The Title “Fiancé”

Goodness, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything here. In fact, it’s been a long time since I wrote in general. A good deal has happened since my last post and, as I am writing this on my iPhone, I’ll probably miss something.

Firstly, I am now unofficially engaged. R and I are wonderfully happy together and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He’s the one person who, when I want to break and push everyone away, stays and keeps me sane. Well, relatively speaking, anyway.

Speaking of my sanity levels, I am also currently going through therapy for depression and anxiety. I broke down about a month ago right before I was supposed to stand an armed watch. When I realized that I was afraid to arm up because of the things I was thinking, I checked into the hospital and started getting help. I’m not better, even though everyone seems to think I am. I’m afraid that may be a big hurdle for me in terms of getting treatment. I’m doing better at work because I’m finally doing something I enjoy. But my chain of command only really sees me at work, so they don’t know about the way I break down over little things like almost spilling a drink or jokes R sometimes makes (ones that, depending on my mood, I am actually ok with). They don’t know that the other half of me, the real me, is still very broken inside and needs help.

Best news of the day, though, is that I am no longer DCPO. My turnover is done and over with and my relief now does the maintenance. I can now focus on being a technician and my new workout routine.

Which, of course, leads me to my next topic. I plan to work out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This is more because I need to pass my fitness test than anything else. I need to pass it so I can rank up. I don’t particularly want the rank, but it has its benefits. Like, for example, being able to afford an apartment off base that I would be able to go home to my fiancé almost every night and know that we’re the only ones who live there.

Random thought here (interrupting a fairly organized post), but saying fiancé feels weird. Like, on one hand, I’m shocked the phrase can be applied to me and my life. I never thought I’d ever get past the phase where I liked someone and was kinda seeing them. I never once imagined I’d find someone I’d feel I couldn’t live without. Someone I would love so dearly that I would say yes to a proposal before it ever actually happened and without a second thought.

On the other hand, though, I’m ecstatic. I can’t wait to have my last name change and not have anyone be able to tell me we aren’t allowed to be together. I can’t wait to have the world know that I’m his and he’s mine. I need the world to know that I am the luckiest woman in the world.

And the only thing that could make me happier is the day that “fiancé” becomes “husband.”

Loneliness

Ever feel so alone, so broken, that your chest physically hurts? Like, it feels like your heart is literally falling and you’d be lucky if it actually hit the ground because the feeling of falling is just so much more frightening?

This is multiple times a day for me. I don’t know how to stop it, how to go back to the way things were before Tuesday, when I went to the hospital. I wish I’d never snapped. I wish I’d just kept it all in, never let anyone see just how bad it all hurts. I wish I could keep my heart from falling.

It feels like I’ve broken everything. Everything that was good in my life just hurts. And I know I need help. I’m not going to do anything stupid. I just want it all to go back to the way it was.

I can’t keep living like this and I don’t have a choice but to keep going forward.

I just want time to stop for a while…

My Boyfriend Wears Prada

And, frankly, I don’t know how to feel about it.

On one hand, it makes me nervous. I mean, clearly he comes from a very well-off family like he says, but… I have so many issues with spending that much money on clothes. Big expenditures to me are gaming systems and tablets and stuff like that. Not one shirt for $300. Granted, he looks absolutely gorgeous in it, but that’s not the point.

On the other hand, I have this strange feeling that I don’t know how to identify. It’s like I’m glad because, if everything works out between the two of us, and I really do think it will, I won’t have to be scared of how I’d live. I wouldn’t have to be afraid that we don’t know if we’re going to make it to the end of the month or we can’t provide for the family we plan to have in the (far) future. And that’s been a very massive fear for me when it comes to having kids. I know what it’s like to go without, to have to find ways to help out, to be the adult. It is such a huge relief to know that I won’t have to struggle for years to put together enough money to comfortably raise a child.

But it still bothers me every time I see that shirt in our closet.

Happy Homemaker vs. Independent Woman

It’s been a while since I had an update of a semi-professional sort. I’ve been using this blog as a means to vent (which was the whole reason I actually got a blog), but I’ve been thinking a lot about a new story idea.

It’s a lot less adventure-y and more of a statement about the expectations of the world and how women cope (with, of course, a bunch of mushy, romance-y stuff). There’s a massive stigma among women, from what I’ve seen personally, regarding being a mother and homemaker. More specifically, women are being raised now to believe that they should work hard to be independent workers and the professional equal of men. Which, of course, women who wish to develop a steady career should strive for.

But there are women out there who really just want to spend their lives raising children and taking care of their families. And it is extremely difficult to be a woman like that in today’s society.

