Decompress

I have finally looked it up, and, like I thought, the one class I am taking this semester is, yet again, a freshman level course (the quantity of freshman level courses I have taken is staggering, considering that I was a freshman… 13 years ago). This is made slightly more bearable with two tidbits of knowledge: one, it is the last content area class I have to take other than the capstone (which isn’t offered until next summer), and two, as per my last discussion with my advisor, I’ll actually be getting a second major (aka a second Bachelor’s degree, this time with a major in Social Studies or History – I don’t remember which).

While freshman level courses mean, generally speaking, easy homework and not as much studying, they also mean having to sit through classes with … freshman, or people who are at the freshman level, which can be a bit infuriating for someone who graduated from college nearly ten years ago. I’m starting to get good at it, mind you, but occasionally I like taking courses that are more at my academic level. Next semester….

Saturday was the first class of the semester. Busing to campus could not be easier from our new house, and for that I am very thankful. My class is in Native American studies, which I have a little experience in (having lived on a reservation for a summer back in… 2002). Naturally, the teacher is Native American herself, and true to my other experiences with Native Americans who have lived primarily on a reservation (or grew up on a reservation and maintain strong ties), there is very little linear thinking.  After class had been going on for a while (and my brain started shorting out), I remembered my time in Arizona and how different the world view is. (Again, let me stress that this is all in my experience, and not meant to be a stereotype of Native Americans.) That was a rough summer, but as time went on, we adapted to our surroundings (we being my staff and me, four white 20-somethings from Minnesota). Time is relative. Storytelling is how knowledge is passed from person to person.

That said, by the time class was over, part of my brain was screaming for… concrete, linear thought. Don’t get me wrong – I think it will be a good class (especially once we get past the basics that I am already familiar with), and I think that it is completely appropriate for the style of the class to reflect the culture(s) which we are studying (group work and group projects are key, and my guess is that we won’t follow the syllabus that closely). The difficulty for me will be to adapt myself to the learning experience, because I learn best from the traditional classroom structure (lectures, note-taking, boring blah blah blah). I realize that many students do not learn well from the traditional structure (because there are many different styles of learning, many that are culturally influenced, and our school system was, and remains, designed for white middle and upper class persons), especially many students in inner city schools*. So in this class, I’ll essentially be on the other side.

I experienced a little bit of this last summer in one of my education courses. One of the teachers liked to use kinesthetic learning (learning via physical activity or movement), which is very outside of my comfort zone. It was a unique experience in which I learned more about myself and the experience than about what we were supposed to be learning. But it also helped me grow as a person, and that’s a good thing.

At any rate, what I set out to say was that by the time class was over, I needed to decompress and adjust back to “normal.”  Fortunately, there was a half hour wait for the bus, the weather was lovely, and I had my latest embroidery project with me on which to work, as well as good music on my iPod.

The rest of the weekend was good as well, but this post has gotten quite long already, so I’ll have to save that for another time. Tonight I’m going to volunteer training at the library. I assume they’ll be telling me not to touch kids in appropriate, to talk in a quiet voice, and remind me that everyone who walks through the door is to be respected and valued. (What can I say, I’ve been to a lot of trainings in my day.) I also need to quick mow the last part of the yard that I didn’t get to Sunday because it was wet. Tight schedule… someone else will have to cook dinner.

*The are many reasons that non-white students typically under-perform in the public school system. Poverty has a lot to do with it. Learning styles does too, which is something the multicultural education philosophy seeks to address, in my understanding. Don’t assume everybody learns the same way, and recognize that all methods of learning have value.

Manic Monday

What do you do to make yourself feel better when you are sick? Lots of sleep, whining, and chicken noodle soup with fresh crushed garlic and cayenne pepper. Also, I’ve taken a recent liking to Emergen-C. I’m not sure that it’s actually doing much, but even the placebo effect is worth it. I don’t get truly sick very often (as evidenced by my large build-up of sick leave here at work: 276 hours at the moment, and I take a decent amount off for doctor’s appointments), so whining often occurs.

What is the most amazing weather you’ve ever seen? The weather in Arizona was simply beautiful, much more… majestic than anywhere else I’ve lived. I’m not sure if it was the elevation or the humidity or what, but lightening and storms were so much more beautiful. Plus, since we were much more “in the middle of nowhere,” it seemed a bit more raw. Arizona is one of those places that isn’t really beautiful until you’ve had some sort of bonding experience with it, but once you have, it carves out a little place in your heart.

