Saturday, August 6, 2016

176: why I have a hard time getting rid of books

...in which I delve into the psychological connection between me and my books.

What does my library mean to me?

Like, honestly.

After writing a long, rambling, very probing draft on the subject, here's my rewrite.

My library of 489 books (plus the one I just bought at the Christian bookstore) is my trophy. It is a monument to my perceived self, proof that I am intellectual, that my interests are varied, even if several of the books remain unread, or bookmarked 32 pages in with boarding passes and napkins, or are relicts of my college days.

Owning books is virtuous. Owning good books is even more virtuous. I have imbedded this fact on my psyche and, with it, great pride in my 489 (plus 1) collection.

Maybe it all started with my favorite Disney princess and her love of books

To get rid of a book feels like relinquishing part of who I was or who I want to be. The desire to be a woman who is more than a popular fiction reader, someone who is intellectual and deep and reads classics. And I do love an occasional dip into philosophy or history or Shakespeare! I do! But I'm probably never going to read a 751 page book on John Adams even though I am interested in who he was. And although I bought that still shrink-wrapped book on Sam Houston while at the San Jacinto Monument in Houston, Texas, and therefore have a sentimental attachment to it, realistically I'm never going to read 531 pages on him either. To get rid of a book is admitting that I will probably never pursue that potentially interesting topic.

Counseling interests me, and Seeing With New Eyes is supposed to be a really good book on the topic, but right now, that's not where my interest lies. But it sure looks good on a shelf!

It looks good.

I want to tell you about all the different kinds of books (not just history!) I own just so you'll be impressed with me.

Yet, they are like a weight around my neck.

I am afraid to let books go.

Afraid to let go of the memories--I bought American Women and World War II on the U.S.S. Midway while venturing out on a day trip by myself in San Diego!

Afraid to admit the unvirtuous fact that I like the Basil Rathbone movies better than the Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes short stories.

Afraid to let go of books that would add greatly to that ideal future homeschool library.

Afraid to close a chapter and say I'm no longer interested in that subject.

That is the salient point:

I am not interested in them right now.

What do I actually read? What if, instead of holding onto books I'm interested in and take pride in and that I bought with great excitement for amazingly cheap prices, what if I culled my library down to what I actually read? It would be far more meager. Maybe not less interesting, but less diverse. Less to boast about. And with some of my favorites now on my Kindle app, not an accurate show-off of what I read.


Is this me, or is this who I think I should be?

What do I actually read? Now. This person today in real life in real time. If I got rid of some of the books I probably won't ever read, would I perhaps find my true self? Who I am now? Would I find something beautiful behind the lie that my identity is wrapped up in the gargantuan amount of looks-impressive-on-a-shelf books I own but don't read? Would I find that I can be an interesting, intelligent, culture-shaping individual without owning 489 (plus 1!) books?

This is my psychological connection to my books. Basically pride and fear.

P.S. After writing this draft, I gathered together 43 books to let go of. I am trying very hard to not let my emotions kick in and change my mind. I also have been reading the new book I bought--because that's what books are for.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

175: the discomfort of a crush

You like someone. And (of course) they don't like you back. How do you know? Because he could do something about it if he did and he's not. Logic. Doesn't always penetrate the emotions. You re-hash your interactions (even if it was literally just a "hello, *name*) and groan as you remember that thing that made you look ridiculous (I can't believe I said that!!!), those words that sounded pushy (I totally turned him off!), or uninterested (I did not! Oh no!). You let the pull and salt wash over you a couple days, and then, when you expect things to start feeling better (because emotions come in waves), I don't know, a hormone tweak or something makes the wave drag on longer than it should. These uncomfortable feelings of unrequited like should be ebbing. I want them to ebb. This is painful. No, not painful. Just very uncomfortable! I remember things I said, things I did. So so so stupid! Ack! Augh! Argh! Recoiling in amazement at my own dunce-ity and then going back and looking at the disaster all over again. I was a complete flirt! -Lie- I made a complete fool of myself! -Lie- He would never like me because I am so inadequate. -Lie- He probably has some secret weakness that I wouldn't want to deal with anyway. -Lie- I'm going to forget about him. I don't need him. I'm better off without him.