Other women who want to prove themselves look down on the housewife, painting her as weak or incompetent, when, really, to stand up and say that, yes, she would love to be responsible for a defenseless child, an infant, takes just as much courage as being a woman who decides to join the military and carry a gun, knowing that, should she have to, she must make the split-second decision to fire that weapon.

There is constant doubt in her mind about the path she feels inclined to take. She fears that, upon finding out that all she wants is to have kids and settle down, no man would want her. With a strong sense of balance and equality, she fears that being a housewife would make her dependent and not a true contributor to the household, even if she is the one who keeps the house clean and manages to keep the children from running wild and makes all three meals every day and is always there to lend a helping hand. Even if she is the foundation the household sits upon, she fears it will not be enough because she does not financially contribute.

 

Home

Most people think of a house. An apartment. A flat. A place to live that you share with someone special.

For a long time, I thought home was all the way back in California. My current residence in Norfolk, VA has always been temporary. I’ve always thought, “I’ll live here for a few years then move back to California and go to college. I won’t have a ‘home’ until after that, when I’ve settled down.” Somehow, that’s been the plan in my head for a long time.

Recently, though, I’ve been feeling like this is home. Not the place I stay in, but the man I come home to every day. It’s weird to say this nearly four months into a relationship, but I finally feel needed as much as I feel I need him. It’s a ridiculously wonderful feeling, being needed. Being so necessary to the happiness of another person, it’s so amazingly uplifting. Even if I don’t do things for him the way he does for me, I finally feel like a vital piece of the puzzle instead of that random piece that no one really knows where it goes (some part of some sky somewhere that could really be part of any puzzle out there).

Does anyone else feel that way when it comes to love and things like that? That being needed is just as important as needing the person you’re with? And does that feeling make you feel like you’re home when you’re with them?

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling In Graduation Speech

This was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook and, though I would like to rewrite it and claim the ideas as my own, I think this brilliant writer has hit the nail on the head with this one. I’ve been mulling over the educational system for a while, particularly with my recent inability to retain knowledge after being tested on it, and have come to pretty much the same conclusion.

Here I stand

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years . .” The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible. 

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared. 

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not “to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.”

To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!

Erica Goldson

Reposted from: http://theyallmisunderstoodme.tumblr.com/graduationspeech

Just Like The Movies

You know how, in older mushy, romantic stories, there’s always that part where the girl realizes that the man who is way out of her league is not only in love with her but willing to do crazy things just to make her smile or something else that just seems silly because it never happens in real life?

Well, I have just been shocked out of my mind. Almost literally.

Actually, let me back up a bit. So, as you may or may not be aware, I just recently came back from a trip to California for my grandmother’s funeral. Adjusting’s been tough, but manageable. Well, last Saturday, I talked to my mom and she informed me that her mother, my other grandmother, was sick and they were scared it was serious. The thing was, I had to wait until Monday because that was when she was going to go to the doctor to get it looked at.

So, I waited. Monday came, no results because the tests that they had to run would take a few days. So, I had to wait some more and, by this time, I was quite worried. The illness they were saying she might have has no cure. In any case, I waited and waited and, today, during lunch at work, I called my mom to see what was going on, if the results had come back, and how they were doing.

What she told me was that the doctors are pretty sure that, yes, it is what they suspected and that they’d have to do a biopsy to confirm. The whole time she was talking, I don’t think it ever registered in my brain what it meant exactly. Like, all the little things that it would mean. I was going to try to get through the day without breaking, but I couldn’t. For the first time ever in my naval career, I was sent home because I could not work through my grief. I couldn’t just “suck it up” and keep going.

Well, this is where the story turns into something out of Hollywood. Almost literally, again.

My boyfriend, who’s almost finished becoming a doctor, himself, is having a friend from a very well-known hospital review my grandmother’s case. The man, according to him, is one of the hospital’s leading specialists. And, while this doesn’t necessarily speak well of the man I am so passionately in love with (yes, I will admit it), he isn’t doing this out of the kindness of his heart out of concern for my grandmother, though I do suspect some of it has to do with something I mentioned to him a while back.

He told me that he is going out of his way to help my grandmother because he can’t stand to see me upset like this. He said that what he gets out of this is seeing me happy again.

Oh, guys, I’m so mixed up about this. It makes me beyond happy not only that someone is looking at her case, but that it’s someone who specializes in cases like hers and is really going to be able to make a difference. Not only that, but it’s such an amazing feeling to know that someone you love cares so much about you that they’re willing to go to all that trouble over you. At the same time, though, it’s something that, with my self esteem issues and inability to accept or ask for help, I’m having trouble processing.

I mean, it’s literally unbelievable. That someone cares about me that much is just… mind-boggling. Add to that the fact that he’s actually able to do something to help and… I don’t know. I don’t know, guys. I think my words are broken.