Do you listen to music or talk radio in the car? Music, definitely. Right now, mostly KTIS, the local Christian radio station, which is a relatively recent change for me, but I like the positive nature of all the DJs and the music is definitely encouraging. Also, it seems less soccer-mom these days, but maybe that’s just me getting older. Truly, though, I think that Christian music has continued to branch out and include a wider variety of genres, and so there’s more rock and alternative (of a good quality) available.

Four For Friday

  1. Underwear: Pull up your pants or else! That’s the sentiment behind efforts in cities across the U.S. to ban droopy trousers that reveal men’s boxer shorts, and baggy sweats that reveal a women’s thong. In just the last seven days alone, city councils in Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia, have taken up measures in favor of banning fanny-flaunting pants. Do you think it’s okay for cities and towns to legislate apparel?  I spent most of my summer in Arizona telling teenage boys to pull up their pants.  I think it’s a stupid trend that has gone on far too long.  There are quite a few other trends that I’d love to legislate away, but I’m actually kind of opposed to that.  I’m very cool with schools having dress codes and uniforms, but I think legislation of apparel should be focused on indecency (though the definition of that could be… anything).
  2. Compensation: Richard Jewell–the contract security guard who was falsely accused of planting a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and who despite never being charged with any crime underwent what was considered by many to be a “trial by media” that took a great toll on his personal and professional life–died earlier this week of what appear to be natural causes. Nearly 10 years after his ordeal, in April of 2005, Jewell was completely exonerated when Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty to carrying out the bombing attack at Centennial Olympic Park, as well as three other attacks across the southeast portion of the United States. Considering Jewell’s situation, do you feel people who have falsely been accused of major crimes should be entitled to compensatory reparations, or is having to deal with such situations simply the cost we must pay in order to live in a society that affords us with so many freedoms? In my understanding, most of the pain caused to Jewell was from the media, not the police.  Granted the police were the ones responsible for falsely accusing him, but I think that happens far more often than we know.  And he wasn’t actually charged with any crime, so I’m not sure what they should be held responsible for.  Isn’t that their job, to figure out who would be responsible?  Perhaps if his character was actually slandered by the media there would be a case for that, but against the media, not the police.  I don’t think it’s the cost we have to pay to live in a free society, but the cost we pay when we are a society so focused on celebrity and gossiping and are generally media whores.  That has nothing to do with our freedoms and everything to do with… us.
  3. Make Room: What particular item of food, regardless of how stuffed you may be, can you always find room for?  Chocolate.  Perhaps only small pieces if I’m really full, but nonetheless I could always find room for a Hershey’s kiss or a Lindt truffle.
  4. I Insist: Growing up, I had a neighbor who was rumored to wear a brand new dress shirt each and every time he went to work. Never would he wear the same dress shirt twice. What is one thing that you are absolutely particular about? Clothing-wise, I’d have to say socks with athletic shoes.  Or really socks with any kind of enclosed shoe.  I recently had to wear a pair of enclosed dress shoes without nylons (due to poor planning) and I wasn’t a big fan.   Not nearly as horrible as being barefoot in sneakers though.  Ew.  The other thing that comes to mind would be shoe-wearing while riding a bike.  Closed-toe shoes, to be specific.  There was a traumatic childhood incident.  ‘Nuff said.

Wednesday Mind Hump

  1. What’s the longest distance you’ve ever traveled? I flew from Chicago to Romania (via Austria) in 2000 just after graduating for a mission trip. Within the states, I’m not sure which was worse – driving to Atlanta from the Twin Cities, or driving to Arizona from the Twin Cities. Both were freaking long trips.
  2. What’s the longest distance you’ve ever walked? That would have to be the time this summer that Prince Charming and I walked from his house (or relatively nearby) to the MOA and back. Actually, that’s not true at all. The summer after my freshman year of high school, I went on a camping trip at my church camp that was actually a hiking and biking trip. We spent the first week hiking along 12-mile beach in the Upper Peninsula, about 6-10 miles per day with 50+ pound packs. The second week was spent biking back to camp, about 60 miles per day (at least, that’s what they told us – what did I know, I was only 14).
  3. How far away is the friend/relative who lives the longest distance from you? Sarah lives in Boston, and that’s pretty far away. Mentally running through the list of other far-off friends, is in Wisconsin, and Betsy are in Illinois (as well as a slew of other people), my grandma lives in Florida, and my aunt and uncle and some cousins live in Michigan. So, yeah, Sarah wins.

Queston Of The Week

Homelessness. Have you ever been homeless, or been afraid that you might be close to being homeless? Do you know anyone who is or has been homeless? Do you have any views on homelessness that have been proven right or wrong, or that you’ve changed over the years?

