Monday, June 18, 2007

Admission Esaay

Hey, guys.  I just want to say thanks to everyone for reading my blogs and being so supportive of me.  Several people have responded to me with personal messages and I just want to say thanks.  Y'all are great thinkers!  I love your comments.

Wyn had suggested that I write some things about my life.  I've written several stories about various parts of my life over the years (not here on MySpace) with the intention of publishing a book one day but the stories are all incomplete.  I do have an admission essay that I think is compelling though, and I thought I would put that on here.  Let me preface this by letting you know that this was written in the early part of 1997.  I was attending Georgia State University at night and teaching phlebotomy during the day.  I had just met Mike and we had been dating for a few months.  There are several typos and grammatical errors, so please just overlook them.

I was applying to
Agnes Scott College--a small private liberal arts school for women.  I had to write about a time that changed my life.

I remember driving home from my mother's house one day when I was about 19 years old.  It must have been late spring because the flowers were in full bloom and the trees were green with all of their leaves.  It was not sweltering hot yet, so I know it wasn't summer.  I was married to an abusive man who thought the struggle in life was to remain within the poverty threshold so they wouldn't stop the food stamps or kick us out of our subsidized housing.

            Growing up I did not experience being poor, or doing without, so this new environment took some getting used to.  I never remember sitting in my room as a child envisioning my future of being, or becoming, a welfare recipient.  I don't ever recall saying, "I want to be a tax-taker instead of a tax-payer when I grow up."  But, somehow, that was what I had become.

            As I drove home, I remember thinking about how unhappy I was, and I knew that, without a doubt, this was not the life I wanted for myself.  But, I did not know how to change it.

            The sun was beaming down on me through the windshield and, since I didn't have air conditioning, I had the windows rolled down.  I could smell the sweet scent of honeysuckles, they were everywhere in Tennessee.  I started looking at all of the nice little houses, with their manicured lawns, as I drove.  Then I started seeing everybody zooming past me in their newer model cars.  That's when it happened.  I made up my mind that I wanted one of those cute little houses and a nice car.  Even more, I wanted the hope of a future that came with those houses and cars.  But in order to obtain those things, that would mean having to become educated and work every day, and possibly lose those well-earned food stamps.  I knew it would never fly with my husband.

            When I got home and walked through the front door of my low-income apartment I felt something I had never felt before, or at least not paid attention to.  I knew that apartment was not my final destination.  That apartment was no longer my home.  I knew, for a fact, that this was only a temporary stop.  Knowing that felt good.  But now since I had a new found future for myself, what was I going to tell my welfare-professional husband?

            I didn't tell him anything.  The next day I got up and left the house before he awoke.  I went and got a job at a convenient store called Jet.  I was thrilled.  When I went home to tell him the good news, he glared at me and told me that I could not work there.  He told me that he would do everything in his power to stop me.  I didn't let that discourage me though—I started work the very next day.

            After working for about a week, and my husband realizing that he was not going to be able to keep me from it, he hit me.  I guess he thought if he made my face look all beat up, I would be too ashamed to go to work.  But I wasn't.  In fact, after the hitting stop, I called the police, he was arrested, and I moved out of that apartment.  I went to live at my grandmother's house and continued to work.

            Eight and a half years later, here I am.  I've been working consistently and going to college at night.  I have been raising my two kids and paying a mortgage for about a year.  I bought my car two years ago—new.

            The drive home from my mother's house had a significant impact on my life.  For the first time in years, I saw where I was going.

Agnes Scott granted me admission.

Friday, June 15, 2007

More thoughts on boredom

If happiness is achieving meaning in your life, and you repeat that feeling over and over again, wouldn't the meaning eventually become meaningless?  How can you grow as a person or a being if you never become bored?  I don't necessarily think boredom is bad: it can be indicative of growth and opportunity.  Don't you think?

I heard a story once about Mark Twain, I believe.  He had died and gone to heaven.  Once there, he asked St. Peter what there was to do in heaven.  St. Peter told him that he was able to do anything he wanted.  Twain replied that he had always wanted to play a musical instrument.  St. Peter showed him a cloud where he could go play the harp.  Twain went to the cloud and he began to play.  He was quite amazed at how easily everything came to him.  He spent hours listening to the various sounds he made playing different chords.  Twain played and played.  Then, he became bored and went back to St. Peter to find out what else there was to do in heaven.

I guess the point I take away from the story is that living (and apparently dying) is about learning how to constantly move and find new and interesting things in our lives.  Boredom helps us do that, I think, maybe more so than happiness.

