Tuesday, January 29, 2008
- Lois McMaster Bujold
The above quote troubles me a little. I understand and agree with the principle that we can choose our actions but not our consequences, but I’m uncomfortable with the notion that I’ve always had a choice. I was plopped down on this fair planet with a couple of screws loose before I even got to make any real decisions about who I wanted to be. I don’t remember signing off on that idea, but supposedly I did.
According to my religious beliefs, before I came here to live with my earthly family I could be found hanging out in heaven with my spiritual kin. We were all so excited about our pending earthly adventures, and the mere fact that I’m here now is proof that when I was offered the chance to go, I said, “Hmmm…that sounds like fun!” Furthermore, when I was informed things could get rocky because my brain chemistry would be kind of squirrely, I wasn’t even fazed, and with all the heavenly bravado I could muster I replied, “Piece of cake.”
Fast forward thirty-five years. Every single day I struggle to overcome the depression that is hard-wired into my brain and stay on the glass-half-full side of the spectrum, and every day the exhausting effort leaves me feeling less than sane. It’s like having to run a three-mile obstacle course every morning before breakfast. I try to console myself by keeping in mind that I was supposedly okay with this, that I chose to come here anyway, knowing the challenges I would face.
Here’s the conundrum: How is remembering this supposed to really comfort me about my own sanity? If I agreed to come here knowing that I’d be crazy, doesn’t that make me, well, crazy? Eternally crazy? Yeah. I feel so much better now.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
We have some occasional visitors to the creek behind our house. These pictures don't really do the majestic birds any justice, but I just couldn't catch a shot of the amazing wingspan. When their wings are spread, they actually look blue. I've often wondered exactly what kind of bird this is. Anybody out there have any clue?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
- Ray Bradbury
My husband, Rhett, is constantly telling me, “Deanna, you’re over thinking it.” He’s usually right, but I still find it incredibly frustrating that he believes I’m able to do anything else. The constant analysis of every single move I make is a habit thirty-five years in the making, and it’s a tough one to break. If I were only guilty of excessive contemplation when making huge, life-altering decisions, I wouldn’t feel so bad; but agonizing over seemingly-simple choices like which breakfast cereal to throw in the grocery cart really cramps my style.
I know why I do it. I’m afraid. Nothing in the world is more frightening to me than doing something wrong, doing anything wrong. I’ve spent my whole life trying to find the perfect incarnation of me that will make everyone else happy. It’s an exhausting and unwinnable game, and I’m sick of playing it, but, still, I can’t seem to stop. To further aggravate matters, my current opponent (or is it teammate?) refuses to participate. Rhett insists that he loves me for who I am, no jumping through hoops required. That unconditional acceptance is noble and what every girl dreams of, right? Well, sometimes I hate it. I don’t know who to be if it isn’t defined for me by the one whose approval I seek.
I’m sure I could blame all the usual suspects for this tendency: my father was too harsh, my mother was inattentive, and so on and so forth. But does any of that really matter anymore? Realizing the reasons behind my behavior doesn’t mean that I’ve been able to change it – yet. I’m hopeful, though. After fifteen years of Rhett’s repeated insistence that I can be myself, I think the message is finally starting to sink in. I’m ever so gradually beginning to trust my own mind, my own heart, and my own intuition. I have no idea where exactly it will take me, but I know this: I’m trying to think less and be more. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.
Never mind. I guess it's just business as usual around here.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I’m constantly under the influence of the journals bound in rich leather or floral print fabrics that line my bookshelf. Each volume has its own purpose, and the beautiful covers elegantly gift wrap the thoughts held inside. A good dose of handmade paper embedded with flower petals is enough to intoxicate me for days – and that’s just looking at it, never mind the high induced by actually using the top-shelf sheets of pure fiber bliss.
Yes, I realize that I have a problem, and, from what I understand, that’s the first step to recovery. I promise that I’ll conquer this addiction – someday. Not yet, though. I heard cardstock is going on sale next week at Hobby Lobby.
