Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I Can't Go Out In Public

Today, my boyfriend and i went out to lunch to celebrate five months of not trying to kill each other. Or at least, of not succeeding in our attempts. And also because i was hungry and it was lunch time.

While trying to demurely sip my miso soup, my hand started to tremble, because i was super hungry and i get shaky when i haven't eaten enough. Plus there's a tiny tremor in my hands already so being hungry makes it way worse.

Google images
So instead of returning the spoon to the bowl and waiting for my hands to stop shaking, i tried to bring the spoon to my mouth super fast before i spilled the soup. But it was one of those huge Asian soup spoons so there was a lot of soup and i couldn't take it all in one bite. Plus it was still really hot, and when it touched my tongue my hand jerked violently and soup sprayed across the table (most of it landing miraculously in the bowl). Then i started laughing and accidentally spit out a piece of seaweed. As my boyfriend looked at me sympathetically (no doubt wondering how big of a jerk it would make him to break up with me because he suspects that i am mentally handicapped), i gave him sad puppy-dog eyes and said, "You know the worst thing about what just happened? It's not the first time that this exact thing has happened to me in this restaurant."

Then we were walking back to my office and had to take an alternate route because there was some road/sidewalk work going on. I didn't notice it right away and almost walked into the giant patch of dirt and loose rubble and traffic cones. John pulled me away (like you do with a small, not-very-bright child) and said, "Don't walk in the dirt!" (He said it in a cheery, warning way. Not yelling. You can't tell the difference when you don't have vocal nuances.)

I tried to say that i didn't mind walking in the dirt, but somewhere between my brain and my mouth those words got tangled up in my pigheaded streak and manifested themselves as "But i WANT to walk in the dirt," and i let go of his hand and took one step on the dirt and then went back. Again like a small, possibly mentally handicapped child.

He just looked at me and said, "You only did that because I told you not to, didn't you?"

I glanced down coyly. "Maybe. Yes. Maybe."

And then when we were outside of my office, standing on the (very public, high-traffic) sidewalk, i tried to unzip his pants without him noticing.

It really is a miracle that he hasn't dumped and/or killed me yet.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Linguistics in Education

This is a reaction paper written for my Curriculum and Methods class, in response to an article called "No Kinda Sense". The article was featured in a book called "The Skin We Speak", by Lisa Delpit and Joanne Kilgour Dowdy.

“There is no more certain a way to insure that people do not listen to you as to not listen to them.”  (Delpit, 43)

Spoken and written dialects have stirred up a lot of controversy in professional and academic environments. Black activists have spoken up on both sides of the debate, some insisting that Black Americans will not be able to rise above their historical oppression until they can prove that they are able to do everything white people can do, including speak Standard American English (SAE). Others recognize the importance and richness of Ebonics, and want Black Americans to be proud of all parts of their culture, including their dialect. Both sides make a certain amount of sense.

The conversation begins to resemble the “English-as-our-national-language” debate; there is no officially mandated standard, merely a long-established habit, and there are a lot of pros and cons on both sides. In an increasingly multicultural nation, English may not be the language of the majority, and making it the official language may be alienating to many of our citizens. In an increasingly multiethnic nation, SAE may not be the dialect of the majority of English speakers, and making it official may be alienating to many of our citizens.

It is important to be able to communicate clearly with others, and some people honestly struggle to understand different dialects. This means that all children must learn to speak, write, and understand the accepted and mandated standard dialect for professional and academic communications, both verbal and written.

Effective communication is a two-way street, however, and we cannot place the entire burden of understanding on the Black kids. There is absolutely no reason that white children can’t learn to speak and understand non-white dialects, including (but not limited to) Ebonics. Indeed, many white children who grew up in predominantly non-white neighborhoods use a non-SAE dialect as their primary means of communication.

When teachers insist upon SAE to the exclusion of all other dialects, students learn that certain modes of communication are unacceptable; beyond that, they learn that their cultures are less valid, interesting, or important than other cultures. What we forget sometimes is that language is not merely a form of expression, but is an expression in and of itself. Spoken cadences, vocabulary and slang terms, and conventions of grammar are all important and valid expressions of culture and history.

