Sunday, October 28, 2012

Idealist, Disappointed

As a die hard idealist, I often struggle with reconciling all the "should's" with the "are's."

Politicians should tell the truth. We should have friends in Madison. My mom's store shouldn't be closing. My church should be a great  place to meet God.

Reality isn't always kind.

But then, there are a lot of good things that happen out of the blue that by all rights shouldn't happen.

What do you do when you are disappointed? My personal trend is to run. Hit the deck and run like hell. Get out of there before any one else can hurt or disappoint you. But I have been thinking about this a little and have decided that while this is the easiest option, it might not be the best option long term. If you keep running, you eventually arrive at a place where no one knows you at all. None of your relationships can survive beyond a conflict. I learned this from C who for some reason doesn't consider running. Once you run, there is no way to fix it. You can't make a change (and neither can the other party) because you are gone. You stop giving the other side a chance. You take control.

Control is something I am a pro at in this context. I usually justify my decision to run with statements like "I'm not getting what I need, and I need to go somewhere where I will. Nothing's going to change." Or, "if I don't fight for myself, who will?" Or, "Why should I wait to see what happens?" It's all very "I" centered. It's gets close to the self-preservation instincts, and it's all about control.

I am not always sure how to fight the instinct to run. It's a habit that's been ingrained through a life of moving. It's easy to believe that my decision to leave won't affect anyone, but that's my impression of reality,  not necessarily the facts.

I have so many questions about how to live. I don't want to put a gloss over everything and pretend to be happy. I feel like a little kid in a pink dress outside under a tree. The bad guys came and knocked my glasses off and now they are standing around laughing at me while I grope around on the ground and try to find them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good Seeing You

Sometimes it's hard to hold on to yourself. That's what this summer has been like. I'm coming back down from working full time, school full time, friends moving, family trauma, big church changes, if it wasn't nailed down, it's gone. But, there were and are some bright spots. For example, I have become a semi-expert on the Civil War. And also I love playing softball. I never would have seen those two coming. I'm also very excited about my new food processor.

I became a Civil War expert through this online class I had to take as a pre-req for my certification program. It was among the classes that I have done the most work for in my life. I read over 1,000 pages and watched 9+ hours of video (so did loyal Caleb) with the same music playing in the background. I learned so much and I got really into it. To celebrate finishing the class, I went to the Wisconsin Veteran's Museum and explored their Civil War exhibit. They had a giant interactive table-screen that was like a general's desk. You could tap on the different objects (a hat, a coffee mug, various maps and folders) like on an iPad and read about their significance. You could also trace all the regiments from WI through all of their engagements, but they only had the data for up to 1862. It is hard not to get carried away talking about CW facts whenever something comes up in conversation that relates to it, because, you know, everything goes back to the Civil War. I've also been reading a couple of books set in the 1850s and I find myself fact checking the authors. For example, "I don't know if they would have had paper money at that point because the Civil War wasn't in full swing."

Softball is the fun sport I never knew. I am really enjoying the people in my cohort for the ed. program. I feel more and more affection for them as the weeks go by. We are having a cohort softball game this weekend that I am very excited about. It is good to have some more friends. After over a year in Madison, it is our closest friends that we long for, and our mentors. We realize even more how good we had it. But we are still trying to build, one step at a time.

That's all for now, folks!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Thought Those Days Were Over

Today I left home at 8:30 and returned at 8:30. Before I left this morning, I finished reading a chapter about language development and wrote a paper. I packed lunch and dinner from fridge leftovers and heated them up in the two respective schools.

(My Thursday night ritual when I get back from class is to eat a bowl of Quaker Oat's Oh's.

I don't know how I am going to make it. You chop off a dragon's head and up pop three more uglier ones.

I want to stick my head in this delicious bush outside our window. It's the best thing I've ever smelled. What is the name of it?)

Sometimes I don't get the people in my class or they don't get me. I am too young or something. I don't think certain things are important. I want the facts. Just give me the info and let me go. Don't ask all these questions in language that doesn't really get at what you want us to answer. The problem with having different professors every four weeks is that they don't know what the previous ones have already talked about. There should be more communication and syllabus sharing. I am already picking out strategies I want to use and not use. I learned about smart boards today, on the ground. I love the fourth and fifth grade. They are writing papers and it's so much fun to help them out and talk about ideas. One of the teachers used the word "schema" today in her lesson, "if you don't have a schema for this..." and I just read about Piaget last night. It was sweet. I was like, "dang, she just did that in a 4/5 class. Do they know what a schema is? Do they know what she was saying?? Piaget? Really???" It's great motivation to learn it because in the chapter, there were so many examples that I've seen of testing for Piaget's different stages of development, testing for specific principles (esp. conservation), and then she said the word "schema." That means this stuff is important.

