Obligatory End of Year Post

I know lots of people say this and it’s totally cliche, but where did 2011 go?
 
Seriously, it’s insane that it’s almost 2012. Forgive me if I wax nostalgic for the next couple of days.
 
Shouldn’t we all be jetting around in hovercars and jetpacks by now? That’s what the Weekly Reader told me in 1988. 
 
When I was 8, the year 2000-anything seemed impossible. I suppose it’s true that everything is relative. I certainly would never have put myself where I am, in thinking about the future.
 
Chalk it up to divine plan or whatever you want, but it’s strange the way things work out…and whether it sounds dorky or not, it’s exciting to see what happens next.
 
As for resolutions? I make them every year. More often than not I lose steam in a couple of weeks, but I always resolve. This year isn’t any different – well, maybe a little.
 
This year I’m not resolving to lose weight or keep the house spotless (sorry, family). I’ve done those or some variation thereof every year since I was 15.
 
But not this year. For 2012 I simply resolve to be diligent about being happy. To do whatever needs to be done in order to make my life good and full. To keep my family happy and whole, to love my life from day to day, and to be able to come back this time next year and say with honesty that I kept my resolutions to the best of my ability and that my life is better for it.
 
I don’t get many comments…but if you’re reading, tell me what you want out of 2012. Really. I’d love to hear.

Should

Is the autumn a reflective time for anyone but me?

No? That’s stupid? That’s okay. I’m used to that.

So anyway, I have this blogging calendar and it suggests topics for most days, days like the ones when I just sit and stare at empty because I know of nothing to say. Days that I wonder why I do this at all.

THOSE DAYS PASS, OBVIOUSLY.

This calendar – which is meant to have you schedule all your posts and be very on top of things – one of the suggestions was “throw away your shoulds,” which is abstract but not so much that I’m going to ignore it.

I find myself thinking lots of shoulds. Lots of times.

I should be more patient with my kids.
I should run miles.
I should write 1,600 words a day instead of the less than 1,000 I have thus far.
I should floss and shave my legs. Not that I don’t ever – I do. I just should probably do it more.
I should study more.
I should eat broccoli and rice and I should like sushi.

I do have some rice. It’s in a big bowl and Max’s ereader (which he dropped in the toilet) stayed in there for about a month so I’m thinking I should probably throw that out before someone eats it.

I should have a job.
I should be a better wife. Clean house and all that shit. Make the bed.
I should remember birthdays and anniversaries and send sweet heartfelt cards.

There are so many things that I should be doing that I don’t and that I shouldn’t be doing that I do.
Like go back to bed after the kids leave for school or send peanut butter sandwiches every day.

Seriously, I could go on. For days.

But why? I waste so much energy thinking about things I should and shouldn’t do and then suddenly I realize I haven’t done anything except sit and think about how I should be doing things differently.

So, screw all that. I’m not great at living, but DAMMIT I’m really good at being me.

Throwing away my shoulds sounds a lot easier than it is, and I’m really not sure what good this is doing.

Maybe a little.

I’m just glad it’s Friday.

Today

Today is Election Day.

People all over will go and vote yea or nay or red or blue.

And I live in Mississippi, where the only time we make national news is because we gave birth to Elvis/Oprah/Britney/a million fantastic southern writers or because we’re the fattest state.

Well, now we have a new claim to fame – today we vote on Initiative 26, and if it passes, it’s a big deal. It’s a precedent for the whole country.

Now, I have opinions about this. Of course I do.

For just a minute, though, let’s not talk about what I think. Let’s talk about what this will mean.

Less birth control, in a state with the highest number of counties (17) featuring 40+% infant poverty. Not to mention the infant mortality rate (10.5 infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births), or the scads of children waiting in foster homes or institutions so they can be placed.

Fertility treatments….sure, as long as they don’t involve selective implantation or frozen embryos.

Raped? Pregnant? You carry that asshole’s baby because the law says so.

There are far reaching consequences regarding ectopic and molar pregnancies that I don’t even have the stomach to research (this is not hard hitting reporting, people).

Under this law, the miscarriage I suffered in January of 2008 may well have been the death of me, because only an abortion stopped the bleeding and saved my life.

The thing that bothers me about this is not that people disagree with my sentiment that this is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard. People disagree with me all the time.

No, what bothers me is that there are fifty bintillion churches who – over and over and over – have pounded into the hearts and minds of their faithful followers that this initiative is penned directly from the heavens. That by voting yes, they are personally winging their way into each Mississippi womb and cuddling thousands of fertilized eggs that may or may not become people.

It bothers me that if my preteen niece gets assaulted and molested, there won’t be a morning-after pill just in case. Her life could change and it wouldn’t have been her choice at all.

I respect the right of everyone to believe what they want. I do not respect anyone telling me how I have to believe and behave. Especially when they do it simply because a pulpit told them that was the right thing.