When teachers do not allow their students to express themselves in their own dialects, they are not allowing the students to express every part of themselves. Students learn that certain parts of who they are, of their history and cultural identity, will prevent them from achieving academic success. They learn that who they are is holding them back.

The message contained in that lesson goes beyond academics. Children who are told that they express themselves incorrectly will internalize a life-long belief that they have nothing worth expressing, or that no one cares enough about them to take the trouble to understand them. They will learn that as individuals and as members of a particular culture, they have little or no worth to the world, and that they must either become someone else or accept oppression and indignity.

Proficiency in multiple dialects can only be a benefit in an increasingly multicultural world, as long as all dialects are given equal preference and respect. Learning respect for and gaining fluency in different cultural modes of communication leads to respect for and comfort with different cultures. And gaining confidence in their own cultural dialects will give students the strength and courage to face the world.

Monday, September 26, 2011


I have a lot of notebooks.

Some of them would more properly be referred to as "journals"; pretty, elegant things with leather(ish) covers and silky pages. Moleskine, Barnes and Noble, handmade by my uncle, discovered at a street vendor's stall in Florence.

Some of them were purchased at a dollar store and have cardboard Harry Potter covers.

Some are Mead notebooks with marbled covers, pasted over with comic strips and magazine clippings.

Some are bursting at the seams with boarding passes and concert programs, their pages closely scribbled over with rough drafts of poems and grocery lists and doodles and monthly budgets.

Some have a few scraps of a short story or a diary entry, but remain mostly pristine and expectant.

Some i have been filling since my freshman year of college. Some were filled long before even that.

And i can't stop buying them.

I bought two more Meads only last week because the marbled covers came in lime green and hot pink and not only black. Not that i have anything against the black ones, just that i already have about ten of them and i can't resist the rainbow seduction of a good back-to-school sale in CVS.

I buy notebooks faster than i can possibly fill them, especially now that so much of my journaling happens here instead of in Mead or Moleskine notebooks.

I have a conceited affection for the aesthetics of my own handwriting. I have an almost lustful desire for the feel of paper against the heels of my hands, of a pen gripped in my calloused fingers.

I carry a notebook with me to lunch like a security blanket, in case some pearl of wisdom or sparkling diamond of wit should drop into my head between bites of Greek salad. Or in case someone tries to interrupt my time of solitude and i have to look busy in order to avoid annoyances (and by "annoyances", i mean "nearly all forms of human interaction").

Sometimes i think i am more in love with writing poems about John than i am with John himself. And sometimes i think that that is as it should be. Either way, there are an awful lot of John-flavored poems in my notebooks these days.

This post is going nowhere fast. It's just empty words piled up on one another, like the empty Mead notebooks stacked at the foot of my bed. (Do you see what i did there?)

when the world comes to an end
i will go out in your arms
let the waters rise around us
let the hills come crashing down
should the earth fall from beneath us
i will only hold you closer
i'll trade the sunrise for your eyes
and gladly leave all else behind

And yes, all of this is the reason that i have updated my blog template to look more notebook-y. And yes, i did the update several weeks before this post was published. It's been on my mind a while.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Agelseb, part 1

My cousin and best friend is listed as Agelseb in my phone. Never mind why.

We were born 18 days apart. Our mothers rode a roller coaster together when they were pregnant with us. Explains a lot, doesn't it?

We spent most of our childhoods at each others' houses, or at Amity Bakery. Agelseb's parents owned the bakery for fifteen or twenty years, and Agelseb was born about 5-7 years before they sold it. I have vivid memories of baking banana bread, watching her mother decorate cakes, watching my dad make fresh doughnuts and pancakes. I remember playing on the bakery shelves and eating crispy, slightly burnt bacon. Most of my family members worked there for at least a few months at some point. And we all ate there at least once a week. I remember the huge table of regulars: good ol' boys in thirty year old trucker caps and even older flannel shirts, gruffly ordering coffee and talking about fishing and hunting in heavy Eastern Shore accents.

