Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are the differences so different?

This last weekend on Saturday, I ended up in a car with a woman from church who I don't really like. We had a pioneer-centered primary activity at someone's farm, and I had to catch a ride to get out to the farm. The drive was an hour or so, and I regretted riding with the woman. She may be well-respected at the church, but she has never been kind to me.

Sometimes I tell myself that I need to get over my dislike for people. Sometimes people may seem like they're not very nice, but when you get to know them you see something else. With that in mind, I tried making conversation with this woman. I started by asking her a few questions about her life but found that she didn't seem to want to talk about herself. So I decided to tell her a little about my life in the hopes that we could find some common ground.

She wanted to know why I wasn't "working," so I started to talk about it. I said that when I was babysitting during the summer, Paul really hated it. He hated going days without seeing me, I said, and so maybe it was--

At this point, the woman cut me off to say sharply that my husband was just going to have to "suck it up" and get used to the idea that life isn't fair and he couldn't have every little thing he wanted. It was so harsh, so judgemental, that I just stopped talking. I couldn't believe it. The woman hadn't given me time to explain any of the circumstances, such as the fact that the family I was babysitting for moved away, or the fact that I get sick frequently and have an incredibly hard time holding down a regular job. (Forget the fact that I was babysitting from morning to night so that I went four days at a time without spending a minute with my husband. Don't mention Paul's new job which had full time hours for a while.) All of the factors loom so huge in my mind, factors that explain why I am attempting to write for a living, and how this is the best course that I can take for my own life right now. She didn't give me a chance to explain about the writing at all.

I was thinking as I endured the last several minutes in the car that everyone's family is different. Everyone's circumstances are unique. And everyone's marriage is its own entity. Perhaps some people don't mind at all if they don't get to see their spouse for weeks at a time. Maybe time together isn't as important to others as it is to us. Maybe this woman's life has gone so differently than mine that she cannot even understand where I am right now.

But I tend to think that it is possible for people to relate to each other, even if one has six kids and the other is without children and going to school. Do factors such as age and family situation really matter when it comes down to it? I think every opportunity that we have to spend time with other people is a chance to show kindness, a chance to exercise charity. I don't ever want to be the person who treats someone the way that this woman treated me. I want to be the one who listens and cares and doesn't judge.

I may never know the factors that led that person to be where she is.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I want to be like Captain Moroni.

Ah, it's Friday and my classes are over for the first week. I would be sighing a long sigh of relief... but it is just the first week and the entire rest of the semester is to follow. Make that a very long sigh that encompasses my resignation that I have a lot of work ahead of me.

For my various classes, I have already been doing a lot of reading this week. Perhaps it is coincidental, but most of the reading I have had to do has dealt with similar themes so that it feels like it is all intentionally connected. I actually forget which class I am reading for as I go along and have go remind myself.

In my history writing class, I have been reading about how the institution of American slavery came about and how the original Virginia colony had an 80% death rate because they refused to plant crops for food, thinking only of the potential profits that they could earn from planting tobacco instead. They starved to death for this folly, but those who survived just kept on doing it. I also have been reading about the KKK, which is not particularly light-hearted reading. Couple these readings with my British literature reading about the dawn of industrialism and the wide-spread exploitation of unemployed men and starving workers and five-year-old children working in coal mines. My intro to fiction class had a long discussion about the Victorian era and the ridiculously oppression under women had to live. (They were basically property that was allowed to have no voice, no opinions, no activities outside of the home, and certainly no desires or pleasures. They were, it can be argued, basically the slaves of the men in their lives.)

I am reading about all of these things thinking, "Oh, my gosh. Has anyone in history actually not abused and exploited other people? Are there actually good things to learn from the past or is it all a big blur of endless ugliness and evil?"

When I learn about the past and all the terrible things that people have done to each other, I do tend to feel that way. Even the Book of Mormon talks about the "natural" state of people in these kinds of terms. Without the light of Jesus Christ, people are nasty and horrible beings. They think about their own needs, their own wants, their own well-being. We have the entire history of world as an example of what people will do to protect their own interests. It's so sad!

