Contacts and glasses and men, oh my!

Okay, so, now the truth will come out a little more. Part of the reason I also wanted to get contacts is because I think sometimes I come off as a little hard or defended, and my intellect is one of the ways I kind of give off that image. And, truthfully, I think this keeps some guys from asking me out or initiating with me, who might otherwise. Not that I would have scads of men banging on my door, because I've just never been that girl; but there would be another one here or there that might feel more comfortable with me and willing to make a move (because he wouldn't fear I would beat him down with my gigantic, spikey brain).

I was talking to a few different (female) friends about this over the weekend, and they all agreed in some ways with this notion: men like women they feel like they can "help" or be useful to in some way; that it somehow makes them feel more manly and competent and valuable.
So, I have a few different thoughts about this:

*First, I go back and forth on whether it's bad for me to want to seem less intellectual to someone (at least upon first meeting them). Because, on one hand, am I hiding a part of myself that's really there, just to please a man? That would be tragic and oppressive and wrong. But on the other hand, if it's something I sometimes use as a defense mechanism, maybe it's good to let other aspects of my personality come through, instead of just the smart/intellectual thing.

*Second, I am deeply DEEPLY opposed to women faking helplessness, or not learning to do things they really could do on their own, just so they can keep their "need" for a man's help alive. I am very self-sufficient in a lot of ways, but at the same time there are lots of vulnerabilities that I have where another person's help, love, and encouragement are like water to a parched throat. We all do need people for something or another, sometimes it's tangible, sometimes not--and the point is not to pretend we are weak in ways we are actually strong, but to be willing to be more open with what our true neediness is. That is what I need to work on, in a big way.

*Third, here are some questions about the whole thing: Is the desire to be "useful" and "helpful" something essential to a man's character, and how God made him to be? Is this desire less pronounced in women (on the whole), and if so, why? Does this attitude of "helpfulness" communicate an implicit hierarchy or patriarchy, or not? Are men as willing to receive help for their needs from women, and is that a problem that can be fixed, or just a reality to live with? Why does this whole mating thing have to be so complicated? Why do competent, smart, capable, thoughtful, strong, Christian men always seem to choose fragile, bland, pretty, small, traditionally girly, trophy wives who do not challenge them? Okay. No need to get personal. No need to come off as bitter--because honestly, I'm not bitter, just more curious at this point about the dynamics. Because I smell a rat in the soup; but don't know what kind of rat it is.

After writing all of this, it's pretty clear that just wearing contacts is not going to get me anywhere. Alas.


Away with you, Specs!

When I was in seminary, my eyes finally got to the point where I had to wear glasses all the time. I guess it was a combination of aging and all the reading and computering I was doing. And I've been fine with glasses. They are easy, can be funky when I want them to be, and I can see. So, that's good.

These new glasses I have (see picture on the sidebar) are back to my old style--with the bigger, blacker frames. I tried toning it down a bit, but I just like the more dramatic frames better. The problem is, with these bolder frames, I sometimes feel like the glasses define me a little too much. I went walking at Zuma (a beach in Malibu) with my friend Jose over the weekend; and I always take my glasses off to go walking. So I asked him whether he thought I looked better with or without glasses, and even though he likes the glasses, he says that without them I'm more of a blank slate. Whereas sometimes, with the glasses, especially the bold, black frames, some people have said that it can be like my face is saying:

Hey world! Look at me! I'm sooooo intellectual and SMART!

I don't have a problem with that sometimes. But I'd like the option not to have to announce that to the world all the time. So, I am going to look into getting some contacts, just to have the choice.


In the Meantime...

Since the initial shock of only having 2 years to figure my life out has worn off, I am now kind of grateful for the kick in the butt this has given me. It has begun to shake me out of the dull torpor which has been enslaving me since May. After the L'Arche disappointment I haven't been able to feel excited or passionate about ANYTHING. And anyone who knows me knows that I am a person of great passion and conviction, and to go through 7 months of dullness and lack of enthusiasm was very very very painful and difficult. Basically, I have not been myself since May (and have done some very stupid things that were out of character for me). Only now am I beginning to have some glimmers of hope and excitement and passion for what the future might bring. I am so so grateful for that.

Probably the front-runner is for me to enter a PhD program. I had always thought I would go into a Bible program (though I was still deciding between the Testaments)...but I really hate history and historical criticism (e.g., how many authors does this document have? who is the author? where was it written? when was it written? how many islands was it written on? etc.) and this is more than a small part of most Bible programs I have looked into. So...even though I took no electives in this area in seminary, I am thinking about doing a program in Christian Ethics. This way I can engage issues of how we should live, and the "good life", and stuff that really engages me. Plus, I would be able to really delve into issues surrounding disability and people with disabilities--to advocate for their value, giftedness, role in our society, humanity, etc. This could be really great for me.