When Agelseb's parents were married, they were both atheists. Her mother had been raised Nazarene, and her father Catholic, but they had both turned away from faith at some point in middle or high school. But when Agelseb was born, our grandmother began taking her to Sunday School and getting her involved in church events. This got Agelseb's mother involved again. She made friends with other church people (to most of whom she was related anyway) and began to attend events to see her daughter perform in pageants and so forth. Eventually, when Agelseb and i were six or seven, she became a Christian again. Her dad is still an atheist.

But before all of this happened, Agelseb taught me my second swear word.

Side note: The first swear word i ever learned was "fuck". I was about four, and i was out walking with my older cousins, and i saw it painted on the side of a building. Being a naturally bright and curious child, i asked one of my cousins what it meant. He told me it was the mother of all cuss words and that i should never, ever repeat it.

Naturally, as soon as i got home i asked my mother what "fuck" meant. She was horrified and asked where i had learned it. I explained about the building and the mother of all cuss words. She told me that it was a very bad word that you say when you want bad things to happen to people. She told me to never, ever repeat it, and the conversation ended there.

It was about a year later that i learned that it was bad to show someone your middle finger (also a lesson taught by an older cousin and explained and reinforced by my mother), but it wasn't until much later than either of those incidents that i learned that there was a relationship between the word and the gesture. And it was even later that i learned the actual, dictionary definition and common uses of the word "fuck", which was all i had ever wanted.

The second swear word i ever learned was "shit". Agelseb and i were playing school with her chalkboard. She was the teacher and i was the student. We were pretending to learn words (i say pretending because my vocabulary was larger than hers then). She'd write a word on the board, teach me to spell it, and talk about common usages. Really, for a couple of five- or six-year-olds, it was a pretty good lesson plan.

Anyway, i distinctly remember her wiping the board clean, writing the word "shit", and underlining it as she enunciated clearly. She taught me common usages, too. She'd learned it from overhearing her parents arguing.

I think we both sort of knew what a swear word was in theory, but weren't too sure about how they actually worked. Clearly you weren't supposed to use them, but equally clearly we'd both been exposed to them in ways that showed that people DID use them, and that adults knew all about them. This was all very confusing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

If My Filter Ever Malfunctions, Look Out

Recently, one of my roommates invited me to an event. "I'll see," i replied.
"You're very non-committal," she commented.
"Well, i'll be starting classes soon. I don't know what my schedule will look like."
"You won't have classes on Saturday."
"I might have homework."
"No one does homework on Saturdays! That's what Sundays are for!"

There are lots of very rational things i could have said, like this: "This isn't college anymore. This is grad school. I work from 9-5 every day, and my classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays. I'll be getting out of those classes at ten and eight thirty, respectively. That leaves three weeknights a week for homework. Some of those nights i'll be doing fun things with you guys. Some of those nights i'll be going to bed early. Some nights i'll be doing fun things with my boyfriend. Some nights i'll be doing homework, but since these are graduate level assignments, there is a pretty decent chance that i won't be totally finished by Friday night every week. So we'll see if i'm finished on that weekend or not."

But what i really wanted to say was this: "You know what? I left public school in first grade because my math was at a third or fourth grade level, my computer was at a fifth or sixth grade level, and my verbal skills were too high to test. I finished high school in three years, and in four years i graduated magna cum laude with two degrees, while you just barely managed to scrape out one degree, with no honors, and had to do extra work during two different summers. You know what i did during the summer? Audited grad classes. For fun. I'd say it looks like my academic choices have been paying off pretty well so far, so if i feel like i should do homework on a Saturday, i should probably listen to my gut and not yours."

And what i actually said was this: "Well, i'll see what my schedule is like. I want to go, i just can't make any promises."

