Nerd alert

We get this free newsletter at the house that is pretty much a waste of paper except that it has a social calendar in the back that sometimes comes in handy. Well I got it out of the mailbox today and was excited when I saw that on June 7th there is “Heroes for Literacy” pub crawl downtown. Now my days of pub crawling ended in ’07 but when I saw the theme of the event I was willing to make an exception, I mean drinking beer dressed as a favorite literary character, Sign me up! My enthusiasm came screeching to a halt when I went to the website and found that the idea is not dress up as an actual literary character to fight illiteracy but to dress as a super hero. Lame. Since when does Batman care if kids are reading? He is too busy fooling around with Robin! I should have known it was too good to be true and only I would be nerdy enough to want to dress as Elizabeth Bennet and drink beer. Well even though I do not plan to dress as a super hero downtown I will say that it is a good cause.

Progress Report

Todd and I went to UCF and spoke to an admissions counselor the Friday before last. It went as I expected it would. She had concerns about my GPA being under a 3.0 and did not think that I would have all of my grades submitted in time to apply for the Social Work Program in the fall. Although I knew all of this and really just wanted confirmation it was still a bit disappointing to hear that I have to wait another year before applying. However, I do want at least a 3.0 before I graduate with my A.A. so this gives me a little more time to reach my goal and continue to focus on my volunteer work.

On that note, volunteering is going great! I was at The Cherokee school last Friday volunteering during their field day, it was a blast. The station I was running was a relay race for the kids to do and they all enjoyed it. I only had one group that was disorderly and for that school that is pretty good. I also got to meet the boy who Daddy mentors at the school, he is a cute kid. I was impressed, he seemed to stay out of the mischief that his classmates were getting into. I am sure that is not always the case for him but he was very well-behaved Friday.

I got my first test grade back in Psychology today, it was an A! I got two questions wrong which I was bummed about but I will take the grade gratefully. Our next test is Wednesday, I plan on spending the day tomorrow studying. I turned in my first writing assignment to my English teacher today. I will be very curious to see what her comments are and how she grades it. I submitted my rough draft here first as a way to get my thoughts down on paper. I have read two of the other students responses and thought mine fell somewhere in the middle of theirs. I am hoping for an A.

All things seem to moving forward with the house purchase process. Both our home inspection and termite inspection went well. There were only a few issues in the home inspection that needed addressing and the seller is taking care of them. Todd is now calling a few different companies about home owners insurance. Seems like we are right on track for June 15th closing. I am very excited, I have been decorating the house in my head for days.

It is certainly going to be a busy summer. I can’t wait.

Flannery O’Connor’s “All that rises must converge”

From the very beginning it is difficult to conjure any positive feelings about this story. Even as O’Connor sets the scene you can feel the tension and negativity in the air, “[t]he sky was a dying violet and the houses stood out darkly against it, bulbous liver-colored monstrosities of a uniform ugliness though no two were alike” (1). Everything about this story, down to the houses on the street,¬† strike me as dreary and discordant.

I find myself wanting to be able to get behind one of the main characters and support their point of view but between Julian’s hypocrisy and his mother’s racist outlook it seems a hopeless pursuit. As the story progresses however it becomes apparent that in spite of Julian’s Mother’s faults her devotion to Julian is unfaltering, “[a]ll of her life had been a struggle to act like a Chestny and to give him everything she thought a Chestny ought to have without the goods a Chestny ought to have” (O’Connor 5). In the story I think Julian becomes so entangled in his crusade against his mother’s racist ways that he loses sight of the bigger picture, that everyone deserves love and acceptance for who they are. It is not until the end of the story that Julian faces what his disingenuous attitude has caused, “[s]tunned he let her go and she lurched forward again, walking as if one leg were shorter than the other. A tide of darkness seemed to be sweeping her from him” (O’Connor 10). It is only in this moment of emergency that Julian finally lets go of his resentment towards his mother. Unfortunately for Julian the damage has already been done.

A big step forward

Todd and I have had a critter problem lately. It seems we have had a few problems with the house we are renting lately. The critter issue is my primary concern, it makes me feel quite uneasy but there is also roof leaks, down branches and A/C stuff. Our landlord is getting a bit tired of it all I think, understandably. It is an older house though so this kind of thing is to be expected, well except for the critter in the attic, one never expects a critter to take up lodging in one’s own home.

