1. I don't like being read aloud to - I'd much rather read something for myself. I also don't like reading out loud. I do read to my children, but not as much as many parents do, I'm sure. I think this is because I'm a fast reader, and I hate receiving information slower than I could get it myself.
2. Sometimes when I'm driving, I worry that I'll run into an invisible car. I'll be driving along, and turn left, and ram into a car, only it won't be my fault, because it was invisible - not that I just didn't see it, but truly invisible. For some reason, this has never happened so far.
3. Every time I see a police officer while driving, I also get very nervous, and start coming up with a dialogue of how I'll explain to him why it wasn't my fault that I did X, regardless that I feel very strongly about keeping the speed limit, and try never to disobey any traffic laws.
4. Except once when I was young and stupid and dating Avram, and had borrowed my sister's car which had been in a car accident, and one car light had been hit. I drove it home from his apartment after dark, because I couldn't pull myself away until then (yes, I was young and in love....), and as I was driving home, I just knew a police officer would see me, and pull over (can the Spirit warn you when you're dumb and breaking the law?) Sure enough, one did pull me over, and came up to lecture me. A few lines in to our conversation, where we were exploring how dumb I was, he got called by the dispatcher to a scene that needed all of the police available, immediately. So he looked at dumb me, and told me to drive straight home, and not drive at night anymore in that car. And he left, and drove off.
5. Sometimes I even come up with scenarios where I'm going to be sent to jail by a police officer, and I'll have to find someone to come and take my kids. The other scenario I explore while driving is that I'll die, or that Avram will die. And then I plan everything out, because planning for catastraphies makes me feel better. I realize that the last four points make me sound like I'm slightly crazy. I promise I'm very in possession of my faculties.
6. But on the subject of slightly delusional, I like to pretend that someday I'm going to write novels. I have the beginnings to five novels in my head, that I periodically talk about or explore with Avram. One novel is straight fantasy based on an ancient Mediterranean city states with a dual sun god and moon goddess, where the main character is a head priestess for the moon goddess, who is then let go from her (lifelong) position, one is 18th century British fantasy, where the heroine is jolted out of her mourning for her dead husband by deep intrigues on the part of his magical family, one is a dystopic future where Vampires have blood farms or blood plantations they keep full of humans - the main character is a 'progressive' vampire and her plantation is moved to rebellion by a human against her, and one is a memoir type novel written by an old lady who has a strong voice and a fascinating past (it's not fantasy at all - it's my attempt at a great American novel). I also like to think that I'll write a memoir of my own childhood, or a fictionalized account ala Little Women.
7. I've only written two pages at most at a time for any of these novels. Every time I have ever written anything, I'm mostly just amazed at how ridiculous it sounds, and then I freeze up and can't write a word. So I think I'll probably in truth just remain a consumer of the written word.
8. Obviously the above mentioned doesn't apply when I write blog posts. I can essay my fingers to the bone, and never mind. Somehow I think the selling of essay books went out with Montaigne, so I'll have to keep with the blog writing.
9. I think I'm secretly a fascinating person, with a fascinating life, and if I could just get this conveyed somehow, everyone else would see this too. I say this, despite the fact that my current claim to fame might be that I'm currently writing this while simultaneously nursing Enoch.
10. I nurse Enoch without a cover. I nurse Enoch (and everyone post Lydia) at Church in sacrament meeting, at Ikea in the sample rooms, in Walmart and Meijer, while getting my van's oil changed, in the park, at restaurants, while teaching my primary class, in story time at the library, and basically anywhere I happen to be with a hungry baby. I only cover up when I'm wearing an shirt that doesn't stretch well. (And when teaching the class, since I'm usually triple tasking at that point.) I've never had a single person comment on it negatively. Most of the time I can tell people don't even realize I'm nursing at all.
11. I also cloth diaper, and try and eat more locally, and I only buy free range eggs and free range chickens (because I think they are the worst treated animal in the agribusiness field). And garden. And make homemade whole wheat bread every week, and have had four natural births, one of which was a water birth. So I seem a little crunchy.
12. But I also buy lot-fed every other animal. And when I eat out, I eat chicken without even thinking. And I vaccinate my children (I even believe in ideologically). And I buy bread all throughout my pregnancies and post pregnancy until I feel like baking. And I have a strong distrust and disbelief of homeopathic medicine, and don't use any, and when I was pregnant I tried doing the hypnobirthing exercises with Avram, but I couldn't stop laughing, I thought that the idea of hypnotizing myself was so ridiculous (although I think other people do manage it) . Ultimately, I think people can't fit in in a box of "crunchy" or "granola."
13. Avram and I have never had a TV hooked up for TV (just for movies). The only TV show I have followed since high school was Design Star, which I watched online last summer with Lydia and Eliseheva when I was 7-9 months pregnant. I don't like TV.
14. I also don't like watching movies very much - I'd much rather read.
15. I like reading design blogs, and think about how to design my house a lot. I like doing a casual cottage style with a homey vibe, but nothing that embraces old rusty farm implements on the wall - I like function and beauty to meet together; for example, we have a large map on our living room wall.
16. I took up throught AP calculus in high school, and got a four on the test, but have never had a math class since then, and now I can't remember a single thing from that class except that calculus was magical in a way.
17. I pick up crafty hobbies for a little while, and then get bored and drop them. I've knitted, sewed (more than once), scrapbooked, done felted wool, and I don't do any of them right now. Around 18 months ago I declared that I am not a crafty person, and haven't done a crafty thing since then. I've loved it.
18. The hobbies that have stayed with me my whole life are reading, blogging (I haven't left emotionally, I just can't write without mental and physical peace), cooking, and people.
19. I love people. I love seeing people, talking with people, going to parties, and having people come to my house. One of the hardest things for me as a SAHM has been the very reduced amount of people I see day to day.
20. I talk a lot, which isn't enough to be a something about me, because you all already knew that. What you may not know is that I love vibrant conversations. I love two people talking to each other - getting in the middle of each others' sentences, talking (and listening) at the same time, going on tangents that lead to new subjects and then jumping back to old long dead subjects in an instant. I don't mind being interrupted in the slightest, but I also don't mind interrupting. Too bad most of the world does.
21. I do not like monologuing, nor having a conversation with someone who never talks. It makes me uncomfortable, and I talk more, but not in a sharing, happy way, but more in a panicked, why-aren't-they-saying-anything way.
22. I also love big group conversation dynamics, the ebb and flow of a ton of people all together. I love hearing my big family all get together and talk for this reason. It's ca-razy, and you can't hear yourself think, but it's also very synergistic and energizing.
23. I played classical guitar as a child, but the only song I can still play on the guitar is Greensleeves.
24. I'm not much of a music person. I rarely listen to music, although I'm trying to change this - one of my New Year's goals is to try and listen to a CD a day. I did not achieve this goal today.
25. When I do listen to music I like songs that I can understand the words in, and are singable to, and that tell stories instead of mooning over love all the time, with lots of repeating choruses. I like bluegrass, some country, folk, hymns, and any genre that intersects between these the most.
26. My favorite movie is While You Were Sleeping. I've watched it so many times I can quote from all parts of it. This is more memorable, because see above, I don't usually like movies very much.
27. I've always wanted to live next to the sea, preferably somewhere like Cornwall or the Coast of Maine, or the Puget Sound. I want to live somewhere where I could see the ocean, and walk along the rocky coast (I seriously imagine me doing this all the time). I want to smell it in the air, and collect shells in my house, and have clam bakes and chowders, and watch the rolling storm clouds move in, and see the sun rise (or set) every morning (or night). I also think none of the above will ever happen in any life I can realistically see me living.
28. When I was a kid I saw myself as a mix between Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls. I thought I had been born in the wrong century, and I used to lie in my backyard, which was once where George Q. Cannon's orchard was in Salt Lake City, Utah, and close my eyes and will myself to wake up a hundred or a hundred and 50 years previously and live my life out among the pioneers.
29. I also used to constantly pretend that I was moving back to England to live with my Aunt on the Moors. I would talk to myself, and pack up my belongings, and walk around outside.
