I Sold My Childhood for $100

Last week, I sold my childhood. By that, I mean that I boxed up most of my childhood books and took them to Hastings to sell. My reasons for doing this were twofold:  one, I needed the space on my shelves. I currently have four bookshelves that are still full, and I am hoping to move into a one-room apartment soon. There are only so many books that can be fit into a one-room apartment. Reason two is that one-room apartments cost money, and every little bit counts. One hundred dollars is a great help.

Besides, these were old books, books that I would probably never read again. Even if I did re-read them, would I appreciate them as much now as I had back then? If I sold them to Hastings, they could go on and have a new home, a home where maybe—hopefully—the owner would appreciate them as much as I had.

The transaction was very businesslike. I’m not sure what I expected—after all, it was a business transaction. But these were my books, the books that had kept me company when I was a kid. I didn’t have a lot of flesh-and-blood friends as a youngster; I had books. I kept some of my favorites, books that I hoped to share with my friends’ kids when they have them, but there were some good books in those boxes:  Artemis Fowl, The Dragonriders of Pern (I didn’t always read age-appropriate materials), and other books that I had read over and over, including most of my manga.

I brought in the four heavy boxes and a few large hardbacks that wouldn’t fit and browsed Hastings for a couple of hours while two young cashiers went through my treasures and picked which ones they would take. They didn’t take all of them. In fact, they didn’t take Artemis Fowl or Dragonriders, but they took most of my childhood loves.

 I’m still a bit melancholy about it, but I know that now these books have a chance to be another kid’s friend.

Advertisements

Climbing out of Limbo

Over the past few months, I have been slacking. Not just on my blog (though you may have noticed a lack of recent posts), but life in general.

While in college, I was doing well:  I worked out three times a week, ate four to five meals a day, wrote, read whenever I had time away from studying. My GPA my last semester at HU was 4.0, I helped three student organizations run, and I walked a dog during my lunch break.  I did all of those things and still had a strong social life that was filled with people of all different majors, even people outside the state. My day had a strict schedule, and I stuck to it. I got things done. I was awesome.

What happened?

Now I’m lucky if I work out once a week, I eat perhaps two meals a day, write only for work, read maybe every other day, never study foreign languages, and my social life is minimal (though I still Skype my out-of-state friends). I don’t set my alarm clock, and have trouble getting up in the mornings, even when I go to sleep early. My planner buried itself under a pile of papers; it’s not like I used it. The most I do for myself is attend personal development seminars once a month, and smaller business plans (for the same program) once a week. This isn’t enough.

The problem is lack of structure. Because I don’t have a schedule that revolves around other people (classes, clubs, etc.), I haven’t scheduled out my day like I used to do, and the result is that I never get anything accomplished.

Today, I resolve to change that. If I want to be successful in any aspect of my life, I need to change my habits. I need to be internally motivated rather than using the external motivation that I have always used. Starting today, my days will be strictly scheduled. I will wake up at 7:00 a.m. and work out six days a week. I will eat at least three meals a day. I will write five hundred words a day that is not for work. I will write at least two blog posts a week. I will maintain my business’ website as well as the websites I maintain for work. I will practice my French twice a week, and I will study German three days a week. I will read a personal development book for half an hour every day, my Bible for half an hour every day, and a novel or short story anthology for half an hour every day. I will listen to four educational podcasts or CDs a day (which I can do when I get dressed in the mornings and while I eat meals). I will make more local friends (most of my friends are long-distance).

To keep this list of promises to myself, I will spend every Saturday night planning out my week, and half an hour every evening planning the next day. To keep myself accountable, I will write a blog post every weekend to document my progress (if I am out of town, it may be posted on Monday, but only if I am out of town).

A Bond Stronger Than Blood

The concept of family has been on my mind lately. For the past several years, members of the older generation, especially in the church, have begun to complain that the power of the nuclear family is waning. They claim that this is the primary cause of many of today’s societal problems. While parental guidance is vital to a child’s formative years, is drifting away from the family unit when one is an adult really the catastrophe that many claim?

I’m not talking about individuals who break away from the family unit and remain solitary, but rather those who seek a tribe outside their kin. There are many people, myself included, who find that they cohere less with their blood relations and more with other groups. Are harmonious belief systems, temperaments, and attitudes less important than DNA?

Did not Jesus  tell us that blood is not the defining factor in family? In Matthew  12:50, Jesus says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Christianity is founded on the idea of a stronger bond than blood, the bond of Christ. Why then does the Church insist that blood ties are the strongest there are?

I have many parents and siblings that do not share my blood, but who are family to be nonetheless.

What do you think of the family unit:  is it defined by DNA sequences or spirit?

Dislocation

The good news:  I didn’t break my toe.

I sat in the x-ray waiting area as the technician finished what she was doing. When she finally turned to me and smiled, I gave her my name and she led me back to the x-ray room, a stark, white and grey space with a counter for equipment and a hard bed, which I was to lie on while the bone pictures were taken.

“What did you do?” she asked.

