Christmas life update and more meme!

Hello everyone! Did you have a wonderful holiday? I know I did! I made latkes for Hanukkah (all by myself, which was a little sad, but I still felt cool) and then Noah and I went to my parents' house for Christmas. It was all very delightful. For Christmas I asked my parents to get me primarily practical things, since I'm in the process of paring down my non-practical stuff and because I suddenly have this whole place to myself that I need to fill with basic necessities. My parents did an even more spectacular job with the gift-giving than usual--I would say they were 99.999...% effective this year. Some highlights:

-a waffle iron! Some of you may be familiar with my insatiable craving for waffles. This waffle iron will be my best friend.
-arm warmers! Also my best friends.
-a beautiful quilt for my bed (which is currently still an air mattress on the floor--don't even get me started on the one horrendous mattress-shopping experience I've had so far, which has permanently temporarily put me off trying again to find a real mattress and boxspring).
-several cookbooks I'd been lusting after

Many of my family and friends have also given me cookies and chocolate to take home. This has resulted in me having a fridge that contains one Tupperware container of bean soup, and the entire rest of the fridge is full of dessert. Oh dear.

Noah's gift was the most surprising, since he went out and replaced my aging, slightly sad 6-year-old Mac with a used but stunning 2009 Macbook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still haven't found the perfect name for it, a name that encompasses both how crazy awesome it is but also hints at the reliability and longevity I'm hoping it will have. Maybe I should just name it Gandalf. :-P

All of these weren't the best Christmas gift I received this year, though. Let me set the scene for what the best one is.

At my work, there's a client who isn't really verbal but mostly just sits by herself and doesn't interact with anyone. She's kind of OCD, and she likes to put together these block things. A lot of times she likes staff to help her, and she expresses this by taking one of the blocks and firmly pressing it into your hand. Last Thursday I was standing talking to another staff member, and this client comes up to me with a puzzle piece. Instead of pressing it into my hand, she looked straight at me, held it out, and said. "Florence."

I was stunned. I looked at the staff standing next to me, who was also stunned. "Did she just say 'Florence'?", she said. I later talked to the instructor in our area, who said that in all her years of working here she'd only ever heard her say one other word, and it was something not very meaningful related to her toys or something. So this is only the second word we've ever heard her say, and it's my name. I wish I could have recorded it so I could play it back forever. I never thought that hearing the sound of my own name would be the most amazing thing that could happen to me, but it totally is. I know that for a lot of people who care deeply about clients with severe disabilities, you daydream about them being able to say your name. Communication means the world to you. When I worked at Longview I used to dream at night that my nonverbal clients could talk to me. So I'm overwhelmed with the honor of the connection I have made just by being there for someone.

Anyway, all this talking and I haven't even gotten to the meme! Luckily, it's a short one tonight.

Day 08: A moment you felt most satisfied with your life.

I don't know what the moment was that I felt MOST satisfied with my life, but I definitely can remember distinct moments when I've realized that my life is so perfect. One of the biggest is that, before I got my current daytime 1:1 job, I used to sub for the organization and would go out every morning and help clients get off the buses and into their areas for the day. Every day, seeing their faces would remind me that all was right with the world. I knew that no matter what happened with them before they got here, and no matter what was going to happen with them today, right now seeing their faces makes me so happy. I don't get to do that anymore because I have a specific 1:1 I have to take care of, but I still remember that fondly.

All the things.

Tonight I unpacked two boxes of stuff that my mom gave me when I moved into my current home. For basically my entire life, my mom has been packing boxes full of stuff that belongs to me, that she planned to give me when I was grown up and settled enough to use it. The fact that I'm going through these boxes now means that I am at least partially grown up and settled, which is a scary thought.

Part of this process is deciding what I want to keep and what I don't, and that's hard for me. I'm nowhere near being a hoarder, but I know that every single item in all these boxes has some kind of special significance either for me or for someone in my family. It's hard for me to let any of those things go because I feel like part of me still needs them, even if it was a part of me that looked at that Beanie Baby every day in middle school and never really noticed or loved it but it was part of my consciousness anyway. Reminding myself that someone else will find that stuffed animal at Goodwill and love it is something I have to do frequently when my childhood things have to move to a different home. I had so many toys growing up, and I only want to keep the ones that I loved the best or that I think my future children would love. Obviously I can't know what they'll love because they're not born yet, but I can't keep everything and I know there are kids right now who could love some of these things in the meantime.

