Tag Archives: family

Faith

I think about being a parent.  I think about it about as much as I plan my wedding in my head.  I’m pretty cliched when it comes to that, so I think you will understand that it’s a lot and a half.

I worry about the kids I don’t have yet.  My biggest worry is that they will be unkind.  I also worry that they’ll hate me and make poor choices that punish themselves in hopes to punish me and my spouse.

I worry about the grandparents.  What they’ll think about my way of doing things to bring up that child.

My final worry is their faith.  By no means is this a complete list of my worries and fears, but this one is both the last and one of the greatest.  I put it at the bottom of the list because I haven’t figured out my own.  I am not religious.  I don’t believe that Jesus is my savior.  Or any of the other profits.  I hate to call myself agnostic, but then again, I’m not sure what else I would be categorized as.  I’m a person who is okay, good even, with labels, so I’m okay with one not sticking to me right now.  I’ll let the faith label slide.

So, today, I want to post what my faith feels like right now, and what I hope to teach my unborn children.

Faith, from my perspective, is severely influenced.  I’ve thought so since I was in the 4th grade.  I remember have the conversation with my friend Kendra Lee who went to a non-denominational church.  I had attended church with her, as I had with quite a few friends growing up.  It was fun and had games and prizes and a movie and a puppet show – far from my experience with my family, both branches of which were Catholic.  I asked her during a sleep over, when I was in 4th grade, how she could claim that Jesus was the one and only savior?  Her faith was unwavering, which is normal in the heart of a child.  I asked her, what if a man in China, who was Buddhist, or whatever (I wasn’t sure) but something other than Christian, was raised Buddhist, married, had a wife and children, which he raised Buddhist.  He was a good man, hard working, loving, kind, charitable, and did all he could to be a good person.  What if this person was never introduced to Christ?  Or, even if he was, does he automatically go to Hell for not knowing, or not believing?  Her answer was a resounding YES.

And I lost what inkling of faith I had in Jesus Christ.  I felt stirrings of faith, usually when I attended COW or Church On Wednesdays with my friends in High School – usually with the songs.  For whatever reason, those cheesy Christian rock/pop-esque songs spoke to me, I would feel joy as they praised Him.  I would sing along – it’s never been difficult for me to pick up a tune and lyrics – and it felt like praise to something larger than myself.  But it would die out once the Youth Pastor began to speak about spreading “The Word.”  It has always felt arrogant to me, to preach that yours is the one true way. How the heck do WE know?  Isn’t it POSSIBLE that God would present themselves as different things to different cultures?  Really, that’s never been something you’ve pondered?  Isn’t it POSSIBLE that the humans who relayed this message, who wrote these stories, were trying to steer people to the light, by any means necessary?  In the United States, politicians are known to base their decisions on faith.  Take, for example, the Representative who based his Pro-Life position on his faith.  I respect his faith, but not his decision to impose it on his constituents, because here we have a democracy held up by a republic, and therefore your decisions should be based on creating policies that are beyond your personal faith.  But, when the religions were being created, there was no such separation.  In many countries there still isn’t.  So, to say that my God is right and your God is wrong and to believe in them, or to not believe in mine, means you are punished for all time, I’m sorry, but I can’t stand by that.

It also felt arrogant to pretend I had a personal relationship with God.  At heart I am a humble, to the point of destructive, person.  Why would He do good things for me, just because I asked? This is why, when I prayed, I prayed either for good weather (for my family’s annual trip to Valley Fair (like Six Flags but in MN, so therefore more awesome)) or for my brother.  As a big sister I have always worried about my younger brother.  School, social life, dealing with parents, it always seemed harder for him.  He was sensitive, growing up, and I wanted to protect him.  I wanted God to protect him, to show him the way, to be strong when he couldn’t, and to help him stay safe, to open up to the love his family had for him.  I felt that if I were praying for someone else, then those might get rewarded.  I still feel that it’s selfish to pray for myself.  So, if I do pray, you can bet it will be for you rather than me.  There are a lot of self-esteem issues wrapped up in that, not being able to hope good things for yourself and all of that, but I still find it to be a noble task.

So where does this bring me?  I truly believe that had I stayed with and married Steve, I would probably have found my love for Catholicism.  Being that I love Matt, I find myself going down a different path.  He has made me question, sometimes VERY unwillingly (with much yelling and heartache,) what it would be to have faith in something that’s not a THING.  That’s not a higher POWER.  In, I guess, a design, or lack there of, of the universe.  I don’t know that he’s 100% chaos theory bound, but something to that tune.  I, personally, have always believed in a soul.  There is something so beyond impulses and equations and happenstance – coincidence cannot be all that there is.  But I have started to entertain the theory that maybe our being, or immortal being, is our energy.  As if our memory, built by those we know and love and touch and even pass by in the street, becomes manifest after our physical body is gone.  And though those people cannot remember us forever, our influence, butterfly effect on the rest of history, keeps that memory going.  That combined with the stuff that is US that is not our guts may very well live in a heaven of those before us, watching the lives of others grow and die for eternity.  Because energy never actually leaves.