Friday, January 18, 2008
In an effort to define creative nonfiction for myself, I've been mulling over writers of the genre that I'm already familiar with for the past few days. The first name that comes to mind is Maya Angelou. When I read her writing, I feel like my soul has been turned inside out, but somehow I don't feel vulnerable. Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place is beyond inspirational. Then, there's David Sedaris, always quirky and giggle-inducing. I recently read Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson, and, unfortunately, all I can say about that is, every party needs a pooper. (Note to Mr. Swanson: Don't use "ersatz" six times in the same book. We'll all still know how smart you are if you throw in a couple of less expensive words like "makeshift" or "poor excuse for a _____" here and there.) It's a fairly eclectic bunch, and they make for a colorful neighborhood - even if Swanson is always yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.
After scoping out the area for awhile, I’m glad that I’ve decided to rent a room here this semester. The neighbors are far from boring, and I really think I'm going to like it here. Who knows, maybe that cute little cottage down the street will open up, and I’ll become a permanent resident.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Go ahead; ask me - achoo! - how I know.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Good thing, too! I have been working on these off and on since October, and I think the poor kid was starting to feel a little mistreated. He must like them because, after they were finally finished, he wore them every day until I forced him to let me wash them.
I also finished another baby hat:
I'm sure it will be cuter on an actual human child, but since we're running short on babies at our house, I drafted the newly crowned Hat Dog as my model. This is the Marshmallow Bonnet from Itty Bitty Hats, and it's for Olive's soon-to-be-born baby sister.
In other knitting related news, I have officially become a sweater stalker. I'm really not that creative of a person, so if I see something I want to duplicate, I have to make a note of it, or I'll forget. I saw the cutest little boy wearing a sweater with an interesting color combination, and, miracle of miracles, I happened to have the camera with me. I stopped the unsuspecting family and asked if I could take a picture of their son's sweater. I think they were a little puzzled, but they graciously allowed it.
He's really quite a cutie, but since I don't post my own kids' faces on here, I'm not showing his either.
I realized recently that I really didn't complete that many knitting projects in 2007. Let's see, I think there was a baby sweater, five pairs of socks, and three hats. What a shame! I know it's a little late for New Year's resolutions, but it's clear that I need to set some goals, not just for knitting, but in a couple of other areas, too.
My first goal: Figure out what goals to set.
There. I feel better already.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The problem is that the lack of focus is freeing and constricting all at the same time. While I have firmly enjoyed not being tied down to a certain vocation or extensive scheduling, it has also made me much more likely to be, well, a slacker. My little inattentive ADD brain really needs some kind of external structure to function well. (Okay, maybe to function at all.) I think that's why going back to school has been so great for me. I finally have a reason that I have to be somewhere and have certain things accomplished at a certain time. Of course, I have to admit that I'm still a total slacker when it comes to housework. I seem to have just enough free time left that I'm quite comfortable with heavy-handed procrastination.
All of that is about to change.
This semester, I am going to be taking twelve hours of classes, working as a tutor and Supplemental Instruction leader for twenty or so hours a week, and still trying to keep up with my three busy boys. Now, I fully realize you "normal" folks out there don't really think this schedule sounds too bad. Good for you. Consider this a virtual pat on the back. I, on the other hand, am vacillating between excitement and dread.
You see, I have lived so much of my life under a dark cloud of depression, and the fact that I'm actually accomplishing something tangible energizes me. Even when things are going well, staying home with the kids leaves me with very little to show for it because no matter how much I get done, almost all of it is undone by the end of the day. For someone prone to feeling worthless on the best of days, that cycle gets to be excruciatingly painful. I'm also hoping that a tighter schedule will motivate me to get more done. If I have less time to goof off, I'll goof off less. Right? (Oh, I certainly hope so.)