I love my apartment, i love my roommates, and i love my downstairs neighbors. But sometimes i feel like i've been reduced to the most simplistic interpretations of my least appealing traits. I'm not a caricature of studious nerd. There's more going on here than that. And if they don't stop reacting to me like i'm a cross between Hermione Granger and Mark Zuckerburg, i have a feeling that the filter between my brain and my mouth is simply going to explode. And on that day, you should either run and hide or grab some popcorn and find a good seat, depending on how into Schadenfreude you are.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reasons Why I Love My Boyfriend for $500, Please

This is an actual, real-life transcript of a Facebook chat we had today:

Him: but I am alive.
Me: yay!!!!!
please don't die
like, ever
at least not until after me
because who is going to play with my boobs if you die?
That's who.
and if you die and leave me alone with kate i will fucking kill you
and don't even try to tell me i can't kill you if you are dead because you really ought to know me better than that by now
also i need a nap and i think i'm slightly hung over and i really need to pee
but people keep coming in and playing beautiful piano music so it's okay
Him: ohh talent show . . . you should be the simon judge.
Me: i'm not judging the show, just the auditions
but ben is a judge for the show
and i appreciate your ability to gloss right over all of my crazy, figure out what the hell i am actually talking about, and respond rationally
Him: you said boobs, so everything else melted away.
i like your boobs.
Me: hahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
you're my favorite

UPDATE (this was through text, not FB):
Me: So this girl in my office just told me that you need to buy me a ring chop-chop. And i said we've been dating for four months. And she said oh. Well you look like you've been dating for four years.
Him: Hehehehehehe.
Me: At least she didn't say it felt like four years*
Him: Good point. I think we should just get everyone else fake rings**
Me: I think we should do a fake proposal in chapel. Interrupt the service to have you drag me on stage and go down on one knee.
Him: Or just go down?
Me: It's like you read my mind.***

* Recently, someone caught me looking up engagement rings online. FOR A FRIEND. And they made a cutesy comment and i said "Um. We've been dating for four months." And she said, "Really? Only four months? It feels like longer." Which confused me, because why do other people feel like they are in my relationship?
** We have an elaborate scheme involving fake engagement rings and free cake samples. And by "an elaborate scheme" i mean "several elaborate schemes". And while some of them do indeed involve cake, some of them involve revenge. And some are just for shits and giggles.
*** Because no joke, that was exactly what i thought when i pressed "send" on that text message.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Beatles Lied To Us

Love is not all you need.

I've posted several times before about my ex, Casey. I won't say anything more about him here, because he's not a pleasant subject to dwell on, and because the point of this is not to dwell on him or on our relationship.

The point is that it was a bad relationship. He was bad for me, and i could have been good for him if he'd let me, but he wouldn't or couldn't (part of the reason he was bad for me: he wouldn't let me in). We made one another miserable. He didn't support me, i was bored by him, he didn't want to know anything about my life that made me more than highly educated arm candy, i felt superior to him, et cetera et cetera et cetera. For over a year, we both killed our souls in a toxic and bruising relationship with almost no positive benefits.

But we loved each other.

You see this pattern in literature, in pop culture, and in conversations with roommates. (I once had a roommate who, after a fight with her boyfriend, explained tearfully to her best friend that "We're just like that couple in The Notebook. We fight all the time, but we just love each other so much!") Conflict can be a sign of passion. It can also be a sign of deep incompatibility. It's bad if you never fight. It's also bad if you always fight. The fact that you make one another miserable is not a testament to your undying love and devotion. It does not mean that you have a connection that will transcend all obstacles of marriage to another person, or death, or the fact that one of you is a creature of the night that wants nothing more than to feed on your beloved. The fact that you make one another miserable is a testament to the fact that you are not well suited.

Love is great. Without it, life would not be worth living. And if you are not truly in love with someone, you should certainly not make a lifelong commitment to them. In fact, i'd hesistate to say that you should commit to them for more than a few months. Love is really really really really really important.

But it's not everything.

Feelings will come and go, but at the end of the day, you have to want to be in the same room with them. You have to want to hang out with them. You have to want to talk to them, to support them in their passions (even the ones you don't get), to introduce them to your loved ones. You have to like them.

There's a reason that everyone always tells you to marry your best friend. Romance comes and goes. Friendship is eternal. Fall in love with your best friend and you're all set.

I've been in love before. I spent a year pining hopelessly after one of my best friends. In the end, i saw that while we were good friends, and while i certainly loved him, we did not have the kind of relationship that would translate well to a marriage, or even dating. I also spent fourteen months breaking my heart over Casey. I loved him, and he loved me, but i didn't really like him very much. And i don't think he knew me well enough to like me at all.

Love is not all you need.

