Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Being a Sissy Girl

The holidays are here, bringing with them nagging reminders of what a girl I am. But, it's worse than that, really, because I'm even worse than the average girl. In fact, I do believe that I just may give the average girl a bad name. I'm a big sissy... and I'm not proud of it.

A few weeks ago, I told one of my uncles I was going to host a tree-trimming party and make everyone dinner. But, I told him that I don't really need help trimming my tree, I just wanted him to hang my Christmas lights for me and feeding him would make me feel less... I'm not sure... less wimpy, I suppose... about it. He said, "no problem, just give me a staple gun and I'll have them up in no time."

I have a very supportive family. My uncles especially will have something done for me before I even finish commenting about what I need to be done. It's always been this way, even when Todd was here. Because of this, I began to alter my plans to go fetch a Christmas tree.

Todd and I always have cut our tree, we both have always loved the real thing and detested the thought of a fake tree in our home. I like oversized, fat, ugly trees (enough, people), he likes narrow, perfect trees. We solved our dilemna by alternating who got to pick out the tree each year. This was (and now definitely is and always will be) my year to pick out the tree. I have been excited about this since February when we moved into this house. For the first time in my life, I have tall ceilings and a large space where the tree will be. The oversized, fat, ugly tree.

Then I realized that I didn't have anyone to cut down the tree. *GASP*

Todd agreed to go with me and cut the tree and put it up for me- 2 weekends from now. There are 2 problems with that. 1) I'm not sold yet on whether or not it is healthy for our children to continue these traditions "as a family," and 2) I want my damned tree NOW!

My first thought was, "No problem, I'll just call my uncle. He'll be happy to cut the tree." Then, my uncle asked me to babysit my cousin (she's 6) for the weekend as he has a job out-of-state. Fuck.

(By the way, I'm in one of my swearing-like-a-sailor moods currently.)

I thought, "No problem, I'll call one of my other uncles." Then I decided to ask my brother instead because I rarely ask him to help me with things like that. In asking my brother, I really asked Treasure, because she's the one who can make him do stuff. She said he would.

I told my aunt all of this today and, her boys being in their early 20's and not caring much about Christmas anymore, she kind of missing it all, she told me she would come with me to cut the tree. "Between the 2 of us, we should be able to cut down a tree, right?"

WHAT ON EARTH IS SHE TALKING ABOUT? Me, cut down my own tree? I reminded her, while providing a simultaneous visual, that I have absolutely no muscle tone in my arms. I'm a girl. A really weak girl.

I would like to go into how, while there are certain rights for women that I am fully on board with, I am very much a femi-nazi-nazi. This means that there are certain things I want a man to do for me. I don't exactly want to be some submissive wife, but I do like the man of the house to be the leader. Todd let me walk all over him. But, he still cut down the tree.

Now, I am going to try to turn over a new leaf. Here comes the sailor. If Christmas lights show up on my house, it's going to be because I got my ass out on the roof and put the effers up myself. I'm going to take my aunt up on her offer. I will saw no less than 25% of the trunk of that tree, allowing her to saw the remaining 75%. My arms will burn like a mother Sunday. Will it be good? Maybe. Until I'm in a relationship again and have a man to do it for me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What I'm Thankful For

I do apologize in advance for any unnecessary cheesiness. You should know that it is a direct result of my happy state of mind over the past couple of days, which, in turn, is probably a direct result of the meds :) With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd talk about what I'm thankful for. Aside from #1, these are in no particular order.

1) My kids. They are the best in the world, of that I'm certain. They have it all. I feel lucky. If I hadn't "accidentally" got pregnant with Jenna, I may never have had kids. I never had an ounce of maternal instinct in me, never felt "touched" in the presence of babies. Until I had my own. I am convinced that if I never had children, I would have been happy because I wouldn't have known what I was missing. But, I did have children, and they make me feel things that I would have been missing, I just would have been too ignorant to know better. I recently had this discussion with a couple of different people. Because I have no instinct to have any more children, and I'm perfectly content with the two I have, I usually think that some type of permanent birth control is in order. But, I know that if I meet someone that I'm crazy about, I could be convinced to have another if it was important to him. This is why: both times I was pregnant, while I LOVED being pregnant, I didn't have any urge to have babies (Jenna) or another baby (Alex). But the moment they were born... I never loved anything more fiercely. It would be the same if I had another baby.

2) Lori. Gosh darn it, Lori, I'm thankful for you! You are the best friend anyone could ever ask for and I am so grateful that you have been in my life for so many years. You are an amazing woman and I count myself blessed having grown up with you.

3) Second chances

3a) Life. It's a good thing, in our society, that we have choice and freedom to change our minds. Otherwise, I'd be an accountant right now, hating every minute of it. Instead, I have the opportunity to share my passion with others, and hopefully to spark passion in others.

3b) Love. In the movie You've Got Mail, when Meg Ryan's and Greg Kinnear's characters mutually break up, he asks her if there's someone else. She responds with (this is from memory and may not be accurate), "There's the promise of someone else." That about says it. I'm glad for this second chance.

4) My family. Despite the addictions, the jail-time, and general white-trash qualities that run in my family, they are here for me, will always be here for me, and I wouldn't trade a single member of my family for anyone. This is especially true of my siblings (except for the addictions, jail-time, and white-trash thing), they get me and we've grown to really appreciate the things we have to offer each other. I am very thankful for my mother(s) and my siblings.

Oh, I almost forgot:

5) My laptop.

