I am grateful — Thanksgiving 2010

I don’t know why the spacing on this post is all screwed up. Possibly b/c I cut and pasted this from my FB blog? I dunno, but I haven’t been able to fix it despite fiddling for an hour. grrr.

I am grateful for these things every day. Not in the abstract, non-acknowledging way, but in a visceral, amazed sort of way. Every day, I look at my life and realize how lucky I am. 

I am grateful for my husband. John is the most amazing person I know. He’s intelligent, thoughtful, loving, generous, and kind. More than that, he has a quirky, slightly morbid sense of humor, he’s light-hearted, he’s socially conscious, and he’s ethical and moral. Best of all, many of our interests overlap and/or align, and wonder of wonders, our ethics and morals align. When we met and married, it was in a highly religious, conservative environment — but somehow, over the years, we traveled separate paths to the same ethics and value-based conclusions.

I am grateful for my son. Kidling is curious, bright, and clever. He’s loving and affectionate and feels things deeply. He shares my love of books and will frequently borrow my books and discuss the plots with me. He’s generally obedient, well-mannered, and well-behaved. He also has an impressively large vocabulary that often makes me laugh out loud in surprise.

I am grateful I have friends who both share my values and challenge my beliefs. I have been lucky enough to bond with people who share and support my spiritual, social, and political values. I have also been lucky enough to bond with people who do not agree with my attitudes in one or more of these spheres, but value our friendship enough to agree to disagree. We treat each other (generally) with respect and affection, and I feel incredibly grateful to have such open-minded, wonderful people in my life.

I am grateful I have a job. I enjoy my co-workers, I find my work challenging and interesting, and I love feeling I am contributing to our household. I feel more content, useful, and happy. 

I am grateful that my husband has a job. He has supported our family for nearly a decade on a single income. He works at a company that values their employees, and as a result he is in a well-paying, physically challenging position with great benefits. I am so grateful for his dedication to his family and his strong work ethic.

I am grateful I live in a modern era, where women have rights and I can see sexism, racism and homophobia swiftly fading in our culture. When I study the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and imagine how it would be to live in a time when women had no rights, I feel profoundly grateful that today’s feminists fight for improved rights, not basic rights. As a female in our time and culture, I can vote, work, keep my wages, marry/divorce who I choose, and determine not just how many (or if!) children I have, but how I want to raise them.  

I am grateful for my siblings and the generosity and respect they show me and mine, even when we disagree. I am so grateful to have a family that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, will always support me and love me. Even when they disagree with me, they respect my right to live my life as I see fit. Maybe sometimes they don’t talk to me for a bit, but I have never encountered active interference or prolonged judgment from my family, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

I am grateful for healthy food that is readily accessible and fresh. I think it’s a beautiful thing that we have access to all sorts of foods from all over the world, and I am so amazed by the plentiful bounty that is only a short walk away. I think about my ancestors, for whom the obtaining, storing, and preparation of food was a daily stress, and I am so grateful for the advances in technology that have made all our lives easier. I find it wonderful and amusing and brilliant that where once, every family had to own farm animals, now chickens, rabbits, goats, and even cows and horses have crossed into the realm of useful companions for many people. Much like gardening, sewing and quilting — activities once considered daily drudgery necessary to life are now practiced as amusements. I find this amazing and wonderful.

I am grateful for indoor plumbing, indoor heating, and garbage service. It is still amazing to me that these basic tenets of everyday life were still uncommon just one century ago. Only a hundred years — a blink of an eye, historically, and yet . . . here we are. This is incredible, and a daily stunning realization.

I am grateful for free public schooling and a minimum social standard of education. It may not be the ideal , but it’s a good starting place and better than nothing. Isn’t it beautiful that we have all the knowledge we desire to seek at our fingertips? Isn’t it wonderful that schools, whether intentionally or not, provide the questions for which we can independently seek answers? I think it’s so brilliant that the majority of the population can read — that being literate is considered such a basic right, we as a society now react to illiteracy as ones of the proofs of neglect.

I am grateful for brave men and women who have fought and died and still fight and die so we can enjoy these wonderful things. Not just brave soldiers, marines, and sailors — but those brave women who protested for our freedom and forwarded feminist, civil, and homosexual rights. I am grateful for the unsung heroes, those millions of people who lived and preached and died for social rights and equality, and whether or not they were known on a large scale, they opened minds on a small scale. 

I am grateful for books, literature, poetry, art, music and film. They are the sum and history of human endeavor. Our spirit, our dreams, our hopes, our fears — all collected and widely distributed so that all can wonder at beautiful, dark, wondrous and meandering path of humankind.

I am grateful for science and technology and the wonderful bounties it bestows on us. Even though internet and personal computers entered my household in 1990’s, after I had lived a perfectly happy decade without them, I can’t comprehend my world without computers now. I love the connectivity, the access to information, the brilliance and beauty and chaos of knowledge and entertainment all co-mingled and tossed together. I love the seething dark mass of intelligence juxtaposed with idiocy. And that’s just on a personal level — on a scientific and wider social level, I am amazed at the advancements, the grassroots campaigns, and the discoveries that are perpetuated and disseminated via computers.

I am grateful to our collective ancestors for fighting and striving and dreaming and inventing so that collectively, we would have a better life than them. And I am grateful for the brave visionaries who continue to fight, strive, dream, and invent so that our children and our children’s children will have an even brighter future.

jobs and retirement

I’m really excited about my job, now. Some of the minor concerns I had have been adequately addressed, and I now feel really enthusiastic and motivated. I mean, I love the actual position (writing!), and I love the satisfying realization that I perform my duties on not simply an average level, but in such a manner that I am considered something of an expert. I love the company atmosphere and my co-workers, and I’m just super-pleased with the entire situation.