However, at the same time, I know that there is a delicate balance of structure that is just right for me. Too little, I waste time because I have so much time to waste. Too much, I have severe anxiety issues over never having quiet, alone time and eventually suffer from a total meltdown. So, with the new semester starting Monday, I am cautiously optimistic, praying that my schedule has just the right balance of what I want and what I need. I've got my Google calendar all color-coded so I can keep up with the kids' schedules and see what I need to do when as far as housework and homework are concerned. Tomorrow I'm going to get my notebooks all ready for my new classes. And Monday I'm going to take on the world. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I think I'll need it.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Oh sure, some days it's easy to pretend racism died long ago, but only if I walk around with one eye shut. Even when I sense its moldy presence, it is usually in a detached way. The racism I witness is often just in seeing that the local establishment still behaves in ways slanted to benefit one group over another, or maybe I witness some backwards individual discriminating against someone I don't really know. Those cases bother me, but I don't feel any really connection. That, unfortunately, makes it easier not to be too concerned.
Now, I feel connected.
My nieces were visiting from California last week. These are two of the most beautiful, charming, sophisticated girls I know - and they're half Japanese. I've never really thought much about their heritage, other than the fact that I think it's way more interesting than my mutt mixture of an ethnic background. The girls, however, found that many people in the state of Arkansas were bothered by their ethnicity.
Our city recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Central High crisis, and so much was said about how far we've come. Have we really? Even though there isn't a big Asian population around here, it's not like the local yokels have never seen someone of Japanese descent. These girls are just respectable young women out shopping and dining like everyone else, and they were made to feel distinctly unwelcome. They had such a horrible experience that they never want to come back to Arkansas. Honestly, I don't blame them.
Why are people afraid of anyone that is different? How can we begin to see one another as brothers and sisters of one big family? Why did I have to see my own family hurt for me to be bothered enough by this injustice to be more vocal? What will it take for us to let racism take its last breath?
For one thing, we have to stop feeding it. The "Us vs. Them" mentality on the local school board gives racism energy. (And it doesn't really matter who is Us and who is Them; both sides are guilty.) Every little racial joke that we "politely" laugh at nourishes the beast. Saying that someone is "well spoken for a black guy" or "pretty cool for a white kid" is like an afternoon snack for racism. If we cut off its food supply, it will eventually die from malnourishment. I can't make decisions for anyone else, but I vow to be more aware so that I don't accidentally throw bread crumbs to the gnarly animal. If enough of us refuse to offer racism sustenance, then perhaps it will finally wither away.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
1. On Christmas Eve, we told the kids that they could retrieve their stockings whenever they liked, but that they were not to wake us to open presents until 6:00 on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, we didn't realize they would get up at 2:17 in the freaking a.m. Next year, the rules will be oh-so-different.
2. Waking up at 2:17 to the sounds of children scurrying around playing with stocking stuffers and not getting back to sleep until 4:30 or so makes Mommy a little cranky by the time 6:00 rolls around.
3. Guitar Hero III totally rocks!
4. Evidently, there is a precise combination of sleep deprivation and my mother's pancakes that can make me pass out cold at the breakfast table on Christmas morning. Seriously. Like one minute I was saying, "I feel a little funny," and then, what felt like days later, Rhett was slapping my face, calling, "Deanna! Are you with us?" Not something I would like to make a Christmas tradition. No, sir.
5. I found a game that Rhett remembers fondly from his childhood: Scotland Yard. I wish you could have seen the twinkle in his eyes and the utter joy he displayed as we taught the boys how to play. It was almost as good as watching the kids open their presents.
6. Really - Guitar Hero III is the most awesome game ever.
7. I learned a new term. Oldest informed me that December 30 is New Year's Adam, because, you know, Adam came before Eve.
8. We spent New Year's Eve with my parents, and some family from out of town. My college age nephew and nieces have an amazing gift: they can make me feel incredibly old and so much younger again all at the same time.
9. You can learn some really interesting things about your extended family by playing a few rounds of Taboo or Scattergories. Of course, some of those things might be a little disturbing, but they make good blackmail fodder for the future, so it's okay.
10. Did I mention that we got Guitar Hero III for Christmas? Rhett and I might even let the boys have a turn.
11. I said might.