Monday, December 29, 2008

More Online Dating Fun

OK.

This is probably rude and uncalled for...but...I can't help myself.

THIS

Be honest and faithfull. Take care cleaning the inside of the house because I will take care of the house duties.

...is an actual headline that some man put up on his online dating profile.

I'm not kidding.

Where do we begin with this one?

Yes, faithful is spelled wrong. Does that mean it doesn't count?

And this man.....who winked at ME.....just wants me to know that as long as I take care cleaning the inside of the house, he will take care of house duties???? wha???

Sometimes it's just downright insulting to even be "winked" at. Ya know?

love and grace,
pam

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Post

I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block lately. I appreciate those of you who email me when this happens just to check in. That's so sweet. No, it's more than sweet, it's downright loving. And I love you back.

Remember that post I wrote a few weeks back about a new relationship? Yeah. That one. Let's just pretend I didn't write that one. But don't worry, it's okay. Just trust me on that. If I've learned one thing this year (and hopefully I've learned more than one) it's that dating and blogging don't mix all that well. I guess it's one thing to put the trials and tribulations of being married to a guy who's same sex attracted and eventually leaves you to come out as gay online for the world to see. It's quite another to try and "bare your soul" when you're navigating the world of dating. Mostly, because it's difficult to trust your soul at any given moment in light of the fact that you are just getting to know people. Not to mention the fact that there are OTHER individuals involved who also have souls that are in the same sort of flux. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Dating sucks. I do know this; being alone is better than being in a bad marriage. And if this is as good as it gets, so be it.

In other news, I am going to see all four of the boys during this holiday break. I will hopefully have pictures to post.

Until then, Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for caring and writing and COMMENTING (heehee).

love and grace,
pam



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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Childhood Memories

There's been a recent surge of former classmates and childhood friends of mine joining Facebook and it has been outrageously fun to catch up with these folks. Part of the joy in it, for me, comes from the fact that one of the things I miss the most about having moved away from Granbury is the loss of shared history.

Shared history is incredible because even if you don't remember each event exactly, or at all, if you had a part in any piece of that time and place, you feel connected to it somehow. Connectedness. There's nothing like it.

I shared one such piece of connected history with an elementary classmate of mine named John. John was a year older than me but we were in what our district at that time called a "split class". I think they sold this arrangement to the parents by telling them that some of us were such advanced learners, a.k.a. smart (I don't recall the term "gifted" ever being used back then and I sincerely wish we could scrap its use now.) that we could function in a class where we weren't constantly supervised by the teacher, thus enabling her to teach two entirely different curriculum in one year and in one setting. Looking back, I see this all now as code for, "your kid will sit down, shut up, read the chapter and answer the questions just because someone tells them to do it." While there IS something to be said for that sort of acquiescence in students, I'm pretty sure it's not all that educationally sound.

On to my story.

One day after school, I was walking up the wide sidewalk that connected the long rectangular-shaped buildings which housed the classrooms. Unlike the schools built today, at our school each classroom opened to the outside world. It all seems quite odd to me now. There was no one else around, and I didn't hear John as he came quickly skipping up from behind, kissed me on the cheek, then continued running on. And seriously, I think John's memory of this occurrence probably lasted right up until he reached the other end of the sidewalk or possibly as long as it took him to get home and start rummaging around for an after-school snack.

I, on the other hand, have this occurrence seared in my brain as if laser beams cut it out of steel. You see, I had been kissed by a BOY....a REAL, ALIVE boy. This certainly meant that within the next few months I'd be popping out a little Pammy or God-forbid another kid like John who would run around impregnating innocent 5th grade girls as they made their way home from school.

The first thing I did when I got home was to begin checking my tummy for swelling. I WISH I were kidding you or exaggerating here. I'm not. It was horrific. The fact that I was entirely too nauseous to eat anything for the next three days only affirmed what I knew to be true because pregnant people always felt sick. I'd watched enough "I Love Lucy" to know that kissing is the cause of pregnancy because heck, those two didn't even sleep in the same bed and little Ricky was extremely real and highly annoying with his whiny little voice and incessant banging on that drum of his.

I considered telling my older sister who was 15, but I valued her opinion of me so highly and she'd managed to make it all the way to 15 without getting pregnant. I was so full of shame at having allowed this horrible thing to happen, that I determined that the best course would be to just let them all figure it out on their own. I mean, how long can a 10-year-old realistically hide the fact that a baby is growing in her belly?

As fate would have it, or the fact that being transparent permeates my personality the way Cher's closet brims with hideous designer evening wear, I burst into tears at the dinner table about four days after the kissing incident. Sobbing over my fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans, I blurted out the hideous truth. "John XXXX kissed me!" Feeling certain that I was soon to be whisked away to an aunt's house in faraway Sulphur for the remainder of my gestational period I waited for the reaction of my family.

It was laughter. They laughed.

I was at once relieved and confused. Relieved, obviously, at the fact that I wasn't moving to Sulphur (oh no, that will come much later in life dear under a much different set of tragic conditions). But, confused nonetheless. I mean, how in the heck DID Lucy get pregnant????


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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Some thoughts from Kurt on Proposition 8

This is Kurt, OK? I am the guest blogger. I don't want anybody thinking Pam has moved to El Cerrito and married a guy named Tony.