All of this, the forays into Christianity, into science, the roots of my liberalism to allow for those around me to live and love and create and do good in their own way, makes me wonder if I will ever have something I can put in front of my children and say, this is the way, this is the path to be a good and wonderful person.  Right now, that path is broad, and I truly don’t know if I will ever walk a straight and narrow, or zigzag along it’s breadth.

My dear, sweet, unborns: Be kind.  Be strong. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in those things that make you giddy and happy beyond belief, like music and kisses and summer skies. Have faith that things will be okay.  Do not regret your errors, for they are your retroactive destiny: all of your decisions create a path before you.  You do not gain the good things without suffering.  I do not get to be with Matt without making some poor decisions in my past.  But I look at the path that brought me here, and I am grateful for all the good and bad choices that brought me to him.  My children will be born of that retroactive destiny as well.  Their gender, their upbringing, will all depend on what was before.  So, dear ones, please understand that bad choices can lead to good ends.  But, above all else, know that

You.

Are.

Loved.

Knowing this will get you through your trials. Believe in that and you will find your mountains climbable.  Because knowing you are loved will lead to self love, and love to others.  That’s just the nature of it.

To end on a fun note:

Because you gotta have faith 🙂

 

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Filed under happiness abounds, Music, Personal Musings, ugh! feelings . . .

Things About Me

***This was also from my “other” blog, posted originally on feb. 24th, 2013***

I’d like to say a few things about myself.  Here are some negative things:

I scream.  I yell and curse and say “fuck” a lot when I’m mad.  I get really crazy rage feeling like I’m bursting at the seams with emotion, all of them shades of hate and anger.  I lash out at those I love.  Maybe because I’m trying to push them away.  Maybe because I know they’ll still love me.  Either way, it’s no fun for either of us, and it’s not fair. It’s mean and scary and hateful.

I do not like myself.  I am the exact opposite of the #1 fan when it comes to me.  I have a hard time saying nice things about myself without sarcasm or immediately negating it in the next sentence.  For example: “Yeah, I think I’m a pretty good writer. I mean sometimes. Well, no, not at all, I pretty much suck, but, whatevs.”

I stress eat.  I don’t know if it’s like binge eating or anything that you could really diagnose, but I definitely eat when I feel anything bad or sad or even when I get sick and I’m not hungry, I eat.  This TOTALLY helps my weight and therefore, my self esteem.

Here are some positive things:

K, having a hard time with this one.

Okay, I’m super loyal to my friends and family.  This past weekend I went home to see them all since my parents had come to visit me in St. Louis (I’m from Minnesota originally.) I got so stressed out trying to fit in a decent amount of time with everyone I overreacted to something and ended up crying in front of my friend.  If I could I would have spent four days with just one of them.  I felt like I couldn’t really devote enough time to anyone, but I think they all knew how much I loved being there.

I am somewhat talented in a few things, like writing and crocheting and playing trombone and singing.  I have a B.A. in Music, which is about as useful as a B.A. in English (think “Avenue Q”) but hey, at least it’s a good conversation starter.

I’m GREAT at social situations.  Sometimes I can be overly aggressive depending on the circumstances in which i meet people, but I’ve worked hard at just being pleasant and not letting my out-going nature get out of hand.  Usually it gets that way when I’m either over-confident or nervous, so I just try to keep myself in check and try not to talk too much ( I talk a. lot.) So, usually, I come off as nice and kinda funny and fun.

I’m just putting this out there. I’d like to try and be honest somewhere where it doesn’t necessarily matter.  Also, if anyone else is looking to relate to someone who is not that great, but trying to be better, why not me?  I’m going to try to write every day, but I’m not sure if that will stick.  Hopefully it does.

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Filed under Personal Musings, ugh! feelings . . .

“It’s not the getting, it’s not the giving, it’s the love”*

I know many out there find the holidays to merely be a distraction from the hum-drums of everyday life.  I know that the commercialism of Christmas and the length of the season is utterly ridiculous, stretching always closer to the goal of the industry: to make it a year round shopping event.  I mean, I know many Christmas songs urge us to keep the season of giving in our hearts all year through, but I don’t know that they meant having super-early-bird-sale-extravaganza for 9 months of the year.