Moreover, we had a meeting yesterday with the owner of the company, who was talking about how to succeed in the workplace. She mentioned some things the company will be later implementing, like the opportunity to take classes and become certified in Word, Microsoft Programming, and other programs. Oh my gosh, I was so flipping excited when she said that. How awesome is that? I know! I’m so excited to be with this company for at least 10 years.

J and I figure in 10 years or so, we’ll both retire. We’ll be about 40, and the Kidling will be grown and graduated high school. Kidling can either come with us or go to college, whatever he decides — but we’re selling the house and hitting the road for a nationwide motorcycle tour. We’ll keep family and friends updated through a blog that will link to FB, foursquare, and Twitter. J actually came up with a fantastic name for the blog/trip the other day, but I forgot to write it down and it’s completely slipped my mind.

We’re super excited, though. J is researching touring motorcycles, trying to decide exactly what he wants. I, on the other, am researching backpacking camping gear and motorcycle luggage — I figure since backpacking gear is intended to be compact and lightweight, it’ll fit on the bikes more easily, not throw off our balance, and still provide us with all the necessities. J’s looking at routes — I’m advocating a year-long summer route, ie, staying in the warm and dry whenever possible. We’ll probably try and trek through Canada and Mexico, too, so we’ll need to get passports. Luckily we have 10 years to plan!


I don’t post much here. It’s funny, I love to write, but I’m not very fond of blogging. Actually, to be entirely accurate, I’m not very fond of the reaction to my blogging. Specifically from family members.

I mean, I’m comfortable writing. The written word is a familiar and wonderful friend to me. It’s therapy and entertainment and music, all wrapped up in one. But because I’m so comfortable with it, and so comforted by it, I sometimes write out of turn. I vent about things that bother me, or I muse on things that make other people uncomfortable.

The end result is that I’ve had a couple (two, specifically) incidents with my blogs in the past — blogs I believed none of my family members knew about, blogs that were not in my name or connected to my social networks — where my family members (in-laws and immediate) had searched them out and my words basically created a bit of tension.

The first time, I just made all the offensive entries private and apologized to my family for offending them. My siblings are pretty cool, and it all blew over. That’s what I’m used to. I’m used to being able to discuss things openly and honestly, which was how my family was raised. I’m used to being able to say, “Okay, I didn’t mean to offend you and I’m sorry. Can we agree to disagree?”

I’m used to being called on it when I hurt somebody’s feelings, and having the right to call my family on it. I’m used to being able to call up maybe my sister or brother or parent and being able to talk out our disagreements. We don’t always get to it immediately, and I suspect part of the reason is because we’re trying to find the gentlest, most reasonable way of phrasing our complaint without creating more tension.
But that’s not why I stopped blogging. It was the second time, with a different topic and different bit of the family. I didn’t even realize they had my blog address; they had always seemed so disinterested in me that the fact they were following my blog was probably the biggest surprise of that episode. I was venting about something in particular, I forget what now, and managed to cause a significant amount of tension. When I realized what was happening, I made the offensive entry private (which I should have done to begin with), but someone had already cut & copied the text onto their private computer and was disseminating it to keep the issue alive.

Since then, I no longer feel comfortable writing on blogs. I try to remember to keep potentially inflammatory entries private, but the truth is, I’m just not used to editing myself. That wasn’t the atmosphere I grew up in, and it’s not the atmosphere I live in. And, unfortunately, I pretty much have to edit myself significantly around some family members.

My husband and I are left-leaning atheists who have a somewhat permissive parenting philosophy when compared to some of our other relations. It’s not hugely permissive, but it’s definitely not, “Here’s the rule, if you break it you get punished,” style. He has limits (8 pm bedtime, eat 3 bites of everything on your plate before leaving the table, do your homework and chores after school), and gets rewards when he does well. When he doesn’t, he loses privileges. Actually pretty common parenting style, from what I gather.

But many — actually, all — of our family members, on both sides, are right-leaning (and in one or two cases, hard-core tea-partiers) and church-going. And I don’t honestly think the basics of our parenting styles are that different, but it’s funny how uptight people can get at any perceived slight to their parenting style, even if it’s just that other people don’t do it your way.

I’m not immune to that, either. I notice slights to my parenting, little hints that people think I’m too permissive, or that I don’t love my family, or that I’m neglectful. I hear the subtle little insults and try to brush them off, because I know that the people who matter (my husband and my son) think I’m doing an awesome job. But it’s difficult, and believe me, there are pages and pages of therapeutic writing on my computer.

Anyway, that’s why I don’t blog often.  Because I’m afraid of once again, saying something that insults someone I love.  I don’t really care if a stranger takes issue with my words, because I don’t have to deal with a stranger on a weekly basis for the rest of my life. When a family member takes issue with my words, it basically comes down to me defending my position time after time and them thinking I hate them because I have different values and beliefs. It gets headachey and irritating and old, and it’s easier just to smile and nod and not make waves.

So then I try and think of topics I can blog about, because the entire point of this stupid blog is to keep family up-to-date on what we’re up to. But I don’t want it to be a place of tension or a cause of arguments, so I pretty much can’t talk about anything, since almost everything J and I value and practice in our lives is diametrically opposed to the values and practices of other family members.

I’m not exaggerating. Everything. From the way we look at parenting, god, war, and politics to the way we view video games, soda pop, and eating. Everything.