Small things in the middle of big things

I quit working with my Research Proposal introduction half finished today (my supervisor wanted a draft to review over the weekend) and walked out into glorious sunshine and the scent of spring flowers. I came home, played Piggy in the Middle with the kids, did some puzzles in the sun, made poached eggs with fresh garden herbs for tea and had a bath with my daughter, and once she’d got out, with a book. Now I’m settling into one of my more productive writing times of day. Hopefully it’ll actually be productive, but even if it isn’t, I’ve got one paragraph written that I didn’t have this afternoon, and a week more to do the rest of the thing.

This is a more pleasant way to think than ohshitohshitohshit I still have the introduction and methodology background and ethics and method and potential results to write and then there are exams in less than two weeks that i haven’t even started studying for and half the washing is still damp and next week both boys have to be at different places at different times of the day and i have classes and andandandandandwhydontijustgiveupsleeping.

So I’m not thinking like that. I’m listening to this. And as soon as I post this I’ll check Twitter one more time then turn it off and see if I can chip the next few sentences into shape.

I’m getting there, and it feels good to be actually working really really hard and proud of my progress.

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Studying for exams. And writing a research proposal.

NOT.

You know that moment in George of the Jungle, where Ursula’s mother says “oh God”?

That’s what my brain said when I went to open YET ANOTHER research methods .pdf. I swear it would have been audible to an outside observer, even though my lips and vocal cords did not move.

Like the time I was talking to someone and watching his lips and my brain suddenly yelled, “God you’re beautiful!” so loudly I was amazed the man I was talking to didn’t hear it. I then blundered away, trying the wrong door to get out, you know the kind of thing.

Anyway.

I am at that moment, like when you’ve been on a long tramp or a long stay in hospital, when you’re about three quarters or more of the way there and the end is almost in sight and you’ve STILL GOT SO FAR TO GO and you STILL have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, or one word after another, or have yet another dinner of reconstituted egg quiche and wobbly pudding and another blood test. 

I’m having bad dreams of conflict with my husband and weird concatenations of the TV I’ve been watching and my studies and the news, although that may have more to do with the warmer Spring weather combined with winter-weight bedding.

I am not tired of psychology, or brains. I’m tired of assessment, of having tasks set for me by others, which have nothing to do with the needs of real people. Writing pages and pages and pages which in the end will only be thrown away. I want to be writing reports which doctors and patients and families will read and which will help them and make their lives a little better, a little more understandable, make sense of the past in the present, give hope for the future.

I want that so bad I can taste it. (Kind of metallic, as my throat tightens and I carefully don’t cry.)

Unfortunately my coping strategies are not all that great. But I’ll come through, I always do. I’ll probably get As. It’s just the getting there that’s a pain in the ass. I may be here a bit more often in the next month, to try and get the conversational writing out of my system so I can settle to the dry academic style where I have to. I do get in minor trouble for being too informal sometimes.

Anyway, I better go, I have to take the cat to the vet and then pick the kids up from school. See you all again the next time a paper makes me scream.

Judgmental?

Which way do the fingers point?

I was called judgmental on Facebook when I made a joke about how easy it is to accidentally have sex – you know, it happens all the time, you trip, lose all your clothes and land on a penis. Damn.

That was the moment I decided Facebook and I were through.

I didn’t go to class today, even though normally I enjoy Health Psychology and really enjoy G’s lecturing style. Here’s the email I sent him.

Hi G,

I am finding it very hard to read and journal on the sexual health topic, and it is no coincidence that I am not in class today. I have deeply-held, complex spiritual beliefs on this subject and, to be honest, I am afraid that if I air these I will be judged. I have seen and heard it happen almost universally to people with the same beliefs as I have and I wasn’t prepared to face that.
Even writing this I am crying.
At the same time, I would feel dishonest NOT expressing my views at all in class. But I assume that my classmates would assume that because I am a Christian and believe that sex should be reserved for marriage I am a homophobic prude. This is a very very long way from the truth. I was afraid that trying to do myself and my beliefs justice would take too long and be disruptive to the planned lesson.
I will do my best to do justice to the reading in my journal.
He replied,
No worries – I understand that this is a sensitive topic and I respect your beliefs. Please express them freely in your journal. You’re welcome to borrow the Sex and the City episodes if you want.

I think that anti-Christian, and especially anti-anti-gay-marriage, prejudice is about the only socially acceptable form of prejudice left.

I actually don’t have a position on gay marriage. And G, my supervisor, is gay. Whatever, it’s not really all that important to me. I also know a gay theologian who reportedly is against gay marriage because he doesn’t like the doctrinal implications. Just so ya know.

I’m also strongly anti-abortion, but I’ve shared a room quite happily with someone who had had one.

There is a big difference between being a judge and being a juror. The jury  says, “What you did was wrong.” The judge says, “Go to prison for ten years.” We all act as jurors, any time we say (to ourselves) “I wouldn’t do what he did.” It’s when we start treating people differently because of it that we move into judging. So if you treat me differently from anyone else, or from how you used to, because you think my beliefs are wrong, you are judging me.

Just don’t call people judgmental because they think something is wrong that you think is okay. They might be right.

You know the really sad thing about all of this, of course: it’s all in my head. Going to class today might have been absolutely fine. Really, I chickened out because the imaginary conversations in my own head were so difficult. But after hearing Kim Hill (National Radio, one Saturday morning) have a wonderful discussion with a wise Christian man and then five minutes before his time was up start asking him about gay marriage and the problem of pain (the two curliest issues that people love to try to stump Christians with) … and after witnessing numerous uncomfortable Facebook conversations … my fears were not totally unfounded.

