Saturday, August 13, 2011

Getting back to myself

Yikes!! It's been almost a year since I've blogged!! There are two things that can be discerned from my lack of attention here: one, I've started school - I never write for enjoyment when I'm in school (even my journal has been cast aside and neglected for months on end - and it, quite literally, takes me HOURS to write one post) - and two, I clearly do not blog for a living. Okay, now that my excuses to the blog-gods have dutifully been given, I present to you ... a new post!! Yes, thank you, thank you (I'm clearly imagining claps, cheers and tears on your part here)! I'm glad to be back and regale you with my stories of triumph, woe and ordinariness to perhaps - just perhaps - make you feel a little better about yourself when mine is held up as a mirror. Let's begin.

I am a very ... ... opinionated individual. I like to think I'm right most of the time and can be stubbornly married to my versions of "right" and "wrong." It's a characteristic that I freely admit and share with my siblings. My mother often wonders - aloud, mind you - where we all got it, and then proceeds to lament for our respective partners. In the best of times, this manifests itself fierce devotion (to myself, family and friends, the whole of humanity), and at the worst of times it means some pretty loud arguments with my brother. (**I would like to temper the pervious statements with this: I am also a very nice person and do not like to get into arguments. The end). This characteristic has caused me a bit of trouble, however. Case in point: my senior art show in college. I'm not going to get into the gory details here, but suffice it to say that I went to a small, conservative, religious college and my art show had nudity. While I knew this might be a problem, I also VERY much believed in the message of the show. In the end the show was cancelled. If you want more details, google my name; go ahead, I'll wait ... ... ... see that? In between learning every town I have lived in (creepy!!) and getting my race times (also creepy), you will find the newspaper articles (which, sadly, don't come with the picture that accompanied them: it was me, in a pink sweater, looking super cute but utterly distraught, holding a camera in front of one of my images ... very effective!!) The ensuing battle resulted in three things: one, I sold three pieces when I finally DID have my show at a local business (yay); two, I completely lost any connection to my mentors, friends and community of artists; and three, I stopped doing photography. This was the uncategorically the worst experience of my life; it shuck the very foundation of who I was as an artists, which was the main descriptor I gave to myself at the time. I didn't even want to pick up a camera for years, and when I finally did, I was stuck - no inspiration, no creativity, nothing ... good ... flowed from my soul. Okay, stop laughing, I know it sounds really clique and dorky, but that is where "good" used to come from - I always thought that you could see more of who I was in my photography than you could see anything about the subjects I was shooting, and if not, what was the point?

Okay, fast forward 6 years: summer 2011. For the first time since the black-death of my senior show I have both wanted to do photography AND have been relatively happy with the results! This is a huge break through for me, and very exciting (hence the breaking of my year-long silence in the blog-o-world). I have had several mini-sessions with myself ... but that gets boring pretty quickly, so I finally decided to bring someone else into the mix, and asked a good friend to be my model. I'm fairly certain that she had no idea how truly important this experience was for me, and how many times I almost canceled on her, but in the end it happened - a day long photo shoot. I loved it. It felt good. I'm excited to do more.

And now I will share some of my favorites from this summer with you here! Yay!! Aren't you thrilled?! Jubilent?! Blown away with enthusiasm and glee?! I figured as much! A couple of things to remember when viewing the photos below: 1) I apparently live in the stone-age and still shoot with film, so 2) all of these photos where taken with a little point-and-shoot digital where I have no control over aperture or shutter speed.

I went to the Antique Faire in town the other day and wore this great straw hat I have, so I took some pictures in that. I also found this crazy cool mirror which I've used a lot already. It has old, discolored glass and is really fun to shoot with!

Um ... I love this house. The end.

My very beautiful and talented model, Misty Freeman. Many, many thanks to her!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Running ... yup, the entire post is about running!

(M congratulating me at the end of the race)

Life goal #2 is well on it’s way to being completed thanks to a Herculean effort this weekend that resulted in the completion of my first half marathon (that’s 13.1 miles who have always wondered but didn’t want to have to ask)!!! Well, “Herculean” may be a little overstated considering I hobbled to the finish line more than 9 minutes after I had dared to dream I would, but I finished it – damnit – and that is surely something to be proud of!

