & a tweet.  Also go check out Anthology and Garden & Gun.  Neither will disappoint, and I am sure, that G&G will tell me soon how my experience the last 6 months with them is absolutely the exception… Sigh.  I hope so anyway.

And tomorrow dear readers, a weekly synopsis of all that’s fit for synopsizing.  In my opinion.  Hahahahahahahahahhahaha. Heaven only knows what you’ll get.

Q&A Series Kendall & Kat: Lil Wayne, South Dakota, Siblings and Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kendall’s questions are first and I am aswering as honestly and vulnerably as I can, especially in regard to Lil’ Wayne. Kendall is one of my most dear friends and one of the most honest and hysterical bloggers I know.  I either weep from laughter or from being moved at her blog – it’s much like being with her.  When she and AML came to Berlin it was one of the highlights of my time there.  Last year she posted the only known tribute blog to me.  I am pretty sure AM will be horrified by it and my Grandmother would faint, but I cried and was so deeply honored, and so when she sent questions you know I was going to answer,  

A.) why do people love the song “walking in Memphis”…even if they have no connection or love at all whatsoever with Memphis?

If I had to guess it has to to with one of two things?  Either the video – which I think, after watching, we can all agree is compelling.  

Or the reference to having seen Elvis. Especially when he says it was down in the Jungle Room.  Cool.  Where is that?  I so want to go there.   

Personally.  I once saw Marc Cohn live in concert and he made a snarky remark about how annoyed he is that everyone expects him to play this song…  Umm – ya think? No one even knows he has other songs.  

Did I mention the concert was in Waco, TX?  In Waco, TX we don’t hear a lot of the Marc Cohn B Sides, I mean I did when I rode in James Mark’s car in ATS, but not much after that until I got an iPod, TEN years later.  So pretty much I only knew THIS song.  

Needless to say I was bored and disappointed that he refused to play the only song I knew and loved of his.  

Later, when I learned the rest of his songs I felt sad that that was the only song that I wanted to hear, especially when Walk Through the World With Me is so incredible. But seriously, I think people just really like this video. Thanks VH1 – are you still on TV?  

 


B.) reflections or commentary on lil waynes interview with Katie couric 

 

 

There is a lot to love about this interview with Lil’ Wayne.  

Most of all it’s the old school Katie Couric that we all really liked.  

Not the current one who is all Anderson Cooper-esque – without the whole Vanderbilt je ne sais quoi.

I would say that Wayne fails when he says, “I don’t take nothin from nobody and I’ll do that until the day I die and the day I can’t do that I’d rather just die.”  I find that rather conflicting with his later assertion of deep Christian faith…

However I did love when Katie said what you see is not what you get, because her interview showed a beautiful and rare glimpse of a man who was given nothing, maybe less than nothing.  Who was born in New Orleans, told someone he was hungry, was handed trash and made gold.  Magic.  

Obama is right, we will not all grow up and be Lil’ Wayne’s and most of us don’t have half of his talent, intelligence or drive, but we can learn a lot from his determination – and I am pretty sure both Justin Timberlake and Katie Couric have a crush on him.

C.) what would make you move to south Dakota? If anything…. 

Well.  the cost of living and the accent would be the first things.  

Also.  I think Aunt sue was born there and I love her chocolate cake. But that’s just between you and me and Anne Marie and the graham crackers that are baked inside the crust.  

Also I think you may have ignored some well known fact about South Dakota, like the fact that it is in fact “Illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory in South Dakota.”  Someone should mention this to Herman Cain.  This should be a part of the 9-9-9 tax plan somehow.  

You might have also overlooked when asking me this question some famous South Dakotans – not only Tom Brokaw, but a circle of his peers – Calamity Jane, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

Also, I am sure you know this one, but a prospector in the Black Hills named a promising claim after his neighbor’s daughter, calling it “The Little Allie”. The prospector’s wife got angry because he had never named a claim after her and she demanded that the mine be renamed in her honor. The prospector agreed and renamed the mine “The Holy Terror” which is what it is still called today.  

So yeah – I mean, I am pretty sure most of America is about to head over to the SD.

 

 

 

 

 

D.) what is the one thing that people who you call your best-est friends inhabit

I would say the characteristics of a unicorn. They are magical and difficult to explain. 

They also tend to guard my story fiercely, love my family passionately, believe in me more than I believe in myself and they must be willing to accept sarcasm as one of the “official” five love languages. 

