Re-Post: Things I’ve Learned (please read as – things I am still learning)

I’m re-posting this.  It’s my favorite post that I’ve ever posted.  I am studying for a trig test and need to focus, but I am committed to the challenge of 31 days of blogging (it’s also part of an assignment for a class – which includes graphs of increases or decreases in readership, which blogs are most responded to, interesting to people, positively commented on etc. – quite and interesting assignment) anyway, it requires diligence and obviously – it’s quite accountable.  Must post before midnight.  So here it is.  My re-post, and a reminder to myself – that we’re still learning

and that Professor Simpson was on to something this summer

when he wisely shared with me regarding rightness and absoluteness,

that in our moments of absolute rightness and certainty,

we should remind ourselves,

that down the road,

say in maybe 5 years,

we will have a moment of reflection and hindsight,

when we look back,

and we will reflect on how partially we saw and how dim was our vision,

he told me we will be able to see how much our knowledge has grown,

and we will become aware how uncertain we really were and how unresolved we should have been and we will laugh at ourselves.  And we will be glad that we have grown.  He reminded me that we are always learning, and the more quickly we embrace that reality, the greater our ease in navigating the treacherous terrain of the constant unknown of life.  A wise man that Professor Simpson. A wise wise man.

Enjoy the re-post.  Please send me all the prayers, love, wishes, kindness, and energy you have to cheer for my diligence, focus and care to study and to retain info and do well on this test.  You have no idea how important it is.

Learning in the academic way,

sjk

So I found this on a blog that I follow Brookelyn Photography.  I found the blog when I was planning my wedding and I thought her photography was magical.  Then, she posted this today, and I was really moved and wanted to share it.  There are parts of that strike me so deeply I have Selah moments reading it.  I hope that some part of it touches you.  We all need to remember these things that we already “know.”  My dear friend Heather reminded me at one of the most crucial moments in my life that my knowledge was expansive but my actions frequently were incongruent with all that I knew.  Perhaps keeping what matters as our center is key.  For me it is Faith as manifested in Love.  First God’s love for me,  and then in my ability to turn that love around, to heaven and earth.  When that is right, these things “I have learned” come more naturally for me.  What’s your center that keeps the best of you coming naturally?  We should all take a moment today to re-center.  I chose this picture because it was taken after a fall into the ocean and prophetic of a bigger fall in my life.  As I alluded to yesterday, that fall had produced some of the deepest groans and greatest gifts of my life.  Keep calm and carry on.  It’s only life.

Things I’ve Learned

I’ve learned – that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. I’ve learned – that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back. I’ve learned – that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it. I’ve learned – that it’s not what you have in your life I’ve learned – that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you’d better know something. I’ve learned – that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do but to the best you can do. I’ve learned – that it’s not what happens to people that’s important. It’s what they do about it. I’ve learned – that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides. I’ve learned – that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be I’ve learned – that it’s a lot easier to react than it is to think. I’ve learned – that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. I’ve learned – that you can keep going long after you think you can’t. I’ve learned – that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel. I’ve learned – that either you control your attitude or it controls you. I’ve learned – that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. I’ve learned – that learning to forgive takes practice. I’ve learned – that there are people who love you dearly, but just don’t know how to show it. I’ve learned – that money is a lousy way of keeping score. I’ve learned – that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time. I’ve learned – that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you get back up. I’ve learned – that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love. I’ve learned – that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have. I’ve learned – that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated. I’ve learned – that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it. I’ve learned – that your family won’t always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren’t related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren’t biological. I’ve learned – that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that. I’ve learned – that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself. I’ve learned – that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief. I’ve learned – that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. I’ve learned – that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do. I’ve learned – that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions. I’ve learned – that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change. I’ve learned – that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different. I’ve learned – that there are many ways of falling and staying in love. I’ve learned – that no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves get farther in life. I’ve learned – that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you. I’ve learned – that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help. I’ve learned – that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains. I’ve learned – that the paradigm we live in is not all that is offered to us. I’ve learned – that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being. I’ve learned – that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon. I’ve learned – that although the word “love” can have many different meanings, it loses value when overly used. I’ve learned – that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.