So go vote. If you live in Mississippi, please know what you’re voting for.

On a lighter note, tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from Lindsey at Campfire Song. This will be totally fun, you’ll see. She even mentions maxipads.

Testing 123

So this week (and part of next) is midterm time.

Don’t get me wrong – I knew going in to all of this school stuff that tests were a part of the deal. And with my online classes I essentially take at least a test a week anyway.

But these tests are different. I haven’t taken real tests in a decade or so, to be honest. And while I used to be fairly cocky and overconfident going into tests like these…I guess it’s fair to say I’ve lost some of those testicles. Or used them in childbirth. Something.

Full disclosure here.

I never really learned how to study. Not really. And now, either because my brain is old or because I actually have goals in mind to attain, it matters.

The 72 I made on the test I took tonight matters to me. Because I know I could have done better.

image thieved from Google

Except I didn’t. And I really, really tried.

Although in fairness to me, one of the questions had, as the answer choice, an option of “2 weeks” or “14 days.” So I’m guessing that verbatim recall is what the instructor was going for and that’s not how I roll.

So what’s the right thing to do here? Study and hope? Do nothing but immerse myself in whatever subject?

Then what if I still am just…average? What if I pee myself with nerves and still just squeak by?

This school stuff is teaching me a lot. About a lot of things.

This is how I feel too

Basically I’ve not been in a great state of mind lately.

My kids are great.
My husband is lovely.
Life, as a whole, is good to me.

But I feel very rutly (as in to be in a rut).

I know I’ve taken appropriate steps to further myself. I’m in school, I have shitbombing awesome kids, and…well, I like to knit?

I have hobbies. That sounds better.

But the fact that my life is currently in go status doesn’t stop me from being impatient, and how selfish is that?

I know that everything goes so fast and I’ll look back one day and wish I had this time back.

There have been two deaths this week.

A former classmate of mine. He was 32.
A little girl. She was 10. A year older than Max.

And in all of this, I wonder what right I have to plan ahead. Is it presumptive to lay out plans for degrees and jobs and all of that, when tomorrow I could be gone or sick or my babies could need me to never leave them ever?

I’m not as spastic as I sound.

I know without plans we all become bums.

Wasn’t that what John Lennon said?

F@&$ Fantasy Football

Alright, I admit it. Fantasy football takes a shitload of knowledge and intuition that I just do not possess.

Initially I thought that it would be good for me. I thought hey, football will be on in this house all winter anyway, this is a great way to give me incentive to get involved. To learn. Broaden my horizons and have some healthy competition.

Yeah, no, that’s not what has happened at all.

I knew when we did our fantasy draft that I was a little out of my element. Like I said before, I picked Mark Ingram because of those MASSIVE. ARMS. The rest of my team I picked up based on names I knew and what the little Yahoo! drop box said about a player during the draft.

Which explains how I ended up with Terrell Owens, who is I think retired now, and a bunch of other players that I don’t even know enough about to know which to point out as the worst.

This is not my game.

And what’s worse, instead of being driven to care and watch the games and tweak my team for any given week, I think about how much knitting I could be doing.

Pathetic much?

There should be a similar passive point based game for things like American Idol, or The Bachelor. THAT I could get behind and totally know what was up.

Is that contributing to weak women stereotypes? I hope not. That isn’t my intention.

It’s just…I don’t know. I don’t understand the rules of football well enough, much less which player threw to who and who is due to have a comeback this week as opposed to sucking it up and losing me points last week.

So I sit. Emphatically at the bottom of the league pile. Because not only do I not know what to do, I don’t really even care.

From a Friday drive

Happy Saturday.

Last night, in the name of getting out of the house since I don’t do that very much, we went to pick up some pizza and drive around town.

There were people rehearsal dinnering, walking, taking pictures. One chick was walking a little chihuahua with a purple sweater on.

There was also one lady who was standing under a tree staring up into the branches. Just staring. Unless she lost her bird I’m not sure what the deal was, but hey, I don’t judge. Maybe she loves the tree.

We came home and ate our pizza, which was freaking delicious.

Then I went to bed. Nine o’clock on a Friday night and I went to bed. We’re crazy around these parts. CRAZY.

I was thinking last night during the drive about how much I miss having a job.

Josh was telling all these stories about work and his days, and I realized it’s this whole separate life he has. People and work and places to go. I wouldn’t call how I feel jealous, but I am a little bit wistful.

I remember being good at something. Having definite purpose during a given day. Talking to adults.

But then I think about how much I’d miss Lucy. How much I’d miss peekaboo and cheese sticks.

So I guess you could say I’m torn.

It’s not like it’s really even a choice right now. No one is exactly breaking down the door for my phone answering expertise and sarcastic wit at the moment. But maybe one day I’ll have an opportunity, and who am I kidding – we all know I’ll take it. And then I’ll whine about missing being at home.