 

From Kat, who was a fellow student at Vassar, is becoming a friend in an unexpected way, she is a passionate writer, a raging academic, a former executive and a proud Naturalista. 

1) what was the catalyst(s) that propelled you back into student life? There are usually a number of events leading up to making these big choices, share.. :-)

The conclusion of my life in Berlin forced me to decide what my next step was.

My family and I knew that I needed to be in either New York or Boston because really, I couldn’t live in Austin without a car and I couldn’t move home in my financial condition and buy a car.

So I came to Boston.  I started subbing at a private school in town and dating Justin and realizing that Boston was not a networking place like the South.  In Boston it’s your family line, not who you know.  I moved back to the states into a totally different economy than the one I left.  I looked at Starbucks, Wholefoods – and I thought about teaching, but I just don’t think that teaching is a good fit for me long term.

I realized that my fear of being poor and failure were keeping me from even trying school.  That and the incredible amount of administrative work it takes to sign up for even community college – which is really hard for me.

Also, as I mentioned yesterday, I was sure Justin would not take a relationship with me seriously if I could not financially contribute at 33…

Instead of letting my fear of the mountain overwhelm me I just did one thing at a time.  I still do one thing at a time.  It is really really hard for me.  Especially the administrative part.  But I am trying.

2) do you have siblings, how big or small is your immediate family?

Just me.

My parents divorced when I was about a year old.

I was very fortunate to grow up in a family that is not only very close but also loosely defined – I have a lot of family that I believe with all of my hear is family and would defend to the death as my family, but may in fact have absolutely no blood or marriage relation to me – this is really just the way my family works.

My Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, Neighbors, Youth Group Leaders, Friends, Friends Parents, Hole in the Wall Gang, Aunts’ and Uncle’s friends… the Village truly have all raised me and been VERY engaged and involved in my ENTIRE life.

I have had a lifelong,  special, unique and inexplicable relationship with my AM and UK who took me when I was 16 and thankfully, never let me go.  When I married Justin they began holding both of us, and we feel fortunate to have them.

J has two sisters, both younger and his middle sister just had a daughter last month.  We are thrilled!  As an only child the addition of J’s family, and the ability to be an Aunt is a dream come true.  It feels like “the highest” calling in many ways to me.

3) how would your friends describe you?? what’s your personality type?

Personality type  is tricky- I am a deeply, deeply private person, with a loquacious and gregarious facet.  An ironical objective to an introverted personality.  I am in fact an introvert, significant introvert, with excellent people skills.  I blame the South for my personality often incredulously demanded to be extroverted. My husband would ASSURE you that if left to my own I would not talk on the phone, or talk period, I would not answer questions, especially consecutive ones, and I would prefer not to leave the house except to run alone in the cemetery.

My friends would probably say that I am not an easy read, that to know me it is very important to know my story and that I am not very quick to tell my story.  I am relatively “open” about stating facts, but hold my heart close.

I think most of them would also say that I love to laugh when they laugh, I want to grieve when they grieve and that I would rather know debt than to see them in need.  That once I love, I love for life and though I am not great at keeping up daily – weekly or sometimes even yearly, I never, ever put a friend down, if I love someone I love for life.

I think they would also say that I am a communicator, that I am a straight shooter.  That I want to know where I stand and that I don’t mince words.  I may not see clearly, but you know what I see.  I think my friends would say that I would rather be corrected, rebuked, called out or stood down than to continue in the wrong direction toward falsehood, lies, untruth or my own rationalization.  My friend Chris would tell you that I am after truth at all cost no matter how painful it is.

Before I was married I would have liked to believe that many of those things were true.  Marriage has brought a little clarity to my lens.  Vassar, J and a situation some dear friends of ours are going through have been teaching me what I say to myself again and again – WE ALL THINK WE ARE RIGHT.  THIS IS AN IMPOSSIBILITY.

So there it is with the K&K Q&A, I am a little sick, a little emotional, and ready for bed.  Thanks for all the love, the encouragement and the positive feedback over the past few days. I have been blown away and I really appreciate your comments and posts.  I am trying to get the readership up so please keep passing things along as they mean something to you and keep giving me feedback.  I read and think about every single bit of it.

Catching Up

Since I last blogged… That one time from Vassar… When I was going to blog once a week from Vassar… A lot has happened.  I will catch you up quickly so that we may all move on.

