Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blog Housekeeping

I saw this done on a blog I lurk at, and I thought it was kind of a neat idea; the idea of publishing a year's worth of unpublished drafts. I was going to publish my hundredth post, but then I realized I was only at a hundred counting these, so then I decided to publish them in one lump sum, which means that getting I'll be getting rid of the drafts (which count towards the 100th total) which then means that I actually won't be at a hundred anymore. Oh, well. By the way, I'm still going to go back and start writing regularly, starting with Elisheva's birth story, per my sister's request. Think of this post like blog house-keeping. Also, I apologize if the posts end mid thought or sentence even; there's a reason they never made publishing stage. My current comments are in italics.

October 15, 2007
This post makes a lot of behind the scenes sense when you realize that I was about three months pregnant at the time of the posting (I must not have announced it publicly yet, being that I don't mention it even once in the post itself, and yet that's why I was so often not doing anything, because I didn't feel well). And it's hard to feel hip and cool when you're pregnant, not to mention in a new country (we had been in England for two and a half weeks.) I actually did publish this post, for about a half an hour, but then Avram arrived home, and I had him read it, and he recommended that I remove it, because he thought it is never good to compare myself to anybody and besides he thought I was cool, so I did remove it. Also, as a note, I've never heard a single song Radiohead sings (that I'm aware of), so this my comments on them are in no way a personal judgment of the actual quality of the music they sing.
I'm So Square I can't See Over My Shoulder
As my title would suggest, I am not feeling hip and cool today. Nor am I funny. I'm not even young. Today I am decidedly square and boring, not to mention probably prematurely middle aged. Why? Oh, I don't know. (sigh).

Perhaps it's been that I've been looking at peoples blogs who go out and do things, and I don't. Oh, sure, I'm in a foreign country, but I haven't been feeling well lately, and so stay at home most of the time, and in our little flat is a perfect slice of normality. I could be in Toledo. To tell the truth, though, I've never actually been in Toledo, so I suppose that would be different. I can't say, 'I could be in Provo,' because then I will get sad. I very much miss Provo. (sniff, sniff). In the states this is when I would just call up Michele and complain on her shoulder, but since I'm here all my faithful readers get the privilege instead.

Which reminds me of another reason I'm square. I was reading one of the blogs I regularly read, but haven't put on my Friends link because we were roommates in Egypt, but don't really keep in contact now, and so I feel kind of like a secret hanger-on to her exciting life. There are lots of her hip friends who read her blog, and leave hip comments, because they're in the know. I'm not in the know.

For example, she gives reviews to albums of bands that I've barely even heard of, and I've certainly never heard the music to (Radiohead. Let me take this moment to say that it's not like I want to listen to Radiohead. I don't like most modern music at all, I find it usually to be boring, all the same, whiny, and far too much untalented guitar. Also I don't really get continuous ipod listening. It seems rather anti-social to me. Not that this blogger is a continuous ipod listener, but that complaint fits in well here.)

See? I'm so square I don't even like what's "cool," or "anti-cool," or whatever is hip and such now to be, while no one else is doing it. Radiohead may be cool, but it's easy to listen to a band that has "sold" (downloaded for free) millions of copies of its new album in a few days. I listen to Yusuf Al-Islam, whom most people have never even heard of, yet I own two of his albums. And I own almost a complete set of his original Cat Steven albums. I feel momentarily cool, now. Except he's probably considered square. After all, he is Muslim, and anyone who actually has five children can't be cool, right?

Ah another reminder. Here in England I continuously hear, "So what are you doing in England while your husband is in school?" This while I am holding my daughter. They're all very well meaning and nice, but after I respond, "taking care of her full-time" sometimes I even get asked some variation on, "That's all?" or an expectant silence, like I must be doing something more with my life than just that. Sometimes I make my answer longer, "and I'm just here for the ride." "I'm going to take lots of long walks and soak up the English countryside." "I'm planning to read a lot of English classics while I'm here." just so it sounds to them like I'm actually doing something. I even had one very nice, well meaning Dphil (a doctorate student) girl ask me a while later in the conversation if I was planning to put Lydia in a nursery (daycare), because her advisor has a child, and she could find out which one he uses. Perhaps that explains why everyone acts like I'm crazy to be doing nothing here; they assume I'm going to put Lydia into daycare. Nope, I'm her daycare, and as anyone with a small child, or who has babysat for a small child, childcare takes a lot of time.