It’s been a long, frustrating road to get to this place. I first started training for a marathon 3 years ago when Ashley and I started running together; overuse and not having medical insurance resulted in 2 years off due to major knee pain that made it difficult to walk, stand, sit … you know, all those simple things we take for granted. Running was completely out of the question during this time. When I finally got medical insurance again I went through 3 months of physical therapy and chiropractic work, and I was finally able to run again … for about 4 months when I developed ANOTHER overuse injury which was not – thank god! – a stress fracture like my doctor originally thought, but was still a hugely painful muscle strain in my groin. I missed my first ½ marathon in May due to this injury and have been running again since July (so, all things considered, I guess a time o 2.09 isn’t horrible, and I didn’t injure myself during the run, so … yay!). While I haven’t technically registered for the race yet, I plan to run the full marathon May 1, 2011 in Eugene and am bound and determined to make it there injury free!!

While you might imagine that I questioned the intelligence of continue to run during the last 3 years, my dedication to running only increased during this time. I had a lot of down time to consider my body and healthy and how running fits into my life; this was especially true during my last injury, and while I couldn’t actually run I read, A LOT, about running: running injuries, running stories, running plans and theories, physiology of running, history and evolution of running, running for beginners, running for elite athletes, running greats and giants … I spent more time reading about running than I usually did actually RUNNING, and it all lead me to one conclusion … it’s wonderfully insightful and unexpected … wait for it … waaaaait foooor iiiiit … I’m a runner!! Whoa! Earth shattering revelation, no?! Stop rolling your eyes, accept that this is an entire blog post about running, be happy that most of the whining is over and let me explain.

I have been running for a good chunk of my life – I started my freshman year in high school on the cross country team and we’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship since then, but even during the “off-again” stages – purposeful or accidental – I’ve always known I would go back to it; I’ve always known that running would be, in one way or another, apart of my life. We all choose attributes to define ourselves – to others, to ourselves: scholar, parent, artist, teacher, humanitarian, etc., etc. Through this self reflection, I finally consciously named what I’ve always felt: I am a runner; this is part of how I define myself, this is part of who I am and what makes me me; I not particularly GOOD, mind you – I’ve never made claims to the contrary – but I love it, I always come back to it regardless of the length of time I’ve been away, I talk about it – always trying to convince people they should take it up (I believe that virtually everyone can and should run), I read about it, I plan my life around it to some degree (I do already have my running schedule figured out – more or less – until next May!) … hell, I even dream about running! Running is something I have in common with the vast majority of my friends. I take an enormous amount of pride in knowing that I can go out and run 10+ miles whenever the mood strikes me, and that the mood strikes me often! I feel beautiful, strong and graceful when I’m running in a way that I don’t at any other time – the sweatier the better. I’ve even decided that the best way to die would be when I’m really old, on a long run, at that point when my body relaxes into the run and I know I could go on forever and ever … and then I simply drop dead … sounds great, no?!

So, that’s that – an entire, self-indulgent (what blog isn’t?) blog post about running! Thanks for reading my revelation, and remember – everyone not only can, but should run!!

Okay, specs of the race, for those of you interested (and, really, who isn’t?!). I had PLANNED to go out at 10 minute pace, drop it down to 9.30 until mile 4, 9.15 until mile 9 and sub-9s to the finish. Yep, that was the plan – beautiful, well thought out … in reality my splits were: 10.12, 9.29, 9.37, 9.41, 9.22, 9.34, 9.43, 10.05, 10.04, 31.50*, and 9.26, with an overall time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 53 seconds.

*I was apparently very tired at this point and forgot to mark miles 11 and 12, so 10, 11, and 12 were completed in 31.50, which is approximately 10.50 pace for each – oy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On splinters, refridgerators and life's persistent questions ...

Okay - yes, it's been awhile, but it's not my fault - truly! Well, okay, it's mostly my fault, but I DID write a blog about a month ago about the profusion of splinters in my feet, but something happened and 2 hours of work later it wouldn't post and didn't get saved ... yup, a barrel of laughs that one was, but I guess you'll have to trust me on that! Suffice it to say that running barefoot on chip trails is not the best idea ... I'm not sure what it says about me that I tried it three times before I finally decided to give my poor feet a break and bought Vibram Fivefingers, or that I probably would have continued trying if it wasn't interfering with my training!

This post is not, however, about my irrational masochism or my tendency towards redundant adjectives - is it truly possible to be rationally masochistic after all? - but rather about reaching adulthood and the decisions that this necessarily demands. Wow - that makes it sound like this is a crazy serious blog post - don't worry, it's not to anyone else but me - it is my life we're discussing here, after all.

