Friday, September 21, 2012

Hi.

This has mostly become Wulfa's place as I've dropped off the face of the earth.

I'm struggling.

I have focused my efforts on improving myself and stretching myself past the boundaries of my previous efforts.  My goal is to be an excellent engineer and army officer while maintaining time for my family.

This isn't as easy as it sounds I guess.  Most of my problems are time management.  When I'm honest with myself I realize that I spend way too much time standing around talking or trying to multi-task and wasting my time... no substance, full of sound and fury but no teeth.

Every time I feel like I have advanced closer to my goal I immediately find myself in the same old failing place.

When I left my job to start this second college career I was in a bad, but blissfully unfeeling place.  I played video games a great deal more than I do now, and wasn't even really aware of how bad my health was.  I was in many ways a happy fat little goat chewing grass and unconcerned by anything outside of my pen.

Now I am in much better shape, a lot sharper on my knowledge and know I can go a LOT further on less sleep, time, food and money than I could back then.  Am I any happier?  In some ways yes, in others no.

At my old job me and Wulfa could go out to eat pretty much when we felt like it and after other than M-F 8-5 I was free to spend time with my family.  I owed no duty or time to anyone else and had no implied self study tasks.

Now I see Wulfa for maybe an hour each day during the week, and when I do I'm usually busy trying to get something done.  Our conversations are usually short, concise and consist of one of us giving the other one a list of things that need to be done.  When we have time to go on dates we feel guilty for asking her parents to watch the kids again as they already see the kids for 30-40 hours a week while Wulfa works full time and I try to finally get finished with this.

Am I better off?

Have I made the right decision?

Is it better to struggle for improvement or to contentedly watch life pass by from the porch?

Peace?  Or Passion?

The Great Coffee Experiment ....

... has failed in an epic way. You might remember that I was going to give up caffeine? I didn't even last one day, since my first day was a Friday and that's the day I allow myself to have one diet soda. We like Coke Zero, which has caffeine. The next day we went to the Farmer's Market and it just isn't right to perambulate around the festive stalls without a coffee in hand. Besides, my dad offered after I begged him to pay. Then on Sunday Damm and I went on a date and we went to the local used bookstore and how can one go to a bookstore without getting coffee? It just isn't right. Seeing as how everything I like to do has some sort of coffee ritual tied into it I threw in the towel.

All is not lost, however. I noticed that I don't feel well after two cups. It was an enlightening moment, and I decided to follow the guideline set by my body and limit myself to two cups, or at least not to continue drinking coffee when I start feeling slightly sick (because I have been known to do that). I have been doing really well on the tea side of things, however. I've got some tea rituals going as well. I like to brew two bags of green tea with one tablespoon of raw honey, pour it over ice and take a big jug with me to work. At night I drink two cups of spearmint tea (it's supposed to calm down hormonal acne). I'll even drink different kinds of tea throughout the day when I want something warm but don't want the caffeine. I'm quite proud of me, even if I do feel like a traitor to my former coffee-swigging self.

Of course you'll want an update on my face, which is the reason I decided to try ditching the caffeine in the first place. I recently upped my dosage of Evening Primrose Oil to 3000 mg from 500 mg since several sites recommended that dosage for acne (it's the high end of the recommended dosage on the bottle). Now, remember I'm not a trained professional so don't take EPO based on my advice. Ask your doctor, do your research etc. I'm fuzzy on whether females need to only take it during certain time periods; it's used as a fertility booster and it seems that it you take it after ovulating it could screw with something. I'm not sure what, I didn't really read through that part since I'm not trying to make myself fertile. I also have made an EXTREME effort to NOT TOUCH MY FACE. It's hard, really hard. I really dislike leaving the house looking like a hormonal teenager. I've noticed, though, that what experts say is true: if you don't touch your face the chance for spreading the acne love is greatly reduced. I have also, in addition to the not-touching and EPO, been leaving spot treatments of Aztec Healing Clay on overnight. I was concerned it would dry out my skin but so far so good and it really does work. I'm very pleased.

So, things are looking good. Hopefully soon I'll feel comfortable enough to start gravitating back towards a more natural skin care routine (I'm not really happy to be using Cetaphil but it's doing the job) and hopefully I can reduce the amount of vitamins I'm taking because my system won't be out of alignment. It probably would have been faster to go to a doctor and have tests done but I'm leery of doctors. I have yet to find one who doesn't want to put me on meds, and while I'm perfectly fine with taking meds if I really do need to I didn't feel this was a case of need to.

So, happy Friday everyone! And I can truly mean that since I can look forward to my two cups of coffee in the morning.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. On second thought, maybe not.

I used part of my vacation time to re-read some of Laura's books. I started with The Long Winter and found myself wanting to be back in that time period. They grew everything themselves, worked hard, played hard and knew the value of family (at least according to Laura). I read These Happy Golden Years and found myself really wanting to be a pioneer girl.

Then.

I read what happened to Laura's family after The First Four Years, and it isn't pretty. Mary never married and lived with her parents until their death and then lived with her sisters until her death. After a short stint in De Smet (after the events in The First Four Years and a disastrous stay in Florida) Laura and Almanzo moved to Missouri and it seems like they didn't have the chance to see her family again (at least according to Google, that's as deep as my research went). They had only the one child and she never had living children; she did have a son but he died soon after birth and it devastated her. Carrie married late in life, no children; Grace married earlier in life but also had no children. Ma and Pa Ingalls stayed in De Smet, South Dakota but never became prosperous farmers. He did various jobs around town, and although it seems like he was highly respected they were not well off. Only Laura and Almanzo seemed to gain a measure of prosperity and it was years into their marriage; the Great Depression later wiped out their savings. They did retain property and then Laura's books began to sell, giving them a steady source of income. *I am not footnoting. You can find this information on Google simply by googling it.

Ok, it doesn't sound quite as sad when I write it down but it was sad when I was Googling everyone. They seemed so close and then everyone went so far away and endured so many personal tragedies. I also think that Mary probably wouldn't have gone blind if she had lived in our modern age and maybe the Ingall's little boy wouldn't have died (he lived to be nine months old and was born between Carrie and Grace).

So.

No, I don't want to be a pioneer girl. When you left family you frequently left for good and I don't think I could stand that. The life was hard and fraught with uncontrollable variables. There was a good chance part of your family would die, either in childbirth/infancy or just around the farm. Yes, they were self-sufficient but at what cost? What understanding could they have of the wider world? What books did they have access to? Is subsistence living, as described by Laura, really a good thing to long for? No, I don't think it is, and I bet Ma and Pa Ingalls wished their girls had had a better shot at life. It seems Laura didn't want to live the farmer's life, didn't want to become her mother. Rose, her daughter (sorry if you're confused by the characters, but really, you haven't read these books?) went even further and became a world traveler with plenty of money.

And with that, please note that one of my childhood bubbles has been popped. I always did think of Laura's life as perfectly lovely, and now I see just how hard it was. Maybe I shouldn't re-read anymore childhood favorites, I'll completely disillusion myself.