– anonymous-

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In Response to Marc Cohn

Well, I WAS going to write a post about this story I heard this morning on Israel and Palestine on NPR this morning.  I used my new Dragon Dictation software on my phone.  The title of the post is going to involve me referencing America playing the rich frat boy of global politics.  I hope all the Ivy League schools I am applying to transfer into google me before my interviews next spring (kidding AM – ish) but seriously, that is the the next blog topic.

I am picking the Q&A series back up this weekend.  I have a big math test this Friday and I really need to focus in, and at 34, what I used to be able to accomplish in 2 hours now takes my brain two days (can I get a “what, what” Laurie P????)

Anyway, I answered Kendall’s Q&A yesterday.  Too bad I am not FB friends with Marc Cohn because he would have been amused at Aunt Diane’s explanation of the Jungle Room and all of your “here, here’s” on “LOOOOVE” for Walking in Memphis.  I was mostly thinking about the time that Hart and I decided last minute to drive through the night to Memphis, it was the weekend that OUTKAST released their first album and I am pretty sure that Abbay and I shook it like a polaroid picture as we drove up Beale… So inappropriate.

Speaking of inappropriate.  One time I lived in Germany and I was giving AM & UK a tour of the neighborhood. Next to Angie Merkel’s house is a building that has the worst damage from “the war.”  UK asked, “I or II?” Ugh.  Annoying.  I don’t know.  The war.  One of them  Both of them.  Anyway.  Then I walked them over to Unter den Linden and showed them the building where the Russian Embassy was, obviously the USSR embassy used to occupy the building and clearly they didn’t need all the space now, it is prime political real estate, and I walked by it every day and gave the “tour” on a pretty regular basis – so they asked what the space was used for.  Needless to say I had never really even considered it.  After that Marla took to telling people that I could give you the best tour you’d ever get of Berlin as long as you didn’t really need to know the facts.

I’m a Blue Star Girl. It’s a band.  I do back up vocals.  Without a mic.  I also play tambourine, without all those little silver things.  I mostly dance and do antics.  My bandmates stagename is An.  I am Tic.  Her name in real life is Michelle.  We spend a good portion of our life together.  I’d say we do a majority of family dinners together.  Somewhere in the beginning of our friendship I decided that she did not like chicken.  I told people this.  I would not prepare it for her because I truly believed it in my heart of hearts, she did not like chicken.  I often referenced it in conversation, with her.  She, in fact, currently – nor ever has had a problem with chicken, in fact she eats it quite often.  Remember that we are “in a band.”  We eat MULTIPLE MEALS TOGETHER A WEEK WHERE SHE EATS THE MEAT THAT I DECLARE (PERHAPS AT THE MEAL) THAT SHE DOES NOT LIKE – CHICKEN.

This goes back to my earlier point – WE ALL THINK WE ARE RIGHT – especially me – except that I know there is a pretty good chance that I am not.

Which leads me to the Marc Cohn situation.

Remember yesterday.

When I was telling you about that concert from the late 90s.

Well HE (Marc Cohn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Cohn – feel free to note parts about MULTIPLE GRAMMYS) POSTED A COMMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE POST.

At first I thought it was Kendall being ridiculous, but then I realized Kendall wouldn’t go to all that trouble to actually write a paragraph.

And also, I didn’t think that it really sounded that kidding.

And then I realized that I thought actually it was Marc Cohn and then I was like holy $%&@ effing Marc Cohn just read the *&%$(*& blog where I &$%^#$@ that he didn’t play WIM at that concert Pre-iPod and now he’s mad at me.  JUST WHAT I NEED.