Everything I did today was about school. I did my work for class tonight. I did observation hours at my school for my program. Then I worked at the same school. Then I left early to go to my 4 hour long class. You couldn't fit any more education into my day (please don't let me end up being wrong about that in some freaky way). It's all I think about. Except for all the things that I have to do that I didn't do and should do...

The apt. is totally trashed. One of the teachers made a joke today in the teachers' lounge about how she couldn't believe she left her house the way she did this morning and that social services was going to come... hah. They should see mine. Dishes, clothes, stuff everywhere-- the chaos of a life well lived, right?

For every hours that I spend at the school doing clinicals, I have to write a certain page length reflection. I think I owe probably ten pages by now, just from this week. Maybe eight or nine. We'll see. I signed up for an online class to meet one of my pre req's and now I have to do an online orientation!!!! What is there to orient???? What is there to figure out that will take three hours?!?!

Going at this pace makes doing laundry sound like a vacation. While I was sitting in my class, I was wondering which task I should try to knock out next (probably the "success stories" for my job that I didn't know were due tomorrow until today!!!!!! talk about frustration. I told one of my coworkers that we stopped being successful a couple of months ago haha nothing to write about), but now that I am home, I would like to paint my nails and watch a very familiar chick flick. What will win? Washing the dishes and going to bed early.

Why was all of this so much fun in college? I am trying to figure it out. I didn't have a job with last minute demands. I didn't have to cook for myself. I didn't have to drive half an hour to get to work. Everything I did was in one place. Now there are so many pockets of concern and they are spread all over the city. Three-headed dragons on every corner. I would probably forget some of them if not for the gnashing teeth.

(Anyone know how to find an online biology class that isn't thru BYU?

Go to the post office. )

Wish me luck. And don't abandon me, friends, even though I am too busy to call you like I should (and want to).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Approaching One Year

I still have the dashboard widgets up from graduation and getting married and I'm on day 349 since graduation and day 322 since marriage. We're also approaching the anniversary of moving to Madison. And Caleb's bday and my bday. We always look ahead in the White house- plan trips, write things on the calendar, book flights, etc. But now I am going to do some reflecting, not planning. Reverse the direction that I look. 

It has been a good year. I think when you move to a new place, there's a period of time where you're trying to get your feet on the ground. You think you are fully there, but you aren't. Now I know I am really here in Madison. I saw that coming back from Brazil when I couldn't wait to go to work and see my kids and see our friends from church and other places. We reached out to so many people spontaneously during our first two weeks back because we were just craving some connection and familiarity. Not everything is settled, but we are getting there. We feel like us here, if that makes sense. 

It is kind of weird getting further and further away from college and realizing that I will never be moving in a direction back towards what used to be my life. All of those friendships and people. I had been trying to keep extending it and extending it with phone calls, but now I don't see it the same way. I have been able to (somewhat) grieve and appreciate what I had and recognize that it was a unique and incredibly special time in my life. I have felt the pangs at different moments throughout the past year, and I might keep feeling them later. The friendships will morph as they naturally should to reflect where we all are now, and I don't feel the need to fight to keep them the same as they were. 

And I see that in other areas of my life too, like with church and with my job and with other commitments. I am done fighting and carrying things I don't need to carry. Let God do what he wants and I will accept my part. 

On a totally different note, I love seeing all the pictures of newborn babies on fb. Everyone is having a baby these days. Not me. Don't get your hopes up. Maybe it's the springtime or something, but I have been wanting to get a pet. Usually I hate animals and I think newborns are ugly, but I think my heart is softening up. If we didn't have this apt. where pets are not allowed, I could go for a kitten or something small and cute and soft. 

Caleb is tearing it up at his job, always learning something new and talking about excel macros and things that I have no idea what they are. I am loving my job, too. I love it more and more. I love those kids. I keep learning new things about them, and some of the things I learn are really sad, like things parents or big brothers do or how they got that scratch which I don't believe, but an equal or greater number of things are great. This one kid loves cook books and I like to look at them with him and other kids. We are doing a unit on the DR right now and building a float for the Celebrate Diversity Parade. We had a total blast building it on Friday. We spent about two hours on it because they never have homework on Friday. I like seeing what they are good at. This one kid has huge sports talent. Another one is really good at reading even though he has a rough background that doesn't really lend itself to trips to the library during the summer. This kid in particular has got me thinking a lot of radical thoughts, very radical thoughts, but thoughts that are in line with who I know I am and what God has put in me. They just scare my socks off sometimes when I think about actually doing them, or what it would mean for my "orderly" and seemingly normal life. I am realizing that when you do crazy things, only about 5% of it looks like a movie and the other 95% probably looks like hell that you want to get out of, change takes time and pain can break your heart, and when you think about how long it would take for someone to heal and all the work that would go into it and how much it would cost you. It's not very much like a movie at all, but it's better, if you can make it. If you are called down that road. Oh boy. 

