Connecting and Disconnecting

WARNING: Contains Sad

 

It has been a really rough June for me, and I am very ready for it to be over. I know that there is only about a week left, but that seems too long.I have been so incredibly busy finishing up my degree. I am taking two grad summer classes at the same time. One is a 6-week class and the other is a 4-week class. I spend so much time doing homework that my back aches from being on the computer all of the time. I will be done with my classes on July 1 and will have earned my Masters. While this is exciting in the abstract, it isn’t real enough. When June is over, it will be real.

The beginning of the month my aunt in Colorado passed away. It was a complete surprise. Two weeks earlier, I was sitting at her dining room table laughing and realizing how much she meant to me, how she was a huge part of my life growing up. You forget things like that when you live 10 hours away and always have things to do that don’t involve visiting other people. I left there, promising myself that I’d get out there more often. I still plan on doing so, but it will have to be to visit other family. She won’t be there.

I was there with my cousins and my uncle as they prepared everything for the memorial. It was bittersweet watching them comb through photographs, remembering and sharing stories. I was a part but also apart from them. They were my close family when I was a kid. We spent pretty much every weekend torturing each other, but we always knew that we had each other. When we moved away between my freshman and sophomore year, we lost touch. We all were wrapped up in our teenage lives, learning who we really were, and preparing for adulthood. Now, 25 years later, it is pretty much impossible to get back to that closeness, especially living so far away.

I miss that sort of connectedness. I need it desperately. I don’t know how to find it. I really don’t know how to keep it. My heart aches because I don’t have it.

I realized that, if I were to die today (knock on wood, pour salt over the shoulder, horseshoes, and luck rabbit’s feet that I don’t), there would be few people who would mourn me. I’m not saying that I don’t have people who love me, and I am not trying to say that the people who love me don’t matter. It’s just that I have so few people in my life. My immediate family would be unconsolable. I don’t make friends easily because I don’t trust people not to hurt me. The friends that I do have seem to move on. In my brain, I understand that it is normal for people to outgrow each other, but my heart still hurts when they withdraw.

I am sure this macabre thinking has a lot to do with exhaustion and the grieving process. So much of my life is uncertain right now. So far, I’ve been able to face it with optimism. Right now, though, I am just tired and wishing that I had a big group of friends and family to take my mind off of everything. I want to be connected.

I just don’t know how to make it happen and that scares me.

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Eyebrow Wax, Anyone?

I went to get a pedicure with my mom, niece, and daughter this week. We haven’t done it in a while, and it was so much fun hanging out with them. My niece– a stunning 15-year old– has grown into quite an amazing young lady, especially since she was only 11 last year.

My experience was better than theirs, though. I had the best nail tech ever. It was absolutely fabulous. Here are highlights from conversations with the lady who was doing mine:

Conversation #1
LADY: You need wax eyebrows?
ME: No, thank you.
LADY: No, you NEED wax eyebrows. I will do.
ME: No. I like my eyebrows the way they are.
LADY: [looks at me with the you-are-a-crazy-lady look]

Conversation #2
LADY: You have too much. [pointing to my heels and tut-tut-tutting]
ME: Pardon?
LADY: [showing me the dead skin in the callous-removal-tickle-torture device] You have too much. You need to put vaseline and socks. [shakes head with disbelief]

Conversation #3
LADY: [leading me to the front] You sure you don’t need eyebrows?
ME: I’m pretty sure I don’t.
LADY: [looks at me with the you-are-a-crazy-lady look again]

I know that some people would find this offensive, but I don’t. I figure that she cared enough about my beauty to get a little bit tetchy about it. Plus, it gave me wondrous blog fodder.

__________

My first post since January and it is one about a pedicure. WTF? I have had tons of ideas, just not the time to sit and write them down. They’re still running around in my brain and will come out soon. Enjoy this in the meantime. I know I did. 🙂

For Jen

My best friend’s birthday is coming up, and I want to give her a gift.  The thing is, purchasing presents causes me some anxiety. Okay, tons of anxiety. I always want everything to be so perfect that I become inert, unable to decide anything. How do you purchase something for someone who means so much to you? How do you communicate to them the joy you have because they are in your life?