And so instead of embracing the discomfort, we do everything to make it go away. Which I'm all for, as long as we don't deceive ourselves that it's somehow our fault or his fault or that we don't want him anyway. Cuz that's what I do. I start lying to myself to make me feel better.

Maybe we should embrace the uncomfortable truths.

Such as, I like him.
He probably doesn't like me.
It's not because I'm horrid.
It might be he simply doesn't like me. *ouch* *shrug*
That isn't stopping me from liking him.
I'm going to have to live with this discomfort until it dies down. Not feed it, not rehash it, not beat myself up over it--just live with it.

And the comforting truths.

I did my best to get him to like me back.
I may not have performed perfectly, but the right guy will be attracted to me, despite my awkward or ridiculous moments.
There really are other good guys out there. I might not know any at the moment that seem as well-suited for me, but God has proven to me before that whoever I currently like isn't the end-all of amazing guys.

What to do then? I don't know. Give it over to God...again. Acknowledge He can bring romance out of clods and rocks. Confirm your trust in His power and the beauty of His doings. Remind yourself He loves you. Basically, lay before God what we already know and believe above and beyond our temporal wishes. Testify to ourselves what we have witnessed of our God.

And then, ride out the discomfort a little longer.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

174: meshing homeschool and public school expectations

Yesterday and today (mm, it's past midnight, so yesterday and the day before yesterday) I volunteered at a homeschool convention so I could get in free and listen to speakers and buy really cheap books downstairs where all the leftover books from the June curriculum swap are available for donation only. I left with 68 books. . . and with some really good thoughts and ideas shared by the speakers.

I wrote a status on Facebook tonight that seems to accurately encompass my thoughts this eve. I re-post it here so I won't lose it. :)

"I'm thankful I work in a school where my class size is so small and the administration is so flexible that I can implement homeschool-style methods and even be Spirit-led/seize teachable moments. I am thankful that this season of life is the next best thing to being a homeschool mom myself. I am thankful that I can have a job that is fulfilling and encourages creativity and grows skills that I will always benefit from having learned. It's weird though because I feel like I ride the fence between the world of homeschooling (my heritage) and the world of public schooling (our "competition"). Between "let God lead you as to what is best for your child" and "do not be bound by the world's educational goals" on one side and "excellence is following research-based best practices" and "how does this align to state standards or common core?" on the other. Both sound good. Both are good. But they ARE different. They approach education very differently. And then there's my little classroom, where I mesh all the ideas flying in my brain and the voices of both sides telling me what to do, and figure out what I'm capable of doing with my abilities and what I'm expected to accomplish. 3 weeks til I go back."

Friday, July 8, 2016

173: date-turned-Mormon processing

I want to write more. Originally this blog was supposed to be a place for me to write my thoughts without trying to tailor it for an audience. Maybe I can get back to that more.

So many thoughts.

To tell you the truth, when I see the date-turned-Mormon profile pic, I still feel a pang. The day before he was supposed to turn Mormon I talked with him again on the phone and told him about two articles I read by Mormons about Mormons. I told him what I had learned and why I disagreed. At his request, I sent him the articles and also added the Scripture verses I had brainstormed refuting the main points I had culled from the articles. He said he'd read them. But he still became Mormon. I haven't heard from him again. He joined LDS singles groups on FB.

When we had lunch, he had talked about Mormonism, but I didn't think he was considering joining them. I thought I was talking to a believer--I didn't realize I was engaging in apologetics. When I told him on the phone that I didn't want to touch Mormonism with a ten-foot pole, I didn't mean that I was ostracizing him because I couldn't philosophically deal with someone becoming Mormon. I meant that I couldn't go there relationally, that emotionally I couldn't even continue a friendship with him because it would be too much a temptation to crush on an unbeliever. I am too weak; I HAD to set my boundary. But did he recognize that? Is there anyone in his life that can still dialogue with him about what Scripture says? Not to tell him he's wrong or that Mormonism is stupid, but to truly dialogue with him like he so enjoyed.