I explained about the couch, how I didn’t turn on the light when I got home and ran straight into my mother’s blue couch. Then I signed a piece of paper that assured everyone involved that I was not pregnant and took my place on the sterile bed. I was unconcerned until the event was over, when I saw the blue lead apron hanging on the wall, and the thick partition that separated the technician from the radiation. X-ray machines are dangerous things to keep in a clinic.

After it was done,  I was lead back to the examination room. I am usually a fast walker, but I struggled to keep up with the nurse as I hobbled down the hall. I suppose I should have used the crutches in the attic, but I hate crutches. They make me feel conspicuous, more so than limping around while wearing one shoe. I sat in a plastic chair and was told that the doctor would see me in a moment.

Surprisingly, it was only a moment before my general practitioner rapped on the door and entered. She is a pleasant woman with a strong South American accent and stronger maternal instincts. After a few pleasantries, she gave me the good news. “I don’t think it’s broken; just dislocated. My husband is a podiatrist, and I’m sending the x-rays to him, for his opinion.” She examined my actual foot, just to make sure, then taped it up and gave me further instructions and the promise of a prescription (anti-inflammatory, for the pain and swelling).

Now I sit at my desk, my swollen foot elevated, the rest of me restless–it is my right foot; I cannot drive–and I am thankful it was not a break.

 

Crime Drama and Feminist Paradox

I do not consider myself an avid watcher of television, but there are a few shows that I make a point to watch, and several others that I’ll watch if they happen to be on when I want a distraction. The Mentalist is one such program.

It was on the other night, and my parents were watching it, so I joined them. I had only seen one or two episodes before, so Jane was the only character I could identify. I watched the episode for some time before I realized that Teresa Lisbon was the senior agent. This came as a shock to me, and I immediately asked myself, “Why are you surprised by this?” There are plenty of crime dramas in which a woman is in a position of administrative authority. After a few moments of reflection, I figured it out:  Lisbon has long hair, and is, in general, feminine. In most shows, powerful women have short, masculine haircuts. Director Shepherd on NCIS is a good example of this. Her relationship with Gibbs is the only facet in which she is shown as a feminine figure. Her short hair is a symbol of her masculine authority. In Bones, Cam has long hair, but it is pulled back when she is at the Jeffersonian. She may be a woman in her personal life, but at work, she is a masculine figure.

This is an interesting aspect of our culture. For a woman to have power, she must masculinize herself. Even in the mainstream feminist movement, this is the case:  many feminists display their feminism by becoming masculine. Women who are feminine are sometimes scoffed at for being weak. This strikes me as odd. Isn’t feminism about celebrating the feminine and placing it alongside the masculine in value? So why do we take the feminine out of feminism?

I’m not saying that women should live in the kitchen and spend their lives waiting to be saved by a man. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with women having short hair or other attributes typically associated with the male—on the contrary, I have short hair because I look ridiculous when my hair is long. I am wearing a tie as I write this, because I look good in them (actually, I look more feminine in a tie than I do in a plain t-shirt). What I am saying is that women should not be looked down upon by butch feminists for being feminine. Being masculine so that you can be considered equal to men is devaluing the feminine. Femininity has different strengths than masculinity, but that is not to say that femininity is not just as strong.

I believe that true feminism is giving women value equal to men without removing their feminine nature.

 

Single, Not Broken

As soon as I began college, it started. My friends paired off and married, two by two. There was a period of almost a year in which I attended at least one wedding a month. While I still have some unattached comrades, most of my friends have said their vows and joined the League of the Married™*. I believe that for them, that was the right decision. It fit into the life that they wanted and involved attaching themselves to someone who was good to and for them. I am happy for my married friends. But I want something different.

Twenty-one and single, however, is not something that my culture accepts. Since I was in high school, I’ve been pushed toward relationships:  relatives ask at every family gathering why I don’t have a boyfriend, and friends take on the responsibility of telling me who to date. Now, most of my friends are engrossed enough in their own romantic lives that they leave mine alone, but the stigma of singleness remains. One friend of mine frequently told me that he was afraid that I would be a crazy cat lady, and so always tried to set me up with his friends.  I’m not even seeing anyone, yet my mother wanted to buy a coffee mug for my future husband. I won’t even start the list of people who have talked about my future as a mother. I feel like Eleanor Dashwood, pitied as a spinster despite her age of nineteen. When I look at the expectations pertaining to marriage in this culture, I can’t help but wonder, “Why?”

The current couples’ culture that exists in the States devalues the individual by declaring that if someone, especially someone female, does not have a significant other, that person is somehow defective. If a person does not place the same irrational value on romantic relationships as everyone else does, they are viewed as hard-hearted. I don’t agree with that view. I believe that a single woman (or man) has just as much value as a married one. I don’t have to be married to be a good person—or an important one. Marriage isn’t my focus in life. My focus is to learn, grow, and establish myself as a writer and a member of my community.

Being single doesn’t mean that you are a bad person; it means that you are moving in a different direction.

*The League of the Married is not an actual trademark (at least to my knowledge).