I am complete crap at buying presents. We didn’t have much money so gifts were homemade– and not like “Oh! WOW! Did you make that?” kind of homemade. More like the “Uh, thanks?” type. I never had the chance to practice buying gifts, and doing so is awkward for me. The ideas don’t come and then I feel like I am a horrible person because I have no ideas. Silly, right?

Anyway, I am not super crafty, so I can’t make her something. Well, I guess I could make her something, but I want her to remain my friend. I was considering making her one of those pasta necklaces; you know, the kind with the paint on so you can match them to what you are wearing? I could even put glitter on it! No? Okay.

Then I thought about buying her some little doodad that would make her smile. For about ten minutes until she remembered that it would need to be dusted. She is also a minimalist. Her apartment is warm and uncluttered. I love going there and hanging out in a place so opposite from mine. I’m blaming hubby and the daughter, because I *always* put my things back where they belong. Yeah. Sure

Then I realized that I am forgetting about something I can do for her. I will write her a birthday present. So, here goes:

________________

Jen,

I thought I knew what being a best friend was all about. After all, I’ve had many special people in my life that I counted as best friends, but they were momentary. I enjoyed my time with them and love them still today, but they were there for only a season. You have taught me so much about friendship and life.

For someone younger than I am, you have so much wisdom. Your steadiness balances my anxiety. When I am freaking out over something, you plainly state your opinion with no judgement. You give me time to process what you’ve said. You don’t preach. You don’t try to solve it. You just listen.

You accept me for who I am. You don’t get upset if we don’t talk to each other for a while. You understand that I need time alone to renew myself. You understand because you are the same. It is so nice to have the freedom to be who I am, to not stress about whether or not I’ve hurt your feelings. You *get* me. I never thought that would happen. Never.

You encourage me to try new things. Even when I am reluctant. And somehow, I end up doing them. I don’t like new things– they stress me out. Your patient persistence has opened my eyes to so much. I’m still not going back to Goodwill with you, though. Adventures with you aren’t as scary as adventures alone. Thank you for stretching my boundaries.

We share so much. You make me laugh. I make you laugh. We share a similar twisted sense of humor. It is totes adorbz, btw. We are awesome, be-yoo-ti-ful ladies. We both love songs with the f-word in them. We are both introverts who are learning about ourselves. I learn so much from you.

You’ve helped me in my journey to self-acceptance.

I have been made better because of my time with you. I am thankful every day that I was one of your mentor teachers and that you stuck with me, convincing me that I really *was* worthy of a reciprocal friendship. I love you, my bff.  You are frikkin’ amazing. ❤

Elizabeth

P.S. Natalie told me to tell you that you are pretty, too. And you are really nice. And you are really sweet.

Remembering

I realize that my posts have been few and far between and, when I do post, they aren’t the most upbeat. I guess I am in a time of reflection, but I do believe that it is passing. I’ve already got many ideas about fun and happy things to write about. Until then, I’m going to leave you with this.

________________________________________________________________________

Today we went to the Veteran’s cemetery where my father-in-law is buried. We wanted to see the holiday wreaths that decorated the headstones. Our plan was to drive through, not stopping. When we got to where Bill is buried, my munchkin wanted to visit his grave. Even though it wasn’t part of our plan.

My daughter walked (almost) straight to his grave. She was so happy to see it. She hugged the headstone, laying her head on top of it. When she was done, she gave it a kiss. Then she popped up like a typical six-year old and bounced off, light and happy.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt that cemeteries are morbid places. I don’t really find comfort visiting them. It amazes me that my daughter feels closer to her grandfather when she visits his grave. It is a concrete reminder that her grandfather was really there and that he loved her completely. Going to visit him is easier with her there.