No, I haven’t ever been homeless. I had this conversation with when I was in San Francisco. I made a statement about how sad it was to see all these homeless people (especially teenagers) and realize that many of them really didn’t have anyone they could turn to, not a single friend or family member who would take them in so they wouldn’t be sleeping on the streets. Did they burn all their bridges? Were they truly alone in the world? Was everyone they knew in just as bad of a situation as they were? said, and I remember this clearly, “you will never be homeless.” And I realized at that moment how truly lucky I am, because I knew he was right. I knew that there were enough people in my life with the monetary means who cared enough about me that I wouldn’t ever have to be homeless.

I do know people (or know of people) who have been homeless. Growing up in an upper-middle-class suburb in Chicago, I certainly didn’t meet any homeless people. It wasn’t until after I went to college that a shelter was built in my hometown (the only one in a several-city area). But in college, I volunteered with several groups and organizations, and eventually worked at a few, that put me in contact with lots of homelessness.

My original views on “the homeless” were drastically shattered when I lived in San Francisco. While I had a heart for the city and wanted to help, I think I went into that summer being afraid of them, as if they were going to hurt me, as if they were all dangerous, or that they were all drunkards. I was so very wrong. I also learned that each one was homeless for a different reason, and they all had a different story. There wasn’t one thing that could categorize or classify all of them. That experience really broke down my stereotypes of homelessness. I was able to step out of my privileged upbringing/background and understand another side of the picture (much like when I lived in Arizona and we considered ourselves Apache and were frequently embarrassed by “those white people”).

I’m interested in hearing others’ answers to this, but would like to remind all that the political side of homelessness is still not up for discussion on this blog. If you want to discuss politics, do it elsewhere. Personal stories/recollections/revelations only.

I’m back, baby!

Well, turns out I was using all of my server space and that’s why I couldn’t publish (or change my template, or…). Fixed that little problem by deleting a bunch of crap files that occurred when I switched hosts last year, and deleting the audio files. Sad, I know, but I’m pretty sure that no one will care.

Last night I got my homework done before dinner (it helps that I ate lunch at 3 and wasn’t hungry when I got home from work), and ate Olive Garden leftovers, and then was really sleepy. But, I persevered and left the house to drop off the rent checks, and then decided it was in my best interest, even if I didn’t want to, to walk on over to Ace Hardware. So, I grabbed my stuff, and off I went. I called Alison on the way – it was the first day of school yesterday. We talked about Mom and her adjustment to living in Minnesota, and how long it takes (or can take) to make new friends and find a new church and… all that stuff that happens when you move. I know that I didn’t really have friends in Minnesota until I moved into the house with Amanda, and by that time I’d been living here over ten months (though, to be fair, three were spent in Arizona, four were spent at the church that fired me, and the rest were spent temping). Mom is a very social person, and hopefully she won’t get too discouraged at how slow that process can be.

And I had several moments of frustration last night with Matea, who was being mega-clingy. She wanted to be all over me, on my text book, on my dinner plate, on my lap, so long as she was closer than my shadow or the air I breathed. Many times she got shoved away or thrown (gently, don’t get your undies in a bunch), and she just kept coming back for more. It made me think about clingy girlfriends and how annoying that must be, and why that would make their boyfriends break up with them instead of their intent (assuming its closeness they’re after). My goodness, I hope I’m never one of “those women.”

Today’s History Lesson: We didn’t have standardized time zones in the US until the late 19th century, when the railroads needed them to avoid chaos.

I think I protest!

Most people who know me know I’m about as political as… socks (or pick something absolutely non-political), and so consequently politics and all things government are almost never discussed here on ‘wonderment.’ I’m going to have to stray from that path for a moment and discuss a recent law Las Vegas passed [link removed]. Read the article first. I’ll wait.


Done? OK.

I don’t want to sound like an extremist here, or, God forbid, liberal, but I think that’s the biggest load of [Republican] crap I’ve heard in quite a while. [Nevada is a red state – I looked it up. And, for the record, before anyone gets offended, I’m just slightly Democratic, like… 51% or something. I test right down the middle of the road. And if you’re easily offended by things political, I can understand why you might enjoy reading this blog, since we never discuss that stuff, but you might have to go read someone else’s blog today. It’s alright. I won’t be offended.]