The church. Where was the church as the LDS missionaries drew him in, counseled him? One of the main things we talked about in our lunch was how Mormons disciple new converts and keep them accountable and follow through. And the church is so lacking in that area. I know personally that if I want accountability or fellowship, I have to seek it. And I have the spiritual maturity now to be able to seek it. But what about someone who has only be saved a few years? Why are we--why am I--not encouraging one another to follow the Lord? Oh sure, we "fellowship," as in, we hang out, we talk, we "do life" together. But how often, how RARELY, do I discuss with someone how they are doing spiritually, how they are doing at obeying Scripture's commands to love one another, and then follow through the next time I see them, instead of dropping it like the only point of bringing it up was to have a deep conversation, not cultivate TRUE Christian fellowship? And how defensive and shallow do I feel when someone asks me what I am reading in the Word these days or some other spiritually probing question? Are we a community of believers, or are we really just a social club? And what part am I playing in making it one or the other? Because he was looking for something, and the Mormons had it.

What was the draw to Mormonism? That question has plagued me. Because there are similarities. They claim to follow Jesus. But they do not believe that God is God and man is man--that line is blurred--and they do not accept the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture. Those are biggies! And yet, they're "moral." When I asked a friend about why he might have been drawn to Mormonism, she suggested that people are drawn to the idea of "secret knowledge" and a more works-oriented salvation.

The one thing that I am challenged with through this is to better live out what I believe. To more fully live out Scripture. If I am going to be a light, then I need to continue to let Jesus take over more of my life and not worry about what is popular (or even what is old-fashioned). My date was not looking for what was popular. He was looking for depth. My prayer is that he becomes disillusioned with the "secret knowledge" in Mormonism and comes back to basic Scripture as truth. Oh, Lord, open his eyes!

I mourn the loss of a possible friendship and the loss of a brother.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

172: online dating bloopers

Christian Mingle had a sale I couldn't turn down. So amid much prayer and emotions (and despite everything I've said about not being cut out for that world) on Easter I jumped back into the pond. As I told one fellow, "It really is nice to get to know other people, even if only for a couple exchanged messages."


One big positive to online dating (if you don't happen to meet your future spouse) is getting to interact with lots of people you wouldn't otherwise meet and be influenced and spurred on by what they write on their profiles or in exchanged messages. I've had some good e-mail conversations with guys I am truly honored to have virtually met.


But sometimes . . . sometimes you just have to laugh and groan.


I didn't know whether to interpret this comment as a bash on my photos or a compliment to my real self--or maybe he was just trying to say not to judge him by his own photos: "I just got my photos approved so you have an idea what I look like. But like myself, I'm sure you look better in person :)"


A homeschool grad in his late 30s made me realize how weird homeschoolers are if you actually write out everything you think, believe, and want, on screen, for other people to read.


One guy's profile name, with extra symbols removed, is "Love Me." Desperate much? I'm not replying to his smile.


With another guy, after a single chat session about the weather and listing where we've traveled, I was offered his e-mail, FB, Skype, and text contact info. Kudos for being pro-active! (no groaning here, just amused surprise)


Another fellow chatted with me and begged me to ask questions about himself so he could prove he was a good guy. I had never doubted he was a good guy, but he was quite put out when I wouldn't agree to call him the next day after our one chat and two previously exchanged short e-mails.


How soon is soon? "hope i can know about you more. beacause im looking for a person with a good heart and soon to be my partner for the rest of my life." Too soon!


First message: "and dont worry im not a bad guy or a stranger :)" I think we define "stranger" differently.


My profile pic shows me hugging my dog with the caption "tormenting my dog?" A guy replied, "If that is tormenting your dog, torment me too!" A little much? Just a little.


I often get the conversation starter "Hey, beautiful." And I ask myself, would he really walk up to a girl and start a conversation that way?


One guy took out his frustration over me cutting off our brief conversation due to a theological difference by asking me when I was last in a relationship. I soooo wanted to write him back and justify my prospectability, but I refrained.


My coworker likes dubbing the guys I write: "Sketch," "Walt" (he liked Disney), "Red Head," "41 year old."

