On Starting Another Fall Quarter

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I have fond memories of Indian Summer in Seattle. The air is warm, the nights are beginning to cool and get shorter, and there’s the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and new shoes all around. Fall feels like back to school, and it’s no wonder that this rhythm feels comforting to me. I love academia. I enjoyed my time in K-12 schooling, and certainly continued to enjoy my time in college and further on in graduate school. I enjoyed the school environment so much I got a job in Academia, and here I am, beginning my third year as a college instructor.

This quarter I had the privilege of teaching outside of my normal program, in a First Year Experience class with incoming freshman. It was so refreshing to teach my similar human development coursework to these bright eyed and bushy tailed incoming freshman. To create a mini community a week before classes start and see how they interact with the material. I loved it, even though I am exhausted from teaching 5 hours straight and then holding office hours. I remember that I’m an introvert.

And it makes me extremely pleased when students come up and ask me, ‘what class do you teach here? can I take it?’ Unfortunately I only teach classes in a program for students who’ve dropped out of high school, so they won’t be in one of my classes again. I guess it makes me think…is there something more for me? If these students wanted to take a class from me, what would it be? Would I like to someday teach Psychology 101, or English 101, or another course subject? And if I do want that, how do I go about getting there?

I forget how much I love teaching at this level.  I forget, when I’m in the overly frantic summer quarter off, trying to cram camping trips and house projects into my three months off, that I live for this academic school year rhythm. I am not sure that I would love it so much without the break, that it leaves room for me to come back in the Fall with an “Ah, yes, this is what I’m meant to do.”

But it leaves me thinking, pondering, reflecting, on where I am and where I want to go in the future. I know that this is right for me right now. I absolutely believe that. I think it’ll be right for me for a little bit more, at least, but then what? Where is this ship going?

I thought she died…

not the same picture, but taken around the time of my terrible dream

not the same picture, but taken around the time of my terrible dream

A lot of childhood memories have been floating up to the surface, which I attribute to my wrestling with having an only-child vs. having another child spaced 4-5 years apart. When thinking about all-things-kid-related imagining into the future starts with progressing into the past in order to see…how would I have felt, which is narcissistic at it’s core (because Potamus is not me), but that’s what I’m working with right now. And so, imagining a 4-5 year age spread means going back into my past and remembering what it was like when my sister was born…er…adopted into my family.

I was 5.

We drove from Seattle to Oregon where she had been born.

We had a necklace or some other gift that my brother (2 years younger than me) walked up to the lady in the hospital bed, and gave to her. I think we said something like “thank you,” and that’s all I remember (more could be said about this bizarre memory, as it was a concrete experience of what adoption-birthfamilies was, but I didn’t really analyze that until older). The next thing I remember is we were on our way home, somewhere up I-5 and I realized…I had left my favorite Skipper doll in the hospital.

And they wouldn’t go back to get my Skipper doll.

We came home with a baby, and I lost my doll.

And I lost my position in the family as the only girl.

The princess.

And I was at an age where I was embracing my princess-tomboy style, but I was clearly no longer the only girl, and she, in all her tiny bundle of joyness, became the family princess.

I don’t remember much about my sister until she was in pre-school. Coming home on the first day, eagerly declaring “I like TEN BOYS in my class, there’s Jordan, Taylor, etc,” and me saying “that’s not how it works. You don’t get to like more than one boy at a time. you grow up and marry one person.” But she was always the princess. And I grew into a new role…the protector.

can you see my annoyance with her fabulousness?

can you see my annoyance with her fabulousness?

Both jealous and protective of this fragile, dainty, cheerleading popular kiddo (who grew into a fragile, dainty, cheerleading popular, fashionable adult), who was so different than me, and mostly annoyed me. We shared a room and she wanted to talk all night. I wanted to sleep. She wanted to play dress up. I wanted to read. But in preschool, I remember a photo of her was taken. She was holding a plastic pan, and looks caught by surprise. And it was hanging on our mirror the time I had the dream.

In the dream, we were in Disneyland, and she died.

I was horrified.

I woke up crying.

I carried that picture with me until I hit college (and she stole it back) because that’s how I remembered her, so young and innocent and for me to protect as her big sister.

And so, I think about things like that when I think about having another baby someday. That the dynamic will change. That there will be complicating factors and emotions and memories that Potamus will have of the time he had alone and the time he had when the sibling enters the scene. It will be different than my own memories. And if he doesn’t have a sibling he will not have those memories to look back on. It’s complicated and emotional on many different levels.