And, in the meantime, there are a lot more miserable ways to spend a couple years:

(The student on the right always has that look on her face. Even when she says "I'm happy" she looks like that. She's awesome and hilarious.)


Making Plans.

When I was in college, one of my InterVarsity staff workers had this magnet on his refrigerator: We Plan, God Laughs. Ah, so true. I don't picture it as a conniving sort of laughter at all...maybe just a little good-humored chuckle, like one I might have as I watch a little child who is still trying to get the hang of tying her shoes. You know, with the loving look in the eyes and the smile of fondness that says, "Oh, you!"

Well, once again my plans have been demolished. As most of you know, I had plans for what I wanted to do after seminary (something that I had been planning to do for about 8 years), and that plan fell through right before graduation. I had no Plan B. So, I returned to teaching special education, at the same special ed high school I had taught at before going to seminary. I knew this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but I really enjoy the students and figured it would be a good place to recharge and catch my breath as I learn to trust God in a new way, and think about what I might want to do next. But I don't have a full teaching credential, so I had to go through all this rigamarole to get into a University Intern program so I could buy myself 2 years while I finished my preliminary credential. All this time I have thought I only had 2 classes left to take before getting my preliminary credential; and then once I got that, I would buy myself another 5 years until I was supposed to have my full credential. I didn't expect that I would stay in teaching for the next 5 years, but it was a nice security blanket and feeling of safety since I had no idea when I might figure out where I was being called next. So I figured I'd just take those 2 classes, get the preliminary credential, and then forget about taking any more classes (since I don't really have need for a full credential anyway). So I've been feeling pretty relaxed, and not rushed about trying to figure out what the next step might be. And even though I really love my students, I really am not loving teaching in the public school system; but find it to be a good, stable place to be for the meantime. Plus, I love being back in L.A. where most of my really close friends are; and where I've been making some new friends I really enjoy.

But then yesterday, as I went to figure out about something at the university where I'm working on my credential, I found out that instead of 2 I have SIX classes left to take before getting my preliminary credential. Ouch. Bad news. It was going to be hard enough to spend the time, energy, and money on those 2 classes that are not taking me in a direction I want to go...but SIX...I just don't think I can do it. For the next year and a half I'd have to be in school (on top of teaching full-time) and would have to go to school every Saturday next quarter. The total cost would be in the neighborhood of $4,000. And I just don't think I have it in me to do that. I don't think I can sit in class for 4 hours in the evenings twice a week, constantly battle the bureaucracy of a university and a school district full of morons, and shell out money that should be going to my seminary loans--all to keep a job that I don't really want in the first place. I just can't do it.

But there goes the 5 years of decision making time I had. That means I can teach the rest of this year, and one more year before my current credential expires. But if I'm going to go to grad school (phd) then I need to figure that out by the end of this year, so I can start getting the stuff together to apply next year. Geez. I have no clue. And suddenly that nice, leisurely pace of figuring things out is not going to work anymore.

We plan, God laughs. Indeed.


Rose Parade

So, is it just a California thing, or do you non-CA people know what the Rose Parade is? It's a parade held on New Year's Day every year in Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl, in the morning before the football game takes place. Unfortunately, I live only a few houses down from one of the streets on the parade route...and people make a BIG deal about watching this parade. People camp out all night and set up lawn chairs and hang out for like 24 hours on the sidewalk somewhere on the parade route to watch it. On New Year's Eve as I was heading to a friend's place, here were a couple scenes of those camping on the parade route (on sidewalks and in medians):

And here are some rules I have for these beautiful people to keep in mind next year:
1) The city of Pasadena is not your personal trash receptacle. Throw it in a f-ing can!
2) Don't put your chairs in the middle of the street before the streets are closed off. Especially on a night where people are coming from alcohol-filled parties...unless you have a death wish, then, feel free.
3) Tell your idiot children NOT to throw tortillas, silly string, and hard, white balls at passing cars. Believe it or not, throwing hard objects forcefully at cars actually dents the cars. Imagine that!
4) People actually live in those houses you're camping near. You don't need to blow that ridiculous air horn all night long.
5) Do not block the parking spaces and driveways of the people whose neighborhoods you are crashing.
6) Never, ever wear USC gear to my neighborhood ever again.

That will be all. Happy New Year!

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