Next thing I know Lil’ Wayne’s going to be posting about how he is a Christian and reference some verse in the bible about how he can do what he wants and that when he can’t do what he wants anymore he’s allowed to die and it’s probably going to be in some translation of the bible that I’ve never read and I’m going to have to apologize to him also.

But sincerely, to Marc Cohn, maybe you DID play the song and I JUST didn’t hear it.  As you can see, I am RARELY wrong.  I am almost ALWAYS right.

I actually do remember you being snarky, I am glad you are not snarky anymore, but I am more glad that I have a public forum to share about the songs that I love of yours and to declare on my most played songs in my iTunes library WIM ranks 17th (how’s that for ironical?) – the #1 is Rest for the Weary.

These words have moved me on so many occasions and played themselves in my mind more than I could express, and I have sung them over women and men as wishes and prayers in South Africa, Poland, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Refugee camps in places I don’t want to name… and to my own soul on dark, dark days

Now my mother stood beside him
She did what she could do
But if you look at some old photograph
She looks tired too
I hope there was some laughter
‘Cause I know there were some tears
Now all I can say is I pray to God
That after all those years
After all those years
That one day

One day
There’s love for the lonely
One day
They walk in the sun
One day
Rest for the weary
Rest for the weary ones

Now I’m just another traveller
On another winding road
I’m trying to walk some kind of line
I’m trying to pull some kind of load
Now sometimes I move real easy
Sometimes I can’t catch my breath
Sometimes I see my father’s footsteps
And man it scares me half to death
But one day

One day
There’s love for the lonely
One day
We walk in the sun
One day
Rest for the weary
Rest for the weary ones

Among my most listened to Marc Cohn songs in iTunes (in the many hundreds – WIM a mere 97 after all that pouting)

Walk on Water, Silver Thunderbird, Walk Through The World (which when I fell in love with my husband began to make me cry), Things We’ve Handed Down and The Rainy Season.

So here’s to you, Marc Cohn, for your beautiful lyrics, for your timeless melodies, for your generosity to play the song that people love to sing-a-long to, and to write songs like, True Companion, that gave me hope that maybe love was something worth hoping for – even when I was 30 and hadn’t yet found it.

And if I have the chance, I will come again to see you, and this time, I will not be sad if you don’t play it.  I promise.

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.

Q&A Series – Being a Non-Traditional Student, Occupy WallStreet & Reality TV

Today I am doing Bio labs, studying for a math test at the end of the week and preparing for a short paper comparing three short stories (I often find short stories most difficult.)  I have started this new thing where I try to work for 90 minutes and then take a 15 minute break.  Since I am not doing any real work in the math studying department, just studying and since I am just re-scanning the short stories we read, this far it feels a bit ineffective.  I am rewarding myself with a blog post.  I am turning over a new leaf, and attempting to do so with a Q&A series.  The first set of questions is from Liz @ Lark&Bloom, I guest posted in her Mother’s Day series  – you know being a mother and all… Here are her questions and my answers, God bless her for bringing one of them up.

1. Most people feel that they have to stay committed to the direction they started out going in their mid-twenties. You worked, liived in Germany, moved to Boston, got married and THEN went to college. What fears did you have of starting a ‘new’ direction in your 30s?


Fear is a part of life.  In every stage of life I have been uncertain if the decision I was making was the best one.  As I continue on this journey I realize that it is not nearly as crucial IF I am making the RIGHT decision, but if I am simply making decisions that still scare me.

At 34 school isn’t the same deal it is at 18.  You can’t pick a major and hope it is what you want, pick your major and it’s what you’re probably going to do.  Also, your mind is a bit out of the learning mojo.  It takes a bit to remember how to study, and what you need to learn.  As well, I have never recovered from my fascination with school supplies, and in the years that I’ve been gone from academia they have so improved, how do I know if I am picking the right specialty pen?