I took two classes.  Once was Gender and Race: At the Intersection.  This was a life changing and humbling course.  I was not the class favorite.  I was not the teacher’s pet.  I was not the most popular.  I was gettin’ by on gettin’ by.  I also took Modernism in the City which I did not expect to enjoy, and loved.  My fellow classmates and myself (except for Harlow who was the class favorite and somehow managed to laugh his way peacefully through the program) worked our way through with tears, hard hard hard work and quit a bit of conflict.  I can honestly say that nothing I did in Germany compares with the interpersonal trial or stress I experienced in this program. I was very thankful that my Aunt finished chemo and I finished the program on the same day.  I will treasure talks on my bed with a wise and generous woman named Eddie, a dear counselor named Allison and my new brother from Syria – Hasko.  Whom I would like to keep in my pocket.  There were 29 students who went through this program and we will be forever linked by our experience.  I am grateful for each one of their stories, their accomplishments, their tenacity and their spirits.  Fighters.  What a group.

We drove home to Lady A and Architect A’s going away party.  Bum-mer.  We had a sweet weekend with them laughing and visiting and remembering a year of fantastic memories and laughter and friendship.  We helped them load their U-Haul.  Enter Super-Morgan, another lifesaver from Vassar who generously loaded A&A on and then loaded J&me in.  Saint Morgan.  No man deserved such pain.  You heard me.  I came home Saturday.  Said goodbye to A&A Sunday, started my math class Monday and moved that Thursday into their apartment.  Shoot me.  No seriously.  It was months before I unpacked.  I got my first B in the math class.  Forsook my 4.0.  NEVER. AGAIN.

I have started the fall semester with an Intro to Lit class that makes me giggle.  Thank you Vassar for your generous contribution to my ability to maneuver a “Lit” class.  Some Bio, some Psych, some Calculus.  I am exhausted.

We had a trip planned to Texas, which fell through very unexpectedly at the loss of my Uncle Al.  So we re-routed to Brooklyn and spent 4 days in a fancy Blue hotel room with a see through shower with AM&UK.  I am pretty sure that they did it on purpose so that we would go to Brooklyn Bread everyday while they showered and pick up delicious sandwiches.  “It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I am with you.”

When we got back I finally took the final for that math class from the summer and got my weekends back, unpacked my house.  Helped my dear friend with some shows while her husband Rico Schenck galavanted the globe making ships quieter. Having some major minor dental surgery and pondering why my CSA has so many effing root vegetables.  Seriously.  Why?

So there you have it.  You’re all caught up.  Now I am back.  I am pissed about that damn post on facebook where the bratty girl is holding up her sign about no debt, no smart phone and no 99% – and taking responsibility for all of her own actions.  I mean kuddos to her for all her hard work and for every single student like her.  However, I am a student, with a smart phone, and a cheap apartment and a couple of jobs busting my $%&, not blaming anyone, but thinking, should it be this hard?  I think I am part of the 99% – does that mean I am not taking responsibility for my finances or blaming people for my financial state?  I don’t think so.  And I am pretty sure that’s not what she meant to say either.  So take the damn post down everybody, the tone is condescending and not helpful.  We’re all poor.  Be nice.

Also. We have started the Breaking Ground campaign so J and I are begging for money for the orphans again.  Or at least we will be.  We are developing a strategy.  In between homework and cooking root vegetables.  Oh and shopvac’ing our apartment.  It’s true.  I shop-vac’ed the apartment tonight.  And people say I am OCD.  Please.  It’s normal.

Things we’ve loved lately:

The lovely world of Spotify

Speaking of music, at the beach AM would always play great peaceful Sunday morning music GM & RS introduced us to Antje Duvekot, whom we enjoy peacefully on Sunday mornings.  I particularly love the song about Judas lately, it makes me cry.

We joined the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, I’ve been twice this month and taken to calling the late Mrs. Gardner, “Izzy”

Speaking of things to enjoy in Boston, trying to enjoy the remnant of our tomato plants with Green Tomato Biscuits .

Not much to say about fashion right this minute, except that today, at TJ I found two of the most beautiful MJ (not even M for MJ) dresses for the most drastically reduced prices.  They fit beautifully and were magical and I felt like a fairy in them, they were more than 90% off their original prices.  I was ashamed at how disappointed I was to not have them.  But J and I just re-centered about what’s important.  And those beautiful dresses are not important. Education is important.  And so we re-focus and get over it.  There are plenty of seasons of lovely dresses to be had once I have a fancy pants job and he stays home and walks the dogs.

