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Spring Break!

This time next week I'll be on a train headed to St. Louis. I'm pretty excited.
Last Friday I gave a speech on No Child Left Behind in my speech class. I used a lot of the resources from my education class, because they were primarily what inspired me to make that my topic for my final speech. One of these things was William Ayers' book, To Teach, which really inspired me and made me think. I loved the book, and had two quotes in my speech from it because they were so authentic and powerful.

In my speech class we do peer-evaluations. Basically little slips of paper you fill out during everyone's speeches so that there's more than just the professor's reflection on your speech. Most of my peer-evaluations were very positive, mentioning only that I seemed to run out of time and rush the ending, but that my speech was well prepared and interesting.

Except one.

One person in my class wrote on my peer-evaluation that "William Ayers is a terrorist in my book." I'm pretty sure it was the guy who gave his speech today on how global warming isn't real.

The Usual Present

A lot of times we write about problems we have, and we hold off on it until we have some new perspective- until it's fixed. I suppose we do this so that our audience can take something from it. But I think sometimes it's better to just blurt things out before you've fixed them. Just talking about hte problem can lend perspective.

This story is about Christmas. But since I've had bad encounters with people before about Christmas I'm going to change it to be about birthdays. But I wanted to be honest about that.

In my family, birthdays are a really really big deal. There's a great deal of tradition, gift giving, and love that go into making sure everyone has a perfect birthday, every year. A lot of money goes into it. Too much, but it's all about indulging everyone in turn. It's a warm practice. I like it. My fiance, Joshua, comes from a family where birthdays are a fairly big deal, but it's more about spending time together. Not that that isn't a big part of our birthday rituals.. but it's a bigger percent of his. Birthday gifts in his family aren't a big deal. In my family they are. Not because we're greedy kids, but because it's how we express our love.

For example: One birthday my mom managed to find me karaoke CD's of Phantom of the Opera, so that when I danced around my bedroom I could sing it without being overshadowed by Sarah Brightman. I have no idea how much it cost- but it was perfect. It told me that she was paying attention: she knew what I wanted, even if I didn't know I wanted it. She found something that related to my interests and told me "hey- I get you. I love you." My mom's most recent birthday I got her a little machine that turns her records into CD's. She's been talking about wanting one for years, and has never bought one for herself. It was expensive, but my buying it for her told her "I listen when you talk about things you want. You don't get things for yourself because you're so generous to us. I want you to have the things you won't get for yourself. I want to return your generosity and show you that I love you too.. by putting forth a lot of  effort to get you something you want."

It's a weighty message. It's how we live. And I made the Usual Error with Joshua. I forgot that things don't talk like that in his family. In my family, giving a scarf as a present means "You're always complaining about how cold it is, and how you only have one scarf and it doesn't match anything, and you never buy yourself scarves even though you love them. So I'm buying it for you." In his family, giving someone a scarf says "Here's a scarf. I hope you like it." Can you hear the ticking time bomb?

So flash forward to Joshua's birthday. He opens his presents to me. Very personal. Very expensive. I went to great pains to order him presents nearly 6 months in advance because they were limited edition. Beautiful handpainted beer steins relating to a video game we play together. A beautiful ring. A pair of novelty socks and a game he'd been talking about for months that was too expensive- and then was no longer in stock... anywhere. I found those things. It gave me great pleasure to anticipate his excitement. His happiness- the way he would feel when he saw how personal and expensive my presents were. How much thought I had put into it. In the days before his birthday I nearly burst with excitement because I couldn't wait for him to see how much energry I was willing to put towards showing him how much he meant to me. It wasn't the literal monetary value of the material items- it was something bigger to me. To me it was my way of showing, not telling, how much he meant to me.

It made him a little uncomfortable, I think. He said he was happpy- it was great. He had a great birthday. But I could tell he thought I had spent too much money, and he didn't seem to be emotionally effected by my trouble. I was kind of sad about that.