Seriously though, I was terrified of putting us in this position financially.  Justin got a scholarship to undergrad, he had an assistantship in grad school, he was able to live very frugally and serve in Americorps when he graduated off the money he saved as a result.  He worked really hard for the position he has and now I am kind of a financial drain on our family and I hate the cold so I still want to go to the beach in February or March… We have REALLY struggled financially, and I feel bad for that – and that is the REALIZATION of my fears.  NO ONE TELLS YOU THAT – they always say, “Oh I was so afraid of such and such but then it all turned out perfectly and we never missed a bill…”  Ummm, NO – not the case.  We have followed the path we felt was right, our biggest fear has come to pass, we were humiliated and I am still in school.  So there you have it.  No one died, no one quit.  My biggest fear happened, it was hard and we all are still making it in the midst of it.  There’s a reality TV show for you.
2. Occupy Wallstreet. Is it successful or not? Why?

2 things.

One – We are guaranteed through the first Amendment the freedom of Speech, and the freedom to assemble. Initially it would be difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of Occupy Wallstreet, though effectively assembled, the message was unclear.  However, the message is being hammered out. As with any young movement they are gaining a voice and leadership… as well as global criticism – which will inevitably sharpen their message.

Their success could be evaluated from a plethora of different angles, but I hope that their voice and the numbers will result in Wall Street being evaluated from a less opaque lens.  Wall Street has clearly experienced LESS of an economic collapse than the rest of us, unfortunately they cannot hide behind the numbers.

This video (certainly propaganda – but compelling propaganda!) may help clarify the frustration of the protestors a bit:

I also want to remind people that the constitution also protects the right to mass assembly – even at the tax payers expense – here’s a loosely translated version of the first amendments guaranty that people may freely assemble:

As Americans we have the right to peaceably assemble. This means we can form into groups
and debate a subject or stand up for something we don't think is right.
We can do so by going on strike or boycotting something, as many people call the activity.

Two – When I was at Vassar I realized that I was taking a professor’s criticism of my writing very personally.

In some ways she was personally criticizing me – or at least the way I was presenting something, but, in another way she was challenging me to fight back and to not let my little feelings get all wrapped up in it.

Not. My. Strength.

I recently saw this posted on a precious friend’s wall in the form of a photo (it’s Facebook viral and it was a re-post by her and applauded by MANY people on her wall),  it took everything I had not to personally respond.

However, having been given the perfect opportunity to, this is my response to why I think Occupy Wallstreet is doing a GREAT job giving people like myself a voice in the face of people who seem to be a bit lost as to why we are so UPSET at the state of the global economy and our PERSONAL economic condition.

The words of the original post are in normal type face, I think it is obvious mine are posted immediately after in italics:

“I am a college senior, about to graduate completely debt free.

Congratulations, this is a huge accomplishment and meritorious on so many levels – it is also more easily understood by your later admission that 90% of your tuition is paid for by scholarships you received due to your grades in HS.  Many of us are not attending college right out of high school for a sundry of reasons.

I pay for all of my living expenses by working 30+ hours a week making barely above minimum wage.

You are lucky that you have a job.  Many people with a college degree, masters and a family are not so lucky.

I chose a moderately priced, in-state public university & started saving money for school at age 17.

It seems that you came from a home where you were generously supported by your family – I moved out when I was 15 and though I was supported by other family members, many people are not so lucky and do not have the luxury of saving up all their money.

I got decent grades in high school & received 2 scholarships which cover 90% of my tuition.

I could make a lot of deductions from this, but I am guessing that you are from a working class home in suburban white America, because the rest of America is not given the opportunity to succeed in such a generous way.  I do not blame this on you, but instead ask you to consider this when you communicate this as if it was an equal opportunity accomplishment.  It was not.  

I currently have a 3.8 GPA.

With 90% of your tuition paid for, a solid academic foundation and a supportive family you were prepped for success.  Many of us were not and are equally proud of our GPA.  I have a 3.87 – I received my first B this summer due to that 30+ hour job a week I know you understand.

I live comfortably in a cheap apt, knowing I can’t have everything I want. I don’t eat out every day, or even once a month. I have no credit card, new car, iPad or smart phone – I am perfectly OK with that.