One thing I am keeping is all the "grown-up" things my mom gave me, like dishes and things of that sort. I've found a huge wealth of dinnerware in these boxes, and I know I will never lack for those things because the things I have now will probably last me a lifetime, barring some kind of natural disaster or kitchen-related robbery. Some things made me smile because I grew up with them--I was touched when I pulled out that set of plain black salad bowls that we used to eat out of every day, because my mom wants me to have them now. There was a birthday plate that I have no recollection of getting but I guess is mine. There are things that belonged to my parents and I have no memory of them, but I will continue to use them because they have meaning to my family somehow.

What really strikes me is the caring that I feel when I open these boxes. I can see in them that my mom wanted to give me things that I would need to start my own life and my own family. My mom is famously protective of me, but by giving me these things I could see her giving me the go-ahead to start a life of my own with the knowledge that I will always have enough of everything that I need. I can give away so many small things that others could use more, and still have everything in abundance. Dealing with these things is such a great gift that it scares me knowing that these are no longer sitting in boxes waiting for me to deal with them. I'm using them now. It's silly that mugs and bowls, stuffed dogs and old jewelry, can make me realize that I'm finally an adult, but that seems to be what has happened.

Memetime again!

Well everyone, I'm valiantly continuing with the meme. I do still enjoy it, even though at this point I'm going to finish it somewhere around 2013.

Day 07: Your zodiac sign and if you think it fits your personality.

I am a Taurus, and for the most part I think this fits. I checked Wikipedia for a definition of the sign, and it said that I show the traits of "creativity, sensuality, and appreciation of life's material luxuries". I definitely agree with the creativity part--I have a strong creative drive that shows up in both expected and unexpected places. I also do consider myself a very sensual person. The only one I don't really agree with is the third one; I have fairly simple tastes when it comes to "things", and I find most material luxuries unnecessary and a hindrance. I am very drawn to good art, good culture, and good food, though.

Apparently my sign is associated with the moon, which denotes emotional depth. My first thought upon hearing this was "well....great?" which was probably the least emotionally deep thing I could have said. :-P But I actually do agree with the whole "emotional depth" thing.

I am also described as "reflective" and "receptive to the ideas of others". True and true! I am, though receptive mostly to a core few trusted advisers, which include my parents, my sister, Noah, my mentor, and my sister's mentor. I am reluctant to entrust most other people with personal details of my life or my thought processes except in a very superficial sense. I am also "highly practical" and "happiest when involved in some kind of creative process". True, but that's mostly because I can turn taking out the trash into a creative process, so it's hard for me not to be involved in one. :-P

The article also says the following:
"Although generally considered easy-going and placid, as a fixed sign Taurus is renowned for being stubborn. Taureans are likened to the bull in being slow to show anger, but capable of raging if pushed too far."
True, except I am so slow to anger that I can't remember the last time I really expressed significant anger. I guess senior year I was angry when my friend did all those bad things I described in an earlier entry, but at that point I was so depressed that I more turned it back inwards and became sad, then just got reflective.

There is also this sentence:
"The positive side to this fixity is a ferocious willpower and absolute loyalty to loved ones, although they need to guard against possesiveness."
Truuuuuuuuuuuuuuue x1000000000

One of the key traits used to describe me in the article is "enduringness", and I think that's very true. One of the reasons I don't describe myself as having a significant liking for material things is because I'm more interested in things that last forever. If there are things I hoard, they're love, friendship, kindness, caring for others, non-material happiness, delight with the world....and I do whatever I can to make these last forever.

In other news, I'm getting over a gross flu bug that had me laid up in bed with a fever for 2 days. :-( I'm much better, just exhausted. And I went back to work today! It felt like I overexerted myself a bit, but I'm glad I was able to go back.
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OMG ridiculous meme entry

So, I've been away from the 30-day meme for a....while now, but only because the day I was on was super frustrating. I couldn't think of 30 things for this (other people must be a lot more interesting than me :-P), so I'm just going to post what I have so far and stop driving myself crazy trying to think of interesting things about myself.