30. I would also sing in my play out in the backyard, as part of my own musicals. I was kind of a loner for play, but I loved it that way.
31. I was also convinced that my stuffed animals were alive, and would jump into my room super fast, to try and catch them moving. I never cared much for dolls, that I only gave the name Sarah to, but I had a whole kingdom of stuffed animals, with a king and queen bear, and little baby prince bear who had his own stuffed dog he rode on around my bedroom.
32. I had a very, very large imagination as a child. I'm not sure what that gets channeled into now...maybe reading? Maybe roleplaying? Maybe I need more hobbies that aren't just being a mom?
33. I cried the evening when I first left the temple after receiving my own endowment (not to switch topics on you, but I was getting a little sad I couldn't be a kid anymore, so I'm focusing on adulty things). I loved being in the temple, I loved the endowment, and I loved the celestial room, and afterwards I really felt that I was in such a dreary world, full of things like driving, and getting dinner from Taco Bell, which could make anyone cry. After Avram and I drove back to Provo from Jordan River, where I received my endowment, I crawled over to the passenger seat where he was sitting, and curled up in his lap, and cried about how I didn't want to leave the temple. (Note for anyone who may have stumbled on this blog - I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, and I am referring to Mormon temples).
34. The temple is the favorite part of my religion. I love it, I love all the ordinances, I love the insights it has given me in women and priesthood, the plan of salvation, and the eternities. I love the white clothes, and soft voices, and someday I want to be a temple worker. It's where I receive inspiration most clearly, and where I feel the Spirit the strongest.
35. Missionary work is my least favorite part of my religion. I struggle with telling others about things that truly matter to me. My religion and my beliefs in God and Jesus Christ are the most important beliefs I have - and the hardest for me to talk about with others.
36. I also really struggle with talking about politics in public (or facebook). Or my true thoughts on lots of controversial subjects. Although I also am not very political - I have lots of thoughts on a few political subjects, and almost no thoughts on most.
37. I do believe in voting, though, and I have researched my choices and voted in every election since I turned 18, except for the two years that I was living abroad, in Egypt and England respectively.
38. I don't like circumcision. Avram and I have had discussions about this that have ended in tears on both sides. Enoch is circumcised. I realized that there were some fights that weren't worth winning, and volunteered to lose. I still don't like it, though. It makes me sad every time I change his diaper. Someday I hope that if we adopt a boy, that he won't be circumcised.
39. I've always wanted to adopt a child or more someday since I was a teenager. Specifically, I've always wanted to do foster care, and then possibly adopt. Currently Avram and I are talking about possibly being doing with biological birth, and then trying harder to adopt later. I want a large family, which currently hovers at five to six kids.
40. I often hope I'll never be pregnant again. I've had postpartum hyperthyroidism and then hypothyroidism after the last two kids, and I've also felt postpartum depression. I wonder if the two are linked? Regardless, I don't feel like myself after a baby, and I feel like every pregnancy and recovery has been more hard.
41. I don't play with my kids. I've never been the kind of mom who gets down on the floor and pretends with my girls. I much prefer to set up situations for them to play with each other.
42. I don't like animals. Sure, I like going to the zoo. I think it's important to be good stewards of animals, and I like that other people have pets. I just don't like interacting with animals very much. Except the occasional cat. I realize this sounds in some circles like I am deficient as a person. I probably am.
43. In reference to number 28 and Anne Of Green Gables, Elisheva's middle name is Anne, after her. In some ways, I consider Anne to be one of my childhood friends. She used to talk to an imaginary friend in the glass in a piece of furniture, and I liked to think that somehow, my interacting with her went the other way, and we met in the middle. Ironically, I don't always like reading Anne books nowdays - she seems a little twee sometimes. And her positive attitude bothers me a little. I think currently I like the memory of them better.
44. I was in the medieval club at BYU, known as the Quill and the Sword, and this was where I met Avram - specifically we got to know each other in the cooking guild, where we tested Medieval feast recipes every Friday night.
45. Avram and I got engaged at the same time, but on different days, and on different continents.. (He was in America, and I was in Egypt).
46.I do almost all the driving in our family.
47. Every other week I play a Role Playing Game with Avram and three other guys. Currently we are playing Fading Suns, a game that is like DUNE. I enjoy roleplaying (which if you don't know what this is - imagine you're ten, and playing games, and (at least we did), you stop actually playing, and start telling each other what your character is doing, or saying, and then combine that with an improv group, along with dice that resolve skills/fighting, etc. and character sheets you're sticking to. Yeah, it's like that.
48. The way I show love the most is by time spent with people. It made me tend towards co-dependency in my college relationships. Also, this is why I don't think I could ever be in a marriage where my husband had a job that he traveled constantly for (if we ever got to that point, I'd probably go bonkers crazy, and he'd end up changing fields.)
49. One of my favorite desserts are Cinnamon Rolls. I love them, especially with fluffy cream cheese frosting. All of my favorite sugar items are baked goods - cakes, pies, etc.
59. I don't love most candy, I won't eat anything but dark chocolate, and even then I'd rather have it in a baked dessert/frosting, and I'm not a huge fan of ice cream.
60. I read fiction books around 100 pages an hour.
61. I deconstruct a lot of fiction that I read. I am almost the only person I know (Avram being the other), who is significantly bothered by the economic unrealities present in Panem in the Hunger Games (ie, the coal mining town that would supply enough power for absolutely nothing...). I once even wrote a whole, long blog rant about this, but didn't publish it. Twilight bothers me because the choices that are set up are not the ones played out, so it suffers from a disconnect of consequences (but doesn't realize it, so it's not like the book is knowingly playing with your expectations). Life of Pi is actually anti-religion, and no-one seems to realize this, including perhaps the author. Many novels come under my unrelenting eye for exacting standards. I tend to deconstruct movies a lot too - often to the point I can't enjoy them. Avram, bless him, is my audience for this. He is a patient, patient man.
62. Along with this tendency, plus the fact that I edit Avram's papers, and care deeply about sentence structure and the way that we convey ideas through writing, makes Avram think that I should consider becoming an editor. Although, please don't judge the quality of well-written sentences by those appearing in my blog. It's not enough for me to note that something isn't working well in a story - I have to think it out, play it out in my mind and through conversation, until I can pinpoint what exactly is going wrong, and where, and what should have been done instead (in my opinion).
63. One of the ways that I process thoughts is through conversation - talking things out. I have often talked to myself, although since being married, Avram is the more usual recipient for this. This doesn't always end well, when I'm talking to him while he's trying to go to sleep. (Usually we both enjoy talking things out with each other, don't worry. Also, I believe he doesn't remember this at all - ie, he was asleep.) This is, however, why I'm always a little bothered when people assume that there is one better way to be as a person, and silence is that way (or that talking should be reserved when you have something important or witty, or new, or interesting to say). Not that there can't be people like that - but they process the world differently than I do.
64. My current favorite color is aqua blue - like a light, or pale turquoise.
65. My favorite foods are lamb, cherries, watermelon, tuna melts (but not all at the same time).
66. I've lived in in six states (Idaho, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Virginia and Ohio), and two other countries (Egypt and England) in my life.
67. I attended Wayland Academy, a boarding school in Beaver Dam Wisconsin, for my junior and senior years of High School. I'm trying to think of a short way to contextualize that, but really, it was a pretty random thing in my life, too. They were recruiting, I saw it, and had spent my youth pretending to attend boarding schools in England, and so was hooked. I applied, got accepted, got a small scholarship, plus financial aid until we could afford to send me. It was a hard experience, but good for me growing up.
68. I will say that there are five kids in my family, or nine, or ten, or eleven, depending on the circumstances being discussed. All are true statements. (My mom had five kids. She got divorced and remarried, and my step-dad had custody of his daughters, with four at home. We all grew up together from when I was almost ten on. He had another grown up daughter that I didn't live with, which makes ten. And finally, I have an informally adopted adult sister added a few years ago into our family.)
69. One of my favorite singers is Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Al-Islam. I love his voice, no matter what he's singing. I also really like Peter, Paul and Mary.