But, ultimately, I know that the Holidays are the best excuse for those living far from home to reconnect with the ones we love.  I am not a religious person, and I’m not sure I should even really be celebrating Christmas, but for me it is a tradition that brings joy and laughter and family and friends into my household and always yields much kindness and love.  This year is no exception as many of my family members went above and beyond to make sure I still was able to participate.  Back in August I realized I had really screwed the pooch when my boss told me I had run out of vacation time.  This is my first year in the new job and, really, my first grown up job, so I didn’t really get what a “pro-rated 2 weeks of vacation” meant.  When it came down to it, it meant no Christmas vacation.  I called my mom in tears letting her know I had screwed up so badly.  In BESTMOMEVER fashion she told me it would all be okay.

And it was.  Way to go BESTMOMEVER!!

Because she is lucky to be flanked by BESTDAD and BESTBRO.  BESTBRO really bent over backward to make sure all four of us were together as he sacrificed shifts at his delivery job to join my mom and dad in a trip down to StL.

This, however, wasn’t the end of the awesome that was my Christmas this year.  We usually spend Christmas with my mom’s family and when we asked those of them in Minnesota if they would come out to my parents house the Saturday before to celebrate they all obliged.  They had jobs and kids and other things numerous to compete with, but they changed their plans just so we could all spend the holiday together.

I left StL Friday night after work on a plane and then got to spend Saturday with my extended family in MN.  My nuclear family then drove back down to StL to make sure I was with family on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.  The Eve part of this was crucial as the four of us have always spent it together, and we have a very specific dinner which has changed in minuscule ways over the years.  My brother and I staunchly stick to this traditional dinner of steak, lobster (for Mom and Bro), french fries, peas, button mushrooms, crescent rolls, and french silk pie.  Weird? No. It’s AWESOME.  And, with it, came the tradition of much laughter and merriment as the four of us sat around the same table for the first time in probably a year to the day.  George Winston’s “December” played in the background, and candles lit the meal, and even though we were in a hotel room (a pretty swank hotel room I must say) it was home.

If you know what I mean by this, you’re a lucky person.  I know I am.  I may even say that it was a small miracle, with all the pieces falling into place just so, and just at the last minute.  Because my brother was able to take time off and get shifts covered, and I was able to come up the Friday before, and my parents both had the time, and neither my brother nor I have kids and do have understanding significant others, and all those things meant that we four could be together.  It feels like it may be the last time in awhile.

But I know it won’t be the last.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and may the true spirit of the Holiday, love and family, be present in your homes.

*Bonus if you know what this is from!

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A Poem for the End of the World

The girl who feared the end of the world lost her fear.  She gave into the Happiness and lived day to day.  She had friends and family and someone to grow old with.  She no longer worried about not being able to picture her future.

Who can truly picture the unknown?

 

And then the World Ended.

 

And she didn’t get married.

And she didn’t have children.

And she didn’t travel the world.

And she didn’t see her mom one more time.

And she didn’t go back to school to be a teacher.

And . . .

And . . .

And . . .

 

She floated in the vast expanse of nothing that we call, or did call, the Universe.

But it wasn’t the Universe anymore because no one was there to name it.

 

Well, she *thought*, if the Universe is no longer, then neither are the things I wanted to do.  That’s a *relief*.

 

At least I wasn’t crazy was happy.

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Filed under Personal Musings

Some personal feelings on “Vote No”

This year I have been delving a bit into politics on a state and national level.  Being that I don’t really read news or have cable (aka no TV, just a “decorative television” that sits collecting dust) I started listening to NPR quite a bit.  My new love of NPR started with hearing an interesting story which I think was part of “This American Life” but I’ve found myself listening any time I’m in the car, so topics vary from “Radio Lab” to “Money Matters” and, of course, the drive time news.  Now, I know that I’m liberal and that NPR is to a liberal as Fox is to a conservative (preaching to the choir) but I feel they have been fair and balanced, giving updates from both major campaigns, having moderated discussions between top democrats and republicans, and doing a lot of human interest stuff on Romney such as having Mormon theologists debunk stereotypes and give a current perspective on the faith.  The information I’ve been getting has led me to watch most of the presidential debates and fostered an excitement in me for voting on the national level.

What has fostered excitement for me this year at the state level is the hot-button topic of Minnesota’s proposed amendment to define marriage legally as between one man and one woman.  I’m so excited about voting on this issue I got an absentee ballot from the MN Secretary of State booth at the MN State Fair back at the end of August.  Though I’ve lived in Missouri for just over a year and have a steady job and a good group of friends and a community band, Minnesota is still to me my “home state.”  I am VERY proud to say that I am from Minnesota, and I’d like to keep it that way.