I went to lunch with a friend of mine today and as we were riding along he glanced over at my arm and saw an indention.  He asked what that was on my arm.  I realized he was looking at the huge crater-like hole I have in the bend of (both) my arm(s), which I received from my early days of "donating" plasma.  I told him I used to donate and he asked me why.  "Because I was poor," I answered.  Seriously, I used to donate my plasma twice a week, for money.  I believe I used to get $10 for the first donation of the week and $15 for the second donation in the same week.  I didn't enjoy donating plasma, but I was in a horrible marriage at the time and my husband wouldn't work and he had gotten me fired from several jobs, so I couldn't work either.  Donating was a way to get a quick buck, which was always one more than I had in my pocket.

I'm not trying to turn this into a sad story, but instead, I think it was boredom that helped lead me to change my life.  I knew I wanted more out of life and more importantly, I knew that I could have more.  I grew up as an army brat, so it's not like I grew up really poor, watching my parents struggle which then just dumped me into an under-achieving lifestyle.  It's really quite the opposite.  I think growing up in the military actually afforded me opportunities a lot of kids didn't have.  I was continually exposed to various cultures and lifestyles.  I traveled quite a bit--visiting the Acropolis when I was 13, and venturing into East Berlin when the wall was still up, guarded and used.

I think it's because of all of this that I am easily bored.  I am lucky to have had such a rich, culturally diverse life and it's the "everydayness" in life that gets to me.  I know that probably sounds selfish and spoiled, but I really don't mean for it be that way.  So, I can blame my need for constant stimulation on my parents.;-) Just kidding.  Seriously, though, maybe it's the downtime, through the boredom, that helps me to find my next bout of happiness.  The one problem still exists though--dealing with others.  We share experiences with others and need others in our lives to help us get from one place to another, but dealing with them can be quite an experience.

In my boredom, I'm afraid that I hurt people.  For example, I know that my current work situation is putting a strain on my relationship with my husband.  Don't get me wrong, he's very supportive and a wonderful man, but nonetheless, it's a wrinkle.  I'm staying in Atlanta during the week and going home on the weekends.  He doesn't want to move and I don't want to push him to move, so I guess this is a compromise.

It was from my boredom of staying at home (after quitting my last job) that led me to a new job that is not boring.  I'm happy when I am working (most of the time).  When I'm not working, then I'm constantly trying to find something that is as fulfilling as working--which is very difficult to do.  When you have something in your life that is very fulfilling, but you can't do it all of the time, dealing with that "off" time can be difficult.

Anyway, I don't really know where this blog is going tonight but I just felt like writing.  But, following the logic I employed at the beginning, I will most likely become bored with my current job and search from something else.  My history seems to suggest that usually happens in three-year increments.  I don't know if that is because of my military upbringing (serving three-year service terms in one location) or not, but it does seem to be a pretty consistent pattern in my life.  Dealing with the people in my life have been in much shorter increments.....I think I get bored with them much quicker.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Just some thoughts

Help me out.  I'm in one of those moods that make me question everything.  I don't think I'm exactly depressed, just more bored and wondering (about happiness) is all.  So, please take a moment and share your thoughts with me.

What is happiness to you?  How do you know when you're happy?  How do you handle the open spaces inbetween the happy moments, like when you stop being happy until you start being happy again?  What do you think is "normal"/"abnormal" about it?  Is being happy important?  What (if anything) is more important than happiness?  Are there different types of happiness?  How do you measure it?

Okay, that should do it.  So, whaddya thinking?

****Update as of 6/10/2007

Well, no one has responded to my questions, so I thought I'd try to reword a couple of them, or explain a little bit about why I'm asking them.

I think I am naturally predisposed to be negative.  I fight it but I think the negative emotion/thought is the recessive/dominant gene, or trait in my personality.  I think I come by this naturally--my mother and grandmother are/were both negative people.  I think my father's side of the family is/was less so, but some negative qualities exist and when they combined with the plethora of maternal negativity, it resulted in me.

Both of my kids also have it.  We are on a little trip right now, enjoying a few days away from work and getting to spend time with each other (including new little Brianna).  We got here yesterday and Shane and I were able to have a conversation about some things and it got me thinking, resulting in this blog.

As soon as we arrived, everyone went to sleep, except me.  I was excited to be here so I went and walked around.  Then I got mad.  I got mad because everyone else wasn't as excited as I was and that they all preferred to sleep.  Now, I know that is immature and unreasonable, and somewhat spoiled, but nonetheless, that's how I felt at the time.  Then I started questioning myself, and I wondered why I was not focusing on being there with my loved ones and enjoying that, as opposed to being negative and unhappy with them for not feeling the same way I did.  Which then led me to thinking about the idea of Happiness.

I guess I want to know at what degree does happiness become a determining factor in decision making, and likewise, at what point does the lack of happiness drive a person to act.  And, furthermore, should happiness even be a factor when deciding whether or not to act--for example, when it is juxtaposed to Duty.  If something is someone's duty, does/should happiness play a role in the decision-making process?