That's why (i can't believe i'm about to cite this) sites like and eHarmony make you fill out personality profiles. In their commercials, they say that they match you up with people whose personalities are compatible with yours. That way, if you do fall in love, you can have confidence that it will work out.

It's not enough to be in love with someone. You have to be able to get along with them. You have to be compatible with them.

Love is great. The Beatles were great. But they were also on a lot of drugs. They probably didn't mean to lie to us. Either way, love is not all you need.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

where i was on 9/11

It was something about Leif Eriksson. I don't remember whether we were writing essays or taking an exam, but i remember that it was about Leif Eriksson.

Our schoolroom in the old house was in the basement. This must have been during the time that my dad was self-employed, because he was home during the middle of the day. He was in the living room, watching the news. He called us upstairs.

We all sat in the living room floor, eyes glued to the TV. I was eleven and my arms were wrapped around my knees as i silently prayed, "God, don't take my dad."

I knew this meant war. I knew enough about the draft to worry that my dad would be taken away to fight. I didn't know enough about the draft to know that my dad would probably never be accepted as a soldier (nearsighted, chronic foot cramps, high cholesterol, history of heart attacks, occasional migraines, bad back, depression, and overweight). I was scared for him.

I knew that i lived in a tiny little town in farm country. I also knew that my house was close enough to Aberdeen Proving Grounds that we could hear the testing on a clear day. I knew that we were not far from D.C. or the Pentagon, that the Annapolis Naval Academy and the Dover Air Force Base were also nearby. I became paranoid, seeing my house as the epicenter of military operations in the U.S. I distinctly remember glancing out of the windows and expecting to see armed jihadists in my front yard. In my wildest, most terrified dreams, my family was held captive in our basement while al-Queda set up headquarters in the rest of our house. I was enough of an optimist that it never crossed my mind how much simpler it would be for them to kill us outright.

All of this flashed through my brain in the first few minutes and hours of that day. At some point, i went back downstairs and finished my essay, because i was eleven and the war hadn't started yet, and if the jihadists were going to hold us prisoner in the basement i wanted to make sure i finished my schoolwork first. It's funny how you prioritize things even in the midst of the unthinkable.

Friday, September 9, 2011

but not like the snow

oh, kiss me like the rain, love
like a drizzly spring morning
gradual and tender
envelop me

oh, kiss me like the rain, love
like a summer thunderstorm
sure and unyielding
capture, overwhelm me

oh, kiss me like the rain, love
like a september shower
a soft touch on warm skin
take me by surprise

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

gay marriage

"And that is why I cannot give pederasty anything like a first place among the evils of the Coll. There is much hypocrisy on this theme. People commonly talk as if every other evil were more tolerable than this. But why? Because those of us who do not share the vice feel for it a certain nausea, as we do, say, for necrophily? I think that of very little relevance to moral judgement. . . The real reason for all the pother is, in my opinion, neither Christian nor ethical. We attack this vice not because it is the worst but because it is, by adult standards, the most disreputable and unmentionable, and happens also to be a crime in English law. The World will lead you only to Hell; but sodomy may lead you to jail and create a scandal, and lose you your job. The World, to do it justice, seldom does that."
C. S. Lewis -- Surprised by Joy

I'm going to start by stealing C. S. Lewis' disclaimer: I'm not gay, and i've never even questioned my sexuality a little bit, so i'm not really qualified to say anything on this topic.

On the other hand, i'm a Christian, and i have a lot of friends and family who are gay/bi/other. These people are very near and dear to my heart, and if nothing else, i've had to figure out how to relate to them in light of my faith. Because you can say "Love the sinner, hate the sin" until you're blue in the face, but how does that actually play out in your daily life? How can you love someone while hating something that is such an integral part of their identity? And is it really a sin?

I was confronted with my first real outrage over this issue in my freshman year of college. I was in an honors philosophy seminar, and we all split into groups to create video presentations on different controversial topics. One group did their presentation on gay marriage. After showing their video to the whole class and talking about the project, the topic was opened up for further discussion and debate.

One guy said, "I plan to marry my girlfriend one day, and I don't want to think that a sinful marriage could be made legal and could take away from what we have together."

