On Zombies

First, I feel a bit like one. But, you know, light at the end of the tunnel and all that.

And then there’s the zombies. The zombies on t.v.

Right after mid-terms were over my Ethics prof made the announcement that we were going to be watching the entire first season of The Walking Dead in class.

It was a pretty major shift, to go from reading lengthly and dry theory: Utilitarianism, Contractarianism, Feminist Ethics of Care and the like, to suddenly sitting in a darkened classroom a couple of hours each week munching on snacks and watching television.

Also, she announced that in place of a second essay, we were required to log onto the class website and write an entry in our ethics journal twice a week for the rest of the semester. The point of which is to draw our attention to the ethical dilemmas we face every day. And you know, life provides a lot of ethical-journal material. Who knew?

Anyway, Ethics class got real easy, is what I am saying.

But to be honest, watching the zombie show was anything but easy at first. My husband got his hands on the first season last year and after I watched the first episode with him I decided it was not for me and he carried on alone. It was just way too sick. Just sick. Sick. Ugh. So when I found out we were watching it in class I wasn’t too excited about it. But I figured I would just suck it up, put on my big girl panties and deal.

Until we watched the first episode, that is. Even though I had already seen it, I left class that first day, marched straight to my car, pulled out of the parking lot and burst into tears.

I’m a giant wuss, is what I am saying.

It was just so horrific. I don’t know why we, as a society, find graphic and glorified violence entertaining. It got me thinking about how, in the distant past, people would voluntarily make their way down to the Colosseum to watch gladiators kill each other or see people be fed to lions and things like that. I know – you might say there is a difference between television and actually watching people be killed for entertainment. But really, don’t we like it better if it more realistic? Anyway. I just think it is a disturbing predilection that humans have. It grosses me out and makes me feel worried, deep in my soul. All of that combined with the fact that in a classroom full of people I couldn’t exactly moan and groan and shudder and flinch, I had to just sit there, and hold all the horrors inside… I don’t know I just let it all out in the car. I worried about how I was going to get through the other five episodes.

Anyway, over the course of season 1, the gore settled down and the (fascinating) storyline picked up. And I’m actually looking forward to catching up on season 2 now. My big girl panties are in place and cinched tight. I’ve joined the masses in their collective awe of the gruesome spectacle.

It’s pretty interesting is what I am saying.

The reason why we’re watching The Walking Dead is for the purposes of thinking about post-apocalyptic justice scenarios. What do members of society do with a complete break down of all the authoritarian structures of society, and there are scarce resources and real threats. The characters are sort of thrown back into a state of nature, only they still have the memory of societal structure and authority. Who makes the new rules? Who makes the tough decisions? Who decides what is right?

So I’m just getting ready to write my final paper. I have to choose three scenes from the show and apply three different theories to the action. Pretty easy and fun as far as analytical assignments go.

How about you – have you seen it? Do you love it? Or are you a giant wuss like me?

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A Monday Quickie

I couldn’t leave you hanging with a string of bad news, even though I don’t have time for a well thought out post.

I’m doing better. Time marches on. I got a little perspective on the school thing – it was such an emotional disappointment because I had been building up to grad for so long – and it’s been a stress-filled few weeks, and I had been counting down to the day I was DONE. So it was a very frustrating development to learn that I was missing those credits (especially after I had intentionally and repeatedly been meeting with the advisor to ensure that all the conditions were met) and I didn’t take it well. Not well at all. But after a few days to air out, I have realized that it is not really a big deal in the grand scheme. In fact, I’m probably going to come out on top, since this whole academic renewal thing looks like it is going to work out.

And as far as the other news, I feel peaceful and hopeful. The matter is entirely out of my hands, and that is a good thing. I trust. I just trust.

I appreciate all the prayers guys. I really do. Thank you.

I just dropped my kids off at school for the first day back from spring break. It was a great week. It was pretty low key. We all got a bit of a breather. I don’t feel as tired on the inside as I did before. It is nice to feel refreshed as I face these last few weeks of mayhem – I’m about to walk into a whole new set of essays and due dates. I have a good handle on my subjects. It is all just a matter of time.

My husband and I have been talking about vacations and throwing some some ideas. We have had the occasional night or weekend away over the years but haven’t ever really taken a vacation. So we’re looking forward to that, whatever it is.

