Friday, April 29, 2011

Watching for the Undertow

I've spent a large portion of April in my own world. Things outside of my immediate surroundings have been largely left to drift. I've looked up a few times, but things that have been close have seemed more urgent.

I can hear the whispers of thoughts I've pulled away from. Thoughts of how in the past I should have been stronger and stood up for others instead of finally protecting myself from even more emotional scarring. The part of me that is already a mother, and has been since my own mother seemed to give up on actually raising my siblings, protests that I left them alone with her.

I know that in reality there was no other choice I could have reasonably made. The relationship was broken and I couldn't fix things that were out of my control. Staying in the situation wouldn't have helped my siblings any. They needed to see for themselves how bad it was. I had been bearing the burden of trying to make someone happy when they would never be happy just based on what I was doing, but I wasn't going to be able to bear it any longer. 10 years, and fairly formative years at that, was long enough.

There are times that those whispers say that I'm broken and if I could just fix myself then I would get my mother's love. Life would be sunshine and roses. But I know better than to listen to those whispers. I know the truth. I may be somewhat broken sometimes, but it's because someone who was more fundamentally broken tried to make me into something that would fix her. The expression of her love was always conditional (I'm sure there was and is love there, but it's hard to see love shining through criticism) and I finally woke up to realize that there would always be another hoop to jump through. The glimpses of love and approval were there to keep me jumping. I deserve better.

I'm not fighting off depression quite as much as I have been in the fairly recent past, but I can hear the whispers of thoughts that could lead me back down that path. I'm just starting to move away from my shore again, out to where the waters are deep enough for currents. I'm staying cautious, after all I know that May will be here soon and I've faced struggles in the past in May. I'm watching out for the undertow. I don't want to be swept away again. Because it would be so easy to just let the whispers take me away.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Reading (Or a Lack Thereof)

I love reading. There have been very few books that I've ever put down without finishing once I started them. And with a few of those, it wasn't a desire to not read the book as much as the knowledge that now was not the right time for me to read the book.

Despite this, the English classes I ended up taking in high school had teachers that were generally more focused on writing than reading. In fact, I only remember reading 1. Romeo and Juliet (9th grade, I loved it) 2. Julius Caesar (10th grade, no strong feelings one way or the other) and 3. To Kill a Mockingbird (11th grade, loved the story, have the book now). My senior year, I think we read a few short stories, but most of the class was focused on writing.

I never had a long list of required reading books (I only had short lists of required reading in college). I've not really had long discussions on themes or what the author meant when he or she said this or that (other than while reading Shakespeare's plays). Every time I pick up a book, the judgements I make as I read are purely my own.

I'm not sure if I should feel that I've missed something. I am content to judge a book solely on my own experience with it, even if I'm not quite sure how to explain my experience or thoughts to others. I know what I like, even if I can't always explain why I like it (that's a lot like licorice, come to think of it).

I assume that there were English teachers in my high school that did focus a bit more on reading than writing. I know that I left high school with the ability to write a well-structured paragraph that could fill a page. I also knew how to write a research paper (my 11th and 12th grade classes both wrote a class research paper), something that came in handy while I was a college.

I, obviously, no longer regularly write page long paragraphs. I haven't needed to write a research paper since I finished my English classes in college. And I've continued to read just about any type of book I could get my hands on (I have yet to try a western). It seems that my English teachers didn't teach much that I still use (and completely ignored something I loved even then). But maybe it's for the best. Maybe if I had to read a long list of books for school I wouldn't find reading as fun as I still do.

Do English teachers still give reading lists? Or has that gone away?

M.A. Smith, bookworm

P.S.: I do still use the touch typing I learned in high school. I'm so glad I took that typing/computer class.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finding the Positive

Ace and I are trying to focus on things we can be thankful for and things that are positive about our current situation. Sometimes it's a struggle, as we seem to be the sane people in this house.

We keep catching ourselves complaining about various injustices or venting frustrations. And while it's better that we aren't just letting all this anger and annoyance grow unabated, it's not good to only focus on the negatives. That way leads to depression and bad things emotionally.

