All Hectic on the Western Front

The last month has been interesting.

I’ve had rehearsal three days a week, which was a lot more fun than I expected. Rehearsal days are now my favorites.007The Boyfriend and I celebrated our One Year Anniversary.

023I applied for four new positions at work and got turned down for three of them. I’m still waiting to hear back from the fourth, and I have an application ready to turn in for another. Ambitious or a glutton for punishment? We don’t know.

002aI recently changed departments at work, so there are lots of new things I’m learning there. It’s been awesome, but brain-consuming. I’m continuing to train as an assistant for yet another department, so my skills are diversifying.

I’ve tried new experiments on social responsibility, namely: using vintage hankies instead of facial tissue. It was slightly more work to start out (ironing my line-dried hankies, remembering to pack them in my purse and workbag, setting them aside to wash separately so they don’t get stained blue with my jeans, etc.) but I think I like them better. Next up: People Towels.

001I also attended World Veg Festival with my fellow vegan roommate and discovered the most amazing Sjaac’s Chocolate. (I bought way too much and ate it way too fast.)

wvf_cardAnd I discovered Peet’s Maple Lattes, which is a delightful fall treat since I don’t care for the Pumpkin Spice Lattes everyone else is crazy about.

005(This particular Peet’s location has the added advantage of roaming chickens. I don’t know where they come from. But there were chicks!)

011All in all, it was a pretty busy month but I didn’t go under. October should be slightly easier, fingers crossed. I might even dig myself out from under the pile of Things to Do on my table…

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I (Don’t Want To) Listen

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(From PublicDomainPictures.net)

I love the synchronicity of the internet.

Lately I’ve been following a lot of conversations, some about strong women characters, some about the “real” definition of Fangirl, some about gender roles in faith communities, and some about the voices of minorities in all communities.

It’s been the conversations about voice that have been the most important to me. They seem to transcend their own corner to apply to just about everything.

Lack of female superheroes in media? Let’s listen to what “fangirls” are saying before labeling it an unprofitable market.

Lack of women in faith conversations? Um, have you met the internet? Maybe get with some of the women leaders who exist (trust me, they’re totally there) and ask them how to broaden the conversation.

Lack of minority writers in SFF? Yeah, they’re there, they’re just not getting coverage. Seek them out and acknowledge their voices.

Lack of minority characters in SFF? It’s a problem, especially to get ones that aren’t stereotypes intended to fill a certain, pre-conceptualized role. Listen to the problem before trying to fix it and going about it all wrong.

So, voice. Listening. Affirming. Acknowledging that (almost) everyone has a valid viewpoint, and those who don’t still feel as if they do. Everyone’s emotional position feels legitimate, and sometimes what we need most is not to be right or wrong but to feel heard in that.

It’s been a very big thing with me lately, leading to passionate discussions about feminism and transgender issues.

But my own inability to listen was right under my nose.

One of the problems of being unashamedly open-minded is that when one has a bit of closed-mindedness it is hard to spot. Like a rusty mechanism, my radar didn’t turn on myself until I read this in a post this morning:

What if we responded like that more often? I think that would be beautiful, don’t you?

When someone tells us that we hurt them. I’m listening.

When someone is crying out. I’m listening.

When someone disagrees with us. I’m listening.

I’m in the middle of a disagreement with someone close to me, someone whose opinion on a situation seems totally unfounded. It feels like it’s unnecessary, that it’s inconvenient, that it’s a violent reaction to a small instigation. It’s right in front of me all the time, though, so I can’t just step past it and move on. I don’t want it to be there, and I’m impatient that it remains.

Part of me equates “listening” with “changing to make another person happier”. I need to find that middle ground between whole-hearted acceptance and whole-hearted resistance.

I’m trying to remind myself that it’s not about being right or being wrong. Other people do not need my permission to have “correct” emotions.

And maybe if I actually listened, with no other agenda or intent to convince, it would accomplish all it needed to.

Homeschooling: Two Sides

Friday Five: Bonus! It’s Two Sets!

What The Internet Taught Me That I Missed Out On Through Homeschooling

People Will Mock. This is okay. Sometimes good people make mistakes, and sometimes mean people are being mean. Mockers aren’t always evil, and they aren’t always wrong, either.

