Tuesday, November 12, 2013

6 months til upgrade

My phone broke. I sat on a hardwood floor to play with a baby and the glass shattered. I took it in to the at&t store to see what could be done and they told me I get an upgrade in April. 6 months. And I could just buy a new phone now, but it would cost me the cost of the phone and an upgrade fee. Or I could go to Walmart and get a cheap flip phone type deal or I could watch for someone selling theirs secondhand. And still pay an upgrade fee. Or I could put this sticker over the broken glass and wait it out 6 months, get a free iPhone and pay no fee. Well I'm not exactly rich, and I know what the better deal is. And I recognize the irony in using that "use it up, wear it out" phrase in reference to a smart phone. Luckily I delight in irony.

So I live in "6 months til upgrade".

And then I realized. 6 months is when I finish this internship that, I'm not gonna lie, has been so very hard. 6 months until I upgrade to a job I could love.

And 6 months is when I finish my last final of grad school and apply for my license. 6 months until I upgrade to masters degree.

And my friends keep traveling to places like Hawaii and Europe. But I have class, papers, and no money. My plan for graduation has been to go to Paris for a couple weeks. I also want to visit my cousin, go to my class reunion, and maybe see some other parts of the world. 6 months til I upgrade my travel plans.

And I spend my weekends babysitting instead of doing fun things like single people do, going to movies and parties and I keep watching my friends go do things while I have to babysit because I have to have some sort of income. 6 months until I upgrade my social life.

And my first priority when I am working full time will be to buy a reliable car. The one I have now is fine. It runs, it gets me to places. But I paid $900 for it and can hardly expect it to last forever. I want a red fiat. Who knows if that's what I'll end up with, but i can't even start thinking about it until next spring. 6 months til I can start upgrading my car.

Its going to be a long winter. But there is an end in sight. 6 months til upgrade.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

On Scheduling.

I realized this week that when I have a "day off" that means that I spend 11-12 hours out doing things instead of 14. And that every weekend for the past 4 months has included babysitting. Except for conference weekend. And that I have yet to really start my homework despite the fact that I've already taken a midterm in one class and a final project in another. And yet I keep shaming myself for being "lazy".  That assessment isn't done yet. You are behind on notes and homework. You don't spend time with people. You didn't memorize that music. You don't have a job.

I called out sick one day because I couldn't walk and I had a fever, and I felt guilty for it.

No wonder I'm dreaming of Paris.*

*Important side note. I plan on going to Paris next summer. I don't know how. I'll swim if I have to, but I'm going. It's time to go back. 

The thing is, and I said this to the students a year or two behind me in the same program, just because something fits in the hours of the day that you have doesn't mean it fits in emotionally or in any realm that could be remotely considered physically "healthy".

Let's take, for example, the job thing. I was working. Subbing at my old place of employment. And during one of the first few weeks of my internship I went directly from the internship site (a rehab facility that works with parents and children who have suffered trauma as a result of drug use) to the uppity up fancy schmancy school where doctors and lawyers and really really rich people bring their children.  I had 30 minutes to make the transition. Easy since it was just 3 miles up the road, right? In actuality, I had to transition from hearing about severe childhood trauma the likes of which most of you couldn't imagine and wouldn't want to know about to trying to talk to a nasty entitled woman about whether or not her son was going to get into the right private school kindergarten. One of these individuals was direct, matter of fact, and working on coping with her difficulties, the other was coming apart at the seams.  I'll let you guess which was which.

See what I mean about the difference between emotional space and physical availability?

Given that, I have something to say to all you parents that I know. Please don't make jokes to me about how you are a "bad parent".  If you are my friend and not my client, you are probably doing quite well. Also, whatever is going wrong and you feel like you are failing at, take it easy.  Take it slow.  Its not the end of the world. I PROMISE you, children have survived worse.  It matters less what school they go to and when they go than you could possibly imagine. Read to them. They will learn what they need to know. It matters less whether you feed them Whole Foods all natural grain crap or pure unadulterated corn syrup than you could possibly know. Make sure they eat a vegetable every week or so and they will still grow out of everything you buy them. It matters less what extracurricular activity they attend, if any at all, than you could possibly feel. Talk to them about their day, their friends, and their feelings and they will figure out who they are.

Lighten up.
I'm telling you to, because I need to, and I'm not sure if I can.

So I am giving myself a present this week. I'm putting a plea out there. Who wants to play?  Who wants to go to lunch?  Or dinner? I miss my friends. And with a Sunday birthday, I have to reschedule the playing for more appropriate days. Call me. You have my number.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Too far?