I have officially - in my reasoning, which I'm sure makes sense but other people tend to question - reached adulthood. This topic could certainly be a blog post all on its own, but it basically comes down to being the "proud" owner of a large appliance (the fact that the symbol of my transition into adulthood broke within a week and cost more to fix than it did to buy does not bode well for this period of my life ... but, again, another post perhaps). It was right about this time that I fell into my old-childish pattern of questioning everything I am, do, care about, etc. etc. (something from the past was bound to follow me to the new and exciting world of broken refrigerators). I do apologize to my family and friends who are forced to listen to me lament, complain and bitch about every 6 months; I'm sure they will all die happy if they never have to hear, "I don't know what I'M DOING," or "How do I know this is the right path for me?!" ever again! The reality is, however, that this has been a major point of personal contention ever since my last year of college and the infamous senior-show debacle. I had my life planned out at that point - I HAD a path, and I was walking on my merry way listening to the birds singing and watching the baby animals, not noticing the dark forest in front of me until it was too late and the vultures of life were circling my dead dreams ... (ha! I think that's the sappy-ist thing I've ever written!) For the last 5 years, though, I've been without a strong direction - flitting from job to job, going to school because I know I need more of it, but not entirely sure what it's going to lead to. I am overwhelmingly happy to announce, however, that there is finally light filtering through the leaves of the forest, the underbrush is thinning and I'm determined to take this analogy as far as possible! Don't worry, though - you get to wade through more explanation, commentary, inappropriate dashes, and - if you're really lucky - hideous analogies before I finally reveal the plan that has spurred such a long, rambling blog post!!

After I left CARDV and was applying for jobs literally all over the country, I read a lot of books about finding the "right" career. I've long known the area that I want to work in: human rights generally and women's rights/issues specifically, as well as a variety of other things that I want (or don't) out of a job: I want to be able to use my public speaking skills, I don't want to do crisis intervention, direct service work, I would like to opportunity to work internationally if possible and I'm interested in working for a non-profit. All this is not, however, a clear road-map towards a career, to say the least. I was recently lamenting - once again - that I don't have a clear direction - that I'm going to grad school hoping that I'll develop a stronger sense of what I want to do while there (perhaps not the best use of all my student loan money!); I can't really say what sparked - or re-sparked, I should say - this idea for a career; it just came to me, made a lot of sense and - best of all - made me super excited ... my future wasn't a nebulous, black, smokey haze anymore - it seemed obvious and clear. Okay - ready for it?! Here it is!!

I'm going to be a lawyer for an international non-profit that works on human rights issues (specifically women's rights issues)!!!

I'm super excited!!! I've thought about being a lawyer off and on for years - but I've never necessarily wanted to be a trial lawyer. I had thought about doing international law in the past but let myself be talked out of it by someone who I love very much (and who did not, by the way, intend to talk me out of it - I don't believe - but who doesn't particularly like the "soft law" aspect of international law). This fits perfectly the various things that I'm looking for in a career, and I believe that it fits my personality fairly well to boot! I'm excited - I'm nervous - I'm excited again and mostly I'm relieved! I was beginning to think that I would have to settle for "one of many 'right' choices" - as people were beginning to tell me - and that's simply not what I wanted for my life; I wouldn't be happy looking back and knowing that I gave up the pursuit to find "that" career that fit me perfectly - that I choose one thing out of many options, all of which were okay but none of which I was in love with.

So, maybe I'm building this up a bit - I know that no career is going to perfect and that they are all hard work, but there are times in our lives that we decide on something without deliberation because we simply know that it's right - it's the right fit, the right choice, and it will make us happy. I did that with my husband - the night I met him I knew that I was going to marry him - no deliberation, it was simply the right choice, the right fit; sure it's not been perfect, nothing is, but I'm still happy and it was still the best decision for me, and I knew it right away - this is the same thing: I simply know.

So there you have it - my decision revealed! I'm looking forward to the future in a way I haven't for some time - I'm excited and content; I know where I'm headed and everything I'm doing now will help me get there - yay for me! :o) I start school again at the end of September - until then I will continue saying encouraging words to my refrigerator every morning (yes, I do this, and then I pat it's door lovingly ... we all need encouragement to run another day from time to time), being thankful for my Vibrams and trust that the same ... tenacity - yeah, that's what we'll call it ... that made me try running barefoot on chip trails multiple times will be more of a benefit to my career as a lawyer than it was to my training schedule!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

War of the World; or, Just Another Exploration of My Insanity.

