An army of one

“When was the last time you completely reversed an opinion you once held strongly? Have you become more set in your ways or less so as you’ve grown older.”

This is a very apt question for today. As I was driving into work this morning, I noticed a car in front of me with a bumper sticker that a machine gun on it with the words “come get me” underneath. It got me thinking.

My opinion on gun control has significantly changed over the years. I used to be completely anti-gun. Growing up, my mother and father wouldn’t even allow us to play with toy guns; so, I think I took the lead from that.

Let me start by saying that I am well aware of the second amendment “right to bear arms.” But, the Constitution states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (as cited at Cornell.edu, n.d.). We don’t need a Militia in modern times; we have police officers to maintain order and safety. Even having said that, I, being a college professor, completely understand the desire for protection; which is why I’m not completely anti-gun anymore.

But, at the same time, I don’t think semi-automatic or combat grade equipment is necessary. For protection, one doesn’t need a gun that shoots multiple rounds in a short amount of time; a simple handgun (or shotgun) would suffice. I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot about hunting; but, I’m fairly confident that one doesn’t need a semi-automatic for that either. Once again, a shot gun should do the trick.

I’ve considered getting a gun myself or at least learning how to shoot one. Every time I hear about another school shooting, I think about it. I can’t actually bring a gun with me to school; but, I suppose knowing how to shoot one (in case I can somehow disarm the bad guy) wouldn’t be a bad idea.

                                                                        Reference

Cornell School of Law. (n.d.). Second Amendment of the
Constitution. LII. Retrieved from:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment.

Psychoanalysis

“If you knew that by seeing a psychoanalyst for two years you would achieve significant personal insights you would otherwise miss, and if you could afford the cost, would you start analysis?”

The short answer to this is who wouldn’t? I would. I enjoy learning about myself; especially when it makes me a better person.

Now for the long answer. I watched my mother struggle with fear and anxiety from the day she turned 30 until the moment she passed away a few weeks ago. She lived in extreme fear of death; so, psychiatrists and psychologists have long been a part of our family life. In my humble opinion, she did very little “living,” especially once she was diagnosed with cancer. While yes, it was her ultimate fear come true, she didn’t live while she had the chance. She slept and cried, and it killed me.

They say that our emotional health comes directly from one of our parents (mostly our mothers); so, yes, I’ve had my fair share of anxiety. There have been times I’ve struggled and let it stop me from living; but, not anymore. I began the process of self-discovery with a yearly new year’s resolution that I call “new year-new me.”

I think long and hard about what I would like to fix about myself and vow to change it throughout the year. I’ve all but tackled my fear of crowds, and I’m well on my way to being ok with flying. Last year I flew twice, only to Florida, but it’s a start. This next year I’ll be working on my penchant for being anti-social- both in my personal life and at work.

So, if I could have someone telling me what to fix about myself, and showing me how to fix it, I’d be there in a heartbeat. I want nothing more than to live my life (how ever long that may be) to its fullest.

P.S.  For the many of you who follow me closely, I thank you for the condolences on the loss of my mother and for staying with me while I took the necessary time off to grieve.  I am back now, stronger than ever!

If I see him…

“Are there any people you might see on the street and try to pretend you hadn’t seen them?”

Well, the short answer to this question would be:   see blog post from June 26. If you want a more complicated answer, then yes, there are two. While I was raised to forgive and forget, there are two passed relationships that I’d avoid.

The first one is the man I spoke of in my blog on June 26th. I’m not sure I could endure the awkward conversation that would likely stem from that meeting. Also, my guess is that his wife would probably be with him and I have absolutely no interest in seeing her, like ever. Side note: I’m not jealous of her in the slightest; I do believe in destiny, and maybe they were each others; I just have a hard time with the “you can’t talk to her” ultimatum she gave him. It just seems wrong to me.

The second, and likely the most important to this question, is another ex of mine who stole from me. You see, he and I dated at the time when social security numbers and such weren’t as hidden as they are now. Our numbers, birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers were right on our time cards, sitting in the office for everyone to see. He took it upon himself to get all of my information and have a female friend of his open a credit card in my name. She then put him on as an authorized user. He ran up a few grand in debt before I found out about the problem. Thankfully, I had an excellent lawyer and didn’t end up with the responsibility of having to pay it.