NOW I MUST WARN YOU: I WILL BE EXPRESSING MY PERSONAL FEELINGS AND RELATING PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ON A POLITICAL ISSUE.  DO NOT CONTINUE TO READ IF PERSONAL COMMENTARY FRUSTRATES YOU.

I put this boldly because I want to make clear that I’m using my blog most bloggers do, and I DO NOT claim to be an expert or a person of authority.  Only on politics and religion do people suddenly have to become scholars before anyone in the conversation will even begin to think about maybe seeing it from the other person’s point of view, really listen to what they’re hearing or try to understand, let alone allow themselves to be swayed by someone’s opinion.  But I will try to stay away from “studies have shown” or other such statistical bullshit.  These are just some thoughts/opinions on the “Vote No” issue, and not an attempt to change anyone’s mind.  Though, of course if you would like to (respectfully) discuss it, I will oblige.

Today I received a response to something I posted about “Vote No.”  I’ve had heated (from my end) discussions with this person on the topic of gay marriage.  I respect them and care for them and their feelings and opinions.  But on no other issue do we differ more greatly than on this.  This is not an attack on them.  It sparked a great conversation with my friend Paul, a discussion akin to those I have from time to time with my friend Courtney where we “solve all the world’s problems.”  It has now led to this post.

My feelings on vote no stem from my early exposure to gay culture.  I remember being in the car with my mom going to see Gram.  It was my brother and me with her and we were both in elementary school, so no older than 10 and 8, possibly younger.  Our discussion that day mentioned friends of our parents Ron and Andy.  She explained to us that Ron and Andy were a couple and that they had a ceremony in Hawaii.  I remember being confused about how they might . . . you know . . . and also how they might have kids, but mostly I remember both of us being okay with it because my mom explained to me that there a men who like men and women who like women, and that just like Mom and Dad they loved each other very much, which is why they committed to each other.

My brother and I were brought up on drum corps which is how my parents had befriended Ron and Andy.  Drum Corps is, for anyone who doesn’t know, basically like grown up marching band, and pretty diverse, especially when it comes to sexual orientation.  It is a very accepting activity and people come from all walks of life, devoted to their love of performance arts and music.  “Growing up Drum Corps” was a unique experience, as not all kids are allowed to participate in their parents activities, and for good reason a lot of the time.  Not everyone has kids and not everyone is great with them or even likes them, so you do risk your kids being exposed to drugs, alcohol, sex, and explicit language.  In a group as big as MN Brass you also have to worry about pedophiles.  Which is another reason I believe my mom brought up Ron and Andy that day.  During that discussion, or another one possibly as I have a terrible memory, my mom made it clear that Ron and Andy were NOT perverted.  This was the early to mid-90’s and from what I’ve learned/have been told, gay culture was only just becoming more socially acceptable throughout the country.  So she explained that we might be told that gay men and women like to touch children, or that we could “catch” being gay, or be “turned” gay from too much exposure.  These were, she explained, hateful, disgusting lies.  Sick people do sick things, but being gay was not sick, nor did it make you do sick things like molest a child.  I would like to think that I understood this all then, but I know that it was merely a seed planted.

Ron and Andy were together throughout my childhood.  I was, at one point, pretty close with Andy, and I know that they both loved me very much.  When they split up during one of the summers I was doing Bluecoats, I was heart-broken to hear the news.  They had never tried to adopt so there weren’t any kids to consider, a small consolation, and luckily it was, from what I understand, amicable.  I say lucky because, unfortunately for them, Ron and Andy had no marital rights to each other.  Being together for over a decade resulted in nothing more than, legally, a break up.  Like they were teenagers or something.  But they weren’t teenagers and this “break up” didn’t end with a swap of mix tapes and a box of worthless, sentimental trinkets getting thrown out.  This was an end of an era, a dividing of lives and friends and dogs and cars and a renovated apartment that they called home.

But it was not a legal divorce.  It didn’t even have the ramifications of a common-law marriage, which, I don’t know if there are legal ramifications, but if there are, they didn’t get the benefit of those either.  Nothing was protected.  And that’s something that just doesn’t sit well with me.

Now, the response I received earlier today said that gay marriage doesn’t address the instability of a same-sex couple, and therefore the argument for gay marriage always fall short.  This instability issue is something, again, as far as I’ve learned/experienced/been told, that has been given voice many times over, within and without the gay community.  I guess I wonder first, how stable can you feel when your choice of partner downgrades your citizenry, and secondly, how are heterosexual relationships any more stable?  This is the closest I will come to a statistic: a good chunk of straight marriages end in divorce.  And divorce isn’t the only measure of instability.  Straight people cheat, lie, commit adultery, have one night stands, friends with benefits, and hookups: and that’s just the unstable factors or unstable relationship types dealing with sex.  Straight couples also abuse drugs, alcohol, and smoke.  Members of straight couples also abuse and molest both other adults and children.  Straight people steal, exploit, are selfish and unkind.  And straight people not only do this to their own family members, but are allowed to prey on those children left to foster care and adoption.  In light of all of these things that straight people do in relationships of boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, father and mother, we still feel it is a right, not a privilege, for straight people to marry and to have any amount of children they can create, without question.