Wow - it's been quite some time, no?! I, of course, have no good excuses for my long absence ... REALLY no excuse - I only work 3 days a week, Monday-Wednesday ... yes, that's right all you observant ones - this means I have Thursday-Sunday off every week; like I said, no excuses. So I've been sitting here for quite some time trying to decide what to write about: being accepted to my top choice for grad school, interviewing my grandmother about her life and her mother, signing up for a 1/2 marathon and the training process ... there is a lot that I could write about, updates and information, but I have finally landed on what I really want to discuss: aliens. Yes, that's right, I've been silent for months and my first post back is going to be about aliens - the little-green-"people"-running-around-sucking-our-brains-out kind.

Let me just say upfront that I believe aliens exist. I think it's ridiculous to think that we could be the only form of "intelligent" life in the entire universe/galaxy/alpha quadrant/etc. I am, of course, using "intelligent" very loosely here; after all, how intelligent can a species be if they resolve most disputes by killing each other, stockpile enough weapons to destroy their entire world, and continually rape and destroy their planet when they don't yet have the ability to move to and survive on another "M-class" planet once their home-world can no longer support life ... the moral failings of the human species aside, however, I simply can't imagine a cosmic mistake that would allow life to form on this planet alone and no where else ... NO WHERE ELSE ... and when "where else" is so vast that most of us can't even begin to comprehend it's size, you have to admit that the likelihood of Earth being the only home of complex life is, well, distinctly UNlikely.

So why, oh why, am I writing about aliens ... I'm sure it would make perfect sense if you could be inside my head and listen to the rambling train of thought that eventually brought me to the subject of aliens, but seeing as how anyone transporting into my mind would not only involve a wonder of science but likely scar that poor schmo for life, let's just say that it started with my happiness that the sun is out today and leave it at that.

But let's come to the real purpose of this post - exposing my insanity once again but admitting to my "unexplainable" events that I have, of course, decided to blame on aliens. Let's begin.

Last summer M and I went hiking/camping at Indigo Lake - it's a really short hike, a couple of miles in, with several great camping sites that remains pretty empty all summer. So we got there around mid-day, set up camp, hiked around, had HOURS to rest ... and then it started getting dark. I know that every few people have had the ... um ... pleasure of camping with me, but I am a horrible camper! I really dislike the great outdoors when it's completely dark and anything could be lurking past the campfire light ready to eat your face off; I would much rather hike a great distance, be so tired I can barely set up camp and don't even bother with a fire, and fall - completely exhausted - into my sleeping bag shortly after eating my freeze-dried hiking dinner. I don't understand people who LIKE to sit around the campfire until all hours of the night, drinking, being loud and NOT worrying about the animals ready to make them a mid-night snack! Okay, I'm a slightly better camper if there are more than just 2 people out there (and I'm speaking specifically to the people I'm planning to camp with this summer!!) So shortly after M made the campfire, I decided it was time for bed; it was 8:00!! Needless to say, I couldn't sleep - not only was I not tired AT ALL, but since I wasn't utterly exhausted my mind raced through all the possible ends that could meet us up in the mountains with no one else around ... after forcing M to get out of bed and come pee with me several times, he finally fell asleep; I, however, did not. 4 hours later I was still wide awake, starting to feel a little safer (due to the full moon shining down on the lake beside our campsite), and I heard it; my heart stopped, I held my breath and hoped to god that I was actually asleep and dreaming ... but there it was again ... a ping. It sounded much like a homing beacon and it was DIRECTLY in our camp! There were no other sounds at all, no footfalls, rustling ... nothing but the pinging, and it was moving through our camp. I could hear it move from one side of the camp to the other, then it went a little way from the camp, then it came back - a little while later I heard it very far away - a slight "ping" in the far distance. The next morning I truly expected to see our campsite utterly destroyed and ripped to shreds, but it was fine - nothing out of place, no animal marks or footsteps ... I had made up my mind the night before, as I was cowering in the tent, afraid to breath in case the pinging heard me and decided my breathing sounded tasty, that the ping had to be one of two things: a crazy, man-eating bear that the forest service (or whoever handles these things) had decided not to kill but wanted to warn unwary hikers/campers that the bear was coming and they should say their final prayers, or it was aliens. Obviously those were the only two reasonable explanations.

Us at M's hard-earned camp fire.

Sun-set, and about time for bed!