Oh, yeah, and:

6) My Tragically Hip tickets.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I finished up my observations for my Literacy Accross the Content Areas class last week. However, the teacher I was observing allowed me to sit in on conferences today. Half, literally half, of her (3) 8th grade ELA students received an "E". Remember, this is an "at risk" school, and in our district (possibly in the State of Michigan, though I'm not sure), students in middle school do not get held back except upon the absolute insistence of their parents. At this school, most parents are not involved and the students know they're going to move up to the next grade no matter what, so why try?

Anyway, I went into the conferences thinking that the parents that would show up would be the ones with the "A" students, and the parents that we would have liked to see (the "E" students) would not show up. I was pleasantly surprised.

About 8 parents came during the 3 hours I was there: 2 had "A" students and the rest had "D" and "E" students. Of these, one of the students was a former special-ed now mainstreamed student. Other than that, only one parent came that fit into my preconceived mold of a parent that could care less- he just showed up to go through the motions. He actually laughed and smiled through the whole thing.

The other parents seemed to really care and be distressed about their children. A couple seemed to be at the end of their rope, they just didn't know what to do. Otherwise, based on the type of parenting I saw exhibited, I was rather surprised at the fact that the students failed the marking period.

I have been of the thinking, generally speaking, that if a parent is involved in their child's life and education, the child will succeed in school. Today, that was really challenged. There are a whole breadth of circumstances that I have yet to learn about (and probably won't learn until I have my own classroom) that make kids not understand the importance of school that is beyond a parent's locus of control.

Sadly, there was one parent of an "A" student who was borderline berating her daughter for not getting an "A+". Luckily, the girl had a good head on her shoulders and seemed to know how to handle the mom and not let it get to her.

Ultimately, my views were challenged today. But, instead of frustrating me, I must admit to being a bit inspired by the experience.

I can't wait to have my own classroom.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Well, I have started to clean up the boxes under the stairs and also the ones in the garage I didn't mention previously. One box had some stuff from my school years and also from my early 20s. (By the way, when did my early 20s become early 30s anyhow?) I used to think that I remembered my teenage years and "pre-Jenna" years quite well, but now I see that is not the case.

The boxes mentioned above had all of my yearbooks, a scrapbook, and many letters- mostly from Lori and Todd. It's the letters that really put things in perspective.

There was a large bundle of the tissue-like letters written on air mail paper from Lori's year in Germany. Of course, to help her with German, and to help me with my German, entirely too much of the content of these letters were written auf Deutsch. But I had to laugh at some of the things that weren't. Ah... teenage angst. It's funny how all of the "noteworthy" events and people (some of whom I don't remember) are so miniscule in the grand scheme of things. There was one letter where I think Lori might have feared losing touch as she gently reprimanded me for not writing for too long a lapse of time. She insisted that every small detail of every small day be reported. It kind of made me sad.

The next bundle of letters kind of made me happy. They included all of the letters and cards Todd wrote during our first few years together. Reading them again was an enormously vindicating experience. For the past two months, I have been dwelling on whether there was something between us that was ever worth saving and at what point should I have recognized the need for saving it. See, I have been thinking, rather guiltily, that (children aside, of course) we never should have made it far past high-school, if ever past friends in the first place. I've been feeling like I tried too hard to gloss over our incompatibilities because I didn't want to fail. But there must have been something between us, right?

Yes! Reading the letters reminded me that there was, once, something special between us. We were quite crazy about one another, and I had forgotten all about it amidst so many years of trouble. In the letters, I saw a glimpse of the man I thought Todd would become. But he didn't. He was very devoted and invested in me at one time, and I was able to see when that started tapering off. Perhaps it was around the same time that he started to see that I wasn't becoming the woman he thought I would. It doesn't really matter.

Right now, I just feel good knowing that we had something at one time and that I didn't make any mistakes either in staying with him as long as I did or in separating when we did. As a young woman, I had a different vision of my future with him than reality held. I'm lucky I'm still young and have time to experience another future.

So, the letters serve as documentation of the two most important relationships I've had in my life. It's kind of hard to put into words, but where one relationship was destined to fail, I am assured that the other will be around... well, forever.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Trouble With Being Atheist

In my Survey of Brit Lit class (which I eat, sleep, and breathe), we are studying the Victorian era. One thing that really stands out for me are the conflicts arising due to turmoil in religion during the time. Basically, this era saw a rapid departure from an economy of land ownership (farming) to an economy focused on technology (industry). In all of the buzz, great distinctions in class became very apparent. The rich got richer, the poor moved to London to find work, got poorer, and multiplied in number so quickly that the poor population increased despite a spiraling deathrate.

All of this brought about a schism regarding the place of religion. With pressure from economical and political changes, Communism, Scientific theories, even geology, many departed from their religion, instead focusing on defining ethics and becoming impossibly moral.

Studying this today is one of those timing things that is a bit perplexing. Prior to beginning my readings, I was thinking about my lack of spirituality and how it may be to my detriment, yet it's also not in my composition to believe in a higher power.

It's a bit of a conflict today. I was thinking about how the average person prays for things that they want/ need, or wish for (regardless of whether the wish is personal). When I want/need or wish, I have this instinct to "pray" to a higher power. But I don't believe that a higher power exists, nor do I really want to believe that a higher power exists. So where does the instinct to pray come from?

Is it that I should just accept the possibility of a higher power, to admit that I just don't know? I find this hard to do. My instincts are always to "follow my heart." But I rarely act on my "heart". I need to rationalize. To me, the possibility of a higher power is not a possibility at all.

I wish I could reconcile my instinct to "pray" to be consistent with my beliefs. Praying seems like such a silly concept when thinking of it. A person prays. If what they pray for happens, they thank God. If it doesn't, they say that it wasn't in God's plan. To me the whole concept is ridiculous.

I truly feel that way, think that way. So why the instinct to pray?