Now here's something I need to get off my chest about this Proposition 8 (the anti-gay marriage ammendment) controversy here in California. Now I am definitely in the "No on 8" camp, having been married (to the afore-mentioned Tony) at San Francisco City Hall on Valentine's Day, 2004.

But if you ask me the "No on 8" campaign and the subsequent campaign to overturn Prop 8 (either through the courts or a future ballot initiative) have gone off in a fundamentally wrong direction. And that is the direction of characterizing opponents to gay marriage as people who are full of hatred towards gay people.

Now I'm sure there are plenty of people who voted yes on Prop 8 who genuinely hate gay people and would like to see us all locked up in concentration camps (or worse), but I truly believe that hatred is not the what motivates the bulk of the anti-gay-marriage electorate, particularly when you're talking about your standard Evangelical/Catholic/Mormon "family values" voter.

What motivates that voter? I believe it's fear.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear of strange-people-who-aren't-like-me. Fear of choices that my children and grandchildren will have that I don't want them to have. And above all fear of the mysterious powers of darkness, fear of Satan.

There is a tendency in the Judeo-Christian tradition to regard all of human history as an epic struggle between God's chosen people (the Jews or the Christians or the Americans) and Satan. And whenever the chosen people disobey God (thereby temporarily giving Satan the upper hand), all kinds of bad things happen. You get banished from the Garden of Eden. God sends you a flood. God incinerates your city. The Babylonians enslave your entire nation. Terrorists attack your country.

Now I think what this means is the more seriously (or literally) you take that tradition of the great war with Satan, the more likely you are to put the gay marriage battle in the context of that struggle. And if you think of our nation as a Christian civilization, and therefore a nation with a special divinely ordained destiny, well, then you're that much more likely to view American current events as part of that epic struggle.

Now. Let's say that is your worldview. Epic struggle. Chosen people. God's going to make bad things happen if Satan wins. Put that worldview in your head for a minute. Is hatred part of that worldview? What happens if some gay person comes up to you and says "Hey! Stop hating me! That's not right!"

Are those words going to mean anything to you? Do you regard yourself as somebody who's full of hatred towards people who don't keep God's commandments?

But what if that same person says "What are you afraid of? Where is your fear coming from? Why does my life frighten you?" That, I think, is where the conversation needs to start.



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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Relationship

The most astute (or just those who feel extra pitiful for me) of readers may recall the occasion last summer when I thought I'd met someone with whom I was going to be "in a relationship". If you don't frequent MySpace or Facebook that term may seem odd, but it's not, it's just how those of us who are *ahem* internet savvy (code words for addicted to online networking) roll.

So, in order to avoid the complete and total disintegration of a relationship before one actually even exists, I've actually waited one ENTIRE week before announcing to my blogworld that I am indeed "IN" a relationship.

Yep.

I am.

:)
More later.

love and grace,
pam

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

lonely who???

I'm not ready to write about it yet.....

but....

OH MY GOSH

more later....

(yes, i know i know...... i've done this before....but...this is different....promise)

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Friday, November 21, 2008

FeeLiNg LonLeY...yet Thankful

I'm feeling rather lonely lately. Because the truth of the matter is that no matter how busy I am with producing 6th grade versions of The Odyssey or Macbeth (our current project), or reading and writing papers for graduate school, or grading papers, or walking dogs, or updating MySpace and Facebook.....well....there's just nothing that takes the place of having a partner that gives a rip about what the heck is going on with you.

HOWEVER, feeling lonely is normal (for me) and I remind myself that I've felt lonely at times even when I've had a partner(see tragic motif), and so I'm getting past it. I think.

In other news and updates:

  • My cousin the politician, Wes, got married last weekend to a great girl and they had a lovely wedding that turned out to be the biggest one I've ever had the honor of "coordinating". Basically, I was just in charge of "ram-rodding" the ceremony so that no one forgot when to walk down the aisle, where to stand, or when and how to get the heck back OUT at the end. The couple received a STANDING OVATION at the end of the ceremony (about 600 guests) and I've never seen that happen at the end of a wedding. Neat, yet different.
  • I've read approximately 3lbs. of the 6lb. book I have for graduate school. I've learned a ton of stuff....no, wait, I guess I've technically learned 3lbs. of stuff. Maybe.
  • Drew is playing basketball and he is AMAZING. Imagine a NASCAR race with all the heavy souped-up-engine cars wheeling around the track. Out of the nowhere comes a speed demon little Volkswagen darting in, out, and through the pack. That's Drew. So fun to watch.
  • My 6th grade students continue to "school" me on what it means to be a part of a community that's been together since dirt. OH, it has it's drawbacks, and I tend to hyper-focus on those aspects of life here most of the time. But in the grand scheme of things, I see some kids every day who are gaining the sort of footing that makes them strong enough to go forth and conquer. And I'm challenged to inspire them to do so every day. Even IF they think Obama is Muslim! *wink*
  • I had an awesome chat with Tdub last night. It's amazing, absolutely amazing really, how REAL he is now that he's living a life that's authentic to his person hood. I will say this: no matter where you fall on the whole gay thing....these guys NEED to be able to just BE. God grant us all the grace to allow folks to just figure out their own crap.....is that so much to ask? Really?
  • I miss my boys. I just do. I miss being Mom all the time. I think I miss that most of all.
I'm thankful for you. My blog family. I'd ask you to comment just to make me feel good but that would be tacky, wouldn't it??? Would it? Would ya? :)

love and grace,
pam

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Character Analysis

My students often crack me up. So much so that I could never record it all here because most of it just wouldn't be that funny. And this stuff may not be all that funny either, but I haven't shared anything like this for a while and we had a really good time today.