Fast forward about a month: M and I are at the coast for our anniversary. We found this great little hotel fully equipped with a kitchen, fireplace and nearly private beach and decorated in an "old west" theme ... it was actually a great place right south of Yachats called the See Vue, and if you don't mind staying so close to aliens you really should check it out (look, I've made it easy for you! See Vue). We spent a fabulous and unnaturally warm day at the coast playing on the beach and walking around Yachats. We made a great dinner that night (garlic curry salmon with steamed broccoli, in case you wanted to know), and afterward decided to sit out on the chairs overlooking the cliff down to the beach ... it was remarkably beautiful. We had been out for about an hour (and, complete disclosure here, we had been drinking, but only a glass or two of wine and neither of us was close to being drunk), when 4 bright globes of light appeared in the sky slightly to right of us; they hung there for awhile and one by one they faded away. The only things I know for certain is that it couldn't be car lights (the angle of the road was wrong and there were no clouds for lights to reflect off of), or boat lights (up too far from the water) or airplane/helicopter lights (there were too close for us not to hear the engine), and we both saw exactly the same thing. We both tried to pretend it didn't bother us for awhile, but quickly decided to go back inside. It wasn't necessarily scary, just completely unexplainable! This experience, much more than the first one, made me think of aliens ... there simply doesn't seem to be any other explanation.

The view from our room ... it really was amazing!

Our tasty meal ... yup, we took a picture!

Now, I'm sure that "believing" in aliens makes it easier to jump to that conclusion when strange things happen, but come on we've all had those experiences that lack explanation and our minds wonder if, just maybe, we've somehow come into contact with something not of this world ... and now you get to share that experience here!! I know you're thrilled to expose your "insanity" with me (and I KNOW some of you have those stories because I've heard them before), and look on the bright side, maybe we'll all be abducted at the same time and spend the summer being interrogated by the government or probed by little green men together ... a new twist on the idea of summer camp, sure, but as long as the aliens don't force me to play "buck/buck" with them, I'll be happy.

(Thanks to for their alien picture ... I didn't ask to use it, I just am, so you should thank them as well by visiting their website here!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The 5 (warning: illiteration and liberal use of hyphens ahead)

'Tis the season for lists: gift lists, "he's making a list and checking it twice" lists, thank-you lists, New-Year's-Resolutions lists, food-to-eat-and-deliver-the-death-blow-to-your-already-hopelessly-shattered-last-
New-Year's-Resolution list ... you get the picture. Well - and this really should come as no surprise to you if you actually read the previous, poorly constructed sentence - I have a list of my own! It's one that I have been formulating for years - altering, cutting and adding as necessary - that has finally settled down in 4-solid tasks and one big question mark; oh, that's right my faithful followers, fair-weather friends and fearless foes, I am speaking of none other than the fun-to-write-but-rarely-actualized Life-Goals Lists (dum-da-da-dum)!! Don't be fooled - this isn't just another life-goals lists; it is long-pondered, hard-thought and realistic ... "Wait! What's that?!" you say, "a realistic life-goals lists?" That's right - no curing AIDS, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, owning the world's largest private library fantasies on this list ... anymore ...! Another difference: it's short. Condensed from approximately 100-I've-already-done-them-so-they-might-as-well-go-on-my-list tasks to 5. The idea behind this list was that I wanted to only include things that were:
1) important to me personally without the need for explanation or apology
2) quantifiable with an end-point (meaning no subjective and ongoing, "be a good person/partner/kitty mom/etc.")
3) achievable by my will, strength, motivation, etc. alone, completely independent of outside source (meaning, no prizes or "world's largest/best/biggest" allowed) but also things I have to work hard for (emotionally, physically, mentally)
4) already apart of who I am (meaning I'm not trying to become someone I'm not, but rather play to my strength and the things I already enjoy)
Additionally, I didn't want too many things on the list; if there is a limit to the number, then you really have to decide what is the most important goals for your life. So, what have I come up with? Like I said, there are 4 solid goals, and one is still up in the air - I don't want to pick life-goals willy-nilly, after all! The goals I have so far have been years in the making; I figure that the last one will come when it's time. Okay, okay! I'll end the suspense that is driving you all mad.

#1) Take a walking journey. I'm not entirely sure where this one came from - maybe my time backpacking through Eastern and Central Europe when I spent WAY more time on a bus than was really necessary or healthy! I had really wanted to walk from town to town - when they were close enough - and the few times that this did happen were some of the greatest times on the trip. You have to slow down when you walk, take in your environment, be in tune with your body, and - of course - you have lots of time to think. I also love backpacking; the strength necessary to carry 40 lbs. over 50 miles, the self-sufficiency of carrying all your necessities on your back, and the ultimate feeling of accomplishment when you're done. It's the idea of a pilgrimage without the religious fervor. This definitely plays on the "solitude" part of my life; I'm a fairly reserved person ... most of the time ... I very much like my alone time and quite, open space to think. I also love being outside; I feel the most connected to and at peace with myself, the earth and some sort of potential "other world" when I'm alone or quietly with someone in nature.