Good for you.  Please do not impose your ideals on me.  I made a commitment to buy all my clothes and home goods from second hand stores this year – we’re all doing our part – I promise to keep doing mine and you keep doing yours.  I won’t judge you, you don’t judge me.  However, I do WELCOME and APPRECIATE the challenge to KEEP doing more and to live MORE AND MORE SIMPLY! 

If I did have debt, I would not blame Wall St. or the government for my own bad decisions.

I do have debt.  I don’t blame Wall Street either, but I am concerned that if I am working this hard and doing this month and going to THE CHEAPEST school possible and living this simply – and still struggling this badly, that maybe there is something more as a SOCIETY that we can do.  Am I wrong to ask the question, and to gather with others who are asking the same question? And am I wrong to look at those who are turning a blind eye to the struggle and ask them to help us figure out how to keep on being millionaires while everything else is crashing?  I mean – they’ve got some sort of answers right??? To this point I can stomach almost everything you say, but to insinuate that EVERY person who has debt is in debt as a result of bad decisions is an obvious imposition of moral judgement of the most generalized and harsh kind.  May you be be treated with far greater kindness in your own life. 

I live below my means to continue to save for the future.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I WISH I COULD – I AM CRYING AS I TYPE THIS.  YOU JUST DON’T KNOW HOW SCARY IT IS TO BE MARRIED, 34, NO SAVINGS AND MORE SCHOOL TO GO. I HOPE YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT IS TO BE FORCED TO BASE YOUR DECISIONS ABOUT EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF LIFE, INCLUDING FAMILY, ON YOUR POVERTY INSTEAD OF ON YOUR DREAMS AND DESIRES.

I expect nothing to be handed to me and will continue to work my @$$ off for everything I have.

I am humiliated that we have had to ask for help, and I will work my ass off until EVERY penny is paid back in full.

That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Thank God for generous people, who are empathetic, compassionate and once were poor.

I am NOT the 99%, and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.

I am.  And proud to associate with those who are struggling to get by or CHOOSING to empathize with those who are

My point is this.  That post was not personal, but it felt personal.  And we need to remember that.  We are all on a journey, with different stories, ideas, perspectives, experiences, backgrounds and ideals.  And WE ALL THINK WE ARE RIGHT.  Therefore, we MUST learn to communicate and disagree in a more healthy manner.  And I MUST LEARN TO NOT TAKE IT ALL SO PERSONALLY.  (Unlikely) Here are three places that I think are doing a great job opening up political dialogue, social discourse and societal tension

No Labels – A politically neutral, but active organization

The Public Conversations Project – Because we have to be able to be on opposite ends of an idea and still have a conversation

The Institute for Cultural Inquiry – Studying Global Tensions and the benefit of those tensions in modern times and today

3. Why does is our generation addicted to reality TV? Honestly, I wonder this all the time.

Because things like #2 are happening – we are desperate for escape and our favorite mode of escape – Parks and Rec is only on Thursday nights.

No, seriously.  Because we are a society who loves to compare ourselves against others.

I love to watch Hoarders and then feel great about how clean my house is, it also leads to an almost OCD compulsion to non-accumulation.

I know that a lot of people watch Jersey Shore and the MTV-esque shows.  I have always been a 60 Minutes, Extreme Makeover Home Edition reality TV kind of girl because I don’t really like fiction.

I think that people love the Bachelor and Toddlers and Tiaras because we are voyeurs and we are desperate to know that we are normal and that the little bit of crazy in us is in everyone.  I think – who knows????

I watched Mob Wives the other day and felt so proud of J’s and my marriage – despite the fact that  I may or may not have thrown a fit the previous night that he ruined one of my favorite kitchen aprons while GENEROUSLY doing the laundry for me – AT LEAST HE WASN’T DOING LIFE!  At least I didn’t find out about his affair when the lady at the hair salon recognized my daughter because his girlfriend used to bring her in when she got her hair done. Right? Right? Anybody with me? (This stuff happens? In real life? Really? I am not so sure…)

Does that make my marriage any healthier – NO!