Time to move on. I’ve handed in my Article Critique. It doesn’t feel properly handed in because I only had to email it, not print it and staple it and put it in a box. Anyway… Drugs test here I come!

Oooo, gender stereotyping!

We had boys’ night / girls’ night in our house tonight. Dad and the boys drove across town, picked up fish ‘n’ chips and took them to the park, where they ate them in the herb garden. Then Mr 9 wandered about picking herbs while Mr 7 and Dad played football, and then they all went for an explore. Miss 4 and I had pikelets and fruit salad for tea, served on a tablecloth on the living room floor with my best china – I even got the beautiful cups and saucers down from the display shelf above the sink – and then we baked biscuits, the kind where you cut out shapes.

I have no problem with some forms of gender stereotyping. Miss 4 refuses to wear trousers. (Tearfully: “Then no-one will know I’m a girl!”) The boys leap around the house roaring at each other and every game involves fighting in some form.

Here’s the question, the can of worms I like to open: Is there anything wrong with this?

Is it enough that I encourage all my kids to do whatever they want to do and treat everyone with respect? Or should I be making more of a stand against cultural norms and in favour of equality?

What does equality actually look like?

I grew up with my mum working and my dad staying at home with us, for a few years. He said to me that those days looking after my little brother were some of his happiest times. And yet, he has ended up feeling like his life has been wasted, that he is of no worth because he has never found a job that would allow him to be the provider.

How many women feel like that?

I went back to work after having children not because we needed the income, but because I hated being stuck at home with babies, who are (a) hard work and (b) boring. I was going crazy. I still feel a little guilty about this sometimes, though less than when I regularly faced Facebook posts and links from my homeschooling friends. I don’t like my kids enough to want to spend all my time with them. I suspect the feeling is mutual. Does that make me a worse person than the homeschoolers?

How many men feel like that?

(By the way, I don’t actually think I like anyone well enough to want to be with them 24/7. Sorry dear.)

What do you think?

WHY are we WAITing…

We are suffoCATing!

It’s very hard waiting for things. Especially when you’re four and what you’re waiting for is your best friend’s fifth birthday party. She’s been counting sleeps since we got the invitation. Now we’re counting hours, and singing Hickory Dickory Dock, which I didn’t know was a counting song. We’re up to “the clock stroke [sic] three” for the second time now… she got a bit lost at eight and started over.

Where do we draw the line between waiting for things to happen and going out and making them happen? It gets especially complicated when we believe in following the will of God. Those of us who have learnt passivity as a life approach (because that way we avoid disapproval, and we can blame the outcome of any action on the active person we have become dependent on) have to be very careful of this.

God quite often asks of us the thing we find hardest, and asks us to give up the thing we value most. Look at Abraham and Isaac! To those people who habitually charge into things and leap into the unknown with verve and aplomb, God will often say – Wait. For those of us who are more likely to want to be told what to do and won’t do things until we’re certain we’re doing the right thing, God will sometimes say – What do you want to do? Go do it, and I’ll make it work. Or – What’s in front of you? Do it as if for Me.

I have seen God lead people into failure, where they have followed what they believed was His will, hit a brick wall and crash. I have seen people sit there on the pile of broken bricks and scrape themselves Job-like with potsherds for years. Does that mean the failure was God’s will? Perhaps it was. Perhaps God asks us to give up the success that we think we deserve, because it is the thing most precious to us.

Does that mean the potsherd-scraping is God’s will too? I don’t know. Job never got an answer to his questions, but he did get his life restored. Lucky Job. But he didn’t get the same kids back who had died.

What if Job had gotten off his pile of bricks and gone looking for labouring work? Would God still have restored his life?

What if you think you’re Job but actually you led yourself into failure (because you didn’t try, try again when you first failed) and now you’re just sulking?

How can you tell the difference?

I have posted in the past (here) about this feeling of stuck-ness and being skipped over. I have now gone ahead and made decisions about what I want to do with my life without any feeling of ‘calling’ about it, but with the belief that if God doesn’t want me to do this, he’ll stop me. Until then, I’m going to do what interests me and what I’m good at.

I still fight with my inner passivity, which I am coming to recognise as a subtle form of aggression and self-defence (though I may change my mind about that when I actually get round to doing those clinical psyc papers and am not just basing my understanding on a smattering of pop psychology, some undergraduate tangentially-related courses and three counselling sessions dealing with migraine phobia). I’ll keep you all posted.

What the?!

I think I might have found a supervisor. I went to visit him today, and though we only had 25 minutes he managed to listen to what I was interested in, encourage me in it, and tell me the projects he has running that I could find a place in instead if that would be better. They involve focus groups and real live people with chronic illnesses and it sounds like something I could actually be good at. He’s asked me to send him an old assignment so he can be sure, as he put it, that I know how to string two words together. That may take a bit of digging in the old computer… it’s been a while.

He’s about six foot five. When I told Miss 4 that he was taller than Uncle P2 (she has two Uncle Ps and he’s the younger, and taller, of the two) she exclaimed: “What the!”

Then she explained, “‘What the’ is what I say when I hear someone is very taller.”

Okay.

By the way, I promise that one day, when my head is less full of stuff that needs to be done, I will wax more philosophical. In the meantime, you’ll just have to put up with the stuff.