70. I want to go back to school and get a master's degree, and then possibly a Ph.d., and teach at the college level.
71. Reading my Alumni magazine from my Alma Mater, BYU, often makes me feel inferior and lame, because I read about all these amazing women, doing these amazing jobs, plus having families, and I want to be like them. But then I worry that I'm not really as capable as I think I am, and that I won't be able to go very far professionally/academically. My inferiority complex knows no bounds when it comes to academics, although I've always been good at school, and I think I'm smart. I mean, I remember that I used to be considered smart back in high school and college - but that was a long time ago, now. Also, I've seen enough grad school first hand to know that just being smart isn't enough. But regardless I'm going to try anyway, because I feel like half a person when my only job is being a stay at home mom. (It's the stay at home part I struggle with, not the mom part.)
72. I'm also a confused person, because I deeply believe that for myself, and my family, I want to be at home when my children are young. I've been happier about this lately, by focusing on enjoying each moment, and not always looking for tomorrow, or feeling like all my yesterdays are creeping in a petty pace, day to day.
73. I like reading fantasy (my favorite fantasy author is Brandon Sanderson), classics (especially British works from the 19th century), "book club" books - ie modern thinking books. Really, I just love reading. And thinking from what I'm reading.
74. I find I do best in regards to how I feel about my religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when I'm doing, rather than thinking. When I read up on issues people have, or historical topics, or modern Mormon Feminists, or whatnot, I feel confused. When I attend church, teach my class, bear my testimony of what I know, attend the temple, serve others, visit teach, etc, I have purpose and meaning in my religious devotion. I feel calm.
75. Because of this I avoid public discussions, or any controversial topic about my religion on facebook, or anywhere on the Internet. Although sometimes the mischievous part of me goes and looks at them anyway, and then Avram has to deal with the cleanup while I hash out all my thoughts and emotions (see number 63).
76. Walking is my favorite form of exercise. Avram and I would walk all over Provo when we were dating, so that we could have privacy and talk. Everywhere from the Castle Ampitheater on the Mental Health Grounds to up on the mountain on what I called our rock (it's a big old rock above the tree streets) to up by the temple, out in west Provo, and many, many times around campus and south of campus. I still love going on walks with Avram.
77. I majored in Near Eastern Studies at BYU, and had an Arabic minor. I also went on a study abroad to Alexandria, Egypt, and I can safely say that this changed my life (it's how I decided to marry Avram.)
78. I prefer to wear skirts over pants almost all the time. I think they're more comfortable, and fun, and can dress up or down to fit any occasion. I don't like the feel of jeans, although I do wear them in the winter because they're warm, and while camping because they're durable.
79. I got an 800 on my verbal for the SAT. Which is a perfect score, and of course in life it means nothing, but hey, this is a list of a 100 things about myself, so I guess I can be pointlessly braggy, especially at this point, when most people have probably stopped reading. I got a 1500 total.
80. I didn't study for the SAT at all. The night before I did run through some sample questions, just to get the format down. However, in my ninth grade class my Latin teacher, who had also been an English teacher, told us about a student she'd had who had gotten an 800 on the SAT verbal, and who had done so by having a notebook that she had kept for years, where whenever she ran across a word she didn't know, she would write it down, and then look it up when convenient. I started a notebook like that then, and kept one for the next four years. So that probably helped, and could count as long term prepping.
81. And yet I didn't learn what the world heuristic meant until this last year, which is a real pity, because it's a humdinger of a word - not just another flowery adjective, but an actual concept difficult to express simply otherwise. Or Hermeneutics, which I learned after I completed college.
82. Although I'm not an athletic, out doorsy kind of person, I really like camping. I love being in nature, and campfires, and s'mores (made only with dark chocolate), and watching stars.
83. Speaking of star watching, I really love it. In college I used to go up with friends a half hour or so into the Provo Canyon and lie out in a public area/entrance to a state park, and watch the stars there. I had used to watch them on the edge of a field, but then a police officer came and found my friend Jarom and I and made us move off private property. Yeah, it was awkward to be found lying next to a boy, in the dark, in a field (just a meadow), by a police officer. If only because I was very aware what he was probably assuming about the situation, especially when we told him we were star watching. The truth is always more awkward than fiction.
84. Speaking of, I was once at a birthday party that was crashed by a SWAT Team. I don't know who felt more embarrassed - us, or them. Probably them.
85. I am anti Credit Cards. I don't believe in buying into a system that is designed to keep people in debt, even though I know there are those who 'beat' the system, and just earn the rewards. Just remember - those credit card companies are not non profits. They don't offer you those miles, or rewards, out of the goodness of their hearts. Also, people have been proven to spend more when using a credit card, then spend less using a debit card, and finally use the least comparatively when using cash.
86. When I first read Dave Ramsey, it was validating to hear a professional say what I had been saying for years about finance and money. We all have our things - I'm kind of anti-money. I think we all (including myself) think about it too much, say that it's the love of money that's evil, not money itself, but then, how many of us hate money? Avoid money? Also, we equate money too much with success in life. Anyway, that's my soap box.
87. My sister Mary and I talk on the phone several times a week while we clean our houses, for conversation. My sister Mary, Camilla and I will also do what we call 'sister chats' where we have a three way phone call. I love being able to talk to people while doing things like laundry or dishes.
88. I am horrible with technology. For someone born after PCs were invented, I don't have the natural skills to do diddly-squat on any mobile device.
89. I don't like to inadvertently give the wrong impression to people, and so I will often over explain an unimportant piece of background detail to a story, because I hate abridging something so that it sounds like some small detail was actually another small detail.
90. I was president of the Medieval club I was in in college my sophmore year. We had around forty members, and that year I had a larger leadership role than I'd had before or since. It was hard, but I liked it. I liked going through and organizing behind the scenes.
91. My freshman year I was also a double major with Comparative Literature, but I dropped that my sophomore year - I don't always like how people can over theorize books to death, particularly with weird buzzword lingo.
92. I know that I come across as a pushy purson, who is opinionated. A red/blue split on the color personality test.
93. But I'm not confrontational at all. I don't like directly facing off against someone. I also dread making phone calls, although they never seem to be as bad I as I fear.
94. Some of my favorite hymns are How Firm a Foundation and Be Still My Soul.
95. Up until I got married I was an avid journal writer. Somehow writing about all the boys I liked lost its appeal once I had just one husband....
96. If I could have three wishes, I would wish first that Avram would get a good tenure track job when he graduates (I'd prefer BYU, but I'd hate to force our future if we are meant to go somewhere else), second that I could achieve and maintain a good balance of housekeeping/parenting/working/life, and third that I would be accepted in going back to school, and would find the best field for me that I'd be great at, and would succeed in and love.
97. I don't consider myself a feminist, and a lot of creeds I read by feminists do not resonate with me, and mainly address issues/imbalances that I've never felt, or that I think are missing the main point. However, in the last year or so, I have come to a new awakening about how I feel about women in history (I think we got the short end of the stick), and although I can explain historically and culturally and biologically why that all happened, it still bothers me. It bothers me now that having children (which I think is important) is so much harder for women than men. It takes nine months of our life, plus then another year at least of nursing, and up to three years anciently, and four years even further back. And some feminist approaches - to just not have children, also bother me. I don't know a way to even know what the perfect balance would be for men and women, for our roles as parents and wage earners and nurturers.
98. I've told Avram before that I think in my perfect world, he would work 30-35 hours a week, and I would work 15-20. Too bad careers don't really come in those increments. Although being a part time adjunct faculty member would be close on my side, and I do love the flexibility that academics has for him, so that he is really a huge part of parenting our children as well.
99. I'm inecisive. I'm so indecisive that it's taken me over an hour to complete that last thirteen of these comments (which in turn has taken me two sessions weeks apart to do - man, 100 is a lot of items!). Even more indecisive, it took me months to decide to marry Avram. When we go out to eat, we commonly look up the menu first, and I decide what I'll order before I go, so that way I don't spend forever hemming and hawing over a couple of choices.
100. I won't let my kids have barbies. Or toys that light up and make noise. I'm kind of a Nazi mom, but I feel like the comparative silence in our home and lack of annoying strange shaped dolls that would always end up naked and with matted hair and cheap clothing more than make up for that. I like non licensed toys the best, that are open ended, by which I mean, generic legos instead of a specific set, or random dress up that becomes all sorts of things, rather than a Disney princess dress.
