Saturday, February 15, 2014

Theology

The BF and I were out picking weeds this afternoon when two ladies, about our age, stopped by on their bicycles and asked if we needed help. I was certainly caught off guard and unsure of what to say. I told them we were okay and laughed, but they persisted.

Once they approached us, I noticed their name tags and telltale skirts. "Oh goodness," I thought as I realized they were Mormon missionaries. However, I decided not to judge and we began conversation.

The girls asked where I was from, what I did, etc. The normal chitchat stuff. Then one asked if I was interested in history. I explained that I was very much so interested. I love genealogy and women's history. They started talking about a project their church was doing regarding making old documents accessable via the internet.... sounded interesting at least. 

Then the other asked if I was very religious.  I stumbled over my words... not really sure how to explain it. I said I was raised Catholic but that I struggled to follow organized religion because of the misogyny that is rampant in monotheistic cultures. I said I identified more along the lines of spiritual and that I pray to my ancestors to watch over us. She then asked if I believed in a higher being. I had to pause for a moment, because, yes, I think there may be a higher power. I said yes, but explained that I wasn't sure if I could assign a gender to a super being.

We finished picking weeds and I invited them inside to wash their hands and gave them a glass of ice water. We chatted back and forth. They mostly asked about what I had studied in school and what my job was like. I wanted to show them that people who are feminist aren't crazy, they can be very loving, and very dedicated to great causes. I told them about my job where I work for children in the foster care system. They were very interested and so I went into detail. I love telling about my job because it truly is a wonderful thing that my coworkers and I do. I love to change the perception of kids in foster care, of those who come out of broken families. I like to instill hope in those who hear about my kids.

Anywho, the ladies were very polite and lovely as expected. They asked if they could come back to talk about the history project their church was doing. I am sure I made an awkward face but said yes. I scheduled them into my calendar for a few weeks from now.... I am actually really glad that I said yes. Because even if they come back to try to sell their religion to me, they are truly dedicated human beings. They are kind and friendly yet probably get lots of rudeness from people they visit. After all, even if they come back, at least we can talk theology. Maybe I can encourage them to analyze religion in a feminist way :D

Friday, February 14, 2014

Past,Present, and Future

This past year I have really been reflecting on my past and noting how much happier I am this year than I have been years before.

I feel very settled down, comfortable... I feel like my goals are being reached, I love my boyfriend. Purchasing my dog, Giles, was the best decision I ever made- he makes everything better with his puppy kisses. I own a house, I can afford to pay my student loans, to have a decent car, and enough expendable cash to drink craft beers and wine.

I think the difference now is that I am thankful for those little things in life. Before, I was worried about what I was going to do with my career, who I was going to become, how I was going to afford things and to be on my own. Now, I know I have chosen the right path.

I have a very supportive family and partner, something not everyone has. I am so thankful for this love that I am blessed to have. They are there to pick me up when I am feeling down. Their love never falters. 

I was talking to a person over Facebook chat today. Someone who in high school I thought was annoying. I look back on this person and feel embarrassed for how I treated him. I was sarcastic and rude, somewhat like a mean girl attitude. I am saddened that I was that person in the past. That I thought it was okay to make fun of someone who was different. Someone who has a true and pure heart who just meant to be kind in the conversations we held. I hope this person has forgiven me... and through our conversation today, I believe he never saw the ugly me, he only saw deep inside and saw what a good person I could become.

My mother is my inspiration, because no matter how hurt she is by others, she always shows kindness to them. Like answering my father's calls and listening to him when he is upset even after being divorced for over 11 years. Or going back to my grandmother's house even after she yells at her in a pre-Alzheimer's induced rage. Showing kindness to others who may need support despite their treatment of me is my goal.

This, I believe, is something that has ultimately love myself more. I have learned to be objective in viewing others, and I try not to be judgmental no matter their personalities because I don't know their history. I hope that in my future I am able to pass along this same objectivity, this same hope, love and kindness.

Growing up... Transformation... it surely is a wonderful thing!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fleeting Moments

This week has been somewhat of a struggle- just with all the pressure at work, the mental exhaustion, feeling upset at hierarchical power, failing to do anything creative, being on-call this weekend, and learning that some of my children will be leaving to a foster home.

I should be filled with joy about the last piece of news.

Instead, I actually broke down in tears... for a good 20 minutes. Maybe it is what I needed after a long week. But I realized that my crying had a bigger meaning.

First, these are the most adorable children ever, Lucy* and Lauren* -six and seven years old, respectively, have the biggest brown eyes and the most charming, toothless little smiles. "UP, MISS!" is what Lucy would say whenever she saw me. I actually ripped one of my blazers appeasing her need to fly the skies. She loved being swung around and doted upon. Such energy, always climbing and running around. "I need a gum, Miss. I want a candy." AH! how cute! Lauren was more calm, very well-mannered, and a true modern-day princess. I say that because she is beautiful and smart, charming, loving, and motivated. Both girls captured my heart. I thought they would be with us for a long, long time. 