Today's lesson was a study of character traits in preparation for a character analysis paper.

Me: Let's start by naming some character traits of someone everyone in the room knows. Me. What are some of my character traits and be prepared to provide evidence.

Student: You're outgoing.
Me: Ok. And what is your evidence of that?
Student: You're not afraid to stand out in a room.
Me: What do you mean by "stand out in a room?"
Student: Well, like...if everyone in the room ordered hamburgers, you'd say "I want a hotdog."

Here are a few others. Some of them are down right embarrassing and others are kind of sad when you think about it.

Trait: Creative
Evidence: You make all sorts of stuff like props for the plays and paintings.
Trait: Caring
Evidence: You actually teach us things then help us understand them.
Trait: Unfashionable
Evidence: You dress more uptight than Ms.This or Ms.That (this one hurt, but it did make me laugh....and I'm not entirely sure that one counts as a character trait...hmph!)
Trait: Humorous
Evidence: You say things that are actually funny.
Trait: Crazy
Evidence: You pray over dead markers. (don't ask)
Trait: Kindness
Evidence: You don't yell at us. (oh, but I do, I reminded them) But, when you yell at us it doesn't seem like yelling. (and why might that be?) Because we know that you still like us.

I do love being a teacher.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

One of the secondary reasons I write this blog is for my boys. I want them to have a record of these things. Which means I probably should write about today's election.

My boys all know that I'm voting for Obama. I spend the most time with Drew, so I've had the most conversation with him about it. Drew, who is 14 now, believes strongly that he's a Republican and that McCain needs to win this election. But....I'll give him this....he does talk to me about it in mostly reasonable terms. I'm not worried about his status as a McCain supporter because it's based on nothing but the lies he's chosen to believe about Obama. You know....all the Muslim, not a citizen, baby-killer crap that's been going around the internet for 2 years. He gets this from his dad who absolutely believes these things. Is it any wonder we ended up divorced?

I'd say that 95% of the kids at my school also support McCain and believe those same lies about Obama. It's classic conspiracy-theory paranoia at work. Since they are all too young to know any better, of course they believe the things that their parents tell them. Which is normal and to be expected. I don't argue with them. But I have been honest with them when they ask me who I'm supporting.

The funny thing is this; typically, when they hear that I support Obama, the student will do a double take of some sort, and you can see those little wheels turning. They are processing the fact that an adult that they respect, believe in, and trust is actually making a different decision than the one they've been led to believe is the only one that's reasonable. It's the very beginnings of kids learning that they have options and things to think through. They are at the age where they begin to understand that you don't have to believe everything that you're told and that you CAN investigate things for yourself. Which is what I advise them to begin doing so that when they are old enough to actually vote, they will know their own convictions and vote according to that.

I want to share a few other things that have shocked and concerned me during the election cycle, but I'll wait for another day. Today is the day to sit back and hope and pray for the best. No matter which way you voted.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Geeky One

Most of the work for the graduate program I'm in is done online. There are 8 of us in what they call a "cohort" and we meet only occasionally at this point. Due to the fact that we're in RURAL Oklahoma, and the fact that there's been some sort of jihad between the smaller universities and what territories they cover, we met last week at a Dairy Queen in a tiny town called Tishamingo. No kidding. Trying to set up these meetings has given the whole experience a cultish feel.

Me: How about we meet here?
Professor: That's in their territory.
Me: There?
Professor: No, we have to be more than 20 miles from their headquarters.
Me: What happens if we meet at my house but don't tell anyone where we're meeting?
Professor: They'll find out, they're everywhere. And that would jeopardize you in a way that I'm not comfortable with.

Ok, I'm exaggerating but only slightly. It's crazy. You'd think we were strategizing the overthrow of every Elks Lodge East of I-35 (the small town Elks Lodge is another post unto itself). But no, we're just a bunch of public school teachers trying to get a master's degree so that we can raise our salary a whole $800 a year.

Our professor posed a question at the table last week, actually it was a table pushed up to a booth but let's not get picky here, in an attempt to find out what our motivations were for being in the program. Being public school teachers, most people have the noble goal of actually wanting to learn more so that they could be a more effective teacher. At least that's what they said. One person admitted that this was merely a stepping stone toward her ultimate goal of becoming a college professor. And we did have one member who's all ready obtained a job requiring a master's degree contingent on her participation in the cohort.

Thankfully, I was able to avoid speaking to the question. I wasn't the only one, so it wasn't awkward or anything. I did NOT want to share my motivations because honestly, the very first reason I'm in the program is because it's available. Much like those folks who climb Mt. Everest and when asked "why did you climb that mountain?" they answer with "because it was there." I felt similarly when I graduated from high school. People were congratulating me, throwing me gifts and money, and I was like, "what else was I going to do??? you mean there were options?"