Now I realize I have a slightly different perspective on homelessness and that whole world than the average citizen. Take into account the following:

  • I grew up in a Christian home and have been part of several Christian communities where serving those less-fortunate has not only been encouraged but sometimes promoted as saintly.
  • In high school, our youth group went to a soup kitchen to volunteer a couple of times. We also had events where we collected soup cans for the food bank or otherwise did something beneficial like that. When I was volunteering with the junior high youth group, we took a weekend trip into Chicago and painted apartments in Cabrini Green (so that they would be available for people to move into, something that the management couldn’t keep ahead of, which resulted in fewer subsidized housing units unless the community helped out). That was an eye opener (especially when I temporarily lost a junior higher, but that’s not relevant to this conversation).
  • In college, we had a group of students that went down to lower Wacker Drive in Chicago (Ctrl-F to search the page for “Wacker”) to feed sack lunches to the homeless there once a month, and I often participated, until I 1) had a boyfriend, and later 2) they closed lower Wacker Drive and “cleaned it up.” [link removed]
  • Also in college, I chaired the Missions Committee, a part of Student Senate. We planned the spring break Missions trips (which I’m getting to), and also local missions opportunities. We went to Nashville several times and worked in an extremely impoverished neighborhood with a children’s’ program. I remember clearly a little girl sitting on my lap on the swings, maybe 6 or 7, telling me about how her dad beat her mom and that’s why her mom lost the baby. In Chicago, with CSM, we went on a prayer tour of the city, which highlighted areas that were in need of God’s hand (that would be you and I, by the way), including housing projects, government buildings, parks where the homeless would sleep, neighborhoods with high volumes of adult entertainment centers and bars, etc. This was a pivotal experience for me, that resulted in my summer spent in San Francisco.
  • Then I spent the summer between my junior and senior years of college working for CSM in San Francisco (Dana was my boss, if you read partway down the page, and all those projects outlined we worked with). We lived in the Salvation Army building in the Tenderloin neighborhood (you really should read the first few paragraphs of that article), which was an experience in itself. There I daily worked with the homeless, the impoverished, families in transitional housing, people who chose to be homeless, people dying of AIDS, etc. I cannot go into enough detail to explain how this changes my view compared to the rest of America.
  • I also spent a summer in Arizona, and while nobody was homeless, we did work with a community that had a very low income rate and the majority were unemployed (70-85%).

So, you see, I have seen first-hand how government money, community efforts, kindness of strangers, hard work, etc, can positively work in people’s lives. Don’t misunderstand me – I refuse to give money to people on the street, but if I had a granola bar with me, I’d certainly pass that on. Especially in communities where the housing vacancy rate is around 1% and affordable housing is non-existent (like San Francisco), sometimes throwing money at the problem, like in the case of transitional housing shelters for families, does work.

And at the very least, even if there’s absolutely no government assistance whatsoever, there are [almost] always caring individuals in a community who want to make a difference in an individual’s life, or who want to bring more meaning to their own lives, or who just want to give back. And just on an individual level, what right does the government have to take away the satisfaction that helping out one less fortunate than you can bring?

I understand the concerns of a community with a growing homeless population. And the argument that people need more than a sandwich, they need social workers and doctors etc, is valid, but slightly off. Yes, people who are homeless, who desire to change their situation, will usually need the help of a community to do so, in the form of social workers and shelters and doctors and clothing and job readiness and …. the list goes on. But not everyone who is homeless desires to change their situation. And I’ve seen first-hand how that isn’t always a bad thing. I met some wonderful men in San Francisco who chose to be homeless and were perfectly content – they knew that the confines of life as you and I experience it were not for them, made them unhappy, or they just couldn’t adapt. And that was OK. Not everyone who is homeless is violent or belligerent or constantly asking for handouts or drunk. Sometimes they’re just people who step to the beat of a different drum. And in a community like San Francisco that is so open to the homeless population, there are social agencies that help, by providing free showers and toothbrushes, vegetarian soup kitchens, cots in shelters, etc.

The idea of actually making it illegal to make a tuna fish sandwich at home, pack it up, and take it to the homeless guy in the park across from your house… is abhorrible to me. Where does the law stop and start? If I walk over there and instead invite him into my home for dinner, is that a crime? Because it’s probably less safe for me than just handing over a sandwich. What if instead I hand over a business card to the local shelter or soup kitchen? Can I let him sleep on my front lawn? Can I give him things that aren’t food, like blankets or money? If I offer him a job in my warehouse, is that wrong too? Because all of those things could be construed as “enabling” and encouraging homelessness in a community.

Yes, that last part was a little extreme, and I did say I was going to try to avoid such statements. And I know some people have mentioned that when I write such long posts, even if I ask for comments, no one is going to leave them because it was too long. But I’m still going to end by asking for your comments. Amanda and Liz, you’ve worked with some diverse populations of people and probably have some good views on this. And I’m going to stop talking before I sound like the guy on the bus last night who was militant that the US government owed him millions of dollars of restitution for the enslavement of his ancestors 300 years ago. Because that just made everyone uncomfortable.