Friday, May 10, 2013
1. I don't like being read aloud to - I'd much rather read something for myself. I also don't like reading out loud. I do read to my children, but not as much as many parents do, I'm sure. I think this is because I'm a fast reader, and I hate receiving information slower than I could get it myself.
authoress Thora at 1:47 AM
Friday, March 1, 2013
Here is a story, called The Diamond Castle:
"Alexa and Liana are best friends. They love to sing. One day, they find magic stones. They make necklaces. They promise to be best friends always. Later that day, Liana and Alexa meet a poor old woman. The girls give her their lunch. The woman gives them an old mirror. At home, the girls sing. A third voice joins in. It is coming from the mirror! A girl named Melody is trapped inside.
Melody tells the story of the Diamond Castle Three muses lived there. But evil Lydia wanted to be the only muse. The two good muses hid the Diamond Castle. They gave Melody the key. Then Lydia turned the good muses to stone.
Now Lydia wants the key to the Diamond Castle. Lydia's dragon, Slyder, must find Melody. Slyder flies to the girls' cottage. They hide in the cellar. Slyder is right upstairs! They girls all escape.
Melody still had the key. She can save the muses. Alexa and Liana set out for the castle with the mirror. On the way, they find two puppies. They name them Lily and Sparkles. Soon the girls meet twin brothers. Their names are Jeremy and Ian. They want to help Liana and Alexa.
Lydia and Slyder look for Alexa and Liana. Slyder chases them! The twins rescue the girls just in time! Alexa and Liana rest at a manor. They find food to eat and they try on gowns. But the girls argue. Alexa wants to stay. Liana thinks they should keep going.
Lydia lures both girls to her cavern. She puts Alexa under a spell. Alexa is going ot fall! Liana and Lily save her. The girls are friends again. Now Lydia has the mirror. Melody is still inside! Lydia creates a whirlpool. She uses a spell to make the girls walk into it. But they trick her! Alexa grabs Lydia's magic flute. Liana saves the mirror from Lydia.
Alexa and Liana sing. Then the Diamond Castle appears! Singing was the key! Melody appears, too. She is free from the mirror! The Diamond Castle sparkles with magic. Lydia and Slyder turn to stone. The good muses are free.
Liana and Alexa become Princesses of Music. Their gowns sparkle. Liana, Alexa, and Melody are best friends always."
What if I told you that Lydia (first grade) had written the above story? You would be very impresses with the precociousness and inventiveness of a small child. Or what if this was a story from my childhood, maybe written when I was in third grade or so? You would still laugh over it, and think it was cute.
However, what if I told you that this was a published book, whose full title is Barbie & The Diamond Castle and is actually a badly done summary of a (I presume) badly done movie aimed at girls?
Now, I usually try and refrain from writing rants. And obviously, I didn't have to read the book - it came into this house because Elisheva gets to pick two books a week from the library, and this is one she picked. I'm usually a live and let live kind of person for femininity and girls things. By which I mean, that although I really dislike licensed products aimed to sell more products, I have nothing against princesses and pink and even boys sometimes rescuing girls. I like a lot of traditional fairy tales, which usually include at least one of the above mentioned tropes. Yet reading a book where the plot jumps around, includes random encounters (Old woman never explained! Puppies! Young men who disappear after two pages, providing a convenient save!), proceeds in an illogical manner (how do the girls escape the cellar? How do they trick Lydia and escape the spell? How come when they sing and Melody joins in, in the beginning the Diamond Castle doesn't appear at that point, and not later?), and digresses into trying on gowns as the big deterrent in the quest, gives me fits. A piece of writing that would be advanced and impressive for a first grader is pathetic for a published book, regardless whether they are hiding under the title of Barbie, are also a "step into reading" (and therefore simple) book, or even are a summarization of a movie.
And we feed these books to our children! I know that children have a large ability to intake media and not be overly influenced or damaged by it. Avram watched a lot of Heman as a child. I loved reading all hundreds of the baby sitter club books. We are still functioning humans, and he doesn't think it's normal to run around wearing what amounts to a diaper with straps for a grown man, and I never tried to make my own babysitter's club. Yet what we intake, becomes our normal. If nothing else, I hope that Elisheva, or Lydia, who read this book on her own, thinks that this constitutes a good story, a well written story. What really boils my blood isn't even the theme, the pink and all it entails, or any of the other women as objects moments - it's the bad writing. What kind of writer let these words be published, and put her name on this books! And this one was even personally adapted - I've seen books written by committee that are even more egregious. What kind of editors would pass this off into publishing? I know that writing summaries at best are sketchy, and try to avoid any movie to book adaptation, but still, one can have self respect for what one creates. Of course, if the movie is really bad, there isn't anything a summary could do to save it, so perhaps the adapter had nothing to work with, in which case we can extend this to what media in general are we feeding to out children.
One could say that the onus of this burden of protecting my child from the dreck lies with me, and you would be correct. I do like to let the girls pick at least one book a week that their little souls desire, without my strong opinions over-riding. Elisheva's soul just happens to crave princesses, ballerinas, Cinderella, fairies and pink/purple. Usually I try and guide this into the more folklore section, where last week we got two Cinderella books, one a retelling in Mexico, and one a retelling in the Caribbean. (Not that those stories weren't without issue either, but I recognize it's hard to make a version of Cinderella where she isn't a passive player that other characters act upon to tell the story.) This week my guard was down, and we ended up with Barbie & the lack of any talent, substance or worth book. I will not be so lax again.
authoress Thora at 10:30 AM
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Last night I had a dream straight out of the movie Family Man. I dreamt that I was married to my first college boyfriend, the missionary, the one who (spoiler) I dumped Avram for, and the one who (not very much a spoiler) I then broke off our tenuous understanding (I was in Egypt, long story....) and married Avram. We'll call him D, so I don't embarrass myself on Google searches. A note - sometimes in the past in my marriage I have had a bad tendency to think that although life is hard, and this husband and these kids are hard, that if I had married someone else, it would be easier. Oh, sure, logically I knew that milk would still spoil, and kids would still cry, but fundamentally I fuzzily thought it would be easier in some hand-wavium, romanticized-past sort of way.
Well, in the dream, just like in the movie Family Man, I woke up into an alternate life, one wherein D and I were married. I was basically the same age I am now, and it was, I presume, the parallel life I would have had. I knew that I was only in that life for a day or so, and I could still remember my normal life with Avram & Co. First off, we were living with D's parents. Yes. In a big old rambling house. I went downstairs to see my children, not really knowing who or what my children were. The two oldest were playing together in the basement family room. One looked up, and his name was Andy, and as I looked into his eyes, his sweet eyes that I couldn't completely reach, the soundtrack of my life ground to a screeching halt, and I realized he was autistic. He was fairly high functioning - he could talk and such, but was definitely autistic. He was my oldest, and in school, and half of the dream was spent discussing his IEP, and the most recent meeting we had had with the school about it. This wasn't how I had imagined my life - any life. In that life, I loved Andy furiously, but the part of me from this life was still in the back of my mind, noting how wrong this all was - autism isn't easy and isn't something you 'recover' from. Also, on less epic notes, I was thinking, "Andy - really? Andy? I'm more of an unusual namer (you may have noticed), and I'm pretty sure I would never name a child Andy." It wasn't until I woke up that I fully realized that D's middle name is Andrew - so I presume he was named after his father.
Then next to Andy, my second child, a daughter, looked up. And it was Elisheva. She looked just like Elisheva, and we had named her Elisheva in this alternate life as well. I sat there thinking that she must be her mother's daughter through and through. For half the dream I didn't know where, or who, my youngest was, but eventually I found him, a little baby boy on the cusp of toddlerhood, named Brandon. After Andy as a name, I wasn't as surprised that I had named a child Brandon, but I was still feeling like did I really know myself at all, and I admit, my first thought upon finding this out was that I couldn't believe I was one of those fans, who had named my child after my favorite author, Brandon Sanderson.