At the time, i was strongly against gay marriage, and considered homosexuality to be an absolute sin. But even i thought that this was a bullshit argument.

Britney Spears got married in Vegas, and when she came to her senses the next day she had it annulled. The whole marriage only lasted about 55 hours. But she married a man. I know real people too, not just celebrities, who got married to the wrong person for the wrong reason. I know people who have abused or been abused by their spouses, people who have cheated or been cheated on, people who decide to get divorced because they're just not in love anymore. My mother knew after only a few years that she had made a mistake in marrying my dad, but she stayed with him for nearly twenty years anyway, and brought four kids into a marriage that she knew was a bad one. But the people i'm talking about are in heterosexual partnerships. So apparently, none of this destroys the sanctity of marriage, yet two people who love one another and want to make a lifelong commitment do destroy that sanctity, if they happen to be of the same gender.

There are plenty of heterosexual partnerships that are loving and committed. And there are plenty of homosexual partnerships that are full of infidelity and deceit. But none of that is really the point.

The point is that someone else's marriage has no effect on yours. If i have a bad marriage, it doesn't matter whether i'm married to a man or a woman. Either way, it won't destroy your marriage. Each marriage must stand or fall on its own strength.

Here's what i think about marriage: it has three basic components. The first is relational. Two people who care about one another deeply decide that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. It's all about romance and having children and growing old together. The second is legal. You're picking a person who gets to visit you in the hospital and decide whether or not to pull the plug on you. If you die, they take the kids. Stuff like that. You have to get a marriage certificate, and unlike in a purely relational union, if you want to sever ties, you have to go through all kinds of legal proceedings. The third component is communal. You are calling your friends and loved ones to bear witness to this relationship. Being married means that other people are now related to you. Your friends become his friends, and vice versa. You are asking your loved ones to recognize and support your relationship (and if you are religious, you are also asking your god or gods to recognize and bless your relationship). But for atheistic hetero- or homosexual unions, the communal aspect is limited to friends and family.

I know of couples who live together for many years without any legal or communal recognition of their relationship. I know couples who get legally married without communal recognition or romantic attachment. And i know couples who consider themselves married in the eyes of God, with or without the recognition of governments or the community. It is possible to have what we call a marriage without all three of these components necessarily being present.

I think it's time for a few different things to happen. The first has to be coming up with new words for a marriage with no religious component. Because marriage is a sacrament of the Christian church, Christians have the right to decide who gets to get married. We can't say anything about civil unions, but we can say who gets to have God and a minister unite them in holy matrimony. That is our call to make. So for the purposes of this post, i will now refer to all "holy matrimony" as marriage, and all "civil unions" as unions.

The second thing that has to happen is the nationwide federal and state legalization of gay unions. The Church gets to decide who can get married. She has no say in who can be united. At least, not in the good ol' US of A, where we have separation of church and state built into our constitution.

The third thing that has to happen is that representatives of the different Christian churches (Catholic and Protestant) have to gather for a council. Not a conference, but like a new Council of Nicaea. We're long overdue for another one of these; the last one was in the mid-60s. The Christian church has to spend some serious time in prayer and reflection and conversation and study of the Scriptures, and when they are done, they need to make a ruling once and for all about the morality of homosexuality. Then, based on the outcome of that discussion, the Church can decide whether or not gay marriage should be a thing.

I realize that there are many homosexuals who are deeply religious and who consider God to be an integral part of their lives and relationships. And i can understand how hurtful it would be for us to say, "Sorry, you guys can't get married for a while. We're debating the issue. We'll let you know. But go ahead and have a justice of the peace unite you in a civil ceremony." And if the Council decides that gay marriage is, in fact, sinful, i can't even imagine how deeply hurtful it would be to be told that you and your partner can never be married in the eyes of God. It would be small consolation to be certain in your own heart and mind that God approves of your union, and that He bears witness to it and will bless your relationship. And this is where i have to restate my disclaimer and say that i don't have anything to say. I wish i did, but i don't.

I'm still not sure whether or not it's a sin to be gay. I've been back and forth over this issue in the last four years, and i haven't really landed anywhere yet.