So for him, I think I’d likely punch him if I saw him in the street, which could end up with me getting arrested. So it’s probably just best if I never see him again.

Lovers and friends don’t mix

“When a romance ends, would you rather stay in touch with your former lover or break off all contact? Do you have any close friends who were once lovers?.”

It’s so interesting that this question would come up today because my family and I were just talking about it yesterday.

I had a boyfriend for ten years off and on who I remained friends with the whole time. There were a few times in those ten years when one (or both) of us was seeing someone else; but, we remained close. We confided in each other and helped each other through everything. He loved my family too. He was always more than a lover to me; he was one of my best friends.

That is until he came to me one day and informed me that he was seeing someone and she didn’t feel comfortable with him coming over to see me. She felt that it was “weird” that he and I were so close. He walked away after having said that to me, and I never saw him again. He married her a year or so later.

A couple of years after that, he ran into my mother and father at a local craft fair. He stopped and spoke to them for a little bit (she wasn’t there) and commented, once again, that it was because of her that didn’t come around anymore. I don’t know if it’s insecurity or fear on her part (or even if those mean the same thing); but, even then, after having been married for a few years, he still wasn’t allowed to see me.

Again, just the other day, he ran into my sister at a birthday party for a mutual friend’s children. She waved and said hello, but got nothing but a grunt of sorts as he continued passed her.

Ten years ago I was head over heals in love with this man. No one (in my opinion) ever measured up to the way he loved me; which is why we always found our way back to one another (and perhaps why I’m still single).  I don’t know if we were “destined” to be together or not.  I only know that, then, he knew me better than anyone else ever had. Now, he knows nothing about me. He doesn’t know that I made my dream of becoming a writer and professor come true; nor does he know that my mother is sick. I hope, though, that he does know I miss him- more and more every day.

So, to make a long story short, no, I don’t have any friends who I used to love; and, I will never make that mistake again.

Just have a little faith

“How well do you understand yourself? How frequently do you react in ways that surprise you?”

I think I have a pretty good understanding of myself (in general); but, I still surprise myself from time to time. What it boils down to is that we’re always our own worst critics, which makes us doubt ourselves from time to time. There is a saying (from someone) that says “you never really know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.”

Life has thrown me some pretty crappy curveballs the past couple of years, and I have to say that I’m pretty darn proud of myself for maintaining some semblance of strength. Mind you, I’ve had my moments, and I’m sure I will continue to; but, overall, I’ve been a lot stronger than I ever thought possible.

The one place where I know I falter (a lot) is my ability to do certain tasks. Especially something where I might be able to break something. I never give myself enough credit to realize that I am an intelligent person; I can figure it out! Case in point, just the other day I needed to fix something in the shower. My friend’s husband told me how to do it, and I did, but I was scared the entire time.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -A.A. Milne.

The altercation of life

“What has been the most painful experience in your life? How did it alter your view of the world? How has it affected your life?”

It truly amazes me how quickly one’s life can be altered. It takes less than a minute.

My life was irrevocably altered in March of 2016. I was at work, and my mother called me crying hysterically. She called to inform me that her worst fear has come to life; she called to tell me that she had cancer.

It was at that moment that my life came crashing down around me. With those brief seconds on the phone, my life would never again be the same.

Honestly, I never thought it was possible that I might have to (at such a young age) spend any amount of time without my mother’s love and guidance. I never knew that someone so inherently good could experience something so incredibly heinous. I thought it would be smooth sailing (much like I had witnessed with my cousin and my friend’s mom just months before). I thought she’d go for chemo and then possibly radiation; then we’d be done.

I was wrong! Here we are, more than a year later, struggling to find a chemo to work. Cancer has spread, her spirits and willingness to carry on have faltered, and (understandably so) she is scared. Scared for her life. And there is NOTHING that I can do to help her. NO words to soothe her. NO medicine to quell her pain.

How has it affected my outlook on the world? That’s a tough one to answer. On the one hand, I’m angry because my mom is one of the sweetest, kindest people anyone would ever meet; she’d give you the shirt off of her back even if it were her last one. How can something so awful happen to her? It makes the take care of others and God will take care of you piece of religion seem a bit seem a bit off, doesn’t it?