The dream progressed through the day/life. I felt awkward sharing my in-law's space, there was a large family gathering I felt overwhelmed in, and I was still trying to absorb my three children, not to mention that I was trying to figure out who I had become in this life. In all of that, the actual matter of my husband was relatively small. He was there, and solid, but not much happened with our relationship in that day - like real life as well, some days, with a busy family. I wanted to know more about who I was, and in lieu of any other recording that I could find, I looked over this other Thora's pinterest boards, scanning them to learn something of myself. I also looked hard for record of wedding pictures, which I found, and were nice. I pinned them to my pinterest boards. (I don't know where Facebook was - I guess I didn't use it?). Much of the dream was spent talking to D's sister, there for the family get-together, and surreptitiously trying to figure out my place in this family, in this life, this marriage, without sounding like I'd gone crazy, or forgotten my own children's names.
By the evening I felt very drained with all of this new life, and new burdens. I excused myself from the family, and pulled D along to bed early, where we first sat down to read a scripture program we were doing, that involved reading some set texts for twenty minutes a day (on our kindles - I was pretty high tech for me). Just a few minutes in, I was so exhausted from everything, and starting to fall asleep, that I had to cut it off and go to bed right then. This was another large moment for me in the dream. Back when D and I dated our freshman year, he was living with his sister and brother-in-law, and I would often join with them in a family scripture study. I had always assumed that a real, great strength of that would-have-been relationship would have been our steady as a rock scripture study. I felt so disappointed in myself in the dream, thinking that this was what our life was - I couldn't even stay awake during scripture study, we were living with family (for unknown reasons), I had a special needs child that although wonderful was also a lot harder than I had bargained parenting to be, and apparently I had developed a mundane taste in names (apologies to anyone with the name of Andy or Brandon - but I just like to be different with names.)
The dream progressed in so real a manner, that it never felt like a dream. The setting didn't suddenly change, the makeup of people didn't shift and change, no rampaging Unicorns nor impossible actions like falling from the sky and jumping up occurred. The dream just was.
I haven't really given a thought to the might have beens of other marriages in years, yet Avram and I did talk about the past briefly last night, which I supposed must have spurred that dream, although the small and crazy part of me likes to think - what if it really was a what if? It was a good reminder that life is hard - any life.
authoress Thora at 10:48 AM
Saturday, December 15, 2012
(Note - this was originally a facebook post, but then it was so long, I thought I might as well get free blog mileage out of it as well. The movement I mention you can search for on Facebook. The pants wearing day is tomorrow, December 16.)
Is anyone else have existential angst about pants? Pants pants pants pants? Here's the deal. I love, love, love skirts. I wore a skirt today. When the weather is warm, I wear skirts about 5/7ths of the time. In the cold I wear them less, mostly because I need to up my warm weather skirt and underclothing contingent, but it's still probably around 3/7 of the time. To all the people who say that they feel better wearing pants - that person is not me. I prefer skirts.
Also, tomorrow is a Wear Pants to Church Day. I am not of one mind on the topic. I suspect that many of the further aims of the All Enlisted group are not my aims, and not subjects I feel strongly about at all, and even some that I outright would disagree with them on (as they have not put more than general aims, I in turn cannot be more specific either). Even with this event, I do not think I really coincide on their point - I do agree that it is a cultural reason alone that women do not wear pants in America. After all Jesus Christ never wore pants in his life. But I also think that for most women in America their nicest clothing probably is a skirt or dress. And in all complete honestly, when women have worn pants to church in the past, I have always felt a little uncomfortable about it - not because I thought that there was a doctrinal reason they shouldn't be at all, but because I after all am American, and grew up in my church where I was, and where I was all women wore skirts. And as I love skirts, this seemed very right and natural to me.
I nothing else, over the last week I have taken a good, long hard look at pants and church and realized that I am the one that needs to change - not that I had ever, ever told someone they shouldn't wear pants. Not that I haven't reached out to them - if anything, I usually have tried to reach out even more, talk to them, introduce myself to them, precisely because I know that I am in the wrong and should get over it. And now I can say that I truly am more comfortable with the limitations of culture, and recognizing them as such.
I also am somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of making a statement at Sacrament meeting. But I know that for many, wearing pants is a sign of support and solidarity, and not a protest. I don't like the tone that much of the movement has - but here is the real crux - I much, much more don't like the tone of some of the people disagreeing with it. Many say things along the lines of what I have said, but there are some who I at least would never repeat, and would never want to think, either.
Ultimately, I think I would struggle to explain why I'm wearing pants when I don't even like them in the first place. However, after talking to a man in my ward tonight who's wearing purple tomorrow (I'm looking at you Nate), I think I will wear purple tomorrow as well. I do like purple (they are encouraging men to wear purple stuff in support). And I am in support of people, all people, coming to church, regardless of what they wear or don't wear (well, I'm not really seeing a nudist Mormon colony coming in this life...in the next though, I'd expect it. Clothing does not seem to be de rigouer in the eternities.)
authoress Thora at 10:27 PM
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Truth; I struggle with what I do every day. I love my children, but often I wish I had a job. But not now, because I know that a career will make things more complicated, and we won't have as much time. But I wish that I felt more fulfilled in what I do. Not in parenting. But in taking care of the house - in washing dishes, changing diapers, feeding kids three times a day (what, isn't one time enough?). I know that very few out there truly love doing laundry or dishes (Anne of Green Gables does, it's in a short story about Avonlea). And I try and tell myself that every job has its boring parts, its repetitive parts. And today was actually a really good day. Lydia was home sick because she threw up (for the last two days), but she felt better after throwing up this morning, so I spent the morning doing 'homeschool' with her and Elisheva watching on, and it was really fun. She read to me, we worked on reading lessons, Lydia entered the world of fractions with her first grade workbook while Elisheva wrote straight lines in her Preschooler workbook, and Guinevere wrote important work on the discarded sheets. I felt fulfilled today.
Avram and I were talking about how I feel like I both want more children, and I want to be done, so that in five years I can go back to school, and start living for myself. But that's not it either - I know that this family is my true self. It's Avram's true self as well - this family is what we do, what we are. I feel petty complaining, when my life is really so good. I have a supportive husband, who does a lot of work around the house and with parenting. He's the sole washer of the diapers, and always changes Enoch without me even asking him, if he's there and Enoch needs changing. I also appreciate that when I started talking about needing/wanting to teach at a University, to go back to school that his only doubts were whether I had to stick-to-itness enough, because I am notorious in our marriage for being a dilettante of hobbies and interests. When I asked him if he had any concerns about me working outside the home, and our family, he was surprised that I had assumed he did. I also want to do foster care and possibly adopt, and as well, I have hyperthyroidism again, and it's not a big deal (they're just watching it), but being pregnant and having a young baby is enough of a wrench to our family life, especially when one of the main movers of said life is basically out of commission, that Avram and I have both said, that perhaps, maybe, even quite possibly, we are done at four until further notice. At least out of my womb. I don't know, I know children are eternally important, and I wallow around in not feeling/not wanting to be good enough to be a good mother and homemaker. Then I met a Sister who is an Amish Convert in my stake, and is pregnant with her sixteenth child. Let that sink in for a moment. And then I know that I am not truly at any capacity at all - I just don't want a larger capacity. I want to afford to go on vacations, and have my children leave the house before I'm in my sixties, and I want to have a house that isn't bursting at the seams with children. I grew up in a blended family of nine children in the house all within ten years, and it was small, and crowded and poor (and there were more children then my parents really were ready for parenting either). And yet, despite all of these difficulties, I really loved my childhood. I love my family, I loved our home, and I loved the crazy times together. On a daily basis I'll remember something from my childhood that makes me happy, or smile. This morning as I lay in bed it was my sister Tali and me's habit of calling each other Pookie - first as a joke, but then it occurred so often we fell victim to the habit, and even today call each other that as often as our names.
I vacillate back and forth between feeling selfish that I'm so concerned about what I want, and wanting to feel validated intellectually, and then saying that there are times and seasons, and it isn't wrong for me to want to pursue something for myself, and that truly being a stay at home mom is sucking the life out of me, or at least my brain. And neither are true, and both are true, and perhaps life lies somewhere in the middle, where I do want something more intellectual, but there are also times and seasons, and that time will come.