Today’s Reading

I frequently find myself looking for ways to entertain… myself… while at work. This leads to a lot of reading on the internet. One of my standbys is Christianity Today’s Single Minded column. There’s a new entry every couple of weeks, so occasionally I forget to check it for a while, and then have several columns to get caught up on. Today was such a day – four columns since last I’d read. Let me give the quick breakdown of my thoughts:

Surprised by Marriage [link removed]
by Jason Boyett, excerpted from Pocket Guide to Adulthood
July 19, 2006

I liked this article, except that for being an article that’s supposed to encourage single people, it seemed way too “go out and get married already!” I’m not sure how that’s going to be received by … others.

Found in Translation [link removed]
by Camerin Courtney
July 12, 2006

The Goodbye Girl [link removed]
by Camerin Courtney
June 28, 2006

These two were alright, but didn’t exactly resonate with me. They’re mostly about the author’s recent trip to Bulgaria. They’re good, but don’t go out of your way to read them.

The Gift of Loneliness [link removed]
by Peter M. Nadeau
June 21, 2006

This is the one that surprised me. Not because of the content, exactly, but because it got me thinking. And I realized that since college, I haven’t really struggled with loneliness. Not that much in college, either, except for the times that it seemed like everyone was getting married, which tends to emphasize your own singleness (and the fact that you haven’t had a date in … how long?). High school was lonely, but I think perhaps more because of the social structure than anything else. I’ve had some lonely times since college, true. I’m thinking specifically about my first few weeks after getting fired, when I had just moved into a new apartment with new roommates I barely knew, had just moved to a whole new state for a church that had just dumped me, and other than Alison, I didn’t know anyone in Minnesota. Those were some rough times.

More so, however, I’ve felt “alone” rather than lonely. When I was working down in Arizona, I made great friends with my team. But when it came down to it, I was their boss, and sometimes there were things I had to deal with that I couldn’t talk to them about (like when my boss told me they might send me home, aka fire me, at the end of the week, depending on my performance that week – no pressure there). And then I felt alone.

When I moved to Michigan, I had a lot of alone time. That was OK, for the most part. The worst part was in April (I was only there for a year and a half), driving back from a trip home to Chicago, when I realized that I was unhappy and was going to have to start looking for a new job. I sobbed almost the entire 4 1/2 hour trip, feeling absolutely alone in this decision and… horrified at the implications.

But lonely? This is something I rarely feel. Even before my weekends were spent almost exclusively with Prince Charming, and before we had SNB regularly scheduled where I knew I’d see Amanda and Liz once a week… even then when I spent most of my time working or working at church, and my free time was spent at home watching TV… I rarely felt lonely. Is that strange?

We all know that I’m not a highly social person, that “recluse” is a much better word, and I’m perfectly comfortable describing myself as a “homebody,” regardless of the negative connotation that may hold. I’ve never been one to have tons of friends – two or three close ones is about what I can handle before feeling stretched too thin. And I need my alone time, to regroup, to not have to be “on” for others, to relax.

There are other things as a single person that I felt the absence of stronger. Like physical touch. The opportunities to touch and be touched are sometimes few and far between. Or when I really wanted to do something but had no one to do it with (go to the movies, go out for coffee, things that are more enjoyable with company).

These days, I don’t have those struggles. I have more of a problem making sure I have enough time by myself to get done what I need to (laundry, reading, whatever), and enough alone time to not get frazzled.

I guess, perhaps, I’m lucky? Blessed? I’ve been trying to write this post for over an hour now and keep getting interrupted, so my thoughts have kinda fallen apart.

Miles walked since 6/1: 53

Five On Friday: Summer Lovin’

Tell me more, tell me more…

  1. Did you get very far? What’s the farthest away from home you’ve gone on a summer vacation? I’m too lazy to run the distances on a map, so the options are: San Francisco, Arizona, and North Carolina.
  2. Like does he have a car? What car would you like to have for the summer? Anything convertible. And pretty.
  3. Was it love at first sight? Have you ever felt love at first sight? Maybe not first sight, but within 24 hours.
  4. Did she put up a fight? What was the last fight you had about? Um… Prince Charming and I disagreed on how many tennis courts were at a park we walked by…. I really don’t like fighting though, so if you’re looking for raised voices you’ll have to go elsewhere.
  5. But you don’t gotta brag. What accomplishment or talent are you most proud of? My Access database project is supercool and I am a goddess.