I think part of the problem is that I don't have a peer group around me who has any children, so I feel so old to have one. And back in Provo, although we hung out with people with no children, we just brought Lydia to everything, and it worked great, or at least okay. People here like Lydia, but the kind of night activities they plan really aren't toddler friendly. They're hardly Mormon friendly. Sometimes I even wish that we were here without Lydia, or that we didn't have her yet, because then I could be hip and cool with everyone, or at least pretend, but then Lydia will do something absolutely darling, like put her "babies" (winnie the pooh and a cabbage patch doll) to sleep by shushing them and wrapping them in random bits of fabric, like tea towels, her clothing, etc. Or she'll do all of the actions to the Popcorn song. Or she'll say thank you repeatedly, and I just can't imagine life without her, not to mention she's not just an inconvenient time taker, but a real live human, who is growing into a cognizant person, and how could I postpone her life, just so I can go and have a more exciting social life?

I just had so much fun in my college years, and I don't really want to move on to the next stage, and feel all settled, especially because we aren't settled at all, because I like feeling young and intellectual.

Okay, I know I'm not even really making sense anymore, and this is a real slog to read through. I'm sorry. I like to be upbeat, and lots of good things are happening, but today I'm in the long, dark teatime of the soul.

PS. I must thank Douglas Adams for the first and last thought.
PPS. The original is: He's so hip he can't see over his pelvis.

January 24, 2008

President Ballard said recently in a CES fireside that we should use technology to spread and talk about the gospel (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for any lurkers out there, which by the way, please stay and read, I love lots of readers), and among the technology he mentioned was blogs. Seeing that this is my blog, and that although I am a member of the said church, I don't usually mention religious topics, I though I would try an entry out.

Back a few months ago, before I got called into the Primary, the Bishop asked the young marrieds to attend the Young Single Adult Sunday school class, because they were trying to integrate the classes more (or something). Avram and I dutifully went, although I was sad because I loved our current Sunday School teacher, Brother Nichols, so much. As we all know, a loved SS teacher is not a dime a dozen, so I didn't particularly want to move. Regardless, the new Sunday school went well, and then like one week later I became a Sunbeams teacher (I've since followed that class over the turn of the year to the CTR 5 class), so it was a moot sadness anyway.

In my one week of attending the YSA SS class (now I feel truly Mormon; I'm abbreviating everything) we discussed trials. Many of the class members talked about trials that they couldn't control, and how to endure through them. As the discussion developed, I thought of trials, and realized that the biggest one in my life was being patient with Lydia. Before I got married, I never would have thought of something like that as a trial; trials (like this class was discussing), were bad things to get through. Lydia is not bad at all, but mothering her is, and probably will be, along with mothering our future children, the largest trial in my life for many years to come.

As I thought about what constitutes a trial I made a parable in my mind (and yes, this is going to be as bad as the parable of the bicycle), of what I've learned about trials from the perspective of being a mother and observing my daughter. Through this I often wonder if this is how I appear to Heavenly Father. Lydia in her life goes through many trials. At her age the vast majority of them are physical; physical injuries, hurts, pains. Now some of these are not her fault at all; like the trials in the Sunday School class, sometimes when I'm carrying her I accidentally bump her against the wall (You'd think I would have figured out how to carry her through a doorway, after almost two years of doing so, but apparently not). Often she accidentally causes trials to herself, by falling down for example. Other times she should know better, but doesn't, like her knew-found delusion that she can walk off of surfaces a couple of feet off of the ground, like our bed or a window seat, into the thin air and be fine. In the last week this last scenario has caused a bloody mouth more than once from falling. These trials are in some ways the hardest, because they're completely or mostly her fault, but that doesn't mean they hurt any less.

In all of these examples, regardless of how it happens, the result is the same; Lydia cries, and comes to be held by me until the pain goes away.

In the SS class, most people put forth the idea or opinion that the main victory over a trial was to

Here the basic point that I was trying to make is they kept on emphasizing what they were supposed to be learning from each trial, and how to endure each trial. And yet, there isn't always a further lesson in a trial, ie, Lydia gets physically hurt, so she should learn to not do things that can physically hurt herself, but there isn't some "deeper meaning" behind it. And in my life, I need to be more patient with Lydia, but there isn't a hidden meaning behind that (although there's plenty of meaning in that alone). But my central point is that doesn't demote the importance of the trial, because ultimately whether the trial is large or small, the main point of trials (to my mind), is to help us learn to turn to Heavenly Father and remain faithful to him through life. Whether our trials are self caused (Lydia walks into a wall), caused by others (I walk her into the wall) or even a divine trial (no direct parallel here), the outcome should be the same for all of them, like she turns to me for comfort and doesn't turn on me, even when it's "my fault," I ought to be turning to Heavenly Father, regardless of what my trial is, whether it's not getting married (it seemed like a lot of their trials were references to this) or being patient with ones daughter. In summation, that a lot of the trials in life aren't really just endurable through, that they're not some large mystery, of "I don't know why I have this trial, but I do, so I must endure through it," but really are usually very traceable.