But I take comfort in the stories of the Book of Mormon. As I have been reading this time around, I have been intensively touched by the stories of good people in the midst of evil. There's a reason we know the names of Alma, Amulek, Ammon, Captain Moroni, and the brothers Nephi and Lehi. They are remembered because they were so righteous and obedient to God that they were able to make a serious difference in the lives of others. Their devotion to the Lord was a powerful, palpable force, and they were able to change lives and hearts with the Spirit they carried with them. They lived through terrible times in which people oppressed and abused each other, and yet-- their lives are wonderful examples of how we can be.

I am so grateful that I have the restored gospel to give me this hope. The bright perspective that it gives me helps me to find peace. I just hope that the reading isn't this depressing all semester long.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Living in Transition

I have now been to all of my classes, and I am excited and slightly overwhelmed at the semester that lies ahead. I'm taking four English classes and a history writing class. The thing that intimidates me most at this point is the sheer amount of reading that I will have to do. Teachers seem to think that their students have nothing else to do but read for endless amounts of time, and this does worry me just a little bit.

But, hey. I have always first and foremost been good at reading. It was my highest score on the ACT and the one thing I always felt competent doing. It really isn't so bad to read a lot-- it just takes a lot of time. Already, Paul is not liking all the time I have to spend reading, but he will get used to it. I'm sure I will get jealous of the time he will spend at work and doing his assistantship.

Oh, yeah! Paul got an assistantship, and it is really wonderful. He gets to help teach introductory psychology classes. That's good because it is what he wants to eventually do for his career. It will be much easier for him to get a teaching job after he graduates if he already has solid experience. I am so proud of him!

As hard as it is to spend more time apart, it is good for us to work toward the future. Jobs and hard classes suck up time, but they are important. Just think, I tell myself, someday we will be out of school and just living! Someday we will have good-paying jobs and probably even less time to be together.... It's peculiar to be in school because it feels like we live in transition. We are not quite anywhere at the moment, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, look forward to more specifics about my classes and such as the days go on.... If that sort of thing interests you, of course.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A summer full of children.

I have about ten minutes right now before I have to go to my next class, so I thought I would hurry and post something. It has been so long since I did so that I cannot even remember when that was...!


I have all kinds of excuses such as a long busy mostly internet-access-free summer, etc. But the truth is that I simply did not post. I didn't get onto my blog even when I had the chance, so... sorry to those of you who are actually interested in what I have to say. I never actually run out of things to say, but I do find myself in a bit of dilemma from time to time. On those rare occassions when I did have internet access and time to do things, I always had things to do that were just a little bit important such as filling out my FAFSA and looking for ways to make money. So the blog suffered for all of my busy-ness.

But, as you might have been able to tell, I am back in school again and now I should have no problems getting online to post pretty much every weekday. Yay! I am taking a lot of classes, which likely means that I will have to be on the computer a lot anyway. Between papers and research and online busy work, I will have to have breaks, and that is when you will get to read all the fascinating and endlessly interesting things that go through my head. My experiences fly past me and I try to grab at them and hold onto them before they fade away into dim and static memory. I have a need to communicate that experience to someone else-- you know, readers like you people. :)

I spent my summer mostly with children. I got a job babysitting two boys, ages two and three years old. They were difficult at first, but major bonding ensued and I love them like my own. I spent my Sundays at church with the primary children because that is my new calling-- to be second counciler in the primary presidency. My sharing times were really fun! The kids are so cute and so eager to learn anything and everything.

A month ago, Paul and I went out to Vernal to spend a week with my parents. That was fun, too! We went camping and I loved to have time with everyone. My little nephew Ryan is such a talker. He is two and I just loved getting time with him. After we left Utah, we drove down to California to attend some events in Paul's family. Again, I had fun with the children. My nephews are Cyrus (2), Nathaniel (9 months), and Bejamin (3 months).

On the way down there, our car broke down. We were stranded for three weeks before we managed to buy another and come home to Kansas. In that time, we got to go the beach and be treated at great restaurants by Paul's brothers and it was fun!

Anyway, I have to get to class now. That's basically the update.