I got married at 22, and have had four children by the age of 30, and I don't regret any of that. I'm glad that I've had my children young, and that when they are gone all day at school (ie, free babysitting in this context), I'll be able to go out and first go to school and then work in some capacity (teaching at a university? libraries?) and still be a mom. Even writing all of this out, I want to recant a lot of it. Not because it isn't true, but because truly I have nothing much to complain about. That is the sum of human nature, I suppose, to want what we do not have. I'm sure once I'm busy writing term papers, and trying desperately to get a publication and teach I will remember fondly my halcyon days of yore, where I could play uncounted games of chess against the computer, and had the leisure to write blog posts and check facebook to see what people think of my bon mots.
One thing I struggle with is that my religion teaches me, and I believe, that families are what this life is all about. Having children is what this life is all about. Now, I need to take a second to put a caveat here - that doesn't mean that single people, people without children, people who can't have children, etc, etc, do not have a purpose in life, or that their lives are not fulfilled. Nor do I mean that there is some magic number of children that fulfills this purpose. I don't care if you have one child or sixteen - in this specific context I'm talking about me (I know, how selfish. See above paragraph - this is endemic in my life). What I mean is that the important part of my life, eternally speaking, is not going to be how many college degrees I earn. And that I know that children truly are an heritage of the Lord, and that what I do as a mother, what Avram does as a Father, is worth more than everything else - than all of the worldly things, put together (excepting of course what we do as individuals, as Children of God, as marriage partners, as children as sibling and all the actual important relationships that make up our life). I know that Avram can feel fulfilled with working and parenting. I also know and do believe that Mothers are the primary nurturers of children - I feel it when I'm pregnant, when I'm nursing, when I just know what my children are thinking, wanting, etc. Back to the beginning of this paragraph - what I struggle with is that what is my will, is not the Lord's will. This happens constantly in a fallen world, and in all aspects. The Lord wants me to love others. I want to judge them. The Lord wants me to give of my substance to the poor and needy. I want a new couch, and a better decorated house. In this respect, the Lord wants me to be a good mother.
The crux of this is that finally, I think, I believe I am coming to understand that for myself, I think I am a better mother when I feel fulfilled in my life (I think that this part applies to everyone). And I feel fulfilled in academia. This isn't a specifically new understanding. I remember my freshman year talking with my then boyfriend Dennis about me wanting to be a college professor, and him completely supporting me in that (except that the word support here sounds patronizing, and I don't mean it that way. Patronizing support in my mind isn't support at all. Avram is never patronizing either, and I love him for it.) I wrote about this years ago, and still mean what I say. So what's new from then? Two more kids, I suppose. Mothering, housekeeping, takes a lot more out of me now then it did then. Also, it's always been easy for me to gloss over the young kids years. My mind has run for over a decade that I would have my children young, stay home with them, and then when the youngest started school I would go back to school myself. I don't mind that order. I don't, honestly, even know what I want to go back to school for, except I love academia, and not even just because it's the only word that rhymes macademia. It's good for me to keep my options open, because who knows where we'll be or end up, but I am not exaggerating when I say I've spent hours on the U of U's website, perusing their advanced degrees in areas like Anthropology. To return to the point, I want to be a good Mother, the Lord wants me to be a good Mother, and I'm learning that it's okay to not want to be a stay at home mom, and still be a good mother. But that's not it - I've always known that. Since I can almost remember, my Mom has worked outside the home. What I mean is, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I don't have to get to a point where I love homemaking. I love my kids - that's enough.
When Avram and I were first married, I quite quickly transitioned into being a homemaker. I finished all but 3 1/2 credits of my undergraduate degree before we were married, and after a first summer of working together as window washers, I took up a part time job at a daycare just until I had Lydia, whom I was already expecting. I was alright with that - at the time, I had lost much interest in pursuing a career, and had the vague notion that I would go back to school 'someday.' (that has always been in the works). In the meantime, I loved my little Wymount apartment, with its 600 or so square feet. For some the transition to marriage and motherhood is very rough. Of course there were the normal wrinkles (how do I get this child to sleep, again?!) but overall my first couple years post school, post single life, were a dream - a happy dream filled with all I could read classics and fluff books, including an entire read through of the major Arthurian legends. I love perfecting cooking, which I already enjoyed. I made homemade bread - and have since then in spurts. I painted furniture a little. In England later on I learned to knit, and knitted a little. I pursued homemaking crafting hobbies a bit at a time. After Guinevere, I went on a sewing stretch, and sewed curtains and duvets and skirts for the girls. Slowly, though, many of my fun hobbies started feeling not so fun. I became tired of crafts, or crafting. Sure, I still like a painted piece of furniture, but the fun of doing it waned. More and more in recent years, what I really crave isn't endless homemaking time, filled with crafting and reading whatever I feel like (usually fluff) and cooking new exciting things. I'm tired of all of it. I even struggle to not be tired of my kids, because of course they come needing to be fed, and clothed and with so many needs. And parenting isn't bright and shiny and new anymore. It's not a hobby, where I get to tote my darling baby around with me while mostly still living my own life. Now I have a six, four, two year old, and a darling baby, who still needs to be toted around, but it's not cute any more. It's tiring and overwhelming, and what used to be fun side things (make new time consuming desserts for no reason! plan things to sew/craft in any capacity that is not a necessity and will take countless hours to finish!) now seem like dragging weights, another set entirely of children, except these ones have nothing to do with my eternal salvation, and they'll never give me grandchildren to cuddle and spoil.
A year ago, I declared out loud, "I don't like crafting." It felt good. Not that I begrudge others crafting - life is short (unlike this blog post), and you should do what you love. Not that I have not in the past enjoyed crafting - I have. I have loved many aspects of homemaking. Some I even still like, and I will tell you what they are once I think of them. Mind you, this is all being written when I have a three month old, so although this is all true, it's a tiny bit tinged with the slightly deranged mind a lack of sleep will give you, not to mention a lifestyle that includes forced breaks on the couch every couple of hours for twenty minutes of bonding time with your baby, that although welcome and lovely does not conduce to accomplishing anything of note. Regardless, since that declaration, I have released all guilt I had previously felt from seeing blogs where people are feeling fulfilled by doing anything with their hands that involves paper or fabric or glue. I had not been the type in my life to live in constant comparison with my fellow (wo)men. I have marched to the beat of my own drummer since childhood, and what's more, I've never even had to work at it - I have always been very comfortable (too comfortable) in my own skin. Until about the time I had Guinevere, so two and a half years ago, when this all began to come crashing down. In the last year I have felt myself returning to my own skin once more. I've allowed myself to not like cooking as much, just because I have done so in the past, even for most of my life. I don't have to make homemade bread to love my children, or even myself, even if it does taste patently better. I can buy cute things, I don't have to make them myself. I got the idea of giving my girls real wool felt plush food to play with last Christmas - and then I picked up the phone, called my sister in law Aleatha, described what I wanted, and commissioned them from her. It felt good, and I have never regretted not making them myself, even though I had the materials, and obviously the time.
I'm learning to love myself as is, and as I want to be, which means looking at thrift stores for super cute kids clothes, not sewing them. I can cook good food, but I don't need to plan herculean dinners that take all day. And ten minute burritos and easy pasta are on the menu every week, but who really cares?
Despite this new found happiness, I have still struggled with the other looming trifecta of homemaking (children, what one does with ones time (crafts/projects/etc., and then of course the housekeeping). Avram has stepped it up this last year. He'll regularly throw laundry in, sweep floors, pick up rooms in addition to his already long established chores of bathroom cleaning, lawn mowing, garbage emptying, etc. And I know that a house will not disappear just because I work outside the home. Yet somehow I often feel chained to my 1300 square feet, seeing in its rooms more and more work to be done. At my best I'm about a B + housekeeper, and I'm okay with that. But I get tired of feeling like the apex of every day is trying to keep the floor uncovered with all the junk that seems to filter out of the ether. I feel like much of my life is being led in all the areas that I don't excel at. Sure I never mop my floor, but did you know that I got a 1600 on my SATs back in the day? Of course you don't know - SATs aren't really important, but when I did well, they were to me.