Day 06: Write 30 20-some whatever, I don't even care interesting facts about yourself

1. I can read words backwards almost as well as I can read them forwards. I don't know why I can do that, but it makes me really good at playing Cranium.

2. People don't really believe me when I say this, but you know that ability that most people have to prioritize? I don't have it. And no, I don't mean "oh I must have a hard time prioritizing because I procrastinate a lot lolol", but honestly it's difficult for me to discern which things are more important and which things are less important. For instance: say you have something like writing a paper that's due soon, and you have something else like, I don't know, hanging up your clothesline. I've been told, and am sometimes able to figure out, that the imminently-due paper is more important than the clothesline, which can wait. But to me they seem exactly as important. I actually have really big problems with being super stressed out most of the time, because since I have no sense of prioritizing, everything-everything!-becomes my #1 priority, all at the same time. I don't know what to do first, so I usually just flail around and am unable to get myself organized. Luckily I have people in my life who help me figure this out. I'm still trying to develop strategies to deal with it.

3. For the past 3-4 years or so, I've been trying to write a full-length story ballet based on Francesca Lia Block's book Primavera. I've stalled out as of this past year, because when my old computer died the file containing all the work I'd done on the ballet in the two years I'd been working on it at that point were completely lost, and it's hard to write all that again. I've gotten a paltry amount of work done, and maybe soon I'll be able to do more. I also have at least one other big choreography piece on the table, when I can get around to working on it.

4. I have a weirdly high alcohol tolerance. Because of my size and percentage of body fat, you should be able to knock me over with one drink, but I can drink an oddly high amount. I haven't really discovered my limits yet, but mostly because I'm not interested in getting drunk and I don't feel like drinking enough to see how much it takes.

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And, uh...that's all I can think of. I hope I made up for not having 30 things by the extreme verbosity of each description. :-P

My clients are always entertaining.

For those of you who aren't aware, I'm a care provider for individuals with disabilities. Here is a quote from today's work with J., and one from another, G., a couple weeks ago.

Me: J., do you want to tell me a story?
J.: I'll tell you a story.
Me: Okay! Start with "once upon a time".
J.: Once upon a time there was a bear.
Me: What was the bear doing?
J.: Cracking me up!
Me: Okay...was there anyone else besides the bear?
J.: There was a pig on the bear.
Me: On the bear?
J.: On the bear.
Me: What else?
J.: There was a goat on the bear.
Me: What were the pig and the goat doing?
J.: They were hopping around.
Me: How did the story end?
J.: Happily.
Me: Ever?
J.: After.

And, to sign off for the night, some wise words from G.:

G: Florence...I would never call you a pickle.

PS-I got the official 1:1 position with G. and am saying goodbye to my subbing days! I now get paid $2 more per hour to do exactly what I was already doing. :-P His annual IP (Individual Plan; basically his goals for the year) meeting is coming up, and I get to help formulate goals for him. It's given me an opportunity to bring him out of his shell and have a very illuminating conversation with him about his opinions (which he is extremely shy about expressing and I'm looking forward to helping him grow in the coming year! I know that by the next IP meeting I'll be able to help him be a stronger, more independent, more expressive young man.
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random before-bed thoughts

1. Scheduling teaching observations is difficult! Here is a rundown of how things are going.


Me: Supervisor, I would like to invite you to come in and observe me one week from now!
Supervisor: *cricket* *cricket*


Supervisor: Thanks for the invitation! I'm all booked up for this week but I'll let send you an email with dates when I am available!
Me: It's okay, I didn't plan a whole cool lesson and everything... *sad face*


Supervisor: Oh hello! This week I am available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. All day Thursday!
Me: OMG I will take Thursday. No really. I am calling Thursday. Thursday at 10am, so, you know, don't make any other plans or anything.
Supervisor: *silence*


Supervisor: Oh, looks like I have a meeting this Thursday! Let me try to reschedule and I'll let you know if I can do it.
Me: OH HELLS NO oh wait I actually don't even know what I'm teaching Thursday so maybe that's okay. BUT NO REALLY I THOUGHT I CALLED THURSDAY GUYS.

Yeah, that's pretty much been my experience so far.