My relationship with my sister is currently also complicated. I will always be her big sister, protective, blunt, and loyal, but also jealous of her carefree swagger.

How are your sibling relationships? How has it influenced your decision to have/not have kids (or to have more) kids? Have any striking childhood memory involving siblings?

An Introverts Dilemma

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I’ve known forever that I’m an “introvert,” but I do love learning about this aspect of myself, and having conversations with others in my life. Because often I feel torn, as in, I feel like I make my life harder for myself in a lot of ways tempered with the thought that “this is who I am, I can’t change it.” And this recent bout of musings was brought on by the Huffington Post article 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert. Now, we all know it’s not really a secret with me, but I wanted to address a few of them…

You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

It wasn’t until I took an “anger management” communications course after college that I learned about the function of small talk. Before that it felt trivial and stupid and shallow. Once I learned that every culture has it’s own version of small talk, and that it’s an actually valid thing, I have grown to…well, not quite appreciate it, or even really understand it, but at least I participate in it…at least for a few minutes.

You have low blood pressure.

Yes. Yes I do. How did you know? But, I’m curious…what does that really have to do with anything?

You have a constantly running inner monologue

I am married to an extrovert (though it’s interesting, because I actually do more ‘social’ things), and we got into this great discussion last night about this running inner monologue. Because…yeah…he doesn’t have it. Sure he thinks about things, but then Boof said, “when I’m done thinking about something, like what I need to do tomorrow, I just stop.” Um, excuse me? You just….stop? The discussion went down a long winded rabbit trail about inner silence (he labels it boring, I label it as peaceful/fucking scary), about how our brains work so differently. I admitted to him that my new trick to fall asleep is saying random words in my head until I fall asleep, it goes something like this: truck, kangaroo, pumpkin, pink, love, scary, force, night, dove, poop, lice, crow, fog, door. His response? “That sounds stressful.”

Yeah. I guess so. But it’s how my brain works.

Which then left me wondering if introverts are more prone to anxiety, because it seems there is a fine line between my inner monologue and my inner monologue being influenced by a whirling dervish. Because that inner monologue is often my worst enemy. But then again, I rarely get bored.

And this conversation also makes me think about previous conversations with Boof about our brain, on the subject of dreams, he takes the perspective of the person, as if watching a movie. I see out of the character in the movie’s eyes, but I’m also the omniscient narrator a lot, too. Also, when reading, he doesn’t see pictures, he hears the words being read and it’s distracting because the words are a half second behind his eyes, so it’s like being in stereo. Makes me think about how we are all wired differently…

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Reading the article were you surprised by any of the categories? When dreaming do you see yourself, see out of your own eyes (as if watching a movie, or participating in the action) or are you from the perspective of the narrator? Do you dream in black/white or color? When reading do you see pictures, hear the words or something else?

What dreams may come?

Cherry Blossom

My dreams have been intense lately, like last night’s adventures that were interupted by my own snoring. There had been flying, by me and others close to me, and there had been labor. Lots of babies being born and one friend in particular who somehow was giving birth naturally, though I know she had just had a C-section a few days ago. I was helping deliver her baby, in the dream, but I can’t quite sort out my role in the whole adventure, now that I’m awake. Because I had a camera and was taking pictures, but also had the feelings that I imagine a doula or midwife might feel. The dream was filled with other women given birth, so many babies, and also, flying. Did I mention the flying already? Flying dreams usually mean that my life is going well, or that I feel in control, which, in the light of day doesn’t seem to be that way at all.

I think the intensity of my dreams is influenced by all the reading I’ve been doing. While I’ve managed to read a few books for pleasure since Potamus has been born, it’s felt like  A LONG time since I’ve really gotten into a book series, rather than sporadically picking up a book and reading it on a whim. But the other day I was at Costco and saw an intriguing book that seemed to fit my interest in things related to motherhood AND fit my interest in mystery/thrillers. The author, Sophie Hannah, has written several books and after I was 1/2 way through the book I bought from Costco, I had ordered a few more on Amazon, and have since bought a few via Kindle. Yeah, I’m on my 4th book…in A WEEK! Holy Moly! At this rate I’ll have read all her books in a month.