I’ve always wanted to be cremated. I don’t think that putting my body in the ground is a good use of our limited land resources. I wanted to be cremated and forgotten. I didn’t want any sort of memorial headstone or marker to remind people that I was alive. I thought that the memories of me would be enough.

I think I’ve changed my mind. Maybe my daughter or husband or whoever may be comforted by a physical reminder of my presence on this planet. Maybe I was being selfish because of my own views of cemeteries. It’s something to think about.

Sorry I’ve been gone but my days are just too long

Dearest blog readers,

I know I’ve not been posting lately, but I have a really good reason this time. School has started. Usually August is a time when I am completely engrossed in getting my classroom ready, lesson planning, and jumping through all of the other hoops that teachers need to do at the beginning of the school year.

I am tired.

I miss writing on my blog, but most of my creative energy is being consumed by the need to get the school year going. Hopefully I’ll get it under control soon.

Anyhoo… Please don’t forget about me while I get everything situated. I’ll be back as soon as I can with entertaining posts about life and running a classroom full of ninth graders!

Oh, I’ll leave you with some words to ponder:

Wise words from Ser George Carlin

How Twitter Saved my Life

When I tell people that I use Twitter, they either get a glazed look in their eyes or look at me like I am crazy. They imagine me sitting on my couch, tweeting things like “Oh, my cat just crawled on my lap, how cute” or “today I am going to have pizza for dinner” or even “boy, do I have to go to the bathroom. Don’t worry, I’ll take you with me.” To be honest, I felt the same when I first signed up for work.

You see, Twitter was supposed to be a way to develop my own PLN a.k.a. a professional learning network (education loves acronyms). I was going to follow a million, kabillion master teachers and bask in the glory of their tweets. Through this network, I was going to strengthen my professional life and become the best teacher I could ever be. Go me!

I followed teachers, then I followed teachers they followed, and then I sat and waited. And waited. I tried following one of the many edchats that occur regularly but, as a twitter noob, they went so fast and I couldn’t understand what they were talking about. I tried to read every single comment and was quickly overwhelmed. This was not a good thing for me. I unfollowed almost everyone and stopped checking my twitter account. I did not see the use of it.

Move forward a couple of months. I decided to try it again. This time I didn’t follow any teachers. I started following celebrities– Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Through them I discovered the Bloggess. It wasn’t so bad to lurk all over them. They had so many followers that my silent stalking would go unnoticed. Then I realized that they were REAL people. Granted, I squee whenever one of them RTs me or even remotely recognizes that I am alive. In fact, following these wonderful people actually helped me get supplies for my classroom. I wrote a post about it if you want to see it. Thus began my education in the way Twitter works. Understanding how to use it has changed my life.


I know, so stereotypical.
It was the only think I could think of.

You see, because of my feelings of social awkwardness, I find it difficult to talk to other people. I always feel imperfect and judged and stuff. It is not comfortable for me in social situations.  This severely limits the number of friends that I have made. Twitter was a place where I could be myself without having to be near someone. I could interact with people and not have to worry about them judging me or, if they did, they would be able to just unfollow me. After all, they weren’t REALLY people.

The thing is, as I learned more about using social media, I realized that I can truly create friendships with other people. When I first started blogging, my friend Amy at Lucy’s Football gave me the encouragement I needed to continue. When I couldn’t write or tweet because I was having extreme anxiety, she was not upset with me when I cam back. Instead, she acted as if I had never disappeared. I don’t recall ever feeling that sort of acceptance from any person not in my close family.

Through my contact with Amy, I learned that people aren’t going to hate me if I go away for a bit. They will also remember me when I come back. If they don’t, meh, who cares. Through this interaction with others, I was able to gain confidence in my friend-making abilities. I have been putting myself out there and cultivating the itty bitty buds of friendship IN REAL LIFE! I’m still a bit skittish about trying to meet new people, but I’m getting better. In fact, one of the real life friendships I’ve developed over the year has made me so happy. In Jen, I have found a friend who is not demanding but still likes to spend time with me. She’s a wonderful person who gets my fears and feelings of ineptitude about friendship. And she *doesn’t* care. We have fun when we are together; sometimes I forget to breathe because I’m laughing so hard. This might not have occurred if I hadn’t learned how to be a friend through Twitter.