Well this story begins last Thursday when the roof repair men came by for the second time to re-repair the leak in the bathroom. They came by 2 weeks prior but then after a good, hard rain we found that the leak was not fixed after all. We made our landlord aware of this at the same time that we made him aware of the critter that had been running around over head at all hours of the night. The roof people came first though. The gentleman informed me that he wanted to look in the attic to make sure he knew right where the leak was. I advised him of our critter problem hoping this would deter him as, truth be told, I didn’t really want the attic to be opened while there was still an animal co-inhabiting with us. This did not deter him at all, however. To fast forward, after the job was finished I realized the man left the attic wide open! I was completely rattled and had to leave the house. I did not return until the evening when my family came over for dinner. At that time Daddy closed the attic for me and he, myself and Krissy searched the house for any rogue critters, thankfully we found none. Daddy then did a perimeter search to try to determine where the animal would be gaining access to the house. He found the a grate on the bottom of the house out by the drive way that is always falling opened and decided that was probably the place. (this was confirmed by the critter man who came by this week).

That night I barely slept. I was nervous and unsettled by the whole ordeal. I woke the next morning exhausted and still upset by how everything was being handled. I was venting to Todd when he suggested I email the landlord. When I finished my email Todd called me into his computer room and showed me a house online that he liked. From there we made a call, went and looked at the house and then went to the bank to secure a loan. There are a few details that I am leaving out, like the fact that we had lunch and also stopped by UCF to discuss my admission, but for the most part everything did happen just like that. Todd found this house a few weeks ago and had mentioned it to me but it wasn’t until things started going awry at the house that he gave it serious thought. It’s funny how you can try to plan and plan but more often than not when things are meant to happen they just do without much planning at all. It’s a very nice house, Todd signed the contract on Monday and is now in the process of getting all the things done that need to be done before closing. We plan to close around the 14th of June and should be all moved in just in time for our two-year anniversary.

I know Todd is quite stressed out while he is running around trying to schedule inspections and secure this or that but at the end of it all I know this will all be worth it. This will be the house we start our life in together, what a very exciting thought.

there are always options

divorce

I saw this online today and although I agree with the concept of not giving up without a fight I don’t know if I can completely get behind the message here. I walked away from two long-term relationships that I never thought I would have. One of them in particular I was in so deep that I was sure the only way we would have broken up is if he left me. I fought hard but at the end of the day people change through life, we are not the same person at 30 that we were at 20 and we will not be the same at 40 as we are now. I think what is most important is taking your time to find someone who shares your values, that believes in the same things and is kind. People change over time but at a certain age your values become pretty concrete so it’s a safe bet that if you share that even as other things may change that will stay constant. I just think it is so important to remember that you only get to do this one time. You only get today –this moment– right now and then its gone. Sometimes even things as wonderful as marriage can turn out to be a mistake and I think it is sad that two people would throw away their chance at a happy life because of the notion that it is supposed to be forever. I am not advocating for divorce here, which is why I will reiterate my point that it is so important not to rush into that decision and to make it for the right reasons with the right person.

brainstorming cont.. 4

I look forward to being exposed to people from all different walks of life, hearing their stories and being able to help them in their journey. I enjoy interacting with the public and have always found it easy to connect with people regardless of any distinctions that may set us apart. I have found through the work that I have done with the public up to this point that our physical dissimilarities mean nothing, we are all human and experience the same emotions.

Although I have no hesitations about working with diverse groups of people I do know my limits. I have enjoyed every opportunity I have had to help people in the last six years but with the work I have done I have also learned a sense of balance. The hardest part of working with the public and wanting to help people is the nagging feeling that you aren’t able to do enough. It took some time for me to understand that even though one person’s efforts can make a difference I cannot change the world on my own. I feel that it is important to be introspective and reflect on the work you are doing to help keep the balance between what you want to do for people and what you are actually capable of.

brainstorming cont.. 3

A social problem that I take a personal interest in is the issue of bullying. Bullying is a social issue that in my opinion does not get enough attention. The issue of bullying is just a branch on of the tree that stands for the larger issue of discrimination. We live in a society of bystanders who are hesitant to speak up when they see injustice and discrimination happening around them. Our children see our lack of action and interpret it as OK so when confronted with the same injustice and discrimination in social situations in the form of bullying they will remain silent instead of speaking out against it. Our society is in a rut where although we may disagree with discrimination and bullying we have lost our voice to stop it. I realize I am over simplifying the issue of bullying and that there are other components that play a role in why adolescents bully but I strongly believe that if we as a society raised the generation that follows us as a generation of activists instead of bystanders and educate them on acceptance and inclusion that would help eliminate the issue faster than the current course of action.