Late Night Thoughts

I just started reading Finding Our Way Home by Mark McMinn. I bought it the last time I was browsing for cheap books on Amazon and set it aside so I’d start it next (after finishing Pride and Prejudice, or which I still have about seven pages that I can’t seem to make it through). It seemed like the kind of book that would… meet me where I’m at, and journey with me, and lead me… on. And I was right. The bus ride over to SNB tonight gave me the chance to read the first chapter. McMinn used an illustration from his own life that I could have written myself, and it resonated deeply with me.

The book is about home. There are many different types of homes, and many different ways we experience it. Sometimes you arrive somewhere and just know you’re home. I felt that way the first time I walked onto Judson’s campus. Sometimes it takes longer – a place grows on you, you have experiences, and it becomes home. Living in Minnesota was that way for me. And sometimes home isn’t a place at all. I came up with a lot of different personal “homes” as I was reading.

Homes Past – places, experiences, memories that were home and will always be remembered that way, but are gone forever. Playing the piano in my childhood home. Running the outdoor track at Judson with Sarah at 11pm. Dinner at 5:30 every weekday as a whole family, and homemade pizza on Saturdays. The piano in the empty sanctuary at my church in Michigan. Chapel at Judson. Laying on my back staring at a sky full of stars in the middle of the field outside our dormitory in Arizona. These are the homes that we long for, choose to remember the good and forget the bad.

Homes Nearby – experiences and places that aren’t everyday, but can be recreated. Starbucks with Betsy. Lying in a hammock with Amanda and Liz (like the summer of 2003). The first smell of hyacinth in the spring. The first sip of White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks in the fall after summer’s deviation to frappuccinos. During stressful times or a particularly hard day at work, these are the type of experiences I seek out to comfort and calm me.

Homes Present – places, experiences, things that mean home for me right now. Hearing Etta James sing “At Last.” Romeo galloping down the hallway when I first get home from work. Being in Prince Charming’s arms. Nothing in the world could make me give those up.

Homes Future – that which causes my heart and soul to cry out for more, something beyond the now. “Ocean” by Ten Shekel Shirt. Certain books. Worship experiences that are extraordinary. Special conversations that catch me by surprise, often with a stranger or distant acquaintance.

and some other people know that if I get injured and have to be on life support in such a way that there’s really nothing of “me” left, I’m DNR – Do Not Resuscitate. Why? Let me go. I want to go home. Heaven, where I can be with Jesus, and everything is made right. The pull of that home hasn’t been as strong in the past few years; I’ve been much more disengaged from my own spiritual life. But it’s still there, that pull of home, always, and it’s what will eventually motivate me to… re-engage. It’s happening already. The book is helping too. Despite my recent revelations of my disillusionment with the church, I am starting to feel ready to again be active in my own spirituality.

I may not necessarily have figured everything out or be able to put what I have into clear statements, but my original desire to figure out who I am outside of the church, I feel I’ve accomplished that (as much as anyone can define themselves). There’s a separation now – I am my own person and exist independently of any church. (Before it was much closer to a co-dependent relationship, which we all know are unhealthy but hard to get out of.) I feel… healthier, more defined as a person, well-rounded, balanced, and as though I experience a broader part of the world than I did before.

Well, if anyone actually read all the way to the end of this, here’s a question for the comments: what is home to you?

TGIF

  1. What is the easiest money you’ve ever made? Most babysitting jobs I’ve ever had. Even when it was the parents’ group and there were 7 kids ages 3-8, relatively speaking it wasn’t all that hard.
  2. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do to to earn money? It’s a toss-up between when I worked in San Francisco and when I worked in Arizona. In San Francisco, they were long hard days and I made $75/week (so at roughly 6-days a week working 15-hour days, that’s, what, 12-cents an hour?), so in terms of quantity of money made, I definitely worked the hardest for the least amount received. But in Arizona, the work was, like, ten times harder. I made… well, not ten times more than SF, but enough to pay my rent back in Minnesota and a few bills over the summer. I worked harder in Arizona, but earned more. So, I can’t decide.
  3. Other than money, what is the best inheritance anyone could ever leave you? The piano at Mom’s house (though I would argue that it already is mine, I just don’t have possession of it, but not everyone sees it that way).
  4. Even if you didn’t need to, would you still work? Absolutely not. I know, I’m lazy. I’d volunteer a lot, and I’d do things, but would I work for someone else, definitely not. I’d rather be my own boss and decide what projects are of value and how I should spend my time, and when I can just lay on the hammock wasting the day away.
  5. What is the most you’ve ever spent for something really dumb? Wow, since most of my life could be classified under “poor financial decisions,” I’m really not sure. I have some items of clothing that cost a lot and weren’t worn nearly enough. I’d love to classify bridesmaids dresses as “really dumb” (since they’re freaking expensive for a one-time-use item). Anything in technology (because usually by the time I can afford it, the technology advances so shortly afterward that my investment is… not nearly as valuable). Cars are just stupid purchases in general because they cost a freaking lot of money and are constantly depreciating. I could go on…