So, is it really stability that is the issue?  Understand, please, that I know gay people do ALL of these things as well.  I am not saying that being gay makes you a saint or that homosexuals won’t commit as many of the aforementioned infractions.  But how can the conclusion possibly be reached that a healthy, romantic relationship between two people is instantly more unstable when between two people of the same-sex, and further more, how do you protect that OPINION under the LAW?  How can we pretend that we are thinking of stability in the home with such a minor infraction as not having both genders present in an immediate family?  To me, having a partnership present to raise children would be ideal, a partnership that would be linked to network of caring friends and family of different generations and differing wisdom.  I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that someone could discriminate against same-sex couples and not also discriminate against single mothers and fathers.  Single parents don’t just get their title of parent stripped from them, and their families are not seen as less by law.  Nor should they.  The single parents within my family and people I’ve befriended and worked with know better than many the responsibilities of raising a child well.  My aunt brought up my cousin with the help of my Gram, a same-sex couple in a different way.  He had aunts and uncles and cousins and basketball coaches and teachers who all helped one of the most devoted mothers I’ve ever seen.  My cousin was not at a disadvantage because he had two women caring for him.  He would have been at a disadvantage if his mom and grandma were legally barred from being in his main caregivers and guardians because they were not a heterosexual married couple.

I have tried my best throughout this to make it clear that the reason I voted “No” on the MN amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman is because I cannot see how this is not legal discrimination.  Legally, how do we define it this way?  I was listening to a segment on NPR that was discussing the national hot button topic of rape induced pregnancy.  I’ve never heard it more clearly put when the person who was speaking said that they respected Richard Mourdock’s personal beliefs but that it was not his personal beliefs but his policy beliefs that should be considered.  They went on to say that if you cannot separate the two, which is difficult, then you have to be okay with subjecting women’s bodies to your personal views and opinions which may or may not be correct.  See, when you make a law out of just personal opinion you are saying that your personal opinion is right and making all other opinions wrong.  I guess my hope for the political leaders that are elected by the people of this republic is that they make laws and policies that protect the freedoms of its citizens and make those freedoms equal.  If you commit a murder there are laws to punish you and protect the rest of the citizens of the nation from you because you have ended another person’s life and have stripped them of their freedom to live.  In some parts of the nation legalizing gay marriage is seen as equally horrendous.  But legalizing gay marriage does not hurt anyone, it does not prevent anyone’s personal freedoms.  Those who oppose it based on personal beliefs can continue to oppose it in their own homes and respectfully protest it in public.  A sign hanging from someone’s neck stating “GOD HATES FAGS” is not respectful, but still more protected by the first amendment right now that two same-sex people are protected to commit to one another in a legal marriage.

I can’t stress enough that I hope to have same-sex marriage be made legal the same way a straight marriage is legal.  If I can marry my boyfriend and apply for a license so that this marriage is recognized by the state and by the country so that when he is ill I can be notified, and our children will be legally mine if something were to happen to him, and vice-verse, then I want my gay friends to have that same opportunity by law.  No one should have to fight for their right to be with the person they love in their hour of need.  No committed relationship should be given more legality and definitely not be given more benefits and freedoms than another.  I am NOT saying a gay couple should be married in a place of worship if that place of worship does not recognize their right to be married, and I don’t think there are many, if any, gay couples banging down the doors of these places and demanding the faith leader marry them.  I AM saying that I believe a U.S. court judge should marry them under the same laws that marry straight couples.

And if it’s the word “marriage” that you’re uptight about, then fine, get rid of it.  Abolish it from legal language and create equal commitment laws.  The people who hold onto the semantics of the word “marriage” as a religious word and definition can keep it, I don’t care.  As someone who is agnostic at best and still unsure overall, my marriage will not be legitimate in the eyes of many faiths, but I’ll squeak by with a legal marriage because I’m a chick who happen to like dudes.  If you feel like our moral code as a country cannot escape its religious foundations, in this case religious bindings, then all marriages between men and women that are not recognized first by a church should be illegal, and I don’t think that is extreme.  It just makes us citizens ruled by the Pope: the 15th century called, it would like it’s domination of the church over the state back.