Did it produce a little needed thankfulness? Yes!

Pros and Cons.

In conclusion –  If anyone says anything bad about Ty Pennington I’ll chop their knees off… So, to the matter of reality television and our generation, I have no idea, but I love it as well.

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.

Florence + the Machine – Shake It Out – my anthem for Fall

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vassar: Exploring Transfer & a trip to Paris (via Oh Happy Day)

As most of you know, I’ll set off on a grand adventure Thursday.  I’m driving to New Jersey to spend a final evening with J and then checking into the dorm on Friday for 5 weeks. I’m all packed.  Two bags.  Two fans.  Lamp.  Laptop. Printer. Good case of nerves.  I cannot believe that I am going back to college, like for real.  When I started school again the best thing about it was the fact that I didn’t have to live in the dorm and coud legally buy alcohol… These were perhaps the two things that also lead to my demise at SDSU.  Hard to tell, it was so long ago it wasn’t even in this century.

Many of you are boggled by what in the world I am doing.  I am one of 30 students participating in a 5 week program at Vassar.  If you, like me, have never heard of any colleges north of the Mason Dixon, Vassar is in Poughkeepsie, NY.  It’s a liberal arts school. Apparently one of the best.  Unfortunately the infamy was lost on me.  However I have been accepted to what I now refer to as an all inclusive academic boot camp.  I will arrive Friday.  Move into a dorm room.  Ahem.  A DORM ROOM.  Then we will have some sort of opening ceremony, no doubt ice breakers will be involved.  How I love college bonding games.  I will go sleep in my DORM ROOM.  Take a shower in a COMMUNITY SHOWER, go on a campus tour, be handed my class schedule, books and kiss my life a Gone With The Wind worthy kiss goodbye.  I found a ladies blog who participated in 2008 and she essentially blogged the first three days and then typed 10 fleeting posts about lack of sleep and work as she had never known. I will take two classes, we had three options and we’ll see if I get my picks.  I took one with the director of the school because when I interviewed with her I knew that it didn’t matter what she taught I wanted to take it.  We finish July 22, and I am expecting to want to do nothing but sleep when I return.  I can tell you now that sleep is not in the cards.

I am turning off technology while I am there.  I just know that it will be too tempting to put off work to catch up on status updates, baby pictures, and political rants.  I think I will miss Words With Friends the most.

Let me just say that being an adult and going back to school has been one of the more challenging things that I have done.  It is also forcing me to learn boundaries.  To say no.  To meet my limits.  School has been academically invigorating and exciting, but it has also meant that we have had to give up our social lives, the ability to initiate with friends, be perceived as on top of things.  It’s been a financially difficult decision, 2 incomes are better than one.  However, I have to say it has been one of the best decisions of my life.  My family has shown me a level of support that I find both humbling and unbelievable.  Honestly, I thought they would be a bit ‘over’ my attempt to go back to school and abject poverty… Nope.  They are so proud and nurturing and helpful.   I am so deeply grateful, please hear me when I say I would not be as successful in this as I am if it were not for the sacrifices and considerations that J has made and for the generosity and encouragement of my family.  It is a gift that so many of my fellow students don’t have.  What a gift.  This may be a challenge, but it is also a thrill.  And as I am learning from AM, attitude literally changes tragedy into adventure!  So here’s to the craziness of the unknown adventure ahead!!!!!