I just started school to be a classroom teacher for 1-8 grade. It's gonna be great. Have only had two classes so far, and they've been good. I'm ready to get into the meat. I have a full-time job for 9-10 weeks of the summer at the school where I work. It should be good, but I still know nothing about what I will actually be doing and I have to help plan it all starting on Monday. PRAY for good communication within our team. 

I can't wait to see my family at Memorial day. All of them. Immediate, YES. Mandy, YES. But also the parts of this side of the family that I have never met! And a cousin I haven't seen since she was 2. I am looking forward to the catching up and for them to meet C. And I can't wait to sit around with my parents in the morning and drink coffee. I can't wait to give all of them the sweet presents I got them in Brazil, especially Jon. He will die laughing. And Mom will die of delight. Cannot wait. 34 days. 

And now C and I are going to get some nachos at Taco Bell because he and I have never ever been on a late night taco bell run together, something characteristic of the good old days of college and living in a dorm. sigh. but also so glad I do not live in a dorm anymore. I love my bed and I can sleep in peace without running footsteps at 3 am. 

End of post. xoxo 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Writing with 2/3 kids

Oh, one more thing that IS worth saying--

I interviewed most of my students last week for info for their files, and one of them said that his favorite/easiest class at school was writing. I was shocked. He's not really "the type." He does great at math and is the bey blade ring leader of the pack. Anyway, he said we should do more writing activities, and I thought it was a great idea. So, I found some old notebooks in the supply closet, ripped all the used pages out, and brought them to our class. I brought a ton of magazines (also ripped out all the inappropriate pages in those) and we cut out inspiring pictures and glued them on the front of the notebooks. Today before afterschool, I wrote prompts at the top of the first five or so pages. Some of the pages were for listing things, and others were for describing. But I didn't put the same prompts in everyone's books; I tried to make them specific to the students. For one student who I knew liked cute things and wrote her own songs, I had "the most beautiful things in the world are..." and "describe how you write a song, and/or write a song" on two of her pages. For one who likes food and cookbooks a ton, his first page was "my favorite foods to cook and eat are..." Some wrote more than others, and some just put a one or two word answer, but I tried to encourage them to fill up the page or at least half and to use sentences. Some of them used up all five pages in one day. So it definitely needs tweaking to get them to actually write or tell stories and spend some time on it. More research is required...

Another cool thing we finished up today is writing letters to a class of students at the school I worked at in the Dominican Republic. We spent two days working on it, and after they finished their letters, they could draw a picture to send with their letter. I am really excited about this project. I can't wait till we get some letters back and can read them! Hopefully it will be right when we are doing our next unit about different countries, because the country we are doing is the DR.
So blog peeps. It's been a while.

I've been doing a lot of thinking.

I think I am going back to school. Still not 100% solid about it, but it will probably happen. The program is to get a teaching certificate for 1-8 grade. It will be a lot of work. That is what makes me not want to do it. haha Still waiting for the gut feeling of "go for it!" but that may not come before the first day of class...

Rowing is starting up a week from today. Preparing for that keeps me sore and tired, and on a weird schedule.

AND we're going to Brazil a week from Wednesday. I haven't really begun to imagine what it will be like to be gone for so long, on vacation, in a place where I don't know anyone or speak the language. I am looking forward to the shopping, and the food, which I have heard Caleb talk about for so long and now can finally experience. I am also really excited to see Iguazu Falls and go on a little mini vacation within the big vacation.

I just finished reading the first book in the Mitford series, which I liked more than I thought I would.

Well, the beautiful thoughts aren't really coming out tonight I guess. It's 10 pm and I feel old. Bedtime. Maybe the next one will be more interesting.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Death on a Monday

When I get home from practice, I like to watch people getting ready for the day. Buzzers announce the arrival of carpool or taxi service for the upstairs apartment. If I’m in the shower, I can hear her say, “I’ll be right down.” A couple outside brushes the snow off their car. The girl uses a snow scraper and the guy uses his gloved hand on the windows, then goes back to get the taillight. But they aren’t a couple. They are just carpool buddies with the potential of a little romantic tension here and there. Maybe one day he’ll get up the courage to ask her out for dinner after work. She drives. If they had left about ten minutes earlier, they wouldn’t have had to brush anything off. I wonder if they will die today. Impending death would make brushing the snow off the car in the morning more meaningful because it would be the last time. Would it have made a difference if they had left ten minutes before? I think about death more than normal people. The train crossing lights were flashing on the way to practice, but after stopping, I drove over them like the other cars did. There was no train. Same thing happened on the way back. Rush hour traffic was forced over a railroad crossing with flashing lights and sounds, but no train. I wondered who I should call about this. If and when the train does finally come, someone could die. Maybe the girl and guy in the blue Jetta. They will approach the tracks, sipping their coffee and listening to NPR because they are young professionals now. They will say to each other, “This is strange,” upon seeing the lights flashing, and will start to cross anyway like the other cars. The car will not accelerate as quickly as she thought it would because of the slush on the roads, and then the train will come. Two hours later than the flashing lights indicated. The blue Jetta will not return to the spot across the parking lot from mine. And the snow will continue. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Earl Grey, Hot and a Meditation on "Household Stuff"