I think we have come so far in this young country to have ideals that explore and value our differences so much more than the founding fathers could have envisioned.  I think our unique situation as a country of so many faiths and backgrounds and beliefs and non-beliefs is being made petty, disgusting, and discriminatory with such closed-minded definitions of love and family.  We human beings are wonderful and terrible creatures, with so much potential for good and for evil.  I vote “No” because I believe we are above this kind of discrimination.  Whether or not you believe what I believe is your business and personal opinion.  I hope, however, you take a moment to decide if you’re personal opinions matter enough to limit the freedoms of others.

Thanks.

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My DAD made me read it! or, how my Dad still influences my literary life

Shush!!  Don’t tell my dad I’m writing about him 🙂

Recently I have been reading a LOT of young adult fiction.  It started when a friend of mine asked me to take over/restart a book club for the Ladies of the Lou’ Crew.  Being that we would have our first meeting in late October I asked if she would mind something scary/creepy, which she did not, and since both our names being Katie isn’t the only thing we have in common she was all for it when I suggested the post-apocalyptic zombie YA thriller The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I was so excited to start the book club I ran out to my local municipal library (1 of 3 library systems in StL, of which I am a member of 2 so far)  and read it almost a month in advance of the meeting.  I liked the book quite a lot: it was creepy, scary, mysterious, and had a love story to boot.  The two in love were of course star-crossed – I mean, who isn’t in a post-apocalyptic society? – and doomed from the get-go, though, not just because of societal law, which I was glad of, but also because of a conflicted female lead who wanted more.  No turning into a monster to be with the one you love Twilight crap for this girl.  And being that I was such a fan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth it again made me take up the search for THE. FIRST. BOOK.

You probably have one of these as well, dear reader 🙂  It’s that book that brought you across the threshold, the turning point in your reading: when you went from kid books to Grown Up Books.  This is where my Dad factors in.  My FIRST BOOK was handed to me by my Dad after one of his latest trips to the Real Library, as opposed to the elementary school library I went to with my class once a week.  My Dad can spend hours in a library, looking over book after book, choosing just the right one.  He has to find exactly what he wants because he’s a slow reader and a lover of dense sci-fi novels.  I don’t know that I ever went to the Anoka County Library until I was at least twelve and to me it seemed like a grown up place for serious reading, somewhat mysterious since my Dad would disappear there for hours at a time.

After one such trip my dad handed me THE FIRST BOOK and said he thought I might want to give this a try.  He had noticed that the reading material I had selected for myself was usually gobbled up in a few days time and consisted of The Babysitter’s Club almost exclusively.  I remember being very proud when my dad told me he was impressed with how I could read three to four books concurrently and not only keep track of the individual storylines but the actual page I was on without a single book mark.

Now, he might not really remember doing this, but to me, him handing me a book from the Real Library meant I was ready for LITERATURE.  I remember lying down on my parents old queen-sized bed I had in my new room at the time and having to slow down and re-read the opening paragraphs again and again until I got into the flow of this more mature writing style.  The book was about a young girl who met a boy and together he was going to help her become a witch like him.  The cover, I remember, was black with a ghostly pale girl with black bushy hair on the front.  She had haunting eyes and stared out at you from the blackness.  At the time I was really into witches and magic: think more Salem Witch Trials than Harry Potter.  Unfortunately, I struggled with it and, sadly, at the end of three weeks, I still hadn’t finished it.  I had half-lost interest in it which is why I think my dad returned it without a renewal.

And that was the last time I saw that book.

I moved on to other great books: Little Women and The Hobbit, the latter of which my Dad had read to me when I was younger.  THE FIRST BOOK wasn’t the first or the last time my dad influenced my reading.  He had been reading to my brother and me since we were really little: golden books, these great fully illustrated Disney books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Tolkein, and the occasional short story by Stephen King – the one about the cocaine addict stranded on a desert island who eats his own limbs still gives me the chills. I liked every book he read, becoming engrossed in the characters, all of which he gave different voices, and loved equally the family life of the Ingalls and the grand sweeping adventures of Bilbo.  My brother didn’t really share in this enthusiasm, try as my dad might, though he became an avid reader later.  And it was around the end of The Hobbit that I got my own room, and story-time was done.

When my dad felt we were old enough he was the one to take my brother and me to the Anoka County Library.  Many times the books I chose dealt with something supernatural – ghosts were another big favorite of mine.  At one point I decided I would try to find THE BOOK.  It was then I realized that I had, *gasp!* forgotten the title.  I asked my dad several times if he remembered, but this was probably a couple years later by now.  I was certain the book was titled simply Witch and I knew for certain the girl’s mother was named Kate, but the library didn’t carry anything that I recognized by that name.  I read The Witching Hour and consequently my first novel sex scene, and other such books of a supernatural and dark nature, but never THE FIRST BOOK.