Brainstorming cont.. 2

I have volunteered in the community for years but it was what I learned about myself while working that helped me to find my calling as a social worker. My favorite part of every job I have ever held was helping my customers and patients. To me the idea of going above and beyond seemed outlandish, there should be not limit to what you are willing to do to help making the whole idea of above and beyond obsolete. I know that I am exactly the type of candidate this program is looking for because I have a genuine interest in the well-being of others. I do not get nervous or intimidated by people circumstances or environments that are foreign to me. If there is work to do and help to be given I am always ready to get my hands dirty.

brainstorming for a school assignment

When I think of where I started in the journey that led me to social work my mind wanders back to career day in elementary school. It was third grade, the instructions were to dress up as whatever it was you wanted to be when you grow up and then explain your career to the class. This was an impossible assignment for me, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be. Even now I can remember feeling an intense amount of pressure, I didn’t realize that I was expected to have my entire life figured out by the time I was nine. Career day rolled around and I came to school that day dressed as a gymnast. My teacher, who was familiar with my family as she taught my brother three years prior, proceeded to give me the third degree about costume choice as she knew I had never taken a tumbling class or expressed any interest in gymnastics up to that point. Her questions did not phase me, I stood at the front of the room in front of all of the policemen, doctors and nurses that made up the classroom that day and explained how even though Mrs. Davenport was correct and I knew nothing about gymnastics I also knew that we can be anything we set our minds to and we have our whole lives to figure it out.

The message I delivered to the class that day is something I have had to remind myself of many times throughout life. At age 18 I found myself in a similar position. I was entering college for the first time with no real sense of direction or purpose, this made motivation about school very difficult at the time. After a few semesters of not quite living up to my true potential I made the decision to leave school and work full-time while I figured things out. This is where my story truly begins because it is life experience that has brought me to this point. I have worked for three very well thought of companies as well as volunteering in the community over the past six years and have learned life lessons that have proved to be invaluable. One of the most important things I learned was who I am and what I stand for. I know that my favorite part of any position I have ever held is the people I have been fortunate enough to help. I learned that self respect and standing up for what is right will always be worth more than  any amount of money and I have learned that for me success is not measured in dollars and cents, I measure my success by how many lives I am able to positively impact.

While at my last place of employment I had an epiphany and realized that even with the amount of success I have been able to achieve on my own I will never be satisfied unless I go back to school and earn a degree that will open the doors for me to help more people. Once I came to this realization I turned my life upside down to bring my goals to fruition. I am grateful everyday for my parents that taught me courage, integrity, work ethic and to be curious not judgmental. My family’s encouragement and support have certainly played a major role in getting me to where I am. It may have taken me twenty years to learn what it is in my heart but what is important is that I took the time for self discovery and did my best to make some small difference in the world along the way. Now that I know my purpose there is nothing I want more than to get started.

Our beliefs and our children

Suzie and Bobby are at the beach all weekend with friends so Todd and I agreed to feed the animals while they are gone. Suz practically lives around the corner, we can drive through our neighborhood most of the way there and don’t have to get on any major roads to get there. I’d say it only takes maybe 5 minutes over all. It worked out nicely last night, after we left her house we stopped in at Matador which was one of our favorite bars downtown that house now relocated to College Park. Matador is now located on the street that gets us to Suzanne so it’s right in the middle of our two houses, talk about convenient.

This morning we went back to Suzanne’s to give the animals their breakfast and as we drove down the street that Matador is on I noticed their were people assembled for a protest, I was immediately intrigued. I thought for a moment that it might be a gay rights protest because everyone was in Red and had red duct tape covering their mouths (red is one of the colors that The Human Rights Campaign uses. I thought the duct tape may have symbolized something to do with “don’t ask don’t tell”). Oh I was quite wrong. It was a pro-life group protesting outside of an abortion clinic that I did not even realize was there. I mean, I have seen the building but there are many buildings on that street, I never paid attention to what kind of office it was.

Although I am pro-choice I still believe in everyone’s right to a peaceful protest and honestly think the world would be a better place if more people used that right. In my mind people would be protesting to end war and clean air and human rights rather than prohibiting the rights of women to make decisions about their own body but it’s at least nice to see people taking a stand about something I guess.. I guess.. So we went, fed the animals, pet the cat and started driving back. When we passed the clinic the second time that’s when I saw something that made me take issue. Children. Children with red duct tape over their mouths standing around watching the cars go by. I began to fume, my way of fuming is not what most people would consider fuming.. It’s more of soap box-esk rant. The thing is, as I began to rant to Todd about how wrong it is for people to drag their children out on their issues and subject them to anything that can happen at a rally I realized I needed to slow down before I became hypocritical.