But seriously, the heart of the matter is that I'm just a big geek. I love this stuff. When a professor starts talking about the new brain research and how that impacts what we know about learning styles and developmental psychology my endorphins go bonkers. If we had our meetings in a pentecostal church, I'd probably start speaking in tongues. Being that we meet at Dairy Queen, I guess this would be a more fitting representation. (the good part starts at 51 secs in)

I do stay somewhat at odds with my inner geek because I want to be liked. I don't want the other kids in the class to roll their eyes every time I open my mouth or be sitting there thinking "would she just shut UP." It's a struggle. And even though I made fun of the great big book I got.....well.....the truth is.....I LOVE that book. It's a good read. Seriously. There are things in that book that I've always wondered about in the field of education like, "how did we come up with the idea of junior high?" and "when and why did we switch from junior high to middle school?" and "how exactly do boys differ from girls in the way they process information and how much of that is due to environment?"

My taco salad kept me busy enough that I didn't make too much of a nuisance out of myself last week. I also don't want to be that person who keeps asking questions and talking when everyone just really wants it all to end so that we can all go back home.

If anyone was still wondering why I'm so comfortable teaching middle-schoolers, this post should should provide more clarity. I relate to them, probably way too well, but somebody's got to do it.

I do know one thing. I'm starving myself the day before our next meeting. It's been ages since I've had a DQ Dude, onion rings, and a Blizzard.


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween

Today is dress up day at school. In keeping with the Greek theme I've had going all year with my 6th graders.....I created my own version of Medusa. Which is ironic (or one of those literary elements) because I'm deathly afraid of snakes. However.....a few googly eyes are all it takes to "friendly up" even something as hideous as a snake.


Fun times. I'll likely post more pics later.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Dear Roommate

I have this amazing roommate. She is one of the most upbeat, good-natured, full-of-grace-and-kindness people I've ever met.

She's an extrovert. And, as anyone who's ever been close with me knows, I'm an introvert. I fake a good extrovert, but at the heart of things I could very easily just hole up in my house and conduct every bit of my business and social life at the spot where I'm conducting it right this moment: on my sofa with my computer in my lap.

Sometimes she gently "forces" me to get out of my little snuggly comfort zone and interact with the world. And yet, she understands that when I'm over here zoned in on something I'm writing or reading, that I need that time to recharge. And even when I know she really needs more time to interact and talk and process socially, the way extroverts do, she allows me the time I need.

She also has this thing she does where she makes me feel smart and wise. She asks me questions about teaching and about how to deal with behaviors and learning problems in her class. And she actually LISTENS to what I have to say about all that! Good grief. And bless her heart!

She's one of the wisest young people I've ever known.
She treats Sparky and Emma as if they belonged to her.
She never oversleeps on the same day that I do. *whew*
She remembers important things that I often forget. (like when it's picture day at school)
She loves to laugh and have fun.

Happy Birthday Crystal! You're an incredible person, FRIEND, and roommate!
I love you!
pam


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Daniel

Tdub has written a beautiful tribute to #1 over at his place. As a mom, I can't let this one pass without some linkage. I'm proud of all the boys, but I always remind Daniel that he's the one who continues to teach me how to be a mom since he's the oldest and the first to arrive at every stage of life. It humbles and honors me as well that the title of the piece is "grace inherited".


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NOTE to SELF

If a classroom of 6th graders consisting of 13 boys and 3 girls asks you for an example of
alliteration.....don't say,

"big bouncy balls"

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Turning Gay

Sometimes I find myself in the midst or even on the edge of conversations where it becomes nearly impossible not to jump in and share. I usually refrain, but not without sometimes having to do something physically painful, like biting off a finger.

One such "conversation starter" that I hear repeatedly here in the great state of Oklahoma is "he turned gay". ????? Ok, I realize that not everyone has had the luxury of living in Gay Boot-Camp 101 the way I did for 7 years. But, come on...."turned gay"? And these are not religiously fundamentalist folks who are spouting this little turn of words. For the most part, these are reasonably educated people who just haven't taken the time to really think about the implications of their words.

Many of the religiously fundamentalist folks (even the educated ones) don't believe there's any such thing as a gay person to begin with. They've all ready got big banners printed up with the words "I TOLD YA SO" ready to take to the streets the next time there's a big earthquake in San Francisco. I won't even address that kettle of rotten fish.

I'll speak from my own experience which has been enhanced with a great deal of research, relationship with actual gay people (Christian ones, *gasp*), and actual time spent contemplating this stuff.

Tdub (Todd) didn't TURN gay. He was gay when I married him. In fact, he was gay during his first marriage-yes, the one where he fathered two sons. Apparently, the fact that he hadn't admitted to anyone, most importantly HIMSELF, that he was gay makes it appear to the very casual observer that he "turned" gay.

I went out with this guy a few weeks ago who, upon hearing a few scant details of my marriage history responded with "Well, you aren't going to turn me gay." There was a pause in the conversation big enough to drive a semi through, and in an act of grace almost as big as the one it took to stay married to Tdub, I simply let that go. Sometimes it's just not worth it, not to mention the fact that we had a really awesome dessert coming.