As an adult even the almighty Google let me down.  Only this past month did I discover a group on the site Goodreads for those searching for books from their past.  I don’t know what kind of crazy you have to be to figure out what book someone is talking about from a vague description, but it’s a crazy I like because:

They found it.

They found THE FIRST BOOK.

The ever elusive book from my childhood reading transition.  The one I had been casually searching for the past 15 years or so.  It was called The Changeover: a Supernatural Romance.  I searched the title in the Goodreads database and there it was.  The same haunted, ghostly pale girl staring out from a black cover.  So I was wrong about the title, but the description stated the female lead’s mom was name Kate!  And it was about a girl who meets a boy who helps her change into a witch, just like him.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so excited I didn’t even care that my first grownup book turned out to be a cheesy-titled YA novel – I had finally found it, the mystery was solved.

That same night, three Mondays ago, I went and picked up a copy from the municipal library branch down the street.  Turns out it was a YA fiction novel which I retrieved from the “Teen Spot” marked by a neon sign that the 90’s would like back, please.  Oddly enough I still haven’t finished it as I have a tendency to still try to read three to four books at the same time, only now my books are a bit more complex (YA not included) and my grownup responsibilities make it so I have to choose one eventually and stick with it until it’s finished before I can go onto the next.

I called my dad the Wednesday after I got it at the library.  As I suspected, he did not remember the book, but I think it warmed his heart to know that it had been important to me.  Since living in StL I talk to my parents about once every couple of weeks on average and most of the time my dad and I discuss TV, movies, and books.  His long-time love of scifi still remains and he recommends different ones he thinks I’d like since my more recently discovered interest in post-apocalyptic plots and shows like “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood.”  It feels like a new stage we’ve entered, being grownups and recommending back and forth, since being a teenager and a college student usually involves discovering things on your own, different from your parents.

But then I think back and realize, my dad didn’t stop being interested and then gain interest again in my tastes in entertainment.  He read the whole Harry Potter series with my brother and me, and got me a copy of The Shining.  He even read Practical Magic for goodness sake.  I don’t know that he liked it all that much, but he read it because I liked it so much.

So, thanks, Dad, for doing what some parents can’t seem to do ever: give a crap about what I like.  Taking the time to share with me and let me share back.  For reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo even though you thought most of it was “dreck” and texting me scifi recommendations. I look forward to our next discussion.

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It’s Like I Never Left

PRE-SCRIPT: This post was started last week right after Boof and Mindy’s wedding on 8/18/12.

“Changeless”

by: Carbon Leaf

Call my friends to share some wine
To share some laughs, and last goodbyes
My photographs of these years
Will make me laugh through the tears

What are the odds, what are the odds?
This ends and we don’t meet again
What are the odds, What are the odds?
That I will miss your smile

Take awhile! Take awhile! Take care and
Fly away and see the world
Take awhile! Take awhile! Take time and
If you need rest, I’ll keep your nest
Changeless

Let fondness be our souvenir
To keep it warm, we’ll keep it near
Otherwise with no heart to recall…
A memory’s just a memory after all
I will not leave this pulse alone
Though it may take the long way home
I will not wait until the end
For my applause for you my friend

What are the odds, what are the odds?
This ends and we don’t meet again
What are the odds, what are the odds?
This ends and we won’t meet again
What are the odds, What are the odds?
That I have missed your smile

Take awhile! Take awhile! Take care and
Fly away and see the world
Take awhile! Take awhile! Take time and
If you need rest, I’ll keep your nest
Changeless

Went home to Minnesota for the third time this summer this past weekend and had an AMAZING TIME.

I write “home to Minnesota” and it gives me pause, because it’s not where I live, yet, this feeling of home was felt over and over as I was able to spend some quality time with all of my “groups” – 1) Family 2) High School Original Sixer’s (and Brandon:)) 3) UofM Friends 4) MN Brass (in no order or ranking, bty.)

I think my friend Mandi said it best when she told me it feels like I (me, KJ) never left.  And I think that’s the best signifier of where your “home” space is.  It’s not that you don’t change, or the scenery doesn’t change, it’s the mutual warmth and love and friendship that is “changeless.”   The carbon leaf song says the nest will stay changeless, but let’s say we take the word “nest” more literally, like a bird’s nest.  They build new ones each year.  It’s in relatively the same place, but it’s always different and yet it’s still home.  Anyone who has ever gone through the standard rites of passage in the U.S. knows this, so I won’t analyze this any further, rather, I’d like to apply this to my very eventful weekend/summer.