People Are Mean, and You Don’t Have to Listen. Almost all of what I heard growing up was “constructive criticism”, so I came out into the world believing that I needed to change based on the “feedback” I received. Not all this feedback is necessary. You can ignore it.

Sure, Everyone Will Fawn Over You…As Long As You’re Playing the Game. You can get all the validation you want, provided you spend all your effort to get it. You can have an unending chorus of people praising you and shooting down your detractors…if you make it your life’s work to cultivate that circle of friends. I assume high school cliques and college sororities were the old versions of this. Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook now make it easy to elicit continual doses of validation. But if you want to have a real and fulfilled life, you’ll need to detox from the ego drugs.

Growth is Not Threatening. Our family had done a lot of research into homeschooling and had determined that it was the Right Thing to Do. A lot of other things were also the Right Things To Do. It had all been figured out for me. Somehow I got the idea that, if I changed who I was or what I believed, I was either duplicitous or weak. When you’re raised believing that you have The Truth, and that there is little need to assess your philosophy, the natural push of adolescence can be perceived as a threat to the status quo. But when you look around, you’ll see a whole lot of people trying out other things in life. This is normal. It’s also good.

It Takes a Village. We were an island unto ourselves for most of my childhood. One of the benefits of having a big family is that there’s always someone to play with, right? But the truth is that people need more diversity than can be found in any one family, no matter how large it is. We need more perspectives on life. We need the voices from the wider world. (That “myth” that homeschoolers say about the need for socialization? Bull. Socialization is crucial. In many ways, on many levels. Far too much to get into here and now.)

What Homeschooling Taught Me That Many People Don’t Seem to Know

It’s Really Easy to Learn. The internet seems to have caught on to this sooner than the rest of the world. Want to learn to knit? YouTube. Need to know how to harvest black walnuts? eHow. Interested in going vegan? One Green Planet. Before the internet we used the library for everything from books on history to guides on making corn husk dolls.

Society May Have a Calendar Which is Different From Yours. Adjust it to Fit Your Needs. In our home, the school year was from January through October. We took off school somewhere in November to accommodate several birthdays, three holidays, and the invariably wet, miserable weather that made us want to curl up in blankets and read instead of do schoolwork. These days, depending on how enmeshed I am in society’s rhythms, adjusting my personal calendar can be tricky–but at least I give myself permission to recognize where I’m the square peg.

Fads Are Not Life. We never followed fads. Not current, mainstream ones, anyway. So when I left home and saw people going crazy over trends–without realizing why–it made no sense to me. (Now, a trend that one decides to get into voluntarily–those are fun! And something I missed growing up.) But knowing that there is more to life than what society (and companies) market to us is pretty invaluable.

Real Stuff is Best. Real food, not processed crap. Real fresh air, not air-freshener-scented. Nutritious food, not vitamin pills. Building a fort over playing a computer game. Avoid the chemicals. Choose the tangible and real over the artificial.

It Doesn’t Matter What the Odds Are. My parents never listened to logic in determining whether something was a good idea. They just went for it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but the point was that they didn’t back down just because other people doubted. I’m a lot more cautious than they were, but I still appreciate that undaunted spirit.

What are some of the things that stuck with you from your childhood? What do you wish you’d learned earlier?

My Personal Citrus Grove

I live in a lovely condo in a nice neighborhood in a delightful city. We have beautiful weather. What we don’t have is space to garden. Our backyard is a mere patio made smaller with rockscaping on the sides. A very large jasmine periodically tries to take over.

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My friend has started an herb garden on the fence. It’s currently unknown if they will survive or die slowly, like the soybean plant that just gave up the ghost.

Last month I got the pressing urge to get a lemon tree. I wanted a lemon tree, badly. I wanted citrus, yes, and at the time I was buying bags of lemons at a time, but I had the emotional need to Buy A Lemon Tree.

So I did, with the full understanding that this tree would take quite a while to produce my favorite fruit.

But just look at this beauty!

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I think it likes me.

Dead Lovers

Such a random thing to ask. And yet, such a mystical thing to ponder.

I wonder, what would happen if we applied this question in a broader sense? If we asked how many people one had made love to who are now spiritually dead, or emotionally dead?

Or, to be more macabre, how many people had one made love to who were dead at the time?