A Chocophile Gives up Sugar

Four weeks ago tomorrow, I gave up sugar. Those of you who know me know that I am a sugar addict; giving it up was a very difficult thing to do. In fact, it seemed like (and many told me it was) a crazy thing to do. Why give up something you love so much?

Four weeks ago, I was listening to a CD lecture about physical fitness.While I am by no stretch a health nut, I do want to take care of my body. God has called us to be good stewards of what he has given us, and the first thing that we receive from him is a body. The speaker on the CD said that there were three things that one could give up to vastly improve one’s health. I was immediately interested. Surely I could do three things? Besides, who doesn’t love a challenge? Those three things were:  MSG, hydrogenated oils, and sugar. MSG isn’t too much of a problem in my life. While I do like Chinese food,I am otherwise good at avoiding MSG. Hydrogenated oils are more difficult. They are in everything. I decided to wait until my self-control pertaining to food was a bit stronger before attempting to cut them out of my diet. But sugar? I thought about it. I could give up sugar. I mean, sure, I like sugar. Yes, I have a monstrous sweet-tooth. Indeed, I put two or three spoonfuls of the stuff in my tea. But that doesn’t mean I can’t give it up, right?

I did some research and made myself some guidelines: I could have up to
forty grams of sugar a day. I would give myself a once-a-week cheat day
in which I could eat whatever I wanted. My cravings could wait until then.
The first day was easy. I had just made the decision, and all I had to do
follow-through. I informed my parents what I was doing (they laughed and
assumed that I was joking), and began to check the labels of everything
that I consumed. It turns out that sugar is in a lot of foods. No matter–
I could do it. The second day was more difficult. I wanted sugar! I had
to have something sweet. The solution turned out to be this:  If I were
very good throughout the day (less than 20 grams), I could have a very
small portion of ice cream in the evening (three and one half ounces of ice
cream, depending on the type, has only seventeen grams of sugar).

The hardest part was shifting from sweetened to unsweetened tea and coffee.
As I said, I like my tea on the sweet side. Two months ago, I couldn’t
drink more than one sip of unsweetened tea at a time. Now that I’ve adjusted,
however, I’m guzzling my English breakfast without sugar. I still have to
put creamer in my coffee, though (the creamer I use has five grams of sugar
but I don’t add more).When I told G about my personal challenge, he informed me that he had (unintentionally) done the same thing. Since he had moved, he simply hadn’t had anything sweet. This was something that we could do together, even as far apart as we were. After three weeks, though, G had to stop; he was losing too much weight, and needed to put sugar back into his diet. I have not had that problem, so I am continuing with my forty gram a day limit.

I’ve only lost control twice. Once was my great-uncle’s birthday party, and
I felt it necessary to eat the cake (it would have been rude not to, right?).
The other was last week. I wasn’t feeling very well, so I went to Sonic and
got some ice cream. It was worth it. Other than those two slip-ups, though,
I’ve managed to keep myself in check. Now if I could only make myself work
out as much as I should.

Post-Grad and Goals for the New Year

I have officially completed the requirements and received my bachelor’s degree of English (Okay, full disclosure: I received my degree a month ago, and just never got around to writing about it until now). My college career is over, and now I can do whatever I want. I can start my life over and be whomever I want. That opens up several possibilities, and gives me so much freedom. I can stay in the States, I can travel abroad for a few years, I can move to Europe (or wherever else I deem appropriate). I can go into event coordinating, publishing, teaching ESL (if I get certification), or whatever else I decide to do. It is, however, also terrifying. In the next year, I will be creating myself. What if I make someone that I don’t like? What if I get stuck in a place or career that I can’t stand, but can’t seem to leave? What if I can never find a good job (no one has offered to hire me yet)? What if I’m too afraid to take any chances? I’ve never been known for my bravery (though, if I’m re-creating myself, perhaps someday I can be).

Let’s examine the options. Continue reading

Miffed

God and I got into a bit of a tiff.

You see, he decided that my boyfriend needed to be in Estonia doing mission work instead of in the States, which is great for boy, but not so great for me. He will be living there permanently, and so it was decided that we should break up–an inter-continental relationship just didn’t seem like a good idea.

If it had been any other reason, I could say, “it happens. People grow apart.” Mission work, though, is definitely from God. So I was a bit frustrated.

Eventually, though, I realized something:  I would make an awful minister’s wife. I am an extreme introvert with a slight attitude. I hate being the center of attention, and that is exactly what I would have to be with him. He loves individuals, but people wear him out. He needs someone  to be extroverted when he cannot. I can’t do that.

All in all, it was a civil breakup. We’re still friends, and we still care for each other. There is just no way that we can be more than friends.

I still have no idea what I am supposed to do with my life, which is frustrating for me. He goes off with a great purpose and leaves me here, floundering and useless. In a few months, I will graduate with my BA in Literature. I still haven’t picked a career yet, not have I chosen a city in which to live. I have no direction, no purpose.

All this led to the tiff. I think I’ve accepted everything now, though I still have no plans for the future. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.