I find myself also really looking forward to having weekends. For the last seven years I have worked weekends, and I’ve always had homework hanging over my head as well. Don’t get me wrong, I do fun things on the weekends with friends and family. I have a good time. It just means that the weekends are particularly insane since I have a lot of work to do as well. If I manage to land a monday to friday job I’ll have weekends like “normal” people. I’ll be able to be with my family. Usually the three of them hang out weekends while I’m running around doing this and that. I’ll get to be with them.  That will be awesome. No deadlines. So. Awesome.

Just dreaming. Dreaming, dreaming. Happy. Dreaming. Time to get busy. Thanks for listening!

I’m oh… I’m okay.

Eternal optimist, I am not.

I’ve always struggled with depression, and I have had the experience of burning out from overwork. But I work hard to find every available solution when faced with a problem. I have learned tricks to keep my mood on the up and up (exercise!) and I am committed to Sabbath-observance, getting enough sleep and not overcommitting myself (this semester was a tiny exception with a short time limit) so that I can remain a productive individual and not crash and burn again. I keep my cool. I try and keep a smile on my face, and I keep truckin’ when life throws those little curve-balls.

But this week, man. I tell ya. THIS WEEK.

First. It is the end of March. There is still snow all over my driveway. All on it’s own, this can be a challenge for many Canadians. We’re holding on for spring. And holding… and holding…

Second. It is the last month of an insane semester. My brain is fried from the stresses and the pressures. (Almost there!)

Third – the news that slammed like a runaway truck into all of everything last Friday.

She doesn’t know how her body betrays her.

Because we’ve decided not to tell her. Not until we know for sure what will happen and when.

She is having a lovely Spring Break. So lighthearted and fun.

And to tell you the truth, Spring Break has been good for me too. We’re having a great time together and I find moments of joy and peace that are a cherished breaks from the other pressures. Life can be beautiful, even when it is hard.

She had an MRI about, what, six weeks ago? It was supposed to just be a check up. We found out the MRI revealed a condition where the base of her skull has malformed in a way that restricts the flow of spinal fluid. It has caused the scoliosis they think. It might have other damaging effects. We have a meeting set up. To make scary decisions. My husband went online and looked at some surgery videos. He told me that it is something I definitely do not want to see. So I don’t look. But the imagination, you know…

So, I’m okay when I don’t think about it, but then I think about it. I have to tell you, I feel so thankful in the midst of this. Thankful for the technology available to us. I mean, wow, right?

And when I curl up and talk to my Father about it, I feel peace. He always takes care of us. When my babies were small and I became aware of just how much in this life is out of my hands as a mother, I prayed to Him and just asked that he would watch over them and take care of the things I can’t.

My daughter’s condition is near invisible from the outside. Her specialist has said he is amazed that we even discovered it. I wonder if my God helped me to see it… I think so. And the MRI wasn’t really necessary. But it revealed something in a timely manner. I have to believe we have help here…

But I do still worry a bit. Combined with the fact that I’m already on edge from all the stuff, and I have constant assignments that need attending to that I just cannot afford to turn away from to take a breather.

And then today.

Today I found out that I am missing a lower level science requirement and WILL NOT GRADUATE this semester after all.

(I will currently avoid the related rant that I have been into the academic advisor’s office several times through the year to triple-check everything and avoid this exact scenario.) (Arg!)

I blubbered around my kitchen like a fool. For about five minutes. Because my kids had friends over and I didn’t want to be that crazy lady. And I was baking cookies (new recipe – so good!) and didn’t want to get snot in them. So I calmed myself down. But them I sat down at my homework and thought of all the work and how I took on so many courses just to be done this semester and the giant convocation happy-bubble on my calendar and the last SEVEN YEARS and I burst into crying again. And I went through the pull-it-together-fall-apart cycle several times. Then I called my husband at work and he made me feel better. (My husband actually went through this EXACT scenario himself. So he gets me.)

And then I did what I do. I continued making cookies, but put my homework aside and got to work on a solution.

Option #1: Take an online course and convocate in the fall.

Option #2: Take a summer course and convocate in the fall.

And then I went online to view my transcript and make sure no mistake was made – aaand no mistake was made. I think what happened, is that there is a second year philosophy course that is required for the Phil major which is being waived for me since they didn’t offer it this year. It is elementary formal logic and counts as a science credit and I think we’ve been operating all along assuming that was in there. Anyway – details – whatever.