I’m including a picture from J&me at a recent free event that Shane hooked us up with.  It was so fun.  He danced like a mad man and we drank whiskey and ate cupcakes and I taught awkward dancing.  Poor Shane for being associated with us.  It’s not our most flattering picture, we obviously don’t really careBushmills        We are SERIOUSLY considering using it for our Christmas card.

Surviving Vassar: The Life of One Exploring Transfer Student

This is my life. Except for all that smiling.

I’ve been here three weeks and three days now.  It feels like three years.  It’s an intensive schedule of reading, class, writing and meetings to discuss the previous three things.  We live in a dorm together, where we eat every meal together, with our professors. I feel like this is either a sociology experiment or there are hidden cameras and you could see my face on MTV any moment. There is no free time, no relaxing, just working. I am beginning to see both the benefits and the frustrations of an “elite” education.  I do know now why these people rule the world.  If this is the kind of pressure you endure as an undergrad I am pretty sure corporate life feels normal.

I am learning a lot. Critical thinking and relevant response. I am realizing that many of us were raised to never question, to not wonder, to not look critically at the problems in front of us and explore the deepest root of the problem.

I also realize that a lot of wealthy people meet in philanthropic committees to attempt to address the ails of this world, when really we should be empowering those subject to the ails to meet together and form their own action points on the things that ail them.  We have little perspective looking from the top down at a problem, but if we can allow someone to explain to us what it looks like from the bottom, perhaps we can help figure out where the ladder up is.

I am also learning to love Virginia Woolf.  And other such ridiculous writings.  There is beautiful prose to be found in the desperate realizations of modernist writers. All I can do is thank God that I was not an intellectual in the early 1900’s – to have classrooms of people analyzing your mental condition, gender, socioeconomic status, the city you lived in and it’s impact on your world view and this writing… No thanks.  I think I’ll just blog and be judged by a jury of my peers.

So that’s it.  I have rarely felt emotionally many of the things I have felt here.  Asking hard questions and exposing yourself to a board of academics and students can leave you feeling raw and jagged.  Especially in a class that looks like the UN and is discussing gender and race.  I am doing my best to open my heart wide and leave no thing un-considered.  The only way to grow is to honestly assess where we are, and move forward willing to learn what we need to learn to grow deeper, more aware, more considerate. It is likely to be a slow journey.  No “your best life now” here.  Just the real hard work of seeing things as they are and making a decision to acknowledge them and move forward changed by it.

Also.  Read your books.  Write your papers.  Analyze MORE critically. Ask MORE questions.  There’s always MORE.  In light of that.  I have work to do.  Two more weeks worth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning as We Go

Last year I got married. When I moved back from Germany the big question was what I would do. I wanted to go back to school, and I didn’t. I knew it would be an adjustment to go back in my thirties, but also knew that unless I did, many doors would remain closed to me.

So I enrolled, as most of you know. The first semester was comedic and exciting. Great professors with great quirks. It had challenging moments, but for the most part was a breeze. I nannied for a family with a newborn and though the newborn was fussy it was an easy way to spend my time and LOW stress. THEN Christmas came. I need to say that we stayed here for Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the extensive use of our vacation time for our honeymoon. Lady A invited me to come to the wholesale show in Atlanta with her and I was so excited to escape for a few days, but a blizzard came and she literally got the last plane out of town. I should have known then the Spring would be a long, cold one.

I took 5 classes this semester. I have no idea why. No idea. The mom of the baby I was nannying for made the decision to stay home. I was scrambling for a job in February. I found a job nannying for two boys… in Arlington. So I drive to Charlestown for school, Sommerville to pick up A from pre-school, Waltham to pick up E from homeschool co-op, back to Arlington to their house and then to Brighton to go home. Shoot me. I feel like I should drive a mini-van. I don’t want one. But I feel like I should. Did I mention that my car has some sort of nominal issue about every 6 weeks? The total amount of that work exceeds the amount we agreed to buy the car for (currently still paying for it) and the check engine light came on again today… A great feeling when you are carting kids all over the green earth. Somewhere in there the lady that I worked for last year that I am pretty sure thought she was paying me too much for nothing, called me and begged me to take her kids on Wednesday. I agreed, I only had the boys two days a week. Until their other caregiver quit, then I had them three days a week. That’s right. 15 hours of school. 2 hours of driving. And 20+ hours of work a week. I had over-committed. I was maxed. I stopped exercising and sleeping. Our house lived in cycles of chaos between school holidays or blizzards. And the winter just ended this week. Not. Even. Kidding.