And my birthday? The gifts he got me didn't feel personal. Now, at the time when I shopped for his birthday we had a car, and by the time he shopped for mine we did not, so he was limited on time and our money situation wasn't looking as happy. But when I opened his gifts I was upset- not by their price, but by how impersonal they felt. I felt like he could have given all the presents he gave me to his mother, or a co-worker, and it wouldn't have been weird. But to me, it felt cold. It felt last minute. It didn't speak to me. And I felt like he didn't love me.

Whoa whoa whoa--- I felt like he didn't love me... because he got me cheap presents? I reflected upon that immediately and felt like a stupid, spoiled brat. So then I felt doubly bad. I cried myself to sleep that night- my birthday. It was rediculous. It was stupid. It took me a couple weeks to figure out why I felt that way. Why I thought that his presents told me he didn't really care about me. For you, I've already answered the question. In my family presents aren't what they are; presents are metaphors. Presents represent emotions, and a great deal of time is spent making sure that everyone has the right amount of things, personal enough, and no one is favored over anyone else. My mom was very careful about whose presents were the best, or who got the most. She was very even with us all because it wasn't about the THING in the paper, but the time, the love, the effort.

I was making a very big usual error. I was applying my values to Joshua's actions. I 've talked to him about it briefly, about how I felt and how I didn't like it. How it felt wrong and how it wasn't the material worth, but the emotional worth that upset me. I realized that he didn't mean to upset me, and that if I had expected a big presentation, I should have asked him for it. He's certainly made big presentations before- Valentine's Day comes to mind. His last Valentine's day was the sweetest, most love-filled and meaningful gesture he's ever made- and he probably spent about the same amount of money on it as my upsetting birthday.

The problem of that birthday is resolved, but there will be future birthdays, and some day we'll find a happy medium between what messages our gifts send. It's not a problem, but it is a challenge. I've got to not be upset by his presents not speaking my language, and his presents could use a personal touch. Ultimately, however, he did give me the present of allowing me to spent the money, time and energy to make sure that everyone in my family has the best birthday I could give them. He may not understand it, but he indulges me because he sees how happy I am to give over the top.And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best present of all.

Happines is...

Sorry to spam but this is just too cool.

I'm sitting at the table working on my paper, and Sylvia is sitting in the chair next to me.. happily coloring. It started with her wanting to play with my highlighter on my notes, and I gave her blank paper.. then i remembered I had bought big crayolas for baby hands, and fetched them for her. She was so excited to see there was a whole box of colors for her.

So I'm working away and she's here with me, coloring away.

Pictures later. Video, too, if I can get my SD reader on my laptop to work. (no idea why it's not. uhg.)

/facepalm

Under prepared- spent 8 hours writing research paper on Waiting for Godot overnight.

Word count: 2887
Brain: Melted

The perfect breakfast!

So I have not been dieting. Nope. I have, however, been tracking my calorie intake and making informed decisions about what kind of impact various foods would take on my intake. I've been using myfooddiary.com, which my mom suggested to me. It allows you to easily search for common foods, or create your own if it's not in their database, add things to your "fridge" to access again, and gives you helpful feedback on what you're eating.

I've learned that my problem isn't calories- it's sodium and saturated fats. I haven't changed anything about what I've been eating this past week, but I've been entering my gluttony honestly and reading the report. This site also lets you check as you go, for example "to maintain your weight you can eat X# more calories, to lose 2 lbs a week you can consume X# more calories." Which allows you to make a choice about what to have, and also make sure that you're over the minimum number of safe calories for your day- the number that corresponds to losing 2 lbs a week.

Anyway.. this is not an Ad. This is an entry about the perfect breakfast. I just had.. the perfect breakfast. Here's the feedback I received for my breakfast:

A high-fiber breakfast can help you lose weight and reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
You have eaten fiber-rich foods.  This is a good indicator of a healthy diet.
Saturated fats only accounted for 3.6% of your calories.  Good job staying below the 9% limit!
You deserve another smiley face for having no frowns.  Great job!

This breakfast? It was warm, it was tasty, it was satisfying.