But when I was looking at my transcript, a whole new possibility dawned on me. Academic Renewal!

Since I went back to school when my kids were 1 and almost 3 (they are now 7 and 9 can you believe it) I have attained an A or A- average every semester. (Yay, me.) Unfortunately, I had already done a year of courses in 1999-2000 which I bombed, which brings my cumulative GPA down to 2.94 (ouch).

Anyway, Academic Renewal is an option I looked at but didn’t pursue a few years back, so I looked it up online to see if it is a good option for me now. The basic deal is this: it is available for people who are in my situation. They bombed, waited at least three years to come back and then excelled. It wipes out anything from that first year that was under a C- (which would have been all but one) (I did have one B- and it was a philosophy course, surprise, surprise.)

I would have to make up four courses to still meet my grad requirement but all four of them would be first year courses which means that 1. they would all be easy As and 2. they would all be offered during the summer semester, which would mean that 1. my GPA would go from 2.94 to about a 3.8. and 2. I would still be done by the end of June before the kids are out of school and my possible job prospect begins, and 3. I could still convocate in the fall.

So. I meet with the advisor tomorrow to see which is the best option.

And I’m okay.

(And, this one here is a cutie) (Just sayin’)

 

A Quick Update

It is the Monday morning of spring break. Today, I am home. I’m skipping all of my classes today so I can hang at home with the kiddos. And even though I hate to miss class and I can’t really afford to miss class right now, I’m glad for it. I still got up early and went to the gym before Matthew went off to work. I still have a busy day ahead of me with grocery shopping, baking, reading, essay writing, and niece-baby-sitting (sleepover! yay!) so it isn’t exactly going to be a restful kind of day, but nonetheless, I’m happy to be home.

I’ve been missing my kids and they’ve been missing me and we’ve had a few talks about how there are just a few more weeks of insanity. But it is so nice to just hang with them, busy as we may be.

I have four weeks of class left.

My list of to-do items for the remainder of the semester is a page and a half long, single spaced. I feel a little pannicky. I feel the burnout creeping into the edges of my consciousness. But the light at the end of the tunnel gets bigger and brighter every time I look up to take a breath.

Also, we got some bad news regarding my daughter’s spinal condition and that’s upped the stress level around here. I’m not going to get into details right now, but we’re consulting with a neurosurgeon in April. Prayers would be appreciated.

And there is a job I’ve had my eye on for a while, that I’ve been really hoping for but didn’t know if it would work out for me. I received some favorable news that indicate it might be a real possibility. So that’s exciting. I’m keeping my eyes on the sunny blue skies instead of on the ground THAT STILL HAS SNOW ON IT and trying to keep a smile plastered on even though I feel mentally and emotionally exhausted. I keep stopping to take a few deep breaths. To say a prayer. To give a hug.

(I looked at the grime already accumulating in the bathtub this morning and resolved to just let it go for four more weeks.) (Who cares?) (I don’t care.) (Okay, I’m willing myself not to care.)

Four more weeks. And then a few final papers and an exam. And my main project from the last seven-years will be complete. So. So. Awesome.

Q and A

Taken from Hannah’s blog.

Which is worse, failing or never trying? Definitely never trying. But, now that I’ve been trying new things regularly and accumulating a pretty decent success rate, I am beginning to detect a certain crazy fear of failing that drives me towards (but not quite to) perfectionism. It’s a madness!

When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? For sure.

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world? I’d usher in the second coming.

Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things? Doing the right things.

Would you break the law to save a loved one? Absolutely. Echoing Jesus words: men were not made for the sabbath, the sabbath was made for men; I would say: women were not made for the law, but the law was made for women.

Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity? That’s the way it usually goes.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people? Think.

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? Write a book. Like, a whole one. I’ve got lots of pieces.

Are you holding onto something you need to let go of? Sigh. Probably. I fight hard to keep hold of my independence even though God keeps telling me to loosen my grip. It’s so hard.

If you had to move to a country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why? Well that’s an interesting question. Right now it’s looking like pretty much anywhere but Europe. Which is weird because I’d love to visit Europe.

Do you push the elevator button more than once? No. But I do press the crosswalk button several times. Every time I do it, I think it’s silly but I do it anyhow.

Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you? When a good friend moves away and you still love them with all your heart and feel deeply interested in their life, but they seem to have easily forgotten you. That happened to me. It hurts, man.

Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? I think I’d rather lose the old ones. Life seems to get better all the time.

Has your greatest fear ever come true? You know, a couple of my biggest fears have come true and I survived. It was kind of freeing. It’s easier to shirk fear now.

Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset? Yes. Does it really matter now? A little bit … (This was Hannah’s answer and I’m leaving it because I feel the same way. Which is funny because I think it’s the opposite of the point the question is trying to make.)

Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever? Yes. And it’s usually a humorous one.

If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job? Yes I would. Because janitorial work sucks. But then I would use the time to write that book, and I’d probably get my master’s degree or write another book after that. So i wouldn’t stop ‘working.’

Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous? No way Hose. Unless I had the foreknowledge that I was facing 10 or more years of Alzheimer’s or something terrible. Then, yes, I would.

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you? Quit my job and live in a cabin far away from everything and write that book. (Am I detecting a theme?)

In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? Yesterday was the kind of day not worth remembering. So, no.

Looking Forward

For Christmas I got a camera. A Canon Rebel T3

I was so happy.

I am so happy!

I’ve always loved to take pictures. I dropped and broke my film camera on our wedding day, and we’ve gone through a series of cheap point and shoot digital cameras since then. My picture-taking has really dropped off in the last few years out of frustration and disappointment. My camera only took nice pictures outside on a sunny day.

When I finally got my iPhone a few weeks before Christmas I was so excited and started taking lots of photos. The camera on my phone was leaps and bounds better than out old one. You can imagine my delight on Christmas morning, then.

So I was so, so happy. So happy with my gift.

But I also knew that it was going to be a while, four months in fact, one semester of insanity in fact, until I really would get a chance to play with it and learn how to use the functions.

As I count down the last six weeks of the semester, this is what I am looking forward to the most (in terms of how I will spend spare time that is).

In the meantime, I’ve been whipping it out regularly to get snapshots of my kids’ antics. Their pretty faces. (I still use my iPhone most of all, just for the handiness.)

It’s all been point and shoot. I haven’t toyed with the settings.

This is my favorite picture so far:

Look at those fangs! So fierce! Neutron, oh my. (Okay, he is actually yawning.)

I took it the day I went out to snap a few pictures of the hoar frost we had.

One of my favorite things about that day is that everywhere I went, people were out with their cameras, iPhones mostly, taking up-close pictures of the frost on all kinds of things. Oh humans. We are so easily amused and filled with wonder.

Except Newt, who was thoroughly unimpressed by it all.

He’s just waiting for spring. For the birds to come out to play, and the hills to be replenished with baby mice.

LC U2

Oh, so I had the ‘singer songwriter’ channel of streaming music from the CBC radio website (AWESOME!) on the other night. Suddenly I head the voice of my favorite old crooner-poet, Leonard Cohen. I went about my business, enjoying his voice in background.

The song was still playing and I suddenly heard the voice of Bono. I went over to check. Yes it was true, U2 and LC together. So I looked it up for ya. The Tower of Song. I like to share. And Adora came over to me and said, “Wow. That’s a really good voice.” She just sat and listened, shaking her little head slowly.

I know, Dora. So, so good.

Leonard Cohen recently came out with a new album. I’ve heard a few of the songs, and it sound great. Can’t wait to get it.

Where the Grass is (Always) Greener

Growing up, I couldn’t wait to move away. And that we did, right after we got married, at the age of 20. It was a great experience, to go off and do our own thing away from our families – until I got pregnant less than two years later. We didn’t want to raise our kids so far away from all our family so we moved back here to our childhood home, and it’s been great. We said “we really like it here.” We said “this is such a great place to raise kids.”

Our kids are now nine and seven. The last couple of years, we have found ourselves fantasizing about moving off again. We chatted a lot about moving to somewhere on Vancouver Island. We were talking about the island in particular because 1. It’s coastal and I’ve always dreamed of going coastal. 2. we both love the island. 3. my husband saw lots of possible management positions at various towns on the island through connections in his current company. 4. still close enough to visit with ease (by car).

So there’s been chit chat. Nothing very serious.

Last fall I decided (and then changed my mind) that this spring, after graduation, I would apply to a Master’s program at UBC right at the downtown Vancouver campus. This was not something I could do by distance, and based on their requirements and my grades, it looked like a pretty sure thing. We started looking at subsidized housing for families on campus and started planning to sell our home here and started fantasizing about urban family life in Vancouver, another place we love to visit. But then I changed my mind. It’s just too expensive. And I need a break from school.