I had put on my profile that I wasn't going to do much on CM until summer (that ended up being a falsehood), so one guy--who actually seemed like a pretty good guy--wrote this introductory message (ellipses his): "I'll wait until you are ready... I love your profile and find you gorgeous sincerely... Your fan right here..." (I'll admit, I might have felt some flutters despite the hyperbole feel.) When I replied and slightly chided him for assuming so much from a few words on a page, he didn't write back and my coworker chided me upside the head for rebuffing a good guy. *sigh* Apparently I've got issues too.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Book Review: No Way Up by Mary Connealy

Not too long ago, a friend introduced me to Sarah Sundin. Set in Boston during the beginning of World War 2, the Waves of Freedom series has me hooked on this new-to-me author. I finished Anchor in the Storm, thoroughly entrenched in the era, only to have to turn to a book I needed to review, No Way Up by Mary Connealy, a Western. How do you switch on a dime from the 1930/40s to the Old West? I'll tell you how--you get yourself a Mary Connealy, book because she never fails to capture your attention and hold it!

Third page into No Way Up there is an avalanche, people get hurt, the crisis begins. Connealy is a flawless storyteller. She consistently weaves action, romance, intrigue, with a twist in plot. I don't know what else to say! No Way Up had all of the above and kept you moving til the end. If you want a plot summary, check out the description on Amazon!

 
It also looks like a novella (The Boden Birthright) explaining the father's background is available for free on Kindle, which should be really good because it involves a marriage of convenience. (No worries, in No Way Up they are thoroughly in love with each other.)

Two solid novels in a row. What was I to do next? I had picked up a debut novel at the local Christian bookstore during a 1/2 off sale--Where Treasure Hides (2012) set in World War 2. I went from Sundin to Connealy to Johnnie Alexander, and again, totally hooked!

Happy summer reading!


"Everything that was male in him seemed to awaken all that was female in her. As if she'd been in a deep sleep her whole life...until now." -No Way Up

Disclaimer: Both Sundin and Connealy put a lot of kissing in these books.

Friday, June 24, 2016

171: free verse on a summer off work

Three day weekends and summer vacations are always difficult for me. I excitedly anticipate the time off and then hit the hazard button of no schedule. I am a person who thrives on a schedule. And I'm also a person who will lazily stay up til 2am, sleep til 11am, and eat icecream every day if a higher purpose doesn't shake me into a more productive lifestyle.

School ended, I packed, and then off to Boston and Maine I went with a bunch of wonderful people from around the country that I have been building friendships with over the last two years. You know what it's like when you get back from vacation, especially one involving no sleep and seeing people you won't see again for awhile? You start hitting the return-to-normal blues. Combine that with absolutely nothing to do *cough* okay, I guess I could, you know, clean up these piles of clothes and papers, and, ok, lesson plan for history next school year, and, well, there is lots TO do, but nothing that MUST be done. Anyway, it's summer. And with summer comes adjustments. Some of it is glorious--like being able to cook for my family more (during the school year my mom, whose love language is firmly entrenched in "acts of service" makes my breakfast and lunch every single morning; summer is my time to reignite the homemaker in me and be a blessing back) and being able to hang out with my dog, who is currently depressed that I'm still awake but not depressed enough to go slink into the other room where sleeping is happening.

Summer is my opportunity to make wise choices. I'd rather have those choices imposed on me, like in a work schedule. And yet, don't you dare tell me what to do over my summer because I like making my own choices. See? Confusing.

I've been having fun lately journaling some of my thoughts in free verse. So here is my free verse on summer.

Waddle, waddle--Make Way for Ducklings in Boston Common!

Blank spaces
Canvas
Crevices
Where stone stood in solid unity before
Cracked open to allow space
Spread wide to open into summer

Sleep, time, plans
Trips, high, people
Return, restore, amiss
A crevice
A crack between the duties of the year
And the thrill of vacation wanderings
Now in no-man's land
A blank space to be filled.

Thoughts, hopes, habits
Others, conversations, input
Alone, yet not
Full of tasks put off
Yet empty of what is normally done

A canvas splotted with
Haphazard paint

Better, should be better
Summer, should be summer
Intentional, but zombie-ing aimlessly
Like a tumbleweed
Thither I go

Will I find the strength
The fortitude
The wisdom
To pain the canvas of summer well?

Will I rest
Be restored
Find grace and joy and peace
And unique to summer fun
Before the gap closes
And the solid ground of
A school teacher's schedule
Returns?

lobster traps at the end of a pier in Maine