Then, on the other hand, it’s shown me more and more that life is too short for fear. I’ve learned to do more of the things I want to do.

America: home of the free and (sometimes) under educated.

“If the president called and promised to implement any program or policy that you chose, what would you ask for?”

This is quite interesting, on many levels. First, because if the current president ever called me, I’d have a lot more to say than what this is asking me to say. But, in the interest of holding my tongue and answering the question, I will move on!

If he called me, I think we’d need to have a long talk about the educational system in the U.S. I know that I’m not a genius, but something has got to give. Something has to be wrong with what is happening in schools everywhere. As a college professor, I see students from all over the world. The difference between what the U.S. is producing and what other countries are producing is staggering.

U.S. students are often unable to write a clear sentence, never mind a fully thought out essay. I’ve had students who barely speak English perform better than those from the U.S. And forget about analysis, they have no idea what that even means (most think it’s the same as summarizing). There truly is no higher order thinking in so many of them.

They also seem to want to merely “get by” with as little effort as possible. I’ve even had grown adults tell me that there is just no reason to worry about grammar and spelling because it’s not important outside of school; and, because it’s worth so little concerning the grade, they find it a waste of time. Now I don’t know who made them think that their time is more important than mine, but they do. While they refuse even to try, I have to spend countless hours while grading to explain each infraction just so that they don’t turn around and blame it on me because I never told them.

Trust me when I say that I am NOT blaming the high school teachers (I would never; I was one of them). I blame the administration. They’ve got the teachers so worried about losing their jobs because some self-centered teenager couldn’t care less if they pass a standardized test or not, that they (teachers) don’t have time to worry about much else. They teach to the test to keep their jobs, and that’s not fair. Come on America, something needs to be done!

The “age” old question…

“How would you feel if people regularly guessed that you were ten years older than you are? Ten years younger? What might lead people to guess your age incorrectly?”

Right away, I’m going to go there…age isn’t anything but a number!

In my experience, very few have been able to guess my age, accurately, for many reasons. First, on the positive side, I am blessed with my mother’s “you look so young” genes. On the downside, I was also cursed with my father’s “you’re too young to be this gray” hair. I started to dye my hair around high school and haven’t stopped since.

You can’t guess my age based on my maturity either. I mean, I still giggle when someone says “do do.” Don’t get me wrong, I can be incredibly mature when I need to be; and, I’m endlessly responsible. I just refuse to grow up unless I need to.

Having said that, I don’t think it would bother me either way; as I said, age is nothing but a number. I honestly believe that we’re only as old as we feel; and, I don’t feel old at all. Truth be told, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I will be 40 next year. It just doesn’t seem possible.

The voting paradox

***Warning, the following post contains politial opinion.  Please remember that it is just that, my opinion.  Feel free to debate me if you’d like; you can even prove me wrong.  Just don’t hate!  Haters will be banned***

“When voting, are you more interested in a candidate’s position on issues or in a candidate’s personality and character? Do you feel that you get a real impression of either during an election campaign?”

This is an interesting question; one that I’m not sure there is a good answer to.

I will be the first to admit it when it comes time to vote (especially for President) I tend to procrastinate in doing my research. I find the whole process daunting and more of a chore than I think it needs to be. I do it, though, because it is my right and my duty. Well, that, and because I care about the future of my country.

The problem is that, often, we can’t get a firm idea of how the candidates feel/think about issues because they’re going to say whatever it is that they believe that they need to say to get you to vote. And, of course, watching the debates doesn’t help, because they’re often just speaking over one another or yelling to get the point across. In all honesty, I don’t even watch the debates anymore; I haven’t in a while. Instead, I download the transcripts a few days later and read them; much more peaceful that way.

Then, there are the commercials and constant he said/she said arguments that occur in the media during election time. Those tend to be useless too. Often, they’re grasping at straws.

So, I guess to answer the question- it’s neither. I gather all of the “evidence” that I can find and go with my gut, knowing, of course, that most of what I’m reading is only half true. Obviously, education and women’s rights are important to me, so I do pay close attention to those.