The Many Things About Me Meme

Stolen from KathyHowe

Ten Favorite:

  1. Color: green makes me happy. So does brown.
  2. Food: Chocolate, hands-down. Preferably in ice cream form.
  3. Band: Eh, I don’t listen to a lot of music these days.
  4. Movie: Price & Prejudice – can’t wait for my copy to show up!
  5. Sport: Wacky Ball. Yeah, I know it’s made-up, but it’s so cool.
  6. Season: Fall – its the colors and the changing and the season of college brochures and the overall romance in the air. (Yeah, dead leaves do it for me.)
  7. Day of the week: Saturday.
  8. Ice Cream Flavor and why? Chocolate. I just discovered Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter, and that’s fantastic.
  9. Time of the Day: From about 7-10 at night. I’m awake, there’s often nothing of importance to do so I can relax, and I’ve usually eaten by then so I’m full and content. And I’m never at work [anymore].
  10. This one is missing so I guess I’ll add my own– Sandalwood.

Nine Current:

  1. Current Mood: Sleepy (my eyes are really dry, too, so it kinda looks like I’ve been crying.
  2. Taste: Good & Plenty (black licorice)
  3. Clothes: Cream cords, brown turtleneck sweater, brown shoes, brown & orange striped socks.
  4. Mousepad: work-related old retro one, found while we were moving offices
  5. Finger/Toenail Color: Fingers are naked, toes are taupe-ish.
  6. Time: 10:29 am.
  7. Crush: Water – I’ve been so dehydrated lately, it’s been absolutely divine to imbibe.
  8. Thought: I wish I’d stayed home from work today.
  9. Love: Prince Charming

Eight Firsts:

  1. First Best Friend: Mary
  2. Love: Mike, just not in that way.
  3. Screen Name: Redcleo.
  4. Pet: Alexander, a gorgeous short-hair tabby cat.
  5. Crush: That lasted more than a day or two? Brian W in 7th grade.
  6. Piercing: Ears. It was DadAlison’s idea that I could get them pierced for my 10th birthday.
  7. Word: I have no idea. I haven’t heard that story. All I know is that I didn’t really talk much until I talked in complete sentences, at the age of 3
  8. Car: Skippy, the Dodge Colt 2-door hatchback. He was a sexy beast.

Seven Last:

  1. Last Cigarette: A few weeks ago on a Tuesday on my back porch with
  2. Drink: Tall glass of water.
  3. Car Ride: Home from Amanda’s house on Sunday night.
  4. Text Message: Sometime around Christmas from the airline with updated flight information.
  5. Movie Seen: Can’t remember. Obviously nothing special. I’m sure there were at least parts of movies seen this weekend, but I’m spacing out here.
  6. Phone Call: To Alison last night, to catch up and find out if she’s pregnant (she’s not) and generally bond.
  7. Song Listened to: “Baby I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain on the Reality Bites Soundtrack – hey, it’s what popped up on shuffle.

Six Have You Ever:

  1. Dated one of your best friends: No, though it almost happened once.
  2. Broken the Law: The state trooper in Wisconsin seemed to think so, and evidenced it by giving me a $180 ticket for speeding.
  3. Been arrested: No, though I was threatened with it in the afore-mentioned.
  4. Skinny dipped: Absolutely not.
  5. Been on TV: No, though I have had an article written up about me in a newspaper, complete with picture.
  6. Kissed someone you didn’t know: No, though I have been kissed by a stranger, most notably at the Halloween charity event for ‘s employer.

Five Things:

  1. What you’re wearing: Same as earlier (it’s only been 10 minutes and I’m at work – not much of a chance for a wardrobe change).
  2. What you did last night: Went for coffee with Amanda and Liz and knit, talked to Alison on the phone, watched CSI reruns, read, and fell asleep.
  3. You can hear right now: Nothing, it’s blissfully quiet in the office today.
  4. You can’t live without: Target.
  5. You do when you’re bored: Eat, watch TV, sleep. I’m a pretty boring person.

Four States You Have Been To:

  1. California – visited San Jose, San Diego, lived in San Francisco the summer of 1999.
  2. Massachusetts – May 2004 for Sarah’s wedding.
  3. Tennessee – several times for mission trips, once for a conference
  4. I’m just going to throw all the other ones here, since I’d rather not leave them out (the joy of family vacations as a kid) – Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota (duh), Iowa, South Dakota, Washington, Arizona, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Florida, Georgia… maybe another one or two.