Of course, my in-laws don't always make it easy to focus on the positives. They feel a need to "helpfully" remind us of things that are fairly negative or they choose the worst possible moment to demand that their "needs" are met (the amount they help us or that their needs are truly important seems to be directly inverse to how much stress they cause or how bad the timing is for us). It's hard to be thankful for the bed you sleep in or the food you eat when the people responsible for them don't seem to care about anything but themselves.

But we do have a fairly comfortable, temperature controlled environment to live in. We do get food provided for us (even if it isn't what we would normally choose). Our car had a heater for the worst part of this past winter (since it was fixed, the heater is not working again, but the solution is hopefully the same one as last time and should be simple to fix when we get it fixed again) and our blinkers are still working fine. We have the ability to get our clothes clean without having to pay for anything. We get taken out to meals we don't have to pay for twice a week most weeks. Because we don't have as many expenses, we have been able to replace both our computers within a fairly short time frame.

We are blessed. I know there are people out there who would love to have even a fraction of the blessings we have (food, shelter, over-all good health). I know this. It doesn't always make it easier to focus on the positives. It's easier to see the negatives, especially when living with people who focus on the negatives most of the time.

It's easy to let the frustrations overwhelm the positives. It's easy to imagine ranting at my brother-in-law for leaving the toilet seat up or tossing all my mother-in-law's "precious" junk. It's easy complain that my mother-in-law is living just this side of a Hoarders episode. It's easy to rail at the idea that Ace and I have to explain where we are going every time we leave but my in-laws can go out to dinner and don't feel the need to let us know we have to fend for ourselves. It's easy to let all these little (and not so little) things pile up until we can't see the blessings.

It's time for a change. We need to focus on the positives in our lives. And I think I'll start by reminding Ace that we need to find 5 things a day to be thankful for (even if it's just that we're alive for another day). I think it will make the rest of the time we are living here (however long that will be) a little less negative.

Today, I am thankful for:

1. Ace: He wants us to focus on the positives as much as I do.
2. God: He's here for me, even when I'm in the middle of a rant that should be cut short.
3. The library: How else would I get a chance to read so many books? And for free!
4. The car: It may not be my dream car, but it gets me where I want/need to go.
5. My new laptop: Even with all my games, I still have 3 times as much free space as I used to!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Ace and I have been talking while listening to music on my iPod. It's been nice, a time to connect intellectually and to meander through a variety of subjects. And it occurs to me that while my taste in music is fairly narrow in it's scope, my taste in books is fairly eclectic.

Yesterday, I went to the library and picked out three books. I picked up Dracula, a book I've sort of been wanting to read for a while. It's the first potentially scary book I've picked up (unless you count mysteries as scary). I also picked up Holy Hullabaloos, "a road trip to the battlegrounds of the church/state war" because it seemed interesting. I also picked up Sugarbabe, a book written by a woman who decided to find a sugar daddy and her experiences with that.

While this is probably the most eclectic mix of books I've ever checked out at one time, it sort of shows how varied my reading interests are. In fact, I recently went through a look at the Dewey decimal system and wrote down some of the areas I thought I'd probably find books that would interest me (that is one eclectic list too). There's a mix from psychology to manufacturing to folklore to American literature. More than likely, I'll find books in each of the sections I wrote down to fascinate and educate myself.

So, while my iPod would probably bore most people, my library lists would probably tell psychologists something about me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Marriage

Ace and I went to a wedding today. It was lovely. There was laughter and kids making noise (as kids do). It went extremely well.

I didn't know either the bride or the groom before the wedding. I've now met the groom, but still really don't know either one of them. Ace used to know the groom back before we met.

Every time I go to a wedding (which isn't that often, since I can only think of 5 weddings I've been to and 2 were on the same day in the same location), I think of my wedding and the vows I made. I get reminded of what I promised Ace and it gives me a chance to look back and decide if I've been fulfilling those promises.