It was two peices of toast with a light swiss (laughing cow brand) spread (think cream cheese, but smoother and more flavorful) spread as thick as one serving would allow. Warm wheat toast and cold creamy swiss cheese and a bottle of water to get started on my 64 oz. for the day.

Yum. :)

Edit: it's worth mentioning that one of the factors to the overall healiness is that the bread we use now is an uber-healthy sara lee whole wheat honey bread. Very very tasty and healthy. I highly recommend it. Also, in the future I may add an apple to the mix. :)

SYTYCTour

There are lots of things I have to post about, but most of them take a great deal of thought and consideration, and right now I'd rather just squee.

Months ago I bought tickets for my mom and I to go to the So You Think You can Dance tour when it came to Austin. Well last night was when, and we went.

It was pretty fantastic. I was hoping for some new dances, but that didn't happen. It was, however, with only one notable exception, all of the best/my favorite dances of the season. I cried 3 times- 3 numbers were especially cry-worthy. It was awesome. I must say that my favorites were indeed impressive. Twitch danced something like 8 dances plus a solo plus group routines. Crazy!

I have to say, though, the dancer that was most impressive to me was Chelsi Hightower. She was my favorite girl of the season already, but while everyone else seemed a little weak under the weight of the 2-hour show, or not as precise without the loom of competition, Hightower was precise. Every time she was on stage I couldn't gelp but say "ooh" and "holy crap!" the girl is amazing.

Anyway. That's all for now. I'm working on re-establishing myself as human, actually doing thinggs instead of just thinking about them, and drinking lots and lots of water.

Adios. :)
Tactic: a plan, procedure, or expedient for promoting a desired end or result.

Strategy: a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result

...


I'm afraid that Senator McCain doesn't understand that there's no difference between a tactic and a strategy.

(Definitions via Dictionary.com)

Sep. 22nd, 2008

I have officially used up all of my "be productive before noon" energy- which is good 'cause it almost is noon.

I woke up late, took a shower, got dressed in a huge rush, and went to school without my laptop. Went to the computer lab and stared longingly at the St. Ed's website until I realized that I had confused the deadlines and that there is a deadline for spring transfer admission, and that it is November 15th... much better than October 1, which is next week and freaks me out. (I'm looking at you, UT.)

Now, it's been true for some time that I want to go to St. Ed's but I planned to go to UT. I have now decided that's kind of stupid and while I'm still rushing to get my UT application in, I'm much more anticipating hopefully getting into St. Ed's. So I write an e-mail to Tracy Transfer (as I will call her) who is the transfer counselor at St. Ed's and once that's finished I write a very angsty letter to my mom about how the deadline for application to UT is in a week and I haven't gotten my letters of recommendations and my essays just don't seem good and I don't want to go there anyway... and as soon as I finish that Tracy Transfer has e-mailed me back. I love people who are as glued to their e-mail as I am. It makes me so happy to receive responses to e-mails minutes after sending them. Someday I will have a blackberry not to take calls on, but to have my e-mail alerted to me like txting. *nerd*

So this email says to call her. So I do, and she says she can see me TOMORROW and that I can take a tour of St. Ed's first and that I can bring Sylvia and all that jazz.

So I call my Grandmother and ask how we can work out transportation and she says something about gas money and how if my dad can pick up the boys from school... So when she stops complaining about stuff I don't get, I call my dad and (Yes!) he can pick up the boys from school! Sucess!

So tomorrow I will go take a test I am moderately confident will be fine so long as I don't play WoW tonight for more than an hour and study instead, go to one more class, pick up my adorable child and rush down to St. Ed's where I will take a tour, have a meeting and increase my chances of getting into the school I actually want to go to.

And now I'm spent until I fill myself with a pre-english class bagel.

Sep. 15th, 2008

I want to tell you about some friends of mine.



I met Pace and Kyeli over a year ago, at a mutual friend’s birthday party. I spent a good portion of the evening chatting with them, and friended them on live journal the very next day. I had heard about them through friend’s blogs so much that they were nearly home-town famous. I began reading their live journals and realized that they were pretty awesome.