Geez, this is long. It was much simpler in my head when I started organizing. Bear with me, you guys!

Last week, I had to go to a retinal specialist. My eye doctor thought that I might be on the verge of a detachment. That is some scary ish, I’m not gonna lie. I went straight to my Twitter family and asked them whether or not they’d experienced a retinal detachment. Even though none of them had, they immediately offered me support. My friends were there when I needed them. People think that friendships made through social media aren’t real. I know that they are.

So, thanks to Danielle, Megan, Amy, and Bridget for taking the time to be there for me when I really needed you. Thank you, Jen, for making the time to take me to the retinal specialist so I didn’t have to go on my own. You have all touched my life in such a positive way.

You guys deserve a sunshine award.

Go you, lightbringers!

Merida: A New Princess?

My daughter and I went to see the movie Brave on its opening day. The first time I saw the trailer, I’ve wanted to see this movie. Even more than I want to see Magic Mike! Inorite? Whodathunk? There’s not even a hawt guy in it (Oh no! I seemed to have slipped into teen-speak right there. Ops. I must be missing my little rapscallions. Apologies, dear non-judgemental readers.). My daughter wanted to see it even more than I did. She would ask to see it every time she saw the movie trailer. We went. We loved it. We wanted to see it again. The girl usually tells me about all of her favorite parts of movies that we see. She essentially retold the entire movie. It was good. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

However, that is not the point of this post.

I started doing some research after the movie to see what others thought of it. I was shocked at some of the responses I found. Many blog posts and articles that had a feminist slant bashed the movie. Here I was, thinking that Merida was a fabulous alternative to the typical swoon-and-wait-for-rescue princess. She takes matters into her own hands. She’s brave, strong, and determined. Merida can take be victorious when faced with danger and stands up for what she believes in. In essence, I loved her and was excited when my daughter began to emulate her.

Apparently I had it all wrong. There are so many things wrong with Merida.

  • She’s a princess (gasp)!
    • Some of the writers hated the fact that she was a princess. (They suggested that she be a serving girl or a toaster or something. A frikken’ toaster! I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really been able to relate to inanimate objects, no matter how likable they are.) *Warning: Nerdiness approaching* At the time that the movie is set, the only women who had any leisure time were those of noble birth. She would have to be a princess in order to have enough spare time to have an adventure.
  • Merida wears dresses.
    • Once again, time-appropriate clothing. A serving girl would have had to wear a dress as well. Not sure about the toaster, though.
  • Her hair is too unrealistic.
    • Ummm… so is Lady Gaga’s but she is still seen as a strong woman. Plus… animated. Duh.
  • She does “boy” things and they are celebrated.
    • Their concept of boy things is shooting a bow and riding a horse. This seems anti-feminist if you ask me. I know plenty of women who are masters at archery and are expert equestrians. Why are these boy activities?
  • She has a simple problem and all she does is have to fix it.
    • If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the conflict in it is anything but simple. Character development occurs in both major female characters. I guess it isn’t conflict enough unless you have to beat down “the man.”
  • There are men in the movie.
    • Okay, maybe this comment wasn’t said outright, but still. I get so tired of some feminists being anti-men. Men are essential to life. Literally and figuratively. I would not be the strong woman I am today without the influence of some of the men in my life. Yes, there are some men who are jerk-faces. Guess what? Some women are jerk-faces as well. Get over the man-hate, please. It ruins my love everyone vibe.

Part of my frustration is that this is a movie in which a young girl stands up for herself and solves her problems with a little help. Isn’t this how we want our daughters to behave? Why in the world should this movie aimed at children be expected to change the world for women everywhere? Let them be children for a while. I was allowed to do so and I turned out okay.