During the reception, Ace and I talked. I apologized for not always walking in love with him and following what I Corinthians 13 says about how love acts. He forgave me, as I knew he would. He shouldn't have had to.

Ace and I have known each other for 8 and 1/2 years now. We've been married for almost 8 years. I won't say we know everything there is to know about marriage, but we've got our relationship fairly well worked out. And I wouldn't trade our relationship for anything.

I love you, Ace! Thanks for being there and being yourself. It's helped make the past few years much more bearable. I'm excited about spending the rest of my life with you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Laptop

This is my first post on my new laptop.

I first thought that I wasn't going to get this laptop for a few more hours, but it was decided that we could go buy it earlier than intended. I've started getting everything set up on it and I am excited about my new laptop.

It has been over 4 years since I've had a new laptop that was all mine. I am practically buzzing because of my excitement. Ace is thrilled for me and amused by my giddiness.

I now have roughly 5 times as much space available to me as I had before. Everything is all new and perfect. And best of all, at least to me, I can set everything up how I want it.


6 Words

A while back people tried to tell a story with only 6 words. I could never quite figure out what to say in just 6 words. Today, I think I found my 6 words.

I am stronger than I think.

Friday, April 8, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

I've been thinking about Pinky and the Brain lately (you know, the lab mice from Animaniacs that got two spin-offs of their own). I've got a theory about the true meaning behind their theme song.

I think that Pinky is truly the genius and Brain was the insane one. Let me explain.

Geniuses don't generally want to take over the world. Geniuses have odd thought lines that don't make sense to non-geniuses (or other geniuses). Pinky generally managed to blow Brain's plans for world domination without trying.

Brain however came up with more and more insane sounding plans for taking over the world. And even though he kept failing, he kept coming up with new plans. He kept repeating the same types of actions over and over and kept expecting a different outcome, which is a popular definition of insanity.

That's my theory. Make of it what you will.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grow Up Already!

Today, not 30 minutes ago, my father-in-law pounded on his own front door and demanded to be let in. He was furious that the door from the garage to the house was locked. He came in, shouting about the door being locked and the fact that he doesn't have a key to that lock (or to the front door, apparently) and that his hands had been full when he got here and he had to set stuff down, only to find he had no key.

The man acted like the door was locked on purpose. Ace told him that we had gone to the garage after my father-in-law went to work and that he must have locked it out of habit. The whole thing was an accident, but my father-in-law reacted like it was a reason to start World War III.

Ace apologized, somewhat sarcastically since there wasn't truly a reason to apologize other than to placate his father, returned to our room and then my mother-in-law voiced her upset over the fact that the door isn't normally locked, even though the alarm is set.

My father-in-law acted like a crazy man. He got pissed off for no good reason and refused to calm down when a reason for the door being locked was offered. He was minorly inconvenienced, for about a minute. He wasn't locked outside the house for an hour or even for 5 minutes. His reaction was like waving a red flag in front of a bull, and was over the top.

I would claim that it was lack of enough sleep or general crankiness that made him more susceptible to being angry, but that isn't a good enough reason. I've been tired and annoyed before (this past Sunday in fact, with a helping of not feeling well added on) without irrationally yelling at whoever caused me an inconvenience. His behavior is unacceptable.

To further compound the lack of sleep problem, today is laundry day for my in-laws. My father-in-law does the laundry. This means he's going to be up for a while longer, washing their clothes, instead of taking a nap to start acting more like a human being. I'm considering barricading myself in my room until after Ace gets back from prayer night because I'm not sure I wouldn't make a rude comment after his childish behavior today (despite the fact that I would then be acting childish myself).

Please let us move soon. I'm living with childish mentalities in adult bodies and my patience for this type of nonsense is running out.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I apologize for the absence. The past week was a bigger emotional struggle than it probably should have been. But I'm doing much better now.

Sometimes I just need someone to guide me back to my shore. I needed someone to remind me that my God is bigger than my problems. I needed someone to show me hope again.

I'm not saying life is perfect or necessarily even very different. But my emotional state is better.