2. I am getting over food poisoning! Or some kind of stomach virus that's going around J.'s house. Or something. I don't know what it is but I threw up every hour for most of Saturday, followed by incredible pain in every single one of my joints (starting at my back and radiating through my entire body), followed by being extremely tired. The past two days were characterized by feeling mostly better but still extremely tired and nutrient-deprived. My real hunger came at almost exactly 4:30am last night, when I woke up and was suddenly so hungry I was pretty sure I was going to eat the whole bed. I was actually so weak from hunger that I didn't know if I could get downstairs where the food was. But I couldn't go back to sleep because I was TOO HUNGRY. So I stumbled downstairs and ate a cookie. Needless to say, tonight I'm sleeping with a can of peanuts by my bed for instant hunger gratification.

There's more news, but did I mention I'm extremely tired? We'll talk more later. Also I promise I am still working on the 30-day meme; this entry involves thinking of 30 different things, and so far I can only come up with 26, and even that's taken me a couple weeks. I'll get there.
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So I was looking for a quote that I read about on a blog and ended up on a website advertising "romantic readings for weddings". Most were really not great, but I did find one by Madeline L'Engle, and I love her! I'm going to a wedding this weekend, and all my friends are getting married, and everyone I've ever met is asking me when I'm getting married, and I'm just sitting back and letting that stage of my life arrive whenever it wants to. I would get married if the time comes, but I'm in a love that is infinite and fulfilling and beautiful without needing marriage to be so, which means that while I can see it being nice, I'm not in a hurry. But L'Engle is good at saying what I feel about marriage and about the general category of forever-love, which is where I am now:

From "The Irrational Season", by Madeleine L'Engle

"Ultimately there comes a time when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created. To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling."

I only saw one other quote that I really loved, and I'm going to get sappy with you, dear readers, and tell you that this is how I feel about metamorphage:

“I Love You”, by Roy Croft

“I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you, for the part of me that you bring out. I love you, for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart, and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out, into the light, all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find. I love you, because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life, not a tavern, but a temple. Out of the works of my every day, not a reproach, but a song. I love you, because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by being yourself. Perhaps that is what being a friend means, after all.”

PS-I'm still working on the next day of the 30 day meme! They're asking a lot from this next question, so I need to come up with a lot of things. :-P
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The meme returns!

The 30-Day (but not 30 days in a row) Meme is back! I'm still trying to use it as a way to keep posting to my journal. :-) Unfortunately, this entry is not a cheerful one. Apologies to those who have newly friended me (I'm thinking about you, superduckie). I did say I was using this meme as a way for newcomers to get to know me!

Day 05: A time you have thought about ending your life

Well, let's first get something out of the way. I have never actually considered ending my life. So we can all be prepared to go down a depressing road, but not go that far. Still, as tough as it is to think about, there was a time not so long ago in my life that I legitimately thought I was not going to be able to go on. Collapse )

What a long entry! It was good to get that stuff out. I hadn't really talked about it before.

On a happier note, today was good! I've been very productive, and I took a break by eating homemade oatmeal raisin bars made by my mom, painting my toenails a glittery hot pink, and watching Battlestar Galactica. Now I'll be getting more things done, and taking a tea (or hot cocoa) break at the end of it. Good good things.

My brain=awesome.

I'm always amazed at my brain's ability to come up with crazy puzzle games in my dreams. :-P A couple years ago I had a dream where I was playing a game that was a combination of Assassins, a math puzzle game, and a scavenger hunt. You had to solve math puzzles to find clues to the scavenger hunt, all while trying not to be "killed" by your Assassin. :-P And then last night I created this ridiculously detailed game in my dream. It started, again, with my doing math/science stuff. I was in a classroom reviewing physics problems for a standardized test, and a guy in the class asked me if I wanted to come over to his place and do more test prep. So I went over to this giant mansion and we were doing the problems, and all of a sudden something happened that scared me (I don't remember what, the details are getting fuzzy now) and the dream turned into this giant mystery/puzzle thing in which we were exploring the mansion looking for clues to solve this mystery. My brain had created this whole intricate world in which the house was full of things with hidden meanings, and a truck driving by with the logo of a moving company on the side would mean something, and random people kept showing up and their interactions would provide clues, and there were these two mysterious small children who were related to the plot in some way, and we had to solve puzzles and stuff. It was like a computer game!