Tdub "came out", he didn't "turn gay". He did make choices that were different than the ones I was hoping for upon that decision. For him, coming to terms with the way that he had always been meant divorcing me and tearing our family apart. I'll not mince words here. However, I believe it was, for him, a matter of integrity and I choose to respect that decision and live with integrity in my own life. Love is patient, love is kind, love NEVER fails....even if others make decisions that hurt me.

Another really bothersome aspect of the whole "turned gay" opinion is that many times the people speak with great authority yet have nothing more than having watched TV to back up their belief. The closest many of them get to actually having any sort of relationship with a living, breathing gay person is some lady at work who had a son who "turned gay". You don't have to talk to them very long to figure this out. Nevermind that there's been scholarly research done on the subject as well as an internet chocked full of articles, studies, and anecdotal information of the sort I offer here. It would be like me giving you my opinion of the Vietnam War based on nothing more than having watched M*A*S*H reruns....and yes, I realize that show was set in Korea!

The bottom line is this; I could no more "turn gay" than I could turn into a purple bunny rabbit. And if I WERE a purple bunny rabbit, I would hope that the other bunnies would allow me to live among them free of shame and able to make decisions about my bunniness that did not include trying to "turn" me into something I never was.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

School and School

I'm in the thick of this mostly online master's degree program. And my first observation is that trying to "study" while online is like conducting a prayer vigil at the Macy's Day Parade. It's not the best environment for those of us with attention issues.

However, I'm actually doing fine with it and managing to complete everything on time and with success.

In other school news, I know I've talked like this before, but this time I mean it: Teaching 6th grade reading is the absolute BEST teaching assignment I've ever had.....EVER.

And in still OTHER news....if you are my sibling and you are reading this....I need to come see you for Fall Break! ;)



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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Online Connections

I still get emails quite frequently from someone who's been reading the blog for years or sometimes someone who's stumbled onto it and read the whole thing over the course of a night or a couple of days. It's awfully encouraging to hear from other men and women who've found encouragement here. I don't think they actually find answers (and I'm certainly not arrogant enough to think I actually have any of those), but they do find that the way they are feeling is "normal" and that it's possible to maintain some level of sanity and a positive outlook in the midst of a purely tragic situation.

Then, occasionally, I'll stumble onto a blog out there from a woman or man who is at this moment living the sort of tragedy that I lived during my marriage to Tdub. It's tough to read, yet I'll find myself reading it in the same sort of way I can't stop scratching a mosquito bite.

I've been reading one of those stories lately. I'll not link to it because I'm not sure they'd want more attention brought that way and they appear to have their own little blog circle of friendship formed much the way I have mine here.

Many of the circumstances of their story are different. They've only ever been married to one another and their children belong to them together. They're not involved in any sort of therapy to try and change or manage the guy's attractions to other guys. They are both blogging about their experiences and feelings. Also, and I admire this so much, the guy came out to his wife of his own volition. He wasn't acting out sexually or forced to come clean with her because their marriage was in deep trouble. Basically, it appears to me that she is his best friend and he could no longer keep it from her, even though he apparently married her believing that it was something he could "work through" or "get past".

And that's where the stories, theirs and mine, intersect in a way that brings it all rushing back and gives me a kinship with them that runs deep, cutting to the very core of who we are as human beings. Reading their story reminds me of the reasons I started blogging in the first place. It's connection. Finding other folks who related to me, particularly in the middle of something so daunting, gave me a sense of purpose and even hope that all was not, and is not, for naught.

There's nothing much worse than living as a victim in some sort cruel play. It's a hopeless feeling. But somehow, knowing that I was not alone, gave me hope.

I want that couple to know that there is hope, so I'll keep checking in on them. And even though there are times as I read their story that I feel like I'm watching a train wreck in slow motion, I'm here for them. Just as so many of you have always been here for me.

love and grace,
pam


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Friday, October 03, 2008

The New Geography

Just stumbled upon this and thought it was worth sharing.




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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Graduate School

Alert readers may recall that my decision to stay in Sulphur ultimately came down to a grant program offered by my school district whereby I can get my master's degree free of charge.

This is the book for one of the two classes I'm taking this semester.


At first glance, I was sure there'd been a mistake and that I'd inadvertently received the large-print or maybe even the Braille version of this text. It's over 2 inches thick, weighs in at just over 6 lbs., and has one-thousand fifty eight pages of 10 pt. font not including references and index.

Furthermore, the title says it's a HANDBOOK. I'm thinking of affectionately calling it "Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Teaching Kids To Read But Were Too Stupid To Ask Because You've Never Read This Book." I could actually fit that on the cover.

Hmmm.... Sharpie marker, anyone???


