Crossroads of Humanity

Sep 29, 2012

Conviction Pandemonium!

Have you ever been in a public place and overheard a conversation you wished you had not? Yes, I have too, and I'm about to share it with you.

Let me set the scene. People sit at small tables enjoying each other's company while they eat a light lunch and drink a bit of coffee. Music plays softly, a backdrop to the gentle hum of conversation. Suddenly, a voice cuts through my concentration. It grates, not because of the tone or volume but because of the words.

I sigh and put my work aside.

Two university students sit nearby, young and attractive with flawless complexions. I believe they were working on an essay for a religious studies course. Their conversation about faith could have been deep. Indeed, one offered insightful comments and asked interesting questions. The other told anecdotes about court cases in which the defendants used examples of priests getting away with rape as a reason that they should be able to do the same. She told these stories to her friend in a gossipy tone. She made inflammatory statements and said nothing to back them up with facts. She repeated her comments and anecdotes over and over again. The comments she made had no bearing on their discussion of faith. Meanwhile, she texted other people questions about faith, laughed at their responses and proceeded to work on her essay, using others' thoughts as her own.

When she said, "I never participate in class discussions. They move too fast," my jaw just about hit the floor. Being a teacher, part of me wanted to exclaim that there is no good reason not to participate in class discussions while the other part of me decided that may not be such a bad thing.

Sep 16, 2012

A Driver's Tale of Woe

 For those who are wondering and would like to hear a driver's license tale of woe, please lend me your ear...

Part of moving to a new state requires the official giving up of the old driver's license in order to obtain a new one. We decided to move in early June. By August 1, we were in our new home. (THAT story has already been told. If you are interested, just scroll down.) In addition to that, my license expired at the end of June. I contemplated just letting it stay lapsed until after the move (Why pay twice?), but in the end, we decided to use all available drivers to move, meaning I would need a current license. So I applied for my renewal on July 30.

From July 30, until this past week, an official receipt acted as my license. Last Monday, I realized my receipt was due to expire on Thursday. Thus my first dilemma. I had not yet received my official license, and I would be driving to a camping experience with my students on Wednesday. We were due to return on Friday, when I would no longer be able to legally drive. I called to see what was going on only to discover that my license had been returned because we were no longer residing at our old address. Apparently, the post office will not forward driver's licenses.

“Okay,” I thought, “no problem. I'll just have to explain what happened.” On Tuesday afternoon, I left work early to go and take the required written driver's test and apply for my new license. How hard could it be, right? Those tests are all about common sense, and I've been driving for years!

My next dilemma. I failed the test by being extra cautious with every question requiring an exact measurement of distance. I walked up to the desk thinking, “They must want me to hit bicyclists to have me driving that close!”

The gentleman behind the desk smiled and explained that I could take the test again tomorrow. As in Wednesday. As in the day we were leaving for our camping trip at 9:00 A.M.

I studied that night and at 8:00 the next morning, I was third in line at the testing center. By 8:15, I had passed the test with flying colors. I approached the desk only to learn that they would not be able to accept the receipt from my last state, and because of where my last state had punched through my license (obliterating the expiration date), they would need a certified copy of my driving record. I asked for a fax number. The man wished me luck but explained that in his experience, my last state wouldn't fax certified records. I would have to order a copy for a fee.

I was pissed. If they'd actually sent me my license, a license I had paid for, this wouldn't even be an issue. I called the number they gave me and explained my situation. I even asked for a refund. The woman was very nice and explained that she would fax a letter with the same information they were asking for in the certified driving record. She didn't know if they would accept it, but it was worth a try.

It was now 8:45, and I needed to get going. An entire classroom of students and parents were counting on me! So I called the other teacher who was going on the trip, and we quickly created a backup plan. She would ride to the camp with one of the parents and a group of kids and would ride back with me. In the event that the faxed letter didn't work, she would drive my car back on Friday.

Well...the letter worked! Still, it was a good thing we had a backup plan because as the man behind the counter stamped my paperwork, making everything official, he explained that their camera had stopped working, and he asked if I could come back later in the day.

Friday afternoon, exhausted and disheveled from camping for three days with over 20 kids, I smiled for the camera.

Addendum: I received my driver's license in the mail today.  My last name is spelled wrong.

Sep 15, 2012

Failure is not an option, or is it?

Today, I re-realized something I've thought about on many occasions.  I am hard on myself, probably too hard.  The truth is, I'm a perfectionist but only when it comes to me, meaning I do not expect perfectionism in anyone else...just me.  If I set out to do something, failure is not an option.  This is not to say that I won't ask for help when I don't know how to do something or if I encounter something new.  On the contrary, I most definitely ask for help all the time.  But not when it's something I should be capable of doing myself.  So what happens when I overestimate my strengths?  I keep at it until I'm ready to scream.

There are support groups for people who suffer from everything under the sun, ranging from eating disorders to alcohol abuse.  Why are there no support groups for us perfectionists?  Hm...probably because we'd be too busy telling ourselves that we don't need support and that we should just keep at it (whatever IT is) until we knock ourselves unconscious.

I realize that this is a form of self abuse, so why do I continue to do it?  I will not tolerate failure in myself, even though I know without a doubt that I am as flawed as the next person.  I'm also well aware that we learn from our mistakes.  Oh yes, those are the lessons I remember best!

So what is it that makes asking for help so difficult?  Why do I feel like a failure when I finally admit that I do not know how to do something?

I have a message I'd like to pass along to myself today, and Sarah, I want you to listen and listen well.  Go easy on yourself.  Love yourself for who you are no matter the outcome of your actions.  You are talented and important, and it's okay to lean on others.

Sep 4, 2012

Caution: Scientific Minds at Work!

People tend to think a lot of things that aren't true.

I love when we see thinking minds at work though.

True story...

My daughter has this little pink football that she wanted to go to sleep with one night. She asked, "Can I sleep with my orange ball?"

I said, "It's pink, and yes you may."

She insisted, "No, it's orange."

I tried to explain how in the dark, things loose their color.

Still she insisted that it was orange.

I said, "Here, let's turn on the hall light and you'll see that it's pink." (I didn't want to turn on the light in her bedroom because she was finally settling down.)

Still she said it was orange.

I said, "Okay, you may sleep with your orange football."

The next morning, the first thing she said was, "Oh look, now my ball is pink!"

I said, "It was always pink."

She said, "But with that light on, it was orange."

She then proceeded to take the ball into the hall and turn on the light. Then she said with surprise, "Oh, it's pink!"

She's only 3, and I'm so glad she's already testing her theories rather than simply believing what she's told.