I also wanted to let you know about a contest going on over at Jordan Ferney’s Oh Happy Day.  (You can follow her on Twitter – she and David Liebowitz are my favorite and they are both in Paris!) She has a Facebook Page for Oh Happy Day and the website is having a sale on GORGEOUS letter press business cards right now.  Anyway.  She’s celebrating her blog’s birthday by giving away a trip to Paris.  And let’s face it, who couldn’t use a trip to Paris.  If not just to stalk Liebowitz’s favorite restaurants and the Ferney Family?  So head over to Oh Happy Day and check in on Jordan on Twitter (her husband Paul is also on Twitter and is an incredible artist!) like her on Facebook, and spread the word.  Everyone deserves a shot at Paris, and if you don’t win, I promise that Oh Happy Day will be a nice addition to your life no matter what, we can live vicariously through the blog…

They say it’s your birthday…

This guy turned 55 today.  I know.  Seriously.  That’s what I told him.  Double numbers are lucky.

I never knew what a difficult job he had until I got married.  He fell in love with AM suddenly one night, and then the next thing he knew he found out it was a package deal.  5 siblings, 6 nieces and nephews and a maltese came with the deal.  Little did he know that one of those nieces would make herself quite at home in his life.  Suddenly he went from having one woman, to two.  And having transitioned from him being the main man in my life, to adding J has required some skill I did not realize it required.  I also realized how good he had it when both AM and I were devoted to only him…

Old double fives is a native of Brooklyn.  He recently told me Poughkeepsie is upstate New York.  I am pretty sure that he believes that.  He’s the baby.  Two older brothers.  I tell myself this is why he loves busting chops so much.  His dad was a fiery longshoreman, and I believe this is why my Uncle is such a stand up guy.  You have to be a stand up guy to incorporate  a 16 year old into your life.  He runs marathons.  He loves AM more beautifully than any other love I’ve seen in my life.  I hope we grow up like them.  He is funny.  He turns red when he has too much to drink.  He is an incredible system of support.  He has been known to finish marathons and then come back and help me finish mine.  He spent plenty a night mediating tension between his two women. He sees random friends in Paris, has a friend named Juggy in Florida, and when we walk into his favorite neighborhood bar in Brooklyn they still yell “Effing (edited for those of pure ears) Kenny W&*#^@!!!” I love it.  When people die, like big people, he and his friend Bobby R race to be the first to call and ask for the dead person.  It might sound irreverent to you, but I think it’s hysterical.  I try to play, but I never win or I feel like a jerk for delivering bad news.  I don’t know.  I just don’t have his comedic timing.

I know that I am married to the man that I am because UK showed me what real men are.  He’s no nonsense.  I kid you not.  But he is always generous with the kleenex when AM & I are watching Extremem Makeover: Home Edition.  He loves the democrats.  He can laugh at himself.  He laughs through tears, ours and his own.  He wasn’t afraid to expand his heart to a teenager.  He loves his family.  He has been one of the most supportive and generous individuals I have ever met.  Twice in my life he has taken the time to tell me how much he loves me.  But you know what, he is who taught me that you don’t have to do that.  When you live right.  When you love right, you don’t need all those words.  He shows me every day in every way that he loves me and he is looking out for my best.

But what he does the very best, is love AM.  He calls her Blondie.  He takes care of her.  She doesn’t often need taking care of, so he figured out how to love her around it.  Then, one time, she did happen to need some support he has been the most incredible support structure I have ever seen.  He makes her laugh.  He is her best friend.  He is patient, kind, constant, steady and snarky.  He has been the kind of husband and friend that my friends and I have remarked we always hoped we would find.  He goes to movies like Bridesmaids and watches the season finale of Oprah.  He taught her to love NY.  He took her to Paris and he will take her to Italy.  He hold her hand, he gives her kisses and he never once cramped her space – she is her own woman and he doesn’t resent that he empowers it.  Like TLC sings, “What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man…”

As far as songs go… When I got married he picked a song for us to dance to.  He picked the one in the video that I am putting at the end of this post.  It is true.  If I would not have fallen, he would not have found me.  His love has been one of the most stabilizing, healing, self-esteem building things of my life.  He proved to me that someone who didn’t share my blood would choose me, just like I was.  AM’s love grew me, nurtured me, inspired me, and pushed me forward.  UK’s love truly helped heal me, but it never held me. He has lived to see me “up” rather than “down.”   He held me with open hands, and even though I’ve flown away, I know that even though home has to be somewhere else now, I will always have a safe place to land.