I spent my whole life really good at one thing; school. Well, two things - reading beat out school. I used to read under my desk in school, from first grade on up through sixth (and I'm sure later, but I've blocked it out) . All my childhood my teachers would tell my mom at parent teacher conference that I had so much potential. My fourth grade teacher told me that when I published my first book I needed to send one to her. I got straight As the first two years of high school, and then spent the next two year at a college prep boarding school, where I had a scholarship (mostly need based, but also a quarter was academic). Even among the children of doctors and lawyers and well off business men I was among the best academically, me, who lived in the west side, in Glendale in Salt Lake, who instead of having countlesss enriching classes in dancing or sports or whatever had a library card. My senior year I took four AP classes. (And my junior year one). My identity was shaken when I got my first Bs in Physics. At BYU I had a full tuition scholarship for four years. The Summer before I started my freshman year in 2001, I had a conversation where I asserted that I wanted to get married at age 26, when I would be graduating with my Ph.d. (I also had a foreshortened belief that I could do all my grad work in four years -oh, the young and optimistic). Also at BYU, starting with my first semester, I discovered something I liked more than school, even more than reading ; boys. I had four relationships in college, and with the advent of love, out went my clearly defined academic self. Sure,I still got decent grades - I graduated with a 3.63, which is alright, but was far beneath my capacity, and I knew that then, and didn't care. I don;t regret most of my college experience I did work alright but I played much harder and I am glad I had those years of carefree fun. Yet by my second year in, I had no real intentions of continuing schooling after my undergraduate, unless I din't get married. I was sure I would get married - I had a missionary plus boyfriends (yep, I was also cocky.)
When I went with Avram to an academic conference in Wisconsin two and a half years ago, all of these long ago desires surfaces, and something awoke in me, and it was strong. It turns out that although I spend decades feeling that I was smart, and that my self worth was in someways linked to that, I was not completely wrong. I value myself more, when I feel smart. Not because my intrinsic worth gains, but because I feel fitted to what I am doing. To freely borrow a line from Chariots of Fire, "God created me for a purpose (Motherhood), but he also made me smart; when I use my brain, I can feel his pleasure." Not that I don't use my brain in motherhood - I do. I think children deserve the best we can give them and that have educated mothers at home, and fathers at home can only help them, but I want something more. I need something more. Lately I struggle with even feeling smart anymore. On the one hand I assert that I want a master's possibly a Ph.d., but on the other hand, I worry about getting in anywhere. I feel inadequate to teach at a college level. I feel like I have few salable skills, few academic skills. Where does changing countless diapers teach one to survive in a career? (perseverance, I suppose). I know this isn't true, that people say all the time after being out of school in 'real' life for a while that going back is much easier because classes are so simple compared to the great complexity of three dimensional living. Yet, if I was once a sharp sword, now I feel like a rusty wall decoration, with an unbalanced hilt, and even some hokey metaphors.
Last year I went with Avram to SBL, the Society of Biblical Literature conference, and I loved every minute of it. I loved the presentations, I loved manning the booth for BYU in the dealer's hall, I loved meeting people, talking to people, thinking about points brought up. I felt alive, sparkling, like the air was clearer (a real feat in San Francisco), the conversations I had more witty, and even my outfits were well planned and cute (yes, I know, this is not exactly a staple of academia, but if/when I have a tenure track job, I shall endeavor greatly to banish all black as the color of choice for my academic wardrobe. Someone needs to liven up biblical studies, and starting with bright pink and blue shirts is just the ticket). I know that academia is not always like that. I do share a house with an academic, after all. And he works from home three days a week - so I see it all up closed. Which means that Avram sees me all muddled up in my life, which some how makes it seem worse, if only becuase I am aware of how patheticly I'm not magnifying my current calling.
This is a long blog post to swallow. Much of me doesn't want to publish it, since I basically complain from start to finish, which is ironic, because I am deeply aware of how much I have in my life, how essentially happy I am in the big stuff. But I'm all to aware how easy it is for people to think one thing about your life, when the reality is different. So I want to let it be know publicly, mostly so if anyone out there is also struggling that it's okay. It's okay to love your family, but not homemaking, even if you once did. It's okay to want to work, even if your family won't need the money. It's okay to not have answers - I don't. I often hear people talk about how women need to find something that is them to do, so they aren't swallowed up by child-raising until there is no themselves. I love talking to people, working with people, leaving the house and having places to go - I can't do these things at home. I love conferences and colleges. I love my children - I don't want to put them in daycare at the ages they are to do this. I want to give them their childhood, too. So how can I learn to love this stage now - how can I feel fulfilled in being a stay at home mom until Enoch, or whomever, is old enough to start preschool, and I can get out of the house? It's funny. My life is at the same time much less desperate and yet sometimes in my head more desperate than this all sounds. I'm not dying of neglect of self. It's just after I've done all the cleaning I want to do/need to do, and when Guinevere is napping and Elisheva is playing, I don't know what to do that will really fulfill me. I read academic books off and on, but it's hard to continue without anything outside. I talk to Avram a lot about his studies, which keeps me mentally alive. I edit his papers, and love the importance I feel by contributing to something. I often spend time on the internet, but the internet is much of taking, but little of giving emotionally and I usually don't write blog posts because it takes a lot of mental energy, which I struggle to give when there are three children at my side, who need me any moment. I've only been able to write this because a, it's burning inside of me, and things find their way out somehow, and b. Avram has had Enoch half this time while the girls have been sleeping. I know that we find ourselves when we lose ourselves and that going to work and forgetting myself and my problems is good. But it doesn't seem to help. So I don't really need answers, but understanding would be great.
(Here is the post I wrote two and a half years ago on this topic, generally. It was before I really started struggling; Unseen as Yet Academical).
authoress Thora at 11:35 PM
Thursday, September 6, 2012
So many thoughts are on my mind. I sit here, while Avram is at a Young Men/Young Women's pool party (being my husband, he went neither in pool clothes, and complete with only the most envied of pool party accessories - Greek and Hebrew bibles and a backpack full of books). The girls are all in bed, if not asleep upstairs. We have our own growing Nanny McPhee nursery upstairs, with two twins and a crib back to back along our cap cod's upstairs room. Next year sometime we'll add a toddler bed that sits, awaiting its next moment of glory in our overcrowded basement, so that then we'll have all four children upstairs, minus only the magically inclined Nanny to bring order to our family. Enoch lies asleep in our room currently, unaware of his future sleeping quarters.
Yes, we had a son - I truly did not mean to leave the Internets-at-large in baited breath for five months, but we did have a boy, born August 20th, and named him Enoch Bleys. I would put a picture in, but then that would ruin all my moments of writing - ask to be my facebook friend if you want pictures.
Four children. I keep finding myself surprised when I catch sight of our family - six people. All living under the same roof. And I brought four of them into the world. I keep saying that only old people have four children, and I don't mean that as an insult, or degrading comment. I just can't imagine that I have been alive long enough (almost thirty years), or have been married long enough (almost seven and a half years) to have brought another four souls into mortal bodies. I do love them, though.
Lydia is in first grade, and is slowly growing accustomed to homework, new this year. Elisheva is beyond excited to begin a ballet class, a once a week offering from the local recreation center. It's our first foray into extra-curricular activities, along with a once a week gymnastics class for Lydia starting at the same time. They are only for six weeks, and are anything but intensive, which is just fine with me - I am not the kind of mother that Olympians are forged from, neither in pocketbook, but more importantly in dedication. I fully subscribe to the belief that free play time is more important than all the planned activities with which we can 'enrich' our children's lives. Guinevere has remembered that she is, in fact, potty trained, which moving back across the country from Utah and the arrival of a baby brother a week and a half later gave her temporary amnesia on. I was counting on this regressment, and we had a handy system of skittles to encourage going, plus a regular routine of parent-led visits to the bathroom to counteract life's obstacles. And now there is Enoch. I have wondered what being the mother of a son will, would, be like. So far the greatest male development Enoch has personally accomplished was urinating on his own face. Otherwise he has been much as my babies of the female persuasion were - cute and cuddly, newborn for far too short a time. Especially because he was born at 8 lbs and 8 oz, and already weighs about 10 lbs. On the positive side, although the delightful wrinkled knees are going away (my absolute favorite part of a newborn), we were able to move Enoch into the cloth diapers we have at two weeks old, since he grew so large, so we can officially begin saving money. Although since I never scheduled money into the budget for diapers, it wasn't so exciting to stop buying them (the one package we bought). It was much more fun when I started cloth diapering Elisheva and Guinevere on that front.