For example, I need to be patient with Lydia, because she's two, and I'm her mother. I think a lot of them were thinking of trials like bolts of unknowable lightening that hits for no apparent reason, and must be endured with no knowledge gained or lessons learned, just the enduring itself constituted the end-all of the trial.

So this is really long commentary, and it's fairly convoluted, which is why I never finished the post, because it's' not a perfect parable, and because I tried to write this several weeks after the actual class, so I couldn't remember exactly the class' responses.

February 27, 2008

We found out yesterday that Avram didn't get a fellowship at Wisconsin. He could still theoretically get a TA-ship (ie, teach classes for money and a tuition waiver), but first year students don't usually get one. Which means that Wisconsin isn't really an option unless a miracle happens. And we haven't heard a peep from Ohio State yet, nor from the other two schools, but we're not counting on them at all. So this is a very low time in the Shannon household.

I keep thinking to myself of all the people I've known, read about, etc, who have Phds or are earning them, and I think to myself, "they managed to do it, how come we can't?" And Avram has worked so hard thus far; all he's ever wanted is to get a Phd. Everyone says that applying to Doctoral schools is a crapshoot, that there is no assurance no matter the candidate or his preparation.

And yet, without funding Doctoral school isn't really doable. Now I wish we'd applied to some MA programs as backup, so that Avram could continue to build his credentials, etc, but we didn't, so we have nothing to fall back on now.

Of course, by this time next week, hey, by this time tomorrow even we could have completely new news that would render all of these worryings obsolete. Because just one school with funding is enough.

I've been praying a lot through this whole process; it's funny how the harder life gets, the more sincere my prayers become. I always mean to keep praying well during easy moments, but there's nothing like problems larger than myself to drive me to prayer in a way simple (though sincere) gratitude doesn't. I suppose that why I'm still on probation in this life, and not a perfected being.

As I write this, right now reminds me a little bit of when I broke off my first engagement, and felt so broken myself, like I had made irreparable mistakes in my life that I would live with forever, and that I could never overcome. It reminds me of the song that Joseph sings in the Dreamworks version of Joseph in Egypt, once he's been thrown in prison by Potipher;

I thought I did what's right

I actually really liked this post, but then Lydia distracted me before I could write all of the words of the song, and then I never got back to the post. Luckily, all did work out in this department, but the thoughts raised at this time have stayed with me, that is, I prayed and prayed to have Avram get into a Phd program with funding, but the whole time I was fully aware that it may not be the Lord's will for our lives to take that direction. Even more humbling of a realization was that it may not have even been a different direction that we needed to take, but that simply Avram would not have gotten in, and it would have just been because someone else was a better fit, and that was it. At least if the Lord had something else in mind, I could feel like we had a larger purpose somewhere else, but if it's just that there are a lot of applicants and hardly any spots, it's not nearly so encouraging. And we know others who applied at the same time who didn't get into anywhere at all, and they were praying hard too. I would assume that we all had the same righteous desires, and faith, and everything, so then why did we get it and not them? I realize that there's no real answer to this, and that as I stated in my earlier post, there isn't always a grand reason behind trials more than remaining faithful, so I suppose that's all the answer I get.

March 27, 2008
This was the beginning of a post I wanted to write of weird things I found on Craigslist, but then I stopped looking on there, and so I never had more than one item on the list. I can't believe I found this one on there.


Columbus March 27 under Household category

"I was delivered this box and have no idea what is inside. I am selling it for $100. It is heavy. I have a memory disorder and can't remember what I purchased. It may be worth $500, it may be worth $50. Do you like to gamble?" (Accompanied by a picture of a box; it looks small, maybe a foot by six inches).

1 comment:

  1. i love all your posts... i love to read your ramblings. interesting thoughts about trials. I feel trying to be a good mother is a hard trial too. Its so hard to be patient when you are pregnant and your 16 month old wants to scream for three hours in the middle of the night! i think there is a lot of pressure on being a perfect monther in LDS culture too. I am not up to par myself. I am a SAHM, but my house is not always neat ( okay, its never all clean at once except for hte few times a year we have parties for the kids or things like that) anyways dont beat yourself up. Its hard being patient with toddlers!