I basically melted down about three weeks ago and explained to Justin that I had the capacity to study, sleep and work, that was it. He stepped up in a real way, and we made it. I managed all As and one A-. I am still negotiating on that A-. The class that I deserved it in I didn’t get it in and the class that I did not deserve it in, I got it in. Figures.

In the midst of this I was told that the big girl school I applied for could not really look at my application until I took STEM, Cal and Trig. Um. OK. They also conspicuously encouraged me to beef up on my science classes. Um. WHY??????? So I am. Then my English professor recommended me for a program at Vassar. In June I am moving there for 5 weeks. Yep. In the dorm. With a roomie. Like when I was 18. Then I am coming back and cramming that STEM class into the 6 weeks before school starts so that I can take Cal in the fall. I know. I know. I NEVER LEARN.

Can I tell you some of the amazing things that happened. We found some of the friends of our life in Lady A and Architect A. Our dear and old friends kept in touch with us and loved us well. My dad came for his first slumber party and it was drama free while he was here. I completed my first semester back at school with all As. The extra work brought extra money, which we were able to use for the various things that arose. For the most part there was enough, and that was a HUGE gift. I was accepted to an ENDOWED program at VASSAR! I had an incredible trip to New York over spring break. I found a friend and mentor and ally in the wife of one of J’s co-workers who went to the big girl school I applied to. She has become one of my absolute favorite humans of all time. She has a daughter named Magnolia. I find this magical. We have seen what we are made of, and feel encouraged. I had an incredible math professor who is willing to teach me STEM in 6 weeks at the end of this summer, you guys have NO idea how huge that is. I realized how DESPERATELY I need to work on my perspective and attitude, it is the most significant thing steering how fantastic or difficult our life is. I consider one monumental step when I realized that this semester had not been hard, hard was my time in Berlin, this was challenging, something difficult and intense but not emotionally threatening.

So this is what we ARE learning. That I am a door slammer. That Justin does well with detailed instructions. That I continue to be bad at saying no. That we are not making rational decisions about the car, time to do something extreme. That I need to leave for some place warm at some point in the Winter/Spring or I am attacked by seasonal depression. That we really do need to be up at 5:45 and asleep by 11 for our lives to work. That we absolutely love being together no matter what we are doing. That family is incredibly supportive, even when they are in the midst of some of the greatest battles of their lives. That part makes me cry. That we are going to be an Aunt and an Uncle and that is such a precious honor. That marriage takes work, and different kind of work than we thought. That large public schools are cheaper, but more frustrating. That buying text books is the black hole of money. That we want to start our own business. That we love to wander. Anywhere. Anytime. We are wanderers. That I am even more of an introvert and perfectionist than we ever really thought. Who knew people people could be so wildly introverted. That I love my professors whether I love their classes or not. That for the most part I really love class. That Justin is very ambitious and a sponge like learner.

We are learning as we go. We are trying. We are doing our best to love each other well, and be ourselves. I am learning to be supportive and kind. Justin is learning to help me draw healthy life boundaries. We both know nothing about long-term money and need help to figure out how to not just live to meet our budget and basically save. That we like the underdog (our car.) We are learning that we need dear friends (so thankful to have a small circle of dear friends here), that we have a much smaller capacity than we realized. We love to have people here and we love to entertain, together. We love and miss our families more than they could ever know. We are learning. I am learning. We are in process. We know less at the one year mark than we did the day we got married. I am still learning how to learn, and I need a lot of help there also.

There is no point where we arrive. As I am learning from AM, the most important thing we can do is call a spade a spade, look it directly in the face and then have the best and most honest attitude that you can. I am learning from her to give yourself a minute, or an hour or a day and then chin up and move on. We are never trapped, there is always a place where we can improve our attitude or our circumstance and we are victims of nothing. I know these things, but I am learning to live them. As I go. In process. Hoping that I learned a lot from the last few months. Here are some future goals:

October 2, Marathon.
August, Launch some small portion of the business.
Attempt a debt free life other than school loans.
POSITIVE POSITIVE POSITIVE perspective and attitude.
Quiet and Still time every morning to read, meditate and get our focus right.
Exercise before we start our day.
6 week break bad habits/focus on health from July 18-September 13th. thinking about going raw.
DE-CLUTTER!!! Minimize, minimize, minimize. Beginning with a garage sale in two weeks.
Make a rational decision about cars in our house, we need one, but maybe not two.
Make the best use of our CSA and meat share.
Attend church regularly.