But, the characters she has created, and the plots that she has woven so masterfully together, leave me inspired and chilled and totally mesmerized. I love whodunit type novels, as it makes my brain work while I’m reading, trying all the while to figure out who the ‘bad guy’ is and why they’re acting the way they are. These books are written so well that the psychological aspect of the ‘why?’ keeps me guessing and it feels, at the end, like my mind has been sharpened. But in the midst, my heart and mind is racing, and I’ve found that I’m okay putting the book down halfway through, but once I pass the 75% mark, I definitely need to have time to finish the rest or my mind whirls and I can’t focus on things like…sleeping…

Before I went to bed last night, Boof and I laid next to each other and tried to re-connect. I’d been feeling shitty about how much I complain about his workload, but I know that he’s struggling with it, too. I know that quality time is one of my cheesy languages of love, and so not having him around causes me to get irritated. But I do see how hard he’s working and I want to stop nagging and being a crazy psycho about it all. I think some of my craziness has been due to my fear about trying to expand our family to another child. We talked frankly about our desire for another (hopefully daughter, but welcomed son, too) and how two is the max, how we don’t want a 3rd. But I talked about having enough patience for it all.

So I think the intensity of having several friends giving birth, paired with these well crafted psychological thriller books about mothers and crime, paired with my own wrestling around having another child, is causing my dreams to go to a whole other level.

Teething dreams

For as long as I can remember, I have had nightmares about teeth. Most often these nightmares have had some storyline about me being in some public place and having the teeth fall out of my head, leaving bloody holes where they would have been. Pleasant picture, eh?

So, the other night, after battling for sleep with a very fussy-crying (clearly from pain) Potamus, I had another frightening tooth dream. Though, this time, it wasn’t my own teeth I dreamed about, which is what made this whole mon-tied-to-baby thing weird. I dreamed of Potamus having teeth. 9 of them to be exact. All on stumpy sort of red bumps, and when he smiled he seemed happy, but in a vampirey way.

Creepy.

But I think he might ACTUALLY be teething this time. Runny nose, unconsolable crying at night, putting everything in his mouth, and me having dreams of teeth.

I hope those puppies break through soon.

Tiny Beautiful Things: A Review in Dreams

Holy shit my dreams have been intense and seemingly completely fucked-up lately. I blame the book Tiny Beautiful Things, which I purchased from Kindle after finishing Cheryl Strayed’s last book. This one is a compilation of advice columns that she wrote under the pseudonym Sugar. Some of these Dear Sugar columns can still be read over on The Rumpus. The advice she gives is raw, based on her own life experiences, and her no nonsense tell-it-like-she-sees-it mentality, it was a quick read (though I found myself taking breaks in order to process all the advice and stories I encountered.

The stories I encountered in her book did not leave my psyche upon entering dreamland. In one night I had 4 terrifying dreams, including:

  1. A dream where I was sleeping in a dream and my father-in-law came in, spooned me for awhile, and then left when he heard my husband get home. His creeping into my room woke me up, and my dream self pretended to be asleep in order for him to go away sooner. Upon waking I felt very much like a little girl who had been molested (though I have no history of sexual abuse in my past).
  2. A dream where my husband was sexually assaulted by a mentally retarded girl wearing a green shirt. He was tied to a chair when she raped him, and there were many people around, like what you would see at a college frat party.
  3. A dream where my grandma and I visited a museum where the first room was full of mummies and decorated with bones and skulls in designs (I partially blame this on a travel channel show featuring such a place), and I was afraid to look around and we walked into another room which was similarly decorated with taxidermied animals, duck wings and antlers, until finally we made it to the part of the museum we came for…which was a room full of balloons and bouncy balls. WTF?
  4. Perhaps the scariest of all…a dream where I pulled up to a park, was listening to the radio and finishing a snack before I got Potamus out of his carseat to go play. When I did turn the car off and go to get him out of the carseat, I realized that his head had gotten stuck in the straps and he had strangled. If I hadn’t been sitting there calmly eating a snack he might have lived. I called 911 and saw myself dissociate while  I did CPR, but he did not live.

Jesus, 4 intense dreams involving sex and death all in one night was a little too much for me. In the daylight I very much enjoy reading her frank advice to people struggling with all sorts of topics, but it entering into my dream-world is a little too much. Perhaps my next book choice will be something with a little…lighter…material?

What should I read next? Any good suggestions?