Thankfully my family has had only two BIG things happen this year, both positive, both resulting in my parents being true empty-nesters.  I moved away on August 28th, 2011 to live with Matt.  My brother, Daniel, moved in with his girlfriend Anna this past May 2012.  The rest of the changes were smaller but still significant only because my “nest” now looks and feels different though still very much the same.  My brother got a job delivering for Jimmy Johns and got my parents a giant flat screen tv for Christmas, their first one.  Because of his job he needed a more reliable car, so got a different Saturn which is a pale blue-silvery color and we finally said goodbye to Hermie the Hermaphrodite (our dark green Saturn ’96 which he and I both learned to drive in and was owned by all four of our family members at one point or another.)  My parents also both ended up getting new-used cars and I have Fiona, my brand new Ford Fiesta.  My mom has pretty much cleaned out what my brother calls “the shrine” which is my bedroom, buying a nice lamp and a box spring for the bed so it can be the “guest bedroom.” My leftover books and boxed up childhood toys just give the room character 🙂  My brother’s room now has new shelves for my mom to put things for her on the side baking business “Annabelle’s Oven,” which my dad built for her.

My family time and MN Brass time overlapping is far from different for me.  I was lucky to be able to see the Sounds of Minnesota show, just in time for MN Brass’s performance which was pretty cool.  That is the ONLY show I saw and the only one I will see live this summer.  While I was there I ran into old friends and many hugs were shared.  I mean, I couldn’t turn around practically without hugging someone, which was a great feeling.  I got to see some Pawlentys (related to the former governor, but biggest difference is that they aren’t douchebags) and Byrnes and Freidls and Whitakers.  I also got to play “big sister” to my girl Jana and make sure her boyfriend with the long hair was an okay kid and not scum.  My little Jana is really the one that changed, and will keep changing, but somehow she is so wonderfully in touch with those who she sees as family, no matter the time spent apart I see her and it’s a homecoming.  I don’t know what I did to deserve the the devotion.  From any of them.

I was able to, albeit briefly, see three of my original six girls:  Courtney, accompanied of course by my favorite Brandon, Natalie and Emily.  I always wish it was longer but we make good use of our time.  Because I have been close with these ladies for so long I like seeing how we’ve all changed and grown.  And what’s great is that I feel we’ve allowed for the growth – friendship elasticity.  But I also know that we’ve molded each other, helped set along a path, if only by being there for one another.  Two of them are now on the path to motherhood and I couldn’t be more excited!!  It will be interesting/amazing to watch them go through this next phase and learn from them and just watch them develop into moms.  I wish I could be there with them but I know we will all be honorary “aunts” to each others kids, creating space in our “nests” for them.

Finally, the Wedding of BOOF & MINDY.  First and foremost: it was super fun and pretty and cool and awesome.  The bride was beautiful and the groom charming and clever 😉  No but for real, the best part of weddings is seeing your friends, again, move into a new phase of their life, and how it brings people together.  I came from St. Louis, others came from farther or nearer, but all dropped any obligations we may have to make sure to be apart of their day.  THAT is family, THAT is friendship.  That is chickens coming home to roost.  And Mandi was right: I was gone a year, really?  Because it could have been that I stepped into the other room for awhile.  I gossiped with Becky, my co-conspirator and go-to gal, I did my hair with Mandi, I got “hello-bitch’d” by Joe, I danced the night away with Austin flinging me around, I laughed at inappropriate times with Gina, I was a dinosaur with Lucas, and with Katie, I had touching and funny and outrageous moments with all of them, including even a bonebabe picture with the new “bone wife” Mindy.  This could’ve happened last year, or the year before, or next year, and I can only hope if I ever get married it will happen again.

As it was my last chance to see Austin face to face I had said the only “real” goodbye to him.  And even that isn’t forever and ever.  Because eventually we will see each other again, maybe somewhere far away, maybe back in Minnesota, but where ever it is, it’ll be home.  And that’s what’s important.  Maybe next time I see ANY of these wonderful people it will be too long and maybe it will be awkward, at first, and maybe some things that I would like to change will stay the same, but they won’t have, not really.  I don’t care about being “stuck” in a role, I don’t care about who may have slighted who when and how and why, I care that you’re here now, and you’ve been here before, and you’ve been here when it counts.

So, if I could say one thing (because this post isn’t long enough) I hope EVERYONE I know GOES FORTH into the great unknown, whether it be starting something, or starting over, or leaving, or quitting, or joining, or traveling – make sure it’s a positive change and a way to move forward and onward.  Do it without fear of being lost or left behind because,  as my “experiment” has shown (moving to StL and not coming home for almost a year to see my friends (saw family at Christmas)) your loved ones will be there, wherever “there” is, when you get back, and will LOVE YOU for who you are now, then, and always.

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