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?

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Days Like Today

I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. Maybe even sleep for a few weeks. I know I’ve mentioned how much my dreams bother me, but even they’re preferable to the way I’m feeling right now.

I think the hardest part for me is knowing that the way I’m feeling is completely irrational. I take slight scoldings and treat them like the end of the world. And, to me, they are. Because if someone has to scold me, I messed up in a miniscule way that I ought to have been able to correct on my own. Instead, someone else has to notice it and tell me to fix it.

And, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s other people telling me how to do things. I love to learn, but I don’t like it when I think I have it down and mess up. Like this morning when I was on watch. I was yelled at for something so small and that I had no way of knowing, but it still hurt me. It hurt me to the point where all my irrational fears and doubts came back up to the surface, the ones I’d been working so hard to get past.

I know I’m better than that. I know I’m a good person who wouldn’t try to do things wrong on purpose. I know there’s no reason for me to feel like shit every time someone tells me I messed up.

But I do.

And it scares me because, if this is how I react in the military, how am I going to behave in the civilian world? How am I going to handle not having a chain of command to help me with everything? Not that they really help me much, but they’re a convenient source of blame.

But, the point is, when I get out, I’ll have no one to blame but myself. And, really, that scares me, too. Because I play the blame game. I don’t like that, but I do. And, if the only person I can blame is myself, then I’m going to blame myself for a lot. Probably more than I actually deserve (because I’m a masochist like that), but I’d be shouldering a lot. And I’m scared that, when that day comes, I might be alone.

I’m not saying there’s trouble in paradise, far from it. Relationship-wise, the only problem I really have is that he’s shouldering a lot of my stress and burdens right now and, even though I know the day will come where he’ll need me to do the same, I feel guilty. They’re my problems. No one else should have to put up with them (Oh, that’s an old wound, isn’t it?).

I should stop now. I’m rambling because I’m tired and have to stay up even longer than I wanted to. I planned to go to bed after dinner, which I skipped to type this up. It’s ok, though, I’m not all that hungry. I had a very big burger for lunch (because I skipped breakfast).

Ok. Rambling’s done. Posting now.

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.

Past That

There comes a point in a relationship where the giddy wears off. You’re no longer bouncing up and down in your seat just because he replied to your text. Holding his hand while walking or being just plain being together feels so natural you might as well have grown up with him.

In the past, for me, that’s where relationships ended. I was looking for a lasting giddy feeling, someone to make me constantly feel like I was losing my mind because they were just so amazing. I didn’t know what a long-term relationship was supposed to feel like. I didn’t realize that what I really wanted was someone to feel like family.

But I’m past that now.

I’m not saying we’re that level of serious to where being family has been discussed. By no means are we at that point. I’m just saying that I’ve finally realized that is what I want. I want someone that I can hold at the end of the day as a lover, a best friend, and a family member. I actually want that feeling.

You want to know the amazing part?

This is the closest I’ve ever come to that feeling.

Pack It All Away

I don’t know how many of you are like this, but I’m a compartmentalizer. I stuff emotions and thoughts away in separate parts of me and do my best to keep a lid on them. For a while, before the Navy, it worked pretty well.

I cried when the little jar of sadness started to get too full. I’d laugh and smile when appropriate. I’d be serious when the situation called for it. I was always doing what I could to be exactly what was needed.

And it worked.

But, after this weekend, I don’t know if I can do it anymore. I’m lost and confused and I don’t know what I want from life anymore. I know I can’t stop myself from feeling the pain of the loss of my grandmother, how sudden and sterile the whole affair has been. Everything I have done has been purely business and I have no idea how I can go to work tomorrow.

Everything hurts and I wish it would either stop and go back in its little cubby or that the world could just stop and let me be human a little longer.

I just need a little longer, guys. I need to understand what the hell is wrong with me. I need another few days or something. I need some time where I can stop worrying about everyone else and just… breathe and sort myself out. Repack my mind.

Being human feels more like insanity sometimes.

Gifts From My Father

I know I said I’d be away all week, but I found the WordPress app for my phone and I felt as though I needed to get this off my chest.

All my life, my father has been put on a pedestal. Despite being verbally and, at rare times, physically abusive, he has always been the man who could do no wrong. For a long time, I dealt with conflicting emotions toward this man.

After all, he is my father. And maybe I just don’t get it because I’m so much younger than him. Maybe this is normal.

But, at the same time, I knew it wasn’t. I knew that my father wasn’t supposed to be like that. A father isn’t supposed to make you feel as though you’re less than human at times, that your emotions, no matter how silly, aren’t valid.

But there was always that whole family loyalty thing. And, no matter how much I wanted to hate him to the point where I wouldn’t want to talk to him ever again, I couldn’t. I didn’t know why, only that there surely must have been something wrong with me for being incapable of that level of loathing.

Now I see why.

I am incapable of that level of loathing because I am the family mediator. I am the one who stays rational in a family crisis and keeps things from escalating. And I never really realized it until now. I never thought about it until my parents split up last week and I started being the one to coordinate the moving process. I’ve stopped fights and kept my mom from going back into a mutually abusive relationship.

It never seemed like that much of a talent until now. My planning skills aren’t genius-level, which is something I’ve always lamented, but now, I couldn’t ask for a better ability.

And all because my father gave me the greatest gift he could never have for himself. A clear mind incapable of the rage that so fully consumes him.