#2) Run a marathon. This is the goal that has been on my list the longest - since high school. I was on my way once, but bad knees and early mornings foiled my plans, and here I am - 3 years later and 10 pounds heavier - still dreaming the dream, eating too much junk food and drinking too much wine. Good news on this front, however: finally having medical insurance has allowed me to get my knees checked and go through physical therapy so I can run again ... $4000 for doctor's appointments, MRIs and physical therapy appointments is great motivation (and people say we don't need health care reform, like $3000 for an MRI on your knees is normal and anyone can do it - please - imagine my eye-rolling here)! So why stick with this goal through so much hardship and misplaced motivation? Bragging rights! Come on! Also, and only slightly more seriously, I just want to prove to myself that I can do it! It requires dedication, motivation, and perseverance - all things that I'm afraid I lack; I want to do it because it will be hard for me, and that seems like a good enough reason. That said, however, this goal plays on my determined - some call it hard-headedness - character. If someone, even myself, says I can't do something, or doubts that I can/will, I want nothing more than to prove them wrong, and won't stop until I do. Also, I really do like running; I don't necessarily like the preliminaries to running - shuffling, huffing and gasping really - but once I'm in shape, I love picking a country road and getting into a rhythm ... bliss.

#3) Earn a doctoral degree: this one almost didn't make the cut - I just wasn't sure if I wanted it enough to make it an honest life goal, and I simply wasn't sure what I wanted to get it in - nothing seemed particularly practical if I wasn't planning to teach university. What finally made up my mind with this one, however, was my interest in geology ... hang in there, I promise this relates ... So, I recently decided/discovered that I'm interested in geology - chemical geology and paleontology specifically - and, if I had it all to do again, I would have gone to school for that rather than art (ha! yes, yours truly was truly an art major in college ... weren't my parents supposed to dissuade me from art school?!). Then I decided that, after I'm done getting my masters in Public Policy, I'll just start over and get a B.S. in Geology ... which in the end really just reminded me how much I love school. I really, really love going to school; it doesn't matter to me if getting a doctorate makes me a better job candidate or not, I want the degree because I want the degree - because I'm going to be in school anyway, so why not have the highest degree to show for it. I guess this plays to my super-clique thirst for knowledge. I love learning new things, I love the process of it and the outcome; I love talking about new things I've learned and getting different perspectives to help draw my own conclusions. I just really enjoy school, and once I sat down and really thought about it, this goal was a no-brainer.

#4) Complete a genealogical chart of my matriarchal line. My dad does genealogy, so I have grown up with the stories of my family, but - because the women got married and changed their names, essentially dropping off the family tree at that point - they were almost always the stories of men. I generally believe in the idea of a "family unconsciousness" - think collective unconscious combined with "the sins of the father" kind of idea, but not necessarily only sins. I like to think that we all carry the experiences/ideas/understandings of our ancestors, and have come to some interesting conclusions based on the stories of the men in my family, but half of my familial unconscious is missing because I don't know the stories of my maternal ancestors. I need to know those stories; I need to know where that part of me comes from and how it affects who I am; I need to give voice to their stories to help me understand my own. This goal is best described as my "spiritual" goal. The connection through time and exploring ideas of who you are and what has made you that way seems to me to fit into the "spiritual" category; also, that's just the way I feel about it when I think of this goal ... it feels spiritual to me, and that is that.

#5) Unknown. As I said, I'm not sure what this goal will be yet, but I feel strongly there needs to be five, and the other goals took some time to come to, so I'm not rushing the process. I will let it come as it will.

So - where to go from here. I've taken little steps towards several of them - well, all of them really. I'm not entirely sure how it will play out, but the reason I have decided to blog about it is because it's time I stop thinking about them and actually start realizing them. I have ideas of where I'm going to start - need to look at some logistical things before I reveal my next step - but never-fear, I will blog about them all the way!!

Okay, now it's your turn. Given the 4 guidelines I've set out for myself (review: important to you personally, quantitative (no, "I want to be a good person/parent/partner" allowed, as nice of a goal as that is), achievable by your own strength (independent of outside sources), and part of who you already are), what are your top-five life goals?