Friday, September 26, 2008

Meeting Kurt

Last fall, I invited Kurt True to share blogging privileges with me at Willful Grace.
Kurt started commenting here at the blog not too long after I began writing it. From those initial comments, the first really memorable exchange we had was this one:

kurt_t said:

For my 40th me and the better half went to Disneyland. Had birthday breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel. Pluto and the Mad Hatter sang "Happy Birthday" to me. Well, Pluto doesn't really sing, he kind of pantomimed it, and after I blew out my candles, what should they start playing but "The Circle of Life" from "The Lion King." Then I went and got my picture taken with Winnie the Pooh and rode Alice in Wonderland about five times. And it worked. I did NOT feel old. Not for one minute.

grace said:

Kurt: do you have kids??? is your wife like a "disney freak"? there must be SOME reason you allowed yourself to be submitted to this sort of...uh...."disney-a-go-go" sort of experience...unless you are that into Disney, not that there's anything wrong with that....;)....what gives, dude??? Whatever it is...you score major points for submitting to it...even though it all sounds like a TON of fun...for real! :) grace

tdub said:

OH! OH! OH! I wanna go to DisneyWorld for my birthday!!! Wouldn't that be a blast? We could go for all our birthdays! :)

kurt_t said:
Wife? No. I'm actually one of your many gay male admirers. Poor Grace, you must feel like you're turning into Cher or something! Anyway, I'm a big Winnie the Pooh fan. I was part of the first wave of Winnie the Pooh kids in the U.S. The Milne stories weren't well-known in the U.S., and when Disney came out with the Winnie the Pooh shorts (which were eventually compiled into "The Magical World of Winnie the Pooh"), that's when Winnie the Pooh became really popular in the U.S. Here's a picture from my birthday. That's me on the right. Oh! Winnie the Pooh has his own ride at Disneyland now! But if I tell you how many times I went on it, I'm going to start to sound weird.

grace said:

Kurt: Oh! Well cool! That's a cute picture. I always loved Winnie-the-Pooh stories as well. The whole idea of the Hundred Acre Wood just sounds like heaven to me....and that scene of Christopher Robin's room before the movies begin...I always wanted that room. I also love those little books of "wisdom" from Winnie-the-Pooh. Can I be Bette Midler instead of Cher? I like her taste in clothes more. ;)

kurt_t said:

If you want to be Bette Midler instead of Cher, that means you're 27 pounds heavier. On the upside, you have better taste in clothing and a wider vocal range, and you were never married to Greg Allman. I guess it would be a net gain, huh?

grace said:

27 pounds, huh?? Dang! Ok, fine, I'll be Cher! ;)


From there, our blog friendship was formed.

Over the next 3 years Kurt never failed to encourage me, and more often than not, make me laugh out loud with his offbeat humor. Another of his comments that stands out to me is one he made on a post I titled "Sucks to be Me".

I'd arrived home on a Friday afternoon and as I opened the back door, even with the dogs there to greet me with leaping, jumping, and wagging tails, I just sort of "lost it". It was one of those "narrow" days that Jean Schulz spoke of last week, and it seemed to be closing in on me. I sat down and wrote a blog post about how I was feeling, and this was Kurt's comment of encouragement:

kurt_t said...

I think those of us who've been through the kind of ordeals that you've been through, or different kinds of ordeals, like domestic violence or warfare or addiction or some terrible accident, on our good days, we look back on the ordeal and we say "That made me a stronger person." Or "That made me a more compassionate person." Or a braver person, or a better teacher, spouse, mom, dad, nurse, artist. On your good days you can see some profit in the ordeal.
On your bad days, your worst bad days, I think you look back on the ordeal, and you say "This has all been some terrible mistake. I wasn't supposed to survive that ordeal. What am I doing here?" And instead of feeling stronger, you feel like you're pinned under a pile of rubble, scorched, bleeding, paralyzed, and you look up at that mushroom cloud rising over your head and say "What kind of cruel joke is this?"
But the good news is even the worst of the worst of the bad days of your life only lasts 24 hours, and that mushroom cloud is going to blow away, and you're going to drag yourself out of the wreckage and, when you do, you're going to find out that you weren't really alone.

And that's Kurt. Over the years, I've often found myself wondering what gem Kurt will leave in the comments as soon as I hit the publish button. And I still do.

Some people marvel (and I marvel that they marvel) at the fact that I am not bitter, angry, or just generally repelled by "the gays" after all that I've been through. The thing is this; I didn't marry "the gays". I married a guy named Todd who had some issues. And, oh yeah, he happens to be gay. I don't despise all rednecks just because my first husband was one of those. (LOL LOL) Well, mostly I don't. ;) Personally, I'm mostly repelled by the unfortunately huge number of folks who will say things like, "oh, I LOVE gay people, I just don't want to have anything whatsoever to do with them." Some people say it and others just behave in a way that says the exact same thing. I'm as astonished by that attitude as some of them seem to be by me and my attitude . *sigh* Oh well.




Kurt drove from El Cerrito out to San Jose where I was staying last week. He took me to a few of his favorite spots: Mission San Juan Bautista, the quaint little town of San Juan including the local cemetery, and Garlic World in Gilroy w here we ate garlic ice cream.

Our meeting....
ok...so did we get that shot or do I need to hug him again?

This is Mission San Juan Bautista, one of the few (according to Kurt) restored Franciscan missions that still holds Mass on a regular schedule. Kurt and I said a prayer and lit a candle for his mom during our visit.

The mission overlooks the original El Camino Real or "The King's Highway" which originally connected the 21 missions of California and ran all the way to Mexico. The monks used to sprinkle mustard seeds along the road so that it would be marked with distinctive yellow flowers.