But the moving idea stuck. My husband went to Oregon for a week with his friends last summer to surf. He loved it. I remember driving through it once, and remember that I liked it very much for the few hours I was there. So that’s what we’ve been talking about for the last few months. Looking at job opportunities in various cities, large and small, down in the state of Oregon. Looking at real estate and costs of living and immigration stuff.

We made a (fairly) solid decision to make some necessary improvements on our home (roof, yard) and put it on the market asap this summer. We’ll rent for a while if need be. It’ll make it easier to just pack up and go when the time is right.

In the whole ‘Oregon’ discussion, one of the ideas we’ve really fixated on is getting the heck out of winter. Not that they don’t have winter in Oregon. It’s not that far south. But I’ve had enough, three decades enough, of being buried in snow for 1/3 of each and every year. I’m not ‘snow people.’ I’m tired of the dread that settles in when the weather first turns cold, knowing it is going to be a long time before the happiness of sunshine and green grass and vegetation arrives again. I’m sick of the focus and dedication required just to survive mentally and emotionally in the dreary January and February (and often, March) months.

We’re good for a while. My husband wants to finish up some courses, and I’m happy to hang out here for a few more years even. We love all the PEOPLE (if nothing else – and really, there’s nothing else keeping us here). This won’t be a rush job.

So then a few days ago my husband came home from work, looked me in the eyes and said, “why Oregon?”

What? I don’t know? ‘Cause it’s not here?

“Why not somewhere tropical?”

What now?

So there’s that. Our imaginations have been exploding the last few days. There’s been a lot of internet searching. My favorite part? That we’re completely on the same wavelength about this. It just feels so right.

Nothing will happen for a while. And who knows where we’ll end up. Vancouver and Oregon are just as possible as anything else. But we’ve made up our minds about moving. It’s just a matter of when and where. Adventure!

Nine to Five

It’s nice to change things up.

Usually I’m running around all over the place. I’m a full time mother, a full time student and a part time janitor. For the last six and a half years one of the huge blessings of my chosen work-school balance has allowed me, for the most part, to be available to my kids all the time, and work my schedule around that. In the back of my mind, I’ve known that when graduation comes (SIX MORE WEEKS), and a regular full time job after that, I will have to adjust my schedule and habits accordingly. There will be advantages and disadvantages. It’s just of those life things.

Today, because of the current teacher’s strike (go teachers!), my kids spent the day at home. Luckily, my husband had to do some course work for his job so he was going to be home doing that today anyway, so the kids stayed with him. (I’ve moved things around so I can cover Tuesday and my sister is taking them Wednesday while I’m in class and then I’m taking them to work with me after that.)

And you know what?

It was just so nice to drive away from it all at 8:30 am and come back home again at 5. I know I will probably feel differently when it is an every day experience instead of an occasional experience, but it was just so freeing. I got so much done. And all without the feeling of rush, rush, rush.

Wow.

I’m going to just bask in it for the rest of the evening.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Here is the recipe for the oatmeal fudge bars I made yesterday that are just like the ones you can buy at a particular coffee joint.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, so I will put my modifications in brackets. My version is fantastic. I haven’t actually tried the original.

Pan: This recipe calls for a 9x 13 pan. I used my larger, 11×15 I think, Pampered Chef stoneware bar pan so the dough was spread thinner, but I found the thinner bar to be the perfect proportion, so if you have one, I would use it. These bars are pretty rich. And, using a bigger pan makes more bars!

1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar (I used 2 cups brown, no white.)
1 cup butter, room temp
2 eggs
0 vanilla (I used 1 tsp)
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup of white flour and 1 1/2 cups whole grain wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I found them a little salty, but still good. My husband likes the salt. You might want to reduce or omit.)
3 cups oatmeal

FILLING:

6oz chocolate chips (I used 2 cups)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter (I used about 1 1/2 tbsp)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted)

Cream together butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. In a seperate bowl, mix together flours, soda, salt and oatmeal. Add to cream mixture and mix well. Press 2/3 of dough into the bottom of pan.

In a microwave or on stovetop, melt together the filling ingredients. Spread on top of dough. Drop remaining 1/3 of dough by tablespoon randomly over the filling. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Do not overbake. *I baked them for about 23 minutes in my stoneware.