Monday, October 19, 2009

To Procreate or Not to Procreate: The Great Child Debate

Most people who know me in a real-world, not-voodoo-magical-internet context know that I have long declared my desire to remain childless, but - perhaps inevitably - I have been thinking about babies quite a bit the last couple of years ... okay, let's be honest - it's not been "quite a bit" but something more along the lines of A FREAKING BLOODY TON!!  I say inevitably for several reasons: I'm getting older and know that the amount time I to actually make this choice is quickly dwindling, my family has accepted my childless state and therefore no longer gives me anything to rebel against by remaining so, practically every woman I know is or was recently or is actively trying to be pregnant, I'm making major life choices right now and need to decide if having children is indeed a desire ... you get the picture.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm pining away on the couch hoping for the pregnancy fairies to fly through the window, it's not even that most of the time I think about the possibility of having children I actually want it to happen; I haven't made any kind of decision here, but rather I'm just thinking about the decision a lot.  Do I or don't I want to have children?  Honestly, most of the time I don't see it happening - not that I don't necessarily want it happen, but I just don't think it will.  There are those times, however, that I seriously want nothing more than to get pregnant right this instant dammit!  Luckily those are few and far between, and after several days of moping, crying in the shower and imagining how beautiful my child could be while she sleeps, I'm infinitely grateful that I'm a really consistent birth-control taker!  There are simply so many reasons not to have kids (in no particular order):

1) Financial: children are really bloody expensive!  And once you have 'em, you're in it for the long haul!  I would want some sort of financial security if I were to have children, and let's face it - that isn't happening anytime soon!  The hubs has at least 4 more years of school, and I have at least 2 more starting next year.  Being two full-time students doesn't equate well to making/having/saving money!  Nor does it leave much time to be a parent, which is my second point.

2) Time: Obviously, as mentioned above, being in school for several more years doesn't leave a lot of time for feedings, sleepless nights, changing poopy diapers ... you know, the general being-a-parent stuff.  At this point neither M nor I are willing to give up school and career goals to raise children.  This issue isn't settled once school is done however; this might sound selfish, but I really like my me-time and our us-time, and I simply don't know if I'm willing to give that up.

3) Environmental: A child brought up in America today will consume a disproportionate amount of the world's finite resources while at the same time creating more non-degradable trash than most people in the world.  This is also tied with Overpopulation (which I'll call 3, subcategory A): America's population continues to increase, making it one of the only (the only?) "developed" country to do so.  Most of Europe has reached replacement population growth (1 child per 1 adult), or negative growth!  Additionally, there are SO many children in the world who need loving homes and parents - can I really justify bringing another life into the world, thereby increasing the population, when there are already so many children?

4) Biological: Everyone is born with a biological history - my child would be born with a fairly substantial history of  severe depression on both sides of the family.  This isn't to say, of course, that they absolutely would inherent this trait or tendency, but the chances are actually pretty good, and do I really want to be responsible for passing that down to a child?  Perhaps a greater deterrent for me is the possibility of postpartum depression and my fear that my child will be raised by a depressed mother.

5) Auntie-hood: I really enjoy being an auntie - I have 3 nephews and 1 niece and feel pretty fulfilled by those children in my life.  I usually don't feel like I'm missing children, because it's easy to go see them if I do, and of course I can give these children back when I'm exhausted or they have a dirty diaper.

Regardless of all these reasons to not have children though, sometimes I really want them!  Chalk it up to an evolutionarily lagging biological clock, societal pressures and personal expectations, and pure damn curiosity, but regardless of how much I go over the reasons to not have kids, I usually picture my future with children in it, I catch myself saying, "when I have kids" and have to qualify it with a "I mean IF," I am occasionally torn in half, rather painfully actually, when I get my period - I'm happy because I know it's not the right time, and also mourn the loss of a child that never existed and have to consul myself with cake ...


I don't expect answers, but I am curious about other people's decisions.  Do you have children?  Are you planning to?  Why or why not?  Is this is a decision made purposefully or did it just seem like the natural thing to do?  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wait, this isn't real life?!

I hate to admit it – I really do, but in the interest of full disclosure to the masses of strangers that, of course, read my blog religiously, it must be done!!

Here is goes … I have been watching a lot of TV lately … I mean, A LOT!  A couple of clarifying points are needed here: one – I’m technically not watching TV, seeing as how I don’t actually own one; I am, rather, watching – in rapid succession – season after season of Veronica Mars on my computer, courtesy of the network execs who realized that they could make SO much more money if they could get people to buy multiple series on DVD.  Two: I have been working furiously to get an art piece done by last Saturday for my nephew’s birthday gift – the project ended up taking about 100 hours, and exactly two weeks before the party I was only about 40 hours into it; as most of this work is anally repetitive I generally do it with a show playing in the background.  So … yes, a lot of TV watching!