Here's what i do know: God is the one who gets to make the final call. Since i've never doubted my sexuality, the issue doesn't have a whole lot of bearing on the state of my soul. If i decide that it is a sin, i can pray in love for the people i know who are caught in this sin, and i can continue to grow closer to God in my own life. And if i decide that it's not, i can still pray in love for the people i know who are gay, or straight, or anything else, because everyone needs prayer. And whatever i decide will have no bearing on what God decides. I don't get to condemn someone to Hell just because i don't like the things that they do. But i also don't get to save them from Hell if i condone their behavior. Only God gets to make that call.

I know it sounds like i'm pulling the God card to avoid making a decision. I'd be lying if i said there was no truth to that. But i honestly do believe that what is sinful for one person may not be sinful for another, that only God gets to make the final call on anyone, and that salvation is based on the intentions of your heart, not on whatever missteps you might make along the way. All i can do is try to live my own life the way that i believe God has told me to live my own life, and pray in love for others. It's not up to me to discover sin in the lives of those around me, or to save them from that sin. All i can do is pray that they are open with themselves and with God.

Monday, September 5, 2011


First things first: No, that title is not a typo, despite what Microsoft Word tries to tell you. Everyone outside of the homeschooling community thinks that it should be two words (home schooling), but we're the ones doing it so we get to decide how it should be spelled.

As i mentioned here, my relationship with public school is not a happy one. It's a long story, and i have to start with a lot of history.

Maryland used to have a law (though it has since been changed) regulating the age of admission into kindergarten. It used to be that if you were going to be five by the time school started, you would start school that year (which is the same as in most states). But there was a clause saying that if you were not going to be five by the time school started, but would be five by December 31st, you could start this year or wait until next year. It was your call. (Or more realistically, your parents' call.)

I was born on December 20th, 1989. I therefore turned five on December 20th of 1994. I was one of the privileged few who got to choose what year i wanted to start school.

I taught myself to read at the tender age of two and a half. By the time i started kindergarten, i was reading at a 6th grade level. (Technically, my reading level was a little higher than that, but since i was only four, a lot of material written for higher grade levels was emotionally and psychologically beyond me. But i still understood all the words and followed the stories, even when reading Sherlock Holmes).

If you can read, no door is closed to you. Math may not be your strong point, but you can still attain a certain degree of competency if you are literate, even if you don't have a teacher. If you can read, the sky is the limit.

So i started kindergarten in 1994, because my parents figured that there was no reason to keep me at home any longer. Kindergarten was fine, because you're not really learning things. You're really just learning how to be at school: how to listen to people who are not your parents, how to get along with your peers and do your work quietly, how to follow a schedule and do assignments.

But when i started first grade, it was clear that i needed more challenge and stimulation in the classroom. I began doing some of my classes with other grades, because my teacher had allowed me to work at my own pace and i had finished all of my first grade work. By Christmas, i had finished all computer class work through fifth grade. My math was at a third or fourth grade level and my reading skills were too high to test. The administrators met with my parents to recommend moving me up to third or fourth grade.

Remember that, by Christmas, i had just turned six. I was the youngest kid in my class. I was also extremely introverted and had very few friends. I was not socially or psychologically capable of advancing that many grades all at once. For one or two classes a few times a week, sure. But not full time.

There was a family in our church who homeschooled their daughter. Think of every stereotype you've ever heard about homeschoolers being socially awkward and just plain weird. This was that girl.

When my parents told me about the proposal to move me forward, i flipped my shit. I regressed and began wetting my pants at school every day. I would cry uncontrollably and not be able to say why. My moods and physical health were steadily declining. I began begging my parents to homeschool me. But, thinking of the family in our church and fearing that i would turn out the same (since i already showed a strong tendency toward introversion and general weirdness), they at first refused. But as the situation deteriorated it became clear that things could not continue as they were.

My parents agreed to homeschool me, thinking privately that they would do so only for the rest of the year, after which they would figure out a permanent solution for my education. But the homeschooling worked so well for me, and was such a pleasure for my mom, that we decided to continue with it.

I graduated from high school when i was sixteen, one year earlier than the rest of my class. Valentine's day of 1996 was my last day of public school. Everything else was homeschooling.

And look how i turned out.