I will sit here and imagine how when I have children I will do my best to teach them things that I value as important from a young age. There is the typical, kindness, respect, manners, honesty of course but on top of that to be civic minded and the importance of volunteering in your community for example. It encompasses so many important lessons like responsibility, sacrifice for others, gratitude for what you have a sense of compassion. I also think appreciation for the environment is important, it’s not just about saving the trees through lower carbon outputs and slowing deforestation, kids aren’t going to get that. My Dad taught to love nature by pointing out and naming all the different kinds of trees and plants to me when we would go on walks together. Being able to stop and actually appreciate the beauty in nature as a child and young adult influences the environmental choices you make as an adult. Another big one is gay rights / human rights. It so important to me that when my children look at people the first thing they see is not what makes them different. It is such a huge problem in our society, the amount of division that takes place and the only way to fix it is through awareness and educating the younger generation.

Now when I sit here and think about it the people that are out there protesting abortion are no different than me in that they believe strongly in certain things and want to instill those values in their children. My specific issue is that by not just bringing their child to a protest but actually involving them it exposes that child to things that (in my opinion) a child should not have to be exposed to. Abortion is a very adult topic, I did not know what it was until at least some point in middle school and even then it was not something I concerned myself with, I was too busy being a kid. I realize that if involved in a debate with one of the protestors from this morning they could say that I would be potentially doing the same damage to my future child by making them volunteer at a homeless shelter downtown. It is certainly something to think about. Not to say that the homeless shelter would be my first choice, I was thinking more along the lines of planting trees or something along those lines until they were older but still, it does make me reflect on it a little.

I do not agree with what I saw this morning just like I didn’t agree with it when I saw children on the news with their parents protesting at the Casey Anthony murder trial. Get a babysitter! Your kid does not need to be exposed to the negativity. Ultimately yes it would please me if my children grew up to be responsible members of society with a voice rather than responsible members of society who were bystanders like everyone else but ultimately that is a decision for them to make later on in life it is not something they should be subjected to as children.

I will now step off my soap box and go about the rest of my day.

Future Plans

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to my future, a future that before I was unable to imagine. That alone makes me feel like I must be doing something right. I think about the immediate future and how the things I am doing now will impact who I am and where I want to be later. I have been thinking about Todd and I older with kids and what it will be like, who our children will be, the things we can do to help them become who they are to become. I have no doubt that our children will be proud of Todd and admire him, I do. I think it is hard not to, he is so good. I just hope I will be able to make them proud as well.

I am proud of myself. I am doing things that I have always wanted to but was too afraid. My second semester back in school came to an end on Monday, I know three of my final grades so far, 2 A’s and a C (in math of course). I am confident that my final grade in Anthropology will be an A as well. I received 4 A’s and 2 B’s on my tests in that class. I have a few days off now until classes start again Monday. I am technically finished with my AA now but because I was unmotivated and foolish my first few semsters of college I am now having to pay for it (literally) and make up a few grades. I could just apply for UCF now and start in the fall but I really want my GPA to represent me as I am now, not the student I was when I was 18. I know it will cost more but I feel like this is the right thing to do.

I was ecstatic to receive an email from my Race and Ethnicity professor inviting me into a book club/study group that he is forming with a few other former students as well as other intellectuals he knows. He has a book coming out in a month or so, it is about being your most authentic self, and we will start with that book. I cannot wait. I have always wanted to be a part of a book club not to mention this group of people are like minded. I am excited to see where this will take me.

I started volunteering with Cherokee School last Thursday. It was eye opening, I am so grateful for this opportunity. These children are getting a raw deal in their lives and although my role is small I am just glad to help in any way I can. Last Thursday was more of an orientation and tour. It was a busy day for them, lots of incidents. I was surprised by myself for not being more startled by it all. It is not what one would consider a “normal” elementary school but I found myself more curios than anything else. I went back on Tuesday and spent the entire day in a classroom and loved it. Their were some issues with behavior but over all it wasn’t a bad day. I enjoyed tutoring one of the students in Math the most, never thought I’d have a good thing to say about Math thats for sure. I dont go back again until the 14th but I am excited.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday about myself. For the first time I was able to see myself from the outside. I feel like I am pretty good with introspection and trying to self correct but yesterday a few things really hit home for me. I am glad they did because it helped me to see the way I am in certain situations and what needs to change.