Saw this one and kind of liked it. But then I thought "Is this too far?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Before noon

Today before noon I:
-got new tires
-got windshield cracks repaired
-went for a swim
-showered and put on makeup
-did research at the library on campus
-filled out paperwork in HR
-emailed a professor
-met with a professor
-quit my job
-went to the public library to return/pick up books
-made concert ticket arrangements

See how I got a LOT done?
It should feel good to accomplish so much in a morning. Instead, I know that I still have to face the rest of the day. Only instead of facing it fresh and rested, I am facing it tired.

Treatment Plans.
Must eat something.
Really, I just want a nap.
Then again, I always want a nap.

Why am I sitting here typing, there is so much to do!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I want you to know

- vicarious resilience is real
- "the monster at the end of this book" is actually a complex life lesson
-chocolate covered cinnamon bears and Golden Grahams are things I never want to get tired of eating
-Hell exists for a reason and its going to be full.
-"self-righteous" is synonymous with "pride". See previous bullet point.
-the most amazing, phenomenal, and wonderful people I know are those who have made mistakes and are trying to make repairs.
-Heaven will be full of people who have made mistakes. See previous bullet point.
-I'm not sure I understood when people told me grad school would be hard. Beyond thinking work, beyond sweaty work, I think emotional work is the hardest of all.
-I know strong people, I have incredible friends.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Class has begun. Its the last year of grad school. I'm doing an internship, being a therapist, taking classes, singing in the choir, playing the organ at the temple, taking care of the children that I have taken care of for 4 years, trying to maintain friendships and doing some freelance editing for an opera magazine.  Busy.

I'm actually still reeling from the stuff that incited last week's post, and trying to figure if and how those friendships should proceed. The wonderful thing is, there are more than just those men in the world, and I have dear friends who have been kind and supportive in the face of all that. Of course, that only serves to make those saturday men look even more like the braying donkeys that they are. I suppose my conflict over that mess is that I know I deserve an apology, and I know I won't get one. So wanting or hoping is wasted energy.  But I mostly want and hope because I wish they would make some effort to redeem themselves. I want some evidence that they are at least making efforts to be better people. But if I raise the idea of an apology, it becomes a demand or an expectation that may or may not be met, and becomes a sort of currency in the relationship.

I recognize I'm being a total "girl" about this. But isn't that the issue? There's nothing wrong with me being a girl. There's nothing wrong with me wanting or expecting to be treated as an equal. There's nothing wrong with me hoping my friends act like better people.

And it is certain that they know. I'm not playing the silent treatment game or the "I'm fine" game. I made one of them aware of my own feelings about the whole mess. His response was to tell me I was overreacting.

Here are my thoughts: Women are strong. So strong that entire civilizations have made efforts to oppress them.  They have been reduced to sexual objects simply because the men who have come to run the money part of life do not fully grasp the emotional and physical strength of a woman.  I think it scares them.  I think it scares everyone. And little girls everywhere are being raised to believe they are weak.  Because if they know how strong they are, they will change the world. When a woman's ability to be loving and nurturing, to be emotionally strong in the face of soul wrenching and near death pains, to feel and overcome things rather than numbing themselves and dwelling in the filth, when those abilities are given the weight they merit, the love of power and money diminishes. When people find strength in loving, forgiving, nurturing, money becomes the tool that it was intended to be.  An exchange system. Nothing more. And all those men who have spent all those years grabbing at wealth in order to have power and control are left with things. Just things. There is no love in things.

It's the biggest conspiracy of all. So big, people who participate have no idea they are systematically destroying their own daughters. Click on the website and laugh at the brides for sale.  Use scantily clad women to sell hamburgers. Shoot the little girls who are going to school.

We live in a world where this all happens. And the self-righteous American, appalled at some distant story of foreign female torture says "I don't oppress" right up until they turn on their TV, where the only women who aren't portrayed as sexual objects are portrayed as nagging housewives.

Yes, I'm angry.

But there is a real question here. You see, I can talk about how women are stronger because they have a deeper and more pronounced ability for nurturing and loving. If I'm really going to demonstrate strength, if I'm really going to embrace the feminine, if I'm really going to change the world, then I have to find a kind and loving approach to expressing my distaste for their behavior. I don't get to throw a tantrum, I don't get to yell and scream, I don't get to punch them in their noses. Which brings me (finally) to my question.

How do I drive home the point?  How do I appropriately address the fact that their behavior was inappropriate? How do I convey the hurt that they caused? How do I model appropriate behavior? How do I show a better way? How do I demonstrate strength, love, nurturing as the more desirable power? How do I teach them to act differently?

Luna asked a brilliant question. She asked what I wanted. An apology? A gesture of remorse?  I thought about it. What I want is a conversation. I want them to know. I want them to be better.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why are you single?