We walked around the little town of San Juan where they were having an Art & Wine Festival. It had a bit of a "Taos" sort of feel to it. Very nice.

After visiting the cemetery at San Juan, (the day offered the perfect lighting for cemetery pictures and I'll probably post some of those at some point) we made our last stop of the day at Garlic World in Gilroy, CA. Which, to quote Kurt, "is so much more than just garlic."

You are not mistaken, that is the world's longest chain of garlic.

I'm looking forward to Kurt's up-coming post titled "Meeting Pam/Grace"-whatever he's calling me now! ;)



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Much to Blog

I've got a computer full of pictures and several posts stewing around in my head to accompany many of them.....

....but all I can think of right now is how incredibly awesome it is to be HOME with Sparky and Emma curled up next to me, my ceiling fan humming quietly overhead, and my two favorite pillows just waiting for me to continue from where I was so rudely interrupted this morning.

Here's one little "teaser" of a photo that will accompany my next post.
Yes boys and girls, we can finally confirm once and for all that Pam/Grace and "Big Daddy" Kurt are not the same person! What fun we had. More to come....


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The WIDEST Day of All

I don't think I've ever written here about my passion for the life and work of Charles Schulz. Well, it's time I did that because yesterday was the most amazing day, right up there with the birth of my boys, as far as memorable experiences go.

To frame the event you must know that I've read practically every book ever written about Charles Schulz and have admired the humor, insight, and creative genius of the Peanuts comic strip for as long as I can remember. I know everything about Schulz and the characters he created because I love them. I knew that I'd grown to love the person of Charles Schulz when I broke down and cried upon hearing of his death back in 2000. It was the first and only time I remember becoming so emotional over the death of someone famous as if I'd known them personally.

I've wanted to visit Santa Rosa, CA for as long as I can remember because I knew that Schulz lived and worked there. I knew that you could find him in the Redwood Empire Ice Arena where he ate breakfast and lunch every day, and I knew that his studio was within walking distance of the rink. I'd also known that plans were in the works before his death to open a museum in honor of the man and his work. I even wrote and was turned down for a grant from the Fund for Teachers organization last year in an attempt to visit Santa Rosa and the museum and be able to enrich the lives of my students by sharing my passion with them. Simply stated, I've been a serious student of Charles Schulz and his work for years and years.

For now, I'll just say that due to the generosity of a friend, I was able to fulfill my life's dream of visiting Santa Rosa and the Charles Schulz Museu
m yesterday. It was INCREDIBLE. I cried tears of joy off and on during the entire visit. I could hardly believe that I was there. The entire experience was a complete surprise. I told my friend that I literally could not have been more excited if he'd announced yesterday morning that I was going to spend the day in Florence, Italy.

Welcome to the Charles Schulz Museum.



I took this picture for a friend of mine, and I'm going to let him figure out who he is. *wink*




This is the education room where classes are held and where adults and children can create artwork in response to their experiences.

One of the most moving pieces of the permanent exhibit for me was the recreation of "Sparky's Studio" where Schulz created the comic strip every day. Most of the artifacts in this space are the pieces of furniture, pictures, pens, curios, and the actual books contained in his personal library that surrounded him each day as he worked. I was, again, moved to tears as I entered this space. I wrote down many titles from his library that I intend to read.

These pictures were all taken outside the Ice Arena where I ate lunch at the Warm Puppy Cafe'.

The day was absolutely FUN. It was difficult for me to drag myself away and I did so, again, with tears of joy over the fact that I'd been able to experience something I'd been looking forward to doing for so long.

And then, it was as if God looked down and said, "you know, Pam is so completely happy and grateful and so incredibly full of joy, I think what I'll do is just take that up a notch and let her know without a doubt that I'm right here watching and that I like what I see." I can't even write this now without sitting here bawling my eyes out.

A lady approached me in the parking lot and said, "I just want to let you know that it's meant a great deal to me to see you having fun here today. I was having a business lunch with my stepson at the Warm Puppy and we couldn't help but notice how much you've enjoyed yourself. I'm Jean Schulz."

JEAN.SCHULZ.

I gasped. And the tears came again. Tears of indescribable joy. And she extended her arms to me and hugged me. And then, the wife of the man who's philosophy, art, attitude, and, theology have impacted not only me but an entire WORLD, stood in that parking lot and talked with me about her husband, his life, some of his motivations, and about the characters he created. She talked about a particular strip where Charlie Brown and Sally are having a conversation about days. Sally asks Charlie if the days are getting longer or shorter. Charlie's reply was to say that days are not long or short but narrow and wide. Jean went on to say that she loved that concept because there are days that do feel narrow, as if they are closing in on you. And then, there are other days that are wide and are giving you room to expand.

THANK YOU, Jean Schulz, for giving me the WIDEST day of all.


Today's experience was an example of God's infinite grace bestowed so abundantly on me.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Blog on a Stick

Drew and I had the most delightful day we've had in I-can't-remember-when on Sunday. We met a friend in OKC and went to the Oklahoma State Fair.



The day was vibrant and alive. In Starbucks terms, yesterday was a triple shot macchiato with extra cream and two pumps of flavored syrup. Intensely beautiful.