Happy birthday to you my UK.  Thanks for showing me perfectly how to go from a main man, to my mens.

Fighting Cancer and Bell Ringing Celebrations

Like many of you I have been wondering how AM was really doing. It’s been a few long months since her diagnosis and it’s been a struggle to be far away when I want to hover and check in and see what the hell is going on with my own eyes!

So for all of you in my shoes here’s my brief take on the haps around here. When I got home and saw her in person the first time, I cried. For a couple of reasons, one because she looks beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, she is bald, with little patches of hair that grows back in between chemo treatments. She has incredible color. I watched her like a hawk and in as much as I can tell she is strong as an ox. I am not even kidding. The first morning I was here we went for a run and I almost died and she slowed down for me. We ran three times this week.

She’s definitely different though. Her strength is chosen and forged. She has three wigs, a sundry of hats and scarves for when her head gets cold. And though the bald head is novel, she is anxious for when her hair will return, an obvious sign of normalcy. She lives her life like normal, amidst all this abnormality. She goes into work, she schedules her appointments around phone conferences and managing programs. She eats out with her friends, mails birthday cards on time, cooks dinner, chats on the phone, surfs her iPad… But life remains anchored to the rhythm of this treatment. There are no weekends away, there are entire weeks that she has to take it easy, not be where sick people or germs are. She hears dates according to how they fit into her treatment schedule. This is not an inconvenience or a burden, this is the silent reality of cancer. She looks great, for the most part she feels great, she is carrying on with life with enthusiasm and optimism, and for four hours today they poured poison into her body to kill this impostor, chemicals that kill this disease.

And that’s the hard part of it all. I love her more than I ever have. She is empathetic and kind to her fellow sojourners. It’s obvious that her doctors and nurses love her. Her friends have rallied beautifully by her side and UK is a steady anchor in the storm. She has her bearing, it seems she never lost it. She is her same optimistic, positive and pragmatic self. She knows the situation and feels a deep sense of relief that she has been so incredibly fortunate. She may have cancer, but she is not a victim. Her life may be upturned, but she just turned it right side up and has created a new normal. This may be ‘hard’ and ‘unfair’ but she simply sees it as incredible fortune that this is the first major bump in her road.

This was most beautifully represented today at her last chemo treatment. It’s a four hour process, she’s in a room with about 8 other patients and their family. They re-scheduled it late yesterday, so she resigned herself to re-scheduling a phone conference and declining another. Then she just moved right along. We arrived, I nestled in next to her. They hooked her up to bag after bag of clear liquid and as each one emptied I could see her excitement build. The patients there have an unspoken bond, and she and the lady across from her were each other’s quiet cheerleader. They competed to see who would finish first. The other lady did. Then, knowing it was AM’s last treatment, she explained to her husband that it they were going to wait to leave… They needed to see her ring the bell. So the woman sat patiently and waited for AM to pick up a bell that sits on a well displayed shelf, the bell you get to ring when you’ve completed your final round of that treatment (she’ll do it again at the end of radiation.) AM rang it joyfully as a room full of people receiving chemo cheered her on. She cried and I cried and my heart felt ebullient for her. She glowed. She had made it. Well, she’s got a few days of side effects ahead of her, but the worst is behind her. Her chemo friend walked out behind us and joined us in the elevator down. She gave me a loving squeeze as I tried to calm my tears down. As we left we wished her luck and celebrated with her when we heard her next treatment is her last!

If you want to know how AM really is, better than ever. Better than ever. Her body may be in a battle, but she is a stronger, deeper, more empathetic, energetic, optimistic version of the woman we all know and love. Just when you thought she couldn’t get better, she did. She even makes cancer something good.

Enough tears and blogging, I have to them cook dinner. You know, she does have cancer…

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