Because that’s what I do.

Enough is me.

It’s humbling to admit that a vast amount of my time is spent fretting about how I’m perceived and whether or not people like me.

I know, I know, I say this shit over and over.

I’ve done things that have lost me friends.

I have stuck to principles and been left behind as a result.

I’ve been flat lazy in putting forth the effort to make and keep friends.

But I’ve thought a lot this weekend about how and why I worry so much when all I can control is me (completely apropos of nothing. No reason prompted).

But how and why did I ever get the idea that the way anyone else behaves reflects on or effects me?

So I’m kind of finished caring. I can focus on me and on the love I put out into the world around me, but I can’t fix anyone else.

I can’t make you like me, be nicer to me, or respect me. I can’t convince you to love me more, laugh with me, or care about the world I inhabit.

And that’s fine. I’m finding that being me and being the way I am is enough for me.

Looking back. Reflection and stupidity

I was doing some reading earlier – reading of old entries and how things have changed and not.

I found this post, and it made me think about a lot of things.

It’s almost exactly a year later, and things are so much different that they’re kind of startlingly the same.

As far as God and purpose and meaning go, I’m still kind of lost. The hit our faith and confidence took during our time in Jackson was severe, and to be honest I’m not sure we’ll ever fully recover.

We were so sure we were doing the right thing.
We were so happy, and then we were miserable.

But now? Not in a million years did I ever think we’d be where we are now.

Well, not really physically “where we are,” because really all of us living together is pretty much an epic adventure and it’s become second nature to us all.

But where we are in the sense of goals and progress and general good will toward humanity.

I was sure when we left Jackson that we’d never fully be happy and fulfilled ever again.

Dramatic, sure, but cut me some slack I WAS GROWING A PERSON.

If I could do and say anything I wanted, I’d say things to those people we left.

I’d say to Ellie, thank you for hiring me. You were more of the face of good in our months in Jackson than anyone else we met. You meant more to me in those days than I can ever say.

I’d say to Michaele, you are me with red hair and better boobs. I miss you more than anything and I would never have made it without you.

I’d say to Jackson commuters – really? Suck it up and put down that bowl of Cheerios when you’re going 80 down the interstate. Eat a damn granola bar if you’re that hungry.

I’d say to Priest 1 – you were the biggest disappointment. When we met, you were awesome and inspiring. You were hip and down to earth and we both loved you immediately. The confidence we both felt in you – as a person, as a priest, as a friend – was completely cracked and really disheartening. You never seemed like a lap dog…until you were.

I’d say to Priest 2 – I reached out to you. I needed you. And when you ignored that? I have never felt that degree of worthlessness. I trusted too much in what I needed you to be.

And to Priest 3? I could fill a book. The level of hypocrisy and disillusion that I equate with you now is staggering. I don’t know what I believe comes after this life – I don’t know if I believe we just end, or if we go on…

But if we go on? If there are saints and angels and streets of gold? I don’t want to be there if you are. Whatever Paradise is supposed to be, you can’t be a part of it and it still be Paradise.

so there it is.

I suppose I’m still bitter (who am I kidding), but I’m also hopeful. I never thought I’d have that again.

I do. We do. And I think that’s the best revenge.

art shamelessly stolen from Natalie Dee

Terrified

In 1998, I graduated from high school. I went on to the local community college, because that’s just what most of my friends did.

In 2000, when I should have been finished with community college, I had changed my major six point five jillion times and I was considerably behind. Then I got married.

That ended that.

In 2002, I went back to that same school and tried to pick up where I’d left off. I had an infant at home and we had next to no money, so when the semester was over and I got a job opportunity, I took it. Thus ended my education.

A couple of months ago, after talking about it for years, Josh and I decided to try school again. It has been a mess of red tape and confusion, but we got everything in order. Scheduled. Ready and waiting.

Well, today is the day.

All our classes come live online today, and me, who has never taken a single online class, I have 16 hours of classes. While I realize that I’m not expected to suddenly have everything finished and done and I’m going to have to learn to schedule myself, it doesn’t change the fact that having a list of things to do and turn in and know is going to overwhelm me more than a little bit.

I really didn’t think I was going to be so scared. But I am.

I’ve had those dreams where I forgot about a class and never did any of the work.

Where I showed up for an exam and it was a class I was never supposed to have taken.

The good news is that if I make it through this semester I’ll (finally) have my Associate’s Degree, and it will only have taken me thirteen years.

I feel a little (or a lot) silly that this is so important to me. After all, what is an Associate’s anyway? Not much.

Except it’s more than I have.

And it’s that much closer to the PhD I ultimately want.

Yeah, I said it. That’s what I’m going for. Farfetched, right? I’ll be like eighty by the time I’m finished.

But that’s okay with me. I’ll be eighty when I’m eighty whether I have a PhD or not.

So if I die today, it’s because the online classes done kilt me.