Six months later I ended up interviewing Pace for a school project. She had led a very different life than I had, and was unbelievably generous with her time and history. She communicated to me a great and precious understanding of herself, and allowed me to, through her, open the minds of several of my classmates to the humanity behind people who are ridiculed and feared in our culture. Pace and Kyeli not only taught me, but gave me the tools with which to teach.

Sixth months later (about two weeks ago…) they allowed me to be one of the editors of their book. The book is the result of a workshop they give that they are turning into their full-time career project, The Usual Error, which helps to guide people to better communication styles. That night, I began reading immediately, with the intention of reading through once and marking only things that confused me (I never got to attend the workshops, so I don’t come to it with any previous knowledge, and thought that might be a valuable perspective, with the intention of a second reading devoted to the more editor-y job). I liked what I was reading and babbled on to Joshua as we were falling asleep that night.

The next morning Joshua woke up before I did, and I vaguely remember (though at the time I was sure I was dreaming) Joshua sitting on the bed beside me reading the book as I had the night before. I worried in my half-awake state that he might not be on the “approved” list of editors, but SleepyGreen is incapable of speaking, so I fell back asleep and he continued reading. When I really woke up, he was downstairs and the book was back where I had left it. I must have been dreaming.

One week later (and two days ago) Joshua and I were having a fight. I had asked him how he felt about something, and he shrugged and stared at me. This is his way of saying “I have no strong feelings, do what you want” which is usually convenient, but leaves me in horrible doubt that I am not doing what he wants, or that I’m controlling or manipulative.. Because his lack of firm opinions or even desire to discuss his vague opinions leaves me in a place of doubt and anger, we have had many fights over the course of our relationship about this. They generally go like this:

“What do you think?”

“*shrug*”

“…No, really.. What do you think?”

“*shrug*”

“Damnit, Joshua! Will you give me something to go on?”

“Do whatever you want.”

“That’s not how we’re supposed to do things! I can’t make every damn decision! At least give me some ideas so I don’t feel like I’m doing everything alone!”

“*shrug*”

At which point I generally storm off and don’t talk to him until he comes to me, half an hour later, with an idea. In our communications this is the most hurtful cycle we get into. He doesn’t care, and I refuse to do things without his input. And by input, I generally need more than one sentence.

So we’re having this fight (again) and in one of the periods where I wait for him to say something and he stares at me like I’m crazy, he pulls the box that has The Usual Error book in it off the shelf and hands it to me. He puts his hand on the box and tells me that I’ve had dinner with his family, and I know what they’re like. His father alternates between not being around to take the responsibility for decisions regarding the kids, or talking and not listening. From what I understand his mom made most of the decisions that he saw happen growing up, and when talking with his dad it was best to just shut up and let the man talk until he let you leave.

By this point, I was crying. It was more than Joshua has ever said during a fight, and it’s what I’ve wanted all along. Him to talk to me in complete sentences. I explained how talking goes in my family: with my dad we never talked about serious things. We talked about television, movies, and politics. We had a bad relationship. These two facts are not necessarily connected, but the coincidence means I associate non-talking with having a bad relationship. I have a good relationship with my mom, and we have a tendency to talk at great length- for hours back and forth, almost giving speeches. For Joshua, talking is dangerous, and a cue to shut up and listen until you’re released. For me, it’s a comfort. For me, talking is a release.

So for two and a half years I have been trying to force Joshua to talk to me, and he’s been just as frustrated not understanding why it bothered me that he listened and didn’t talk. In his mind, he was listening, and wasn’t that what I wanted? In my mind, I was doing all the talking, and it meant I was selfish, even if he didn’t want to talk- it was my fault for not letting him.

I haven’t finished reading the book. The book is not yet published, not yet in its complete edited version, and already it has put us on the path to addressing and fixing our largest roadblock to communication.

And that’s why I want to tell you about these people. They aren’t just my friends. They are the uber-cool awesome people I’d totally want to be friends with after reading their book. I have been so blessed to get to know them. You should get to know them, too.

PaceAndKyeli.com

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