The purpose of this post is not, however, to reveal my secret shame – no, no my friends – but rather to add my two-cents to a long-standing debate: do the things we watch affect us?  You know the one I’m talking about; it goes something like:

Person one: “I think watching violent movies and playing violent video games makes kids more prone to violence.”

Person two: “I think your stupid face makes me more prone to violence!”

Oh yes, a civil debate if ever there was one.  Perhaps my stance on the matter is obvious from my grossly simplified characterization of the debate itself, but let me take you through my journey of choosing sides …

Like I said, this journey involved a lot of TV watching in a very short period of time: 2.5 seasons in 1.5 weeks … yup, yup, a lot of TV!  I think it is this very circumstance, however, that intensified an effect already taking place – that being that the entertainment that we choose to partake in, perhaps especially the shows/movies/games/etc. that we choose to watch very much effect our everyday lives – but one that is generally subtle enough that we often don’t make the correlation between what’s happening in our own personal lives to the effect entertainment has on us. 

I don’t know how many of your are familiar with the show Veronica Mars – it’s basically about a girl detective who picked up her skills working for her private-investigator father.  She tries to solve the mystery of who killed her best friend, who killed a bus of kids, who raped the girls on campus, etc., lolley-pop licking fluffy-bunny, uplifting topics all, I assure you!  As with all shows aimed at the high school/college crowd, it’s full of high emotion, passion and angst … ahhhh television!  I just recently, within the last couple of days, began to notice a correlation between my mood, emotions and interactions and what was happening on the show – a correlation that at first I denied, then was weirded out by, and finally knocked my on my ass because of the implications.  I have always been a fence-sitter on this “effect of entertainment” debate, not because I haven’t noticed the correlation before, but because it was subtle enough I could easily pass it off as something else, but this experience was so dramatic and obvious that the connection, for me, could no longer be ignored.  I began to notice that if I stopped watching the show when the main character was angry about something – which happens a lot, you have to keep the people coming back to find out what happens! – I was much more likely to be irritable and cranky; if the main character was dealing with the fallout from a particular sexual encounter (which is dealt with throughout the show), I would find myself dragging up issues from a similar, but not exactly the same, encounter that have been dealt with years ago and are really best laid to rest; if she was having problems in her relationships, I would be more irritable with my partner, and alternately if things were going well I would be more understanding and happier.  All of this from a show that, although I find interesting, I barely (consciously) paid attention to – it was noise in the background, a way to keep time; how was I to know that my brain was absorbing the emotions from the show and forcing me to act them out in my own life? 

Like I said earlier, I think this affect was exacerbated by the amount of time I spent watching the show, but I don’t think it was caused by the amount of time spent.  I really have to conclude that all those times in the past when I thought to myself, “hmmm … I don’t understand what’s wrong!  I felt fine an hour ago!” after watching a show is much more than coincidence, but rather my response to what I’m seeing.  I have to believe that this is true for the greater population as well, but – again – the affects are so subtle that it can be difficult to see the relationship.  I have to wonder, as well, about the specific affect on children. 

At 26 I didn’t at first realize what was happening – I accepted my emotions as my own and never questioned if they might be a figment of television.  Imagine, if you will, a pre-teen who has grown up in American society – watching violent television, cartoons, movies, playing violent games.  How is this child supposed to separate her own emotions from the “figment” emotions?  When do those “figment” emotions honestly become his own?  Are our brains actually wired to separate television “reality” from actual reality?  Certainly I have not experienced the violent murder of a best friend, then think her brother/my ex-boyfriend killed her, then realize – when he tries to kill me too – that it was actually the father of my best-friend’s then/my current boyfriend, then experienced the violent murder of a bus full of children which I think is my fault and that someone has a hit out on me, and then experienced multiple attempted/successful rapes all within the span of 3 years, and all the accompanying emotions associate with such experiences … I doubt many people have, but I imagine that if my best friend was going through everything I just detailed – everything that the main character of Veronica Mars, or any other television show experienced – it would affect my life in some of the same ways the show actually did.  Perhaps our brains haven’t evolved to distinguish the difference between entertainment and reality yet, and if this is true, perhaps the loads of money spent on counseling and drugs for violent, troubled, “misbehaved” children is misdirected.  Could it be as simple as turning off the TV?

Image courtesy of this website.