I’ll keep you posted. This is quite a journey that we are on. Goals are crucial and attitude is everything. I realize that as this semester progressed it was easier to focus on the difficult than the good.

So now you are up to date. And we are moving forward from here. Looking forward to the best that is yet to come. And experiencing the great benefit from all the big life lessons that I learned during the challenge that was this Spring semester!

Finals Week & A Newly Discovered Love of Math

I spent the morning studying and trying to catch up on administrative details that would not wait for finals to be over. I have twenty minutes before I need to leave to pick the boys up and I am trying to scarf down some potatoes and shift my mind to the next five hours of needing to entertain children. I spend a good portion of my life doing this. In terms of ratios this is what my day looks like:

25% sleep – on a good night
21% school, literally, like at school
21% children
12% preparing food for myself or little mouths
8% driving

That’s right, that leaves 3 waking hours (or 12% of my day) left to study or do something else, like say shower, exercise, reply to email, check messages etc. Needless to say these things don’t happen often. Generally sleeping and eating are the first things sacrificed as the others are less negotiable. Though on days like today I want to give up. I am still really tired from yesterdays final, and it’s rainy and cold. And I think I could sleep for a year and still be tired at this point. This is what every finals week I have ever lived through felt like. Why?

I got a 91 on my Algebra final. If you remember I got a 94 on last semester’s final, so this was a digression, but I consider this work much more difficult, so I am fine with the grade and I keep a high A in the class so I am fine with it. Also, as I started studying for marketing and management this morning I realized I like math better than any other subject. I know. I know. You think someone stole my computer and is typing this for me. Nope. It’s me. This is what is great about math. It’s a sure thing. Nothing in life is a sure thing, but Math is. Seriously. you know it or you don’t. There’s no cramming, there is no studying, you do the work, you get it and then you build on it. You don’t forget it, once you learn it, you learn it and you can do all sorts of things with it. I cannot say the same thing about the communication process. Or the product life cycle. I have studied this crap multiple times this semester and though I clearly remember it (encode, transmit, receive, decode, filter, feedback) (introduction, growth, maturity, decline) it is not the same. There are so many variables. I have a teacher that says he knows that his students understand the information but for some reason it’s not translating on his tests and he seems to be a real depressor on his student’s GPAs. Ummm. Maybe change your test. There is no such variable in math. Problem, show work, correct or incorrect (well, in my current class if the professor doesn’t like ANY part of your process he’ll take points off. Jerk.) What you see is what you get, steady eddy, a sure thing. It’s official. I love Math. I need a bumper sticker. I think it would be good for Arkansas for my car to have both and Arkansas license and an I love Math bumper sticker, perhaps the visitors bureau would pay me for it.

I also want to say that I am married to the most incredible man in the world. I have thought so many times this week that I could not and would not do this without him. He keeps me going, he holds me up, he endures my stress, he feeds me and hugs me and sends me on my way. He makes me smile and laugh at myself and he has been keeping our house clean for the last two weeks. Such a gem. It makes me cry. Honestly.

I may be a shell of the woman that I was when this semester started… I am in desperate need of a healthy diet, some consistent exercise, alone time, and time for reflection and meditation… Also, some sun. But I am still better, stronger, braver, more sure. All of this because of the incredible support of my husband and family, the providential goodness bestowed on my life and a lot of redbull and 5 hour energy.

The Last Two Days of the Semester

Two more classes before finals week. I am sleep deprived, cranky and sick of studying. Which is obviously why I am blogging instead of studying the four chapters of Marketing next to me.

This has been the most challenging six months of my life. Not difficult, not depressing, challenging. I am not sure if I am just getting older and handling stress better in that sense, but I don’t equate life stress with emotional/spiritual stress anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I cry easily, I feel overwhelmed, I am tyrannical at home, but I also realize that I did this to myself by over-committing and not using healthy boundaries. Also by procrastinating right now instead of using my time well.

There is so much to say and no energy to say it, but I promise that when I get on the other side of this semester I will be more active. Also. I wanted to announce that I will spend 5 weeks blogging from Vassar this summer. That’s right. I got into a program there that I am thrilled to be a part of. It will however lead nowhere in my life if I don’t hit the books now.

Grace and peace to all of us. We all need it.

Motherhood Post

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebool, Tumblr or Twitter. I guest posted today. Read and laugh.

http://www.larkandbloom.blogspot.com/

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