However, a family has decided to foster them. A family who I (and others) happen to think is doing it for the monthly stipend and who cannot possibly take care of these high-energy children. It all happened so quickly and the children don't want to go. They want to stay, with us, in the group home. Now, that friends, is meaningful. Lauren said, "it's not like they are... bad, but I want to stay with you, miss." 

BAHHHH!!! ME TOO!!! I want you to stay forever and wear adorable Hello Kitty dresses, and eat gum and candies all day long, and play with your little purple legos! I want to tickle you when you're sad and make you giggle so I can see your toothless grin!

But, alas, it came to the point where I had to let go. I hugged Lucy and told her I love you and she said so back. Her mouth was full of dinner and I gave her a kiss on the right cheek. She pointed to her left and I gave her one there. She was delighted because I was wearing red lipstick. She asked for one on her forhead, too, and I obliged. Next was Lauren's turn. She was upset, sitting at the dinner table. I picked her up and brought her aside and immediately started tearing up. I sat her down and looked into her eyes and asked her to be a good girl, to study hard, and if she ever needed anything she could always call. She asked, "Miss Marissa, why are you crying?" and I told her it is because I am happy for her and I loved her. She said I love you too and I gave her a red lipstick kiss on both cheeks. 

I left and pretty much started crying all over again. Who in their right mind would ever allow these children to be taken from them? Why could their parents not give up drugs, or attend parenting classes, or leave their abusive boyfriend/girlfriend for the sake of these precious munchkins? How on earth could you neglect children so innocent and joyful and make a 7 year-old take care of a 6 year-old while you party or pass out or do a drug deal or whatever?  It is so weird loving someone else's children more than they do. It is so strange to raise someone else's children and to be able to provide for their every emotional need and to hug and cuddle them all day long. Maybe I am just too compassionate, too focused on humanity.... but why aren't people's parents like that?

Then I remembered that I didn't really have a dad growing up, nor do I have one now. I realized that my dad did the same thing to me. Neglected my emotional needs, never went to a softball game, never went to a band performance, never came to see me cheer at a game, never told me he was proud of me getting straight A's or even graduating with a 4.0 from my master's program. 

Why would someone pass up those opportunities? To show their child love, affection, to cuddle them, to be proud of them, to support them....  I guess I don't really know why my dad didn't do those things- does he regret that he didn't participate? Does he not care? Did he think it didn't matter?

Because it did.

All of those missed opportunities... can truly change how a person grows.

I am glad that I at least had one supportive parent. One incredibly dedicated, loving, encouraging parent who's own heart and path I have decided to follow. To spread love and compassion. To care, maybe a little too much, for those who get the short end of the stick. To see the beauty in others and the good that can come from simple conversations and hugs. 

So tonight, I let a little piece of my heart go with Lucy and Lauren because at least I know that I influenced them for a while, that they know they are loved, and that someone really does care.




*Names changed for confidentiality

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quarter-Life Experiences

As I round the last month of my 25th year, I have come to realize that I am apparently incredibly different than the average woman. 

I'm really okay living with my boyfriend of almost two years in our fabulous cozy home with our dog, Giles. 


Maybe it is because I'm feminist... or because I don't really like babies all that much (toddlers = chunky and adorable and the grade school kids are so huggable sometimes, but babies are kinda like aliens)... or because my job revolves around kids.

Maybe it is because I say I am really poor and can't afford things like a baby or a marriage... but in reality I have a nice savings account. Maybe it's because I am afraid that something terrible might happen and I have to use that savings account for something else rather than paying for other people to eat at my wedding. Maybe it's because I am selfish and just want to vacation my entire life. Or because I like to eat steak and go out for sushi often.

I keep looking at facebook and wondering how different I can be from these people? I have a great group of single/couple friends that aren't married or have babies, but how much longer until that changes again? Will I ever want children of my own? Or should I just adopt the adorable girls I have seen come into the foster care system? That way I don't have to birth a baby, and I give a needy child a home! Or maybe it is because all I really need to do to be fulfilled is work for these kids every day and be on call for them every night- that way I can come home and get a full night's rest. I couldn't imagine having to wake up for a baby at night, ugh, I would be one grouchy lady. 

I don't think I would be a terrible mom- in fact, I think I would be a pretty darn good mom- great cook, thrifty, a little bit overbearing. After all, I have the best mom ever- pretty sure that trait gets passed on, right?!

Maybe it's because I live 1500 miles away from the rest of my family and Sam's family. It would be extremely hard to raise a kid with family that far away. Or to get married for that fact. Do we go back to Iowa? But what about my AZ friends? Do we have two receptions? That would be too much to have to think about right now. I'd rather just open a bottle of wine, snuggle the dog, and be able to smooch the BF goodnight. Maybe it is just the simpler things I prefer.