It's wonderful to have a slow day without feeling either restless or lethargic. The pace feels just right. We've finally got some snow on the ground up here. I've been sitting at the kitchen table for a couple hours requesting books about Brazil from the Southern Wisconsin library system. I'm surrounded by dishes from every meal I ate today, but they feel like friends, not like clutter on the brink of overwhelming me. The latest addition is the Earl Grey in a cup Caleb got me.

I used my day off work to resume going to crew practices. You know that feeling when you haven't worked out in a while and your lungs start to burn with every breath because you can't process the oxygen? That happened.

For a while, I've been experiencing this feeling of dread and futility related to household tasks. Why buy food? You just eat it all and have to buy more. Creating interesting menus, wanting to cook, wanting to clean (let's face it, that one's never easy), it's getting harder. Except for today, when it was fine. I think the problem is perspective. In my head, it's all a lot more difficult than it really is. I even have some new tools to help me. Inspired by Mom, I purchased some rubber gloves. Makes dish washing a lot better because my hands don't get chapped afterwards. I got a new cookbook for Christmas with lots of interesting recipes to try.

I didn't have many diversions into the world of "household stuff" in college. I don't know if we even vacuumed our dormroom... I remember cleaning when we had an apartment, occasionally. We had to wash dishes, but the solution to that was easy-- don't eat in the room. Go to the cafeteria. Even in our house senior year, I never cooked because I didn't like the clean up part. Or the planning would stress me out. It seemed like another thing added on that I should try to eliminate if possible. When faced with the choice of household stuff and writing a paper, I would choose the paper, gladly.

Yesterday, we had all the blinds open and the southern sun was shining in and it was so warm, and then, I saw my dresser, and it was covered in dust. Dust that you cannot see without bright, clean sunlight. Where does dust come from? How does it get onto my dresser? And why does it stay there? Does dust accumulate on other surfaces besides those that are hard and shiny?

Another thing I have been thinking is if anyone actually likes doing this stuff. Is there a group of people out there who find housework enjoyable? When I was in the Dominican Republic, I watched my house mom, Lidia, prepare the meals. She did so much work for every single meal, dirtied dozens of bowls and platters, and then she cleaned it all up. On a Sunday, it took her about half of the entire day to do all this. No dishwasher. She started with the most basic ingredients and came up with these delicious masterpieces. I thought to myself that I never wanted to do that. I didn't want to stay in the kitchen for seven hours a day. And she did it like it was no big deal. Oh yeah, just another day in the life. Did she do this when she was a child? How did she learn it?

In the DR, they have people who do the other cleaning. The moms do most of the cooking, but someone else does the laundry and the hard cleaning-- the floors, the bathrooms, etc. One time, Lidia's son got in big trouble because he didn't tell the lady that he needed his clothes washed (something like that) and Lidia got really mad at him and made him wash them himself, but he didn't know how! He was in college. It's funny to picture a bunch of guys from my college standing around the laundry room wondering what to put where, although I'm sure it was the case for a couple of them. Laundry is the one job I actually like. And vacumming's not bad either.

Then there are those jobs that will never get done: 1) Washing the goo-gone off the mirror from when we moved. It only comes off with hot soapy water, not Windex. Windex just smears it around the mirror 2) Cleaning the table and chairs we got off Craig's list. We use them everyday, but in certain places they have white residue on them that needs to come off. Not sure what it is, but it doesn't interfere with their use, so the cleaning doesn't happen.

The problem with some of these jobs is that they don't have to happen for you to live. No big deal if the mirror's streaky and the dresser's dusty. No one's going to die. But I always feel this sense of dread when things get dirty/are ditry. It's like those reading assignments that you wanted to do in college, but never had time for, and they kept getting further and further away, and the new ones kept coming, and it was better just to start on the new ones so you weren't behind, and even though you wanted to learn, you couldn't do everything. But they still nag you at the back of your mind. No one's going to die, but you would feel better if it were clean.

So why don't I clean the mirror? When I think about it, I visualize the soapy water from the rag dripping all over the carpet... this is ridiculous! I'm going to clean it right now!