One of the greatest guilty pleasures at any fair is the food. In fact, in our brief pre-fair email exchanges, my friend and I both commented that eating "bad for you" food was a primary motivation for attending.

We hadn't been there long when we started scoping out the midway and taking mental notes in an effort to fall off our respective "healthy eating habits wagon" in the most satisfactory way to our palette that would be the least offensive to our digestive system. If anyone still has doubts that I'm actually in my 40's, this sort of information truly gives me away. Long gone are the days when there was no such thing as a digestive hangover.

Not long into our food excursion, we began to notice a theme.

I guess it all started long ago, before someone came up with the word corndog.


These were surely only a short leap for the folks who create tempting new foods for fairs.


I'm pretty sure that this on is just a fancy way of saying ALLIGATOR ON A STICK.



The one that really grabbed our attention was this one.
And finally, the one I just do not understand and was not able to document with a picture....



A quick Google search revealed that the Oklahoma State Fair is pretty lame when it comes to items on a stick. Apparently, this is a BIG deal up in Minnesota where you can eat 63 different items from a stick. They are all documented in this silly YouTube video. And yes Chad, apparently there IS such a thing as spaghetti-on-a-stick.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Home Sweet Dog

The weather has turned rainy and cool here this week. It's the perfect weather for enjoying my big front porch.


And Sparky rules the porch.
I love this dog.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Processing Post 87

I've lost count of how many posts I've titled "Processing". I guess I should have started numbering them long ago.

I'm finding that it's easier to tell the bad stuff the further out I get. It doesn't hurt either, that Tdub and I remain friends and we've recognized that seeing the other person live and overcome can actually be helpful in our own journey as we pick up our pieces and move forward. It's unusual, yes, but unusual is very different from bad or wrong.

Back in the anonymous days, I never wrote much of the heartache and pain of being married to an SSA struggler. I mostly did that because it would have been hurtful to Tdub, but I think part of me was also afraid to talk about it too much because talking about it would have revealed just how much rationalization I was having to go through to stay married to him in the first place. So back then, I wrote mostly about the positive aspects of our marriage, our joys and struggles with the boys, and a bunch of my personal ideas about being a Christian, etc...

Being back in the "dating game" (which may sound fun but trust me, it's overrated) has given me a new outlook on the whole "males attracted to females" aspect of life in general. Or I guess I should say that my marriage to Todd afforded me a different outlook than I had before. In my online dating exploits I often find myself replying to my suitors (blame my recent foray into Homer's Odyssey for my use of the word "suitors") with a weird mix of rejection and appreciation.

Some of my replies go something like this: "Thank you for the compliments. I do value and appreciate your interest in me but I don't sense a similar attraction on my part and I generally don't believe we'd be a good match for one another. But I sincerely appreciate your interest because it does feel nice to be wanted." That or something similar. That probably sounds really corny or something, but believe it or not, most guys are very appreciative of the honesty and seem to be a bit confounded by the appreciation.

I told someone the other day that I had a great appreciation for male attraction even if I wasn't willing to respond to the males in question. I've learned what it's like to be with a man who doesn't have a basic "need" to be with you or an inner stirring that causes him to lose all sense of reason just from watching you flip pancakes or throw clothes from the washer to the dryer.

With Tdub, I never felt really needed. In fact, I knew all along what he needed as well as what I needed. We were each longing for the love of a man. According to reparative therapy, if Tdub could have just gotten a good, healthy dose of manhood by having healthy relationships with male friends, he'd have eventually developed the sort of stirrings that men have for women. Basic attraction, basically.

I learned that this basic attraction is a vital piece of a healthy marriage. I often felt purposeless in my marriage to Tdub because I didn't feel really needed. Being married to a man who does all the laundry (and does it WELL), keeps up with all the kids activities, and not only helps but enjoys staying up half the night with you setting up Christmas decorations may sound like a dream for many women. And honestly, it was. Those things that we shared were incredibly fulfilling in their own way. But the whole thing would fall completley on its face the minute the lights were out and we went to bed. I went to bed with a brother, not a husband. I had nothing to offer Tdub in the way of physical fulfillment. In fact, intimacy became, for him, just another thing to check from the list of things he needed to accomplish for the....uh....month, maybe? It was pretty bad.

So now, I do appreciate and value male attraction. I find it refreshing, not something that gets in the way of really getting to know someone. In fact, after what I've been through, it's important to me to KNOW that a man is attracted to me physically. That's an important item on my personal checklist. The downside is that physical attraction could easily become a problem for me if I weren't self-disciplined and actually committed to checking off a great deal more things from that list of mine before I venture into that realm. But, in the words of Martha Stewart, that's a good thing.





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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Fruits of My Labor Day Weekend

The kids were thrilled today when I showed up with headbands for every character (more pictures of those to come later), the chariot, and the Greek style ship for Odysseus. Liability prevents me from showing much more than I am as far as students go. Which is why you get nothing but me and my poor imitation of Vanna White next to the chariot and boat. Oh well. Needless to say, I'm pretty proud of these things and I have a very sore and healing thumb to show for it. Stealing a line from blog buddy Kurt, "The box knife is a harsh mistress."
Odysseus! Princess Nausicaa Homer

And finally...my personal favorite (who also my happens to be my cousin!)

THE CYCLOPS!

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