Having these crazy dreams made me want to play more games! I'm trying not to get too many games because I'm not sure how much more poor old Megatron can support, even with the RAM upgrade we just gave him last weekend and also because I can see large amounts of my money mysteriously disappearing if I get into that. :-P But maybe I'll start making up games and playing them with my friends! I used to create simple word games and post them on here for us to play, but I haven't even done that in awhile. Maybe I'll start creating awesome games and you guys can play them with me! :-)

EDIT: OH ALSO I forgot to mention the biggest plot development in my life as of late, which is that I'm sick for the first time in over two years. :-( There was something nasty going around one of the areas where I worked last Wednesday, but I was pretty sure my body would take care of it and I wouldn't get sick. But Friday evening I started feeling sick all of a sudden and had to leave work. Ever since then, I have had a bad cold. :-( :-( I didn't have work yesterday, so I stayed in and rested, and then decided to take the day off work today too because I'm still contagious (I'll probably be contagious through tomorrow, but by Thursday I should be un-contagious) and I didn't want to jeopardize the health of my clients, some of whom are very medically fragile. I was really glad that I got sick when I did, though. First of all, my main client (J.) was headed off to camp for 2 weeks starting yesterday, so I'm hardly working at all these next 2 weeks. Second of all, my getting sick coincided EXACTLY with Noah coming to visit (he showed up appx. an hour and a half after I started feeling sick), so even though I am a pain in the butt to be around when I'm sick (I still have a whining problem) and it made it harder to have an awesome weekend, I did have someone to take care of me. :-) It was sad, though--I only had to leave work half an hour early (I was feeling sick all through work, but it wasn't until half an hour before I left that I decided I was too sick to continue), but when I got home I cried because J. was going to camp for 2 weeks and that day was my last chance to spend time with him before he left. I'm going to miss him! I'm feeling a bit better now, but it's kind of an up-and-down process. I'm taking today to get lots of rest and basically not do anything. :-)

The books! I have read them.

I've read some books lately that were worth commenting on, for various reasons.

Recently I read Lean On Pete by Willy Vlautin, which is in its simplest form a story about a young boy and a horse. It's a very, very dark story, and the boy (who is fifteen) goes through a series of very troubling adventures. You can tell right from the very beginning that Vlautin is not really looking for a heartwarming tale--he's one of those author's who's not afraid to go for the throat and do things like kill characters that other authors wouldn't. Though this wasn't mentioned in the book, I was reading it from the perspective of a schoolteacher. I was imagining what this boy would be like if he made it through all his traumatic experiences (I won't spoil it for you if you want to read it) what he would be like in the school system. It really drove home for me the fact that a lot of times we as teachers have no idea what circumstances our students come from. He could be a normal guy living with his aunt (the person he's trying to get to throughout this story) and playing football (his goal when he was in school), and we would never know the incredibly harrowing experiences he went through before he came to our classrooms. That was totally not the point of the book, but it was the biggest thing I took from it.

Then I read a short little book of music humor called The Wit of Music. Published in 1966, many of the humor seems like inside jokes from another time, and for that reason it is going on my "books to give away" pile. I did, however, quite enjoy this quote on piano playing from Artur Schnabel:

"Have I a secret about playing the piano? It is a very simple one. I sit down on the piano-stool and make myself comfortable--and I always make sure that the lid over the keyboard is open before I start to play."

What better secret could you ask for? :-P The other quote I particularly enjoyed has to do with the unwelcome "audience participation" that seems to so often occur at musical performances in the form of talking and things like that. Some of you may be familiar with the fact that this annoys me like crazy and drives me up the wall. Sometimes it's hard for me to attend performances because I get so annoyed with the audience members. So this quote by Leopold Stokowski is something I want to have printed in the program for every concert I ever perform:

"Painters paint on canvas. We paint our tone picture on silence. Only you can supply that."

Now I'm a few chapters into a great book called Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World. My parents have owned this book, about a couple who leave their conventional lives in the 1930s and start a homestead in the wilds of Vermont, and recently gave me their copy because I am interested in a reduced version of that same thing (growing my own food and being fairly self-sufficient). It's a really interesting read, and apart from lots of mentions about the Great Depression doesn't seem too terribly dated. I guess the techniques that they use stand the test of time.