The Scarlet S.  If you are single, you must be miserable. Why don't you fix that?  Choose to be happy, merry, married? Is it a choice?

People say some thoughtless things. My brother once told me that the reason I was still single was because my standards were too high. People do thoughtless things. Like the co worker that wanted to set me up with her son's friend because she thought I was "accepting" enough to like him despite his prison record. Clearly, these two had conflicting opinions of me. So I could choose to believe one, or choose to believe that other, or choose to believe neither...
Or I could choose to take it in, think about it, weigh it, wonder why someone's opinion would be as it it, accept the accurate, reject the inaccurate, and strive to display a more honest representation of myself.

So the other night I was at dinner with a group of men. Friends. Acquaintances. Seriously attractive, successful, single, Mormon men. Leaders in their communities and congregations. Every time I am with this group of men, I find myself wondering how I get to be the one girl hanging out with them.  We are not in the same league - physically or socially.  I'm telling you, they are pretty. And confident. And successful. And so very everything that I was told in Young Women's I was supposed to want. What are they doing having dinner with mousy awkward me?

That's a question I have never been able to answer.

But on to dinner. The conversation turned to mail order brides. The smart phones got turned on and suddenly, there were the websites.  That's right, among the wonders of the internet are actual websites where you can order a wife. Cataloged according to age, weight, height, location, cost. With pictures!  And profiles! All for your browsing enjoyment. They started passing around pictures, mocking. Making guesses as to what is wrong with each one. This one is probably high maintenance.  This one is ugly.  This one says she wants a family. How ridiculous.

I've never felt like such a piece of livestock. Try to be cool.  To speak up means to be high maintenance or a bitch. Speak up and you are a "feminazi".  Stay silent and you agree with them. Stay silent and you let it happen. Stay silent, and you perpetuate the problem.

Well, how am I supposed to act?

These guys would never actually use the website for purchases. They would never actually participate in human trafficking. They would only sit in a restaurant and mock the women who place themselves up for sale.  What kind of a life must these women have to choose to sell themselves?  What do these men know of their pain?

And these men sat mocking them.

Objectifying is as old as humanity itself. Women are guilty of it. Men have made an industry of it. Women tease with it. Men live in it. Women wish they could be so callous. Men march on buying and selling and mocking. Do you have any money? You can buy anything with money.

Too harsh? Oh that you could have been at that table with me. Perhaps I could have had a friend.  A fellow woman to stand with me, a chivalrous male to defend?  An ally?  I was alone at that table, so you will just have to take my word as to what it felt like. I was the three legged disease ridden cow at the county fair. They could talk like this around me, because I was the most certain loser. I was the hideous joke that best just be understanding because even the women selling themselves were worth more than me.

Do you know what I wanted to do?  I wanted to indulge them.  I wanted to invite them to start rating the women, and then to create a pricing guide. She is a 10?  How much would you pay for a 10?  How much for a 4?  How much for a 2?  Oh good, now that we have this established, let's rate a few more women. Where does your sister fit on this scale?  How much for her?  How much for your mother?  How much for me? Is this still funny? Is this still a joke? Have I taken it too far yet? When do you think you took it too far?

And the world keeps asking them "Why are you single?" And the world keeps asking me "Why are you single?"

Here's the deal.  I'm not going to name names or give identifying information here. That's a level of cruel and shaming that I am unwilling to engage in. But I swear if one of my friends ever goes out with one of them, or shows an interest in one, or so much as begins to flirt with them I will giver her every gory detail.  I will warn her. I will point her to this blog entry and I will plead with her to stay away. My friends are better than this. They are worth more than this.

I was right about one thing. We are not in the same league. I was wrong about one thing. They are not worth more than me.  My brother was right about one thing, my standards are high. But he was wrong as well. I think perhaps that my standards have not been high enough. I may be a chubby, unattractive, poor, and socially awkward 36 year old woman, but I am so far out of their league. As long as we are going to quantify people, and value them on some scale or another, they may as well know: I am so much more.

I was done playing the dating game a long time ago. It was always a miserable awful experience and I was frankly eager for the day when I was deemed "too old" for that scene. But until last night, I hadn't thought to be grateful for my singleness. You see, I can be happier on my own than I could ever be bound to one of them.  I will travel the world, I will serve the people around me, I will be a mother to every child that comes into my office, I will have a closet full of shoes just because I can, I will be responsible for my own salvation without having to drag someone kicking and screaming behind me. I will sing in the choir, I will cherish every friendship, I will eat cheescake, and I will resist every urge to ever question my worth again.

So, in case you want to know my answer.  Why am I single? What I am is happy with what I am. Why should anyone deserve more or less?