Now Enoch has awoken, and since it's much harder typing with a babe in arms, I'll close this for now.
authoress Thora at 8:23 PM
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I'm sorry I had to do it, but I have enabled the annoying word verification - I was getting swamped in fake spam comments, which is really demoralizing to the morale, when I check my blog, and I have 10 comments, and most of them are spam. I hate the word verifications, so we can all hate them together. Because we'll all be real people, at least.
A lot has been on my plate of life lately (as apposed to my plates of food, which have been sadly lacking in vegetables). As I'm sure you gathered, I am indeed pregnant, and am now four and a half months along. Doesn't a pregnancy go by fast when you never post? We're having the 20 week ultrasound in two days, and if I were a nicer person, I would have waited to post until then, so I could tell you all what we're having. I am not a nice person, however, which means at the rate I post, you might find out before the baby's born, but don't hold your breath. As you also may have gathered, this baby was a surprise. And by surprise, I mean that I had a .3 % chance of getting pregnant, compliments of modern day birth control (IUD). It's good to feel so special in the world.
Guinevere was a planned baby, and I worried the whole time about how I would ever manage three children, and sure enough, three was a difficult number for me for quite a while. With this baby, despite the complete lack of mental preparation, I've had an almost Zen-like acceptance and peace. I just know that four is going to be fine (hard, but fine), and Lydia is six now, and quite helpful, and everyone always says that four isn't any harder than three (right? right? If you know differently, bite your tongue). Also, Avram and I had begun to discuss having another baby, so it's not as if we were done with having children. I actually am liking a lot that this baby will be right in line with the others, two years apart. I want to have 6 children, and I'd also like to go back to school and get a Master's degree when the youngest is preschool age. So in order to get to that stage of life, the faster I have children, the faster it will come (assuming that we have no more surprise children, or that we don't have more than six, or basically assuming life doesn't intervene).
I'm inclined to think it's a boy, but I thought Guinevere was a boy, and there she is, as feminine as anything (if by feminine, you mean a biter, fighter, scrappy almost two year old, who thinks that 'No' is the pinnacle of the English language, followed closely in line by 'Mine!'). I admit, with three girls, we do want a boy, if only to know that we will indeed have one, but the thought of four girls is kind of darling - like a little flower garden of children, in their Sunday dresses.
Another area that has been full lately has been Avram's schooling. He passed his comprehensive exams, sometimes also called candidacy exams, in December. This means he's done with classes (which explains why he's sitting in on one class this quarter - he's just a glutton for learning.), and can begin the next stage of obtaining his doctorate. For most of you, this is a fairly opaque process, so I'll explain out what this all means. First he needs to decide on a Dissertation topic, which is like decided on what specific subject to write a book on. Then he needs to write a Dissertation Proposal, which is a 15-25 page paper that summarizes the Dissertation (book), lists out any scholarship that relates to the subject, and how this dissertation will bring new knowledge to the field, address gaps of current scholarship, etc. It is then approved by Avram's Dissertation committee, a group of 3-4 professors, and then at that point Avram may begin writing his actual Dissertation.
We had this grand plan of having Avram finish his comprehensives in December, have a subject in mind by the end of January, have written his proposal by the end of February, and achieve world peace by the end of March. Instead, we had the surprise Christmas gift of a pregnancy (one of the specific things we were waiting for to have a baby was Avram to have his dissertation topic picked out), and then the January and February gift of lots of morning sickness. So, Avram took over all the cooking, any household cleaning or laundry that occurred, plus most parenting. Needless to say, our plans for the proposal timeline have changed a few times. Now he has basically decided on a topic - the usage of animals in the Rabbinic corpus, and then somehow Myth ties in (the mythic use of animals? The mytholo-ization of animals?). But as he's discovering, being able to write a summary of your dissertation means having done most of the major research, so you know what you're actually going to say. So the new and improved (although alas, minus world peace) timeline is that he will hand in his proposal by the end of May, and then have it approved so that he can begin writing this Summer, still in time for graduating next year.
Which brings us to this Summer. Avram is teaching two freshman Book of Mormon classes this Summer at BYU. We're excited for this for several reasons.
1. We'll get paid! More than we've ever been paid before! And because he's also getting a relocation fellowship (I think they must count up the number of dependents you have, since there was no reason given for the surprise reward), we'll actually be able to maintain our two households, in Ohio and in Provo, without having to get a student loan.
2. Avram will be applying to teach at BYU this fall, and this is a necessary first step in the religion department, because they like to see how you teach, and then you get to try out the department as well.
3. Have I mentioned we'd both like to end up at BYU - so this is a good omen of awesomeness (although in my wildest fantasies [and you know you're old when your wildest fantasies involve job offers] we'd get a post doc somewhere really exciting, and hired at BYU at the same time, and be able to postpone the job at BYU so we could go globetrotting for a year first, but in reality, I'm not even sure the religion department does this sort of thing, and if we did get hired, we wouldn't feel so in demand we'd probably even suggest it, either). I can see all sorts of good reasons to end up somewhere else first, but I am seduced by the thought of being able to buy a house, and maybe get chickens, and garden, and settle in, and if Avram got a job at BYU we'd be there for the long haul. Yes, security, it's a beautiful thing. In all reality, of course we'd be happy to get a job anywhere in the field.
4. My family is mostly in Utah, so we can actually visit relatives without having a crazy family vacation be a part of it.
Speaking of applying to BYU, you have to have completed and defended your dissertation before they'll hire you, although you can apply while still finishing it. So Avram also gets to spend this Summer madly writing, while I spend this Summer madly vacationing (three girls plus 7-9 months pregnant = vacationing). Then the moment he's done teaching, we'll rush back here in our minivan, which we have yet to buy because we hate buying cars, but we really, really need, see earlier this post, so that I can have the baby. I'm due August 24, two weeks after we return. Luckily my Mom's coming out to help, because that's also the same week that Lydia will start first grade, and of course, Avram will still be madly writing. Since he needs to be well (over half? three quarters?) into writing his dissertation when he applies to BYU, and other places for the matter, this fall. Often there are preliminary interviews given at SBL, or the Society of Biblical Literature, which happens the week before Thanksgiving every year. It's the main conference in Avram's field that occurs every year. Last year it was at San Francisco, and Avram presented two papers in it for the first time. I went with him, and told everyone that it was our second honeymoon. And now we're (almost) having a second honeymoon baby. Which means I won't be able to go with him to this year's meeting in Chicago, which is a shame, since I absolutely love conferences. I really love attending all the sessions, and I even loved helping watch BYU's booth of bookness, since that meant I got to meet a lot of people. And I even got an included book bag, which I use every week as my church bag. He'll also be presenting at this year's SBL, on the deification of Enoch in Rabbinic Literature.
I know some of you are wondering why I said that there was a lot on my plate, and then proceeded to write endlessly about Avram's academic life. I tell you, that is my life. I edit all his papers (we spent the day and a half before the conference actually started when we were in San Francisco doing the final polishing and editing of his papers, only taking an afternoon out for sightseeing. We really know how to live up a honeymoon). It's a popular topic around our house, only next to our children, and most importantly, the seven years Avram has been in school in our marriage, of seven years, have been seven years of the whole family sacrificing, planning, hoping and dreaming (and being frugal), and I feel as integral to his Ph.d. as anything.
In Summation, I'm having a baby, but hopefully not on the trip back from Utah this Summer, where Avram will have taught at BYU, and Avram's writing a book that has to be done and finished in one year, so he can get hired somewhere, and make tons of money we'll use to buy chickens.
authoress Thora at 2:10 PM