Three People You Can Tell Anything To:

  1. Alison
  2. Betsy
  3. Prince Charming

Two Choices:

  1. Black or White: White
  2. Winter or Summer: Summer – I want sun and warmth and lazy vacations.

One Person You would Do Anything For:

  1. Anything? Yeah, no. There are a few people I’d do almost anything for though.

Play along if you’d like…

So Fooey on Them!

I grew up in the Color Me Beautiful era of makeup/beauty/fashion. What this meant was that as a child with strawberry-blond hair (and really, emphasis on the blond, it’s just that Alison and Dad were white-blonds and Mom is a brunette, so I really stood out), it was considered a faux pas to wear any number of colors. For instance, red, orange, yellow, and pink. Navy was generally the color I ended up in, or lavender (because when Alison and I had matching outfits, which happens when your mom makes most of your clothes, and yes, there are pictures, but they’re all in Illinois; she was the one in pink and I was the one in lavender). By junior high, neon colors had become popular, and then I got to wear hot pink, but really, very few people actually look good in neon, and I’m glad that phase passed quickly. As time went on (also known as puberty, or the age of hormonally-induced insanity), my hair gradually got redder and redder. (Of course, at some point I started coloring it as well, but these days I color it about the same color as my roots used to be before they started going brown, and you can see my natural color in my pictures from Arizona after I chopped all my hair off and it all grew back in au naturel. No, I won’t link to those pics, because as far as I’m concerned they’re hideous and I’d rather forget I ever had short hair. But this is a really long tangent.)

Well, that was a really long intro to basically say… they were all wrong. I can wear red, and some oranges (let’s be honest, very few people look good in orange and yellow). And best of all, I can wear pink. Baby pink. And I look good in it. And it makes me happy. Especially when my boss tells me that I look pretty today. It’s all the baby pink mohair, I’m telling you. It makes anyone look and feel pretty. Well, maybe not everyone.

(I’m trying to focus on things other than my dying coworker, about whom we just got news today. So pardon me if my posts are shallow and frivolous, but it’s how we’re going to get through today.)

Restless Legs

If you haven’t heard about them, visit the link briefly first [link removed].

Restless legs run in Mom’s family. Specifically Mom and myself. I don’t get them all that often anymore. Lately, the few times that I have noticed it, I’ve been super-tired but making myself stay awake anyways, and if I either go to bed or take a quick nap or just intentionally rest, they seem to go away.

I’m sure that’s not a very good solution for most people, but it’s worked for me. One of my staff in Arizona got them and her doctor gave her stretches to do before bedtime that were supposed to relieve it. I was surprised that she even had restless legs, since she was a runner, and I seem to be more prone to having them when I’m less active than I normally am (like when switching to a full-time office job). I didn’t have a single problem with them when I was in Arizona, probably because we worked 18-20 hour days and were dog-tired all the time.

Four For Friday

  1. Teachers: The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is about to become the largest public school district in the United States to tie teachers’ pay to their students’ standardized test scores. How do you feel about this? Do you feel HISD and other school districts around the country should be able to tie teacher pay to student performance, or should merit or something else aside from student performance figure into the equation? Wow, I didn’t know anything about this, and honestly don’t have an opinion. At least not any educated one. Ask me in a few years once I’ve been back in the schools. Of course, I think the answer would completely depend on whether you worked at a magnet school or an inner-city school or in an affluent suburb or out in rural America. I bet people from all over have different opinions just because… that’s how it is.
  2. Osama: Do you honestly think Osama bin Laden will ever be captured or killed by U.S. troops? I decided last night, on a whim, that he’s completely made up. He doesn’t exist. Nope. [Note: for all of you who think I’m serious… I’m not. But I’m just so tired of the whole thing. Make it stop!]
  3. Emotion: When and why was the last time you screamed at the top of your lungs? …? I don’t know. Perhaps into a pillow sometime after getting fired or while working in Arizona.
  4. Your Bed: Is your bed really comfortable, or do you live with poor sleep caused by the quality of your bedding? I’ve gotten used to my really crappy mattress (thanks, Alison, for buying the cheapest, most temporary thing ever created), after… over two years (have they really been married that long? wow). But other people (ahem, Prince Charming) seem to not find it comfortable, and I understand, because I think the first year and a half of sleeping on it resulted in lots of back pain and bad sleep. But beds cost way too much. I wouldn’t buy another twin mattress at my age, but can’t really afford to get a full (where would I put it, anyways? I’d have to get rid of furniture, or… something), so I’m kinda stuck with what I’ve got for now.