Who knows, maybe this isn't just a phase, but is rather just who I am. And I am okay with that. Here's to the next Quarter Life starting in T-minus 19 days! :)




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bonne Année

Christmas was joyous, much needed time to reflect and veg out. I am so thankful for family and friends- new and old. I got to spend an infinite amount of time with my favorite pooch and watched some sci-fi movies.

However, I am quite excited for the new year. Mostly because my BFF Jaclyn is getting married (about time... 8 years later) and I am going home for a whole week, I still have my job which I get paid nicely for, I get to work with some pretty awesome kiddos, I own a house and a super adorable munchkin (puppy) Giles, and I have many new(ish) books to read. I also have a lot of sewing and scrapbooking projects to keep me occupied if Pinterest ever fails to do so.



My life is blessed. 2013 rose above the past and promised me a brighter future. Now, hopefully, 2014 will continue to be just as good with maybe even a little more traveling because I am now rich. Ha, that was a joke, but maybe a little bit more thrifty traveling/airbnb and hostel-staying. First world problems, I know.

I am really excited about drinking more craft beers and local wines this year. I am also stupendously excited about being more earth friendly by going to a thing called Market on the Move where you get 60 pounds of produce for way cheap. I cannot wait to experiment with this! Also, if the backyard ever gets completed, I will have garden boxes to grow veggies and herbs. I am such a cooking nerd!

I even saved the seeds from an heirloom tomato, germinated them, and they are sprouting!


So, Welcome 2014!


Friday, December 20, 2013

The Whistleblower

I watched The Whistleblower tonight. For those of you who haven't seen it, I suggest you do. It is a film about sex trafficking. Make sure you have a stomach for the violent truth before doing so.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0896872/

An extremely moving, tear-jerking, rage building film this is. This film documents the life of an advocate, working for the victims. Yet the victims struggle to trust anyone, and honestly, I struggled as well. It really hit me how brutal the kind of torture the girls go through- Mentally, physically, sexually. What kind of sick people are out there? Deviant, delusional, sadistic people who would do those kind of things to women.

The film depicts young women being brought in to the sex trafficking industry by an uncle. Then sold, raped, forced to live in soiled rooms with nothing but a mattress on the floor, and sold again... by employees who are supposed to be protecting humanity- the U.N. Rather, these a-holes get swept up in the large profiting "game" of selling people. I could have reached through the screen and choked these men-at one point, where a girl is being raped by a steel pole because she reached out for help, I wanted to grab the pole and whack them all in the face and other unmentionable areas. I became enraged to the point where I felt like violently attacking the sex traffickers. What would I do if that happened to me? Would I lay there? Would I fight back and then be abused even worse? Psychological torture that is. I literally had to stop the film and compose myself because I was crying so hard.  All I kept thinking was that I am so priviliged to have been born in a safe home, to have a loving mother, to have made it to 25 years old without being sold for sex. 

I work with children, many who have been raped, some who have even been sex trafficked... here in the United States. It is so unfair that people would resort to this kind of evil, to sell their own family, to sell a stranger even. Our systems are corrupt, capitalism rules all and shits on those they can use to make a profit. Who will be there to stand up for the citizens, the poor, the abused? It is a lot of work... and usually the least profitable kind. Why can't there be more FUNDED organizations that address women's issues, that reach out and help those who have been taken advantage of? Why don't all of the millionaires and billionaires out there use their capital gaines for good. 

ARGH! 

If you are reading this and have any interest in helping, please educate yourself on sex trafficking. Know the signs and know the resources. Because it is really easy to sweep things under the rug, but it is much more difficult to air the systemic problems and come to a solution when it means deconstructing how our capitalist society runs.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not Home for the Holidays

For some reason, I am that weird person who gets very excited about holidays the morning of. I woke up today, the heater was on (its 45 degrees here in AZ!), the dog was snuggling, I have on my socks my grandma gave me, a thermal shirt... what could be better than Thanksgiving celebrations today!

Except... I don't get to go home. Well... I chose not to. Because I didn't want to travel home with the holiday crowds nor pay that huge airline fee for doing so.  Also, I have a little man named Giles that cannot be brought on planes and I would feel heartless if I abandoned him on the holidays.

However, now I am second guessing my choice. I can imagine my mom getting up and preparing the food, me sitting at the table, us chatting, me snuggling Raleigh the pooch and seeing Stretch the 900 year old cat curl up on my bed (for probably the last time :( )   And I could have visted my Grandma, and seen my siblings, and laughed and drank wine. But I decided to for-go all that just because I was being selfish... oh and work happens Monday and it is a super stressful time of year at work.

Ugh.. I keep trying to make it okay in my head. I am here with the pooch and a loving boyfriend. I get to celebrate Friendsgiving and drink vino. I actually get today and tomorrow off of work unlike some people. I don't really have to cook anything except cranberry sauce..... 

I will just have to deal with a far-away Skype family visit... I hope this is as good as I hope it is as good as I want it to be...