Friday, January 25, 2013

I'm still alive but I'm barely breathing

Okay, okay, I know it sounds dramatic, but this week has been hard! It's not even Saturday and I'm already exhausted. I only had class Wednesday and Thursday, too! Gosh. Wednesday I had my spanish Topics class, where we'll be reading some plays and I need to do a lot of reading for Monday. I also had my special ed class wednesday night for 2.5 hours, but I only have it once a week and that's why it's so long. I need to do 40 hours of observation for that but I already talked to the professor and she said I can do it at the end of the semester. It's so much more worth it to do it then than to stress over it during the semester. Thursday I had my anthropology of women class, and I'd had the same professor last semester and she's amazing and I'm very excited.  We're doing a group project though, which is going to take a while and I'm sure be stressful. For my topics class we also need to do a presentation (or two, I'm not sure if it's just one) and we have papers to write as well. Also on Thursday I have phonetics of spanish and I know the people in the class, but not well. I also don't have the book, although I ordered it on Thursday, but I have homework due tuesday and the book isn't estimated to arrive until wednesday. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I also have my creative techniques education class on thursday and -- SURPRISE! Another group project, plus homework - HOMEWORK - for every class or almost every. 

Oh, my God.

However, I also....

PASSED MY EARLY CHILDHOOD MTEL!!!!  It is such a relief off of my shoulders and now I can continue on and take my final one that I need to get admitted into the education program. It's a hassle, and an expensive one at that. But hey - I PASSED!!

My friend went to Kuwait over the break because she has family there and she got me a beautiful scarf and blue Islamic prayer beads which are soooo pretty. They're for counting the number of times you say Thank God, Praise God, or God is great a day. So thoughtful and touching and just very wonderful. She also got me a keychain from Canada, where her friend got married. She also offered me the opportunity to come with her to Kuwait next winter for two weeks! Her parents said they would provide me with everything as long as I paid for my own plane ticket. WHATTTTT. I am totally going; I cannot wait!!

This is going to be a busy semester. I definitely won't be able to update every day but I'll do my best to do it as much as possible. The Interfaith Movement is going to have some wonderful activities this semester and the first meeting is coming up February 4th. I'm so nervous and excited to see how it goes!!


Love and peace,
K
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dear Ex-Romeo

Dear Ex-Romeo,

I dated you for a 15 months which to date has been the longest relationship of my life. It is only by my own merit that I'm in a stable, loving relationship now with someone who cares about me and doesn't treat me like shit. Yeah, NO THANKS TO YOU. 

I was messed up after we (actually, you - but we both knew it was coming) broke up and once we were done, I had so many feelings. I was relieved and sad and heartbroken all at the same time. I was in pieces. Anxious pieces and I didn't know what to do.

I don't know. Maybe I've always had anxiety. Probably. I wouldn't put it past my family life. But I've never had an anxiety attack before we started dating. I've never cried so much in all my life as when we were dating. I never knew what it was like to feel like I was crazy and that it was MY FAULT before we were dating. So yeah, that was ALL YOU, my friend. I'd like to say a huge screw you for that.

Oh, I shouldn't be angry? Guess what. I've spent the last three years telling myself that it's okay, that we're fine and that I don't resent you. Actually, I do. I really really do. I told you I didn't hate you for your benefit so you wouldn't beat yourself up. Truth be told, I don't hate you. I have some unresolved emotions regarding how I feel about our relationship, but I don't hate you.

After we broke up, I thought that I should defend you but I soon realized that you didn't want to be vouched for. You liked being alone, and I realized that THAT wasn't my fault. We were never meant to be together because you just like solitude too much. Well, you'll probably die young because it's been proven that loneliness is just as harmful as physical pain and causes much stress. I don't want to you to die young, this is just a plea to get your goddamn life together oh and, GET A LIFE TO BEGIN WITH. 

I'm not trying to be mean. I'm just angry. I'm angry at you for being mean to me, even if you didn't mean to. I'm angry that I was mean to you and made you feel like shit sometimes. I'm angry that we played off each other and basically just mutally destroyed our relationship. I'm angry that I have trust issues and keep comparing my current boyfriend to you because I don't want him to be like you. I'm angry because I'm scared that he and I are going to end up like you and me. I'm angry because I hated that you didn't know how to deal with my anxiety better. I'm angry that you had your own issues. I'm angry that you're pretentious and think that you know everything and made me feel like I was an idiot and I'm angry that I NEVER WON AN ARGUMENT. I'm angry that you dropped out of school. I'm angry because your family is nice and I wish I was in contact with them more. I'm angry that I have regrets about our relationship. I'm angry that I got so mad that I hit you that one time and if I ever moved suddenly after that you cringed. I'm angry that I'm afraid that I'm going to turn into my dad and that didn't do anything. I'm angry that I couldn't control my anger better. I'm angry that you didn't know how to help me when I felt like nothing was ever going to get better. I'm angry that you made me cry. I'm angry that you are the most evil arguer ever and made me cry for an entire DAY. I'm also angry that I didn't get this out sooner.

I'm mad at myself for a lot of reasons. I'm mad that I hit you that one time and that I couldn't control myself. I'm sorry. I really am. I just got so frustrated that our relationship was failing and that I didn't feel good about myself and that you made me feel like crap. I just didn't know how to release my anger. I know that I'll always have to live with that. 

I know that I'm not totally blameless. I made you feel bad about some things, especially that time when you asked me if I wore a sports bra to the gym like some girls do, without a t-shirt over it and I said no, because I'm fat. I know I made you feel stupid and regret asking that question, and I'm sorry. That was mean of me to answer you in that way. I like to think that I'm a better communicator now. 

One of the biggest things I was angry about was that I blamed myself for our relationship ending. Was it anyone's fault? I want to blame you fully but I know I can't do that. I played a part in it too. It was freshman year, I just...didn't know what to do. I didn't know who I was, and it seems like you still don't know who you are. I can't believe you quit school. I hope you get it together someday man, I really do. I was learning who I was and dealing with anxiety and butterflies and crying almost every single day was too much for me. Every day it was something else and I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle. Every day I saw our relationship deteriorate more and more and no amount of talking would make that better. Eventually you and I slept with our backs facing each other on the bed and it was only in the early morning when we were half asleep that I'd try to snuggle up next to you to just get a touch and maybe a hope that we'd be ok if we just cuddled on the bed; that maybe things would go back to normal. 

Neither one of us wanted to be the first ones to break it off but I'm glad that you did. I wouldn't have and then I would have been unhappy. I don't even remember what we said that day to each other, only that you gave me a bag of m&m's that you got and it was wrapped in plastic with gold ribbon and you told me I needed it more than you did. You were right. I ate that chocolate and enjoyed it. I was tired of you getting mad at stupid things and trying to hide yourself from the world. I hate Pink Floyd. I think 4chan is stupid. I hate that you try to make yourself feel better by trolling on the internet and making fun of people for your own benefit. The only thing I really liked about you was your family and your dog. I missed the dog more than you, honestly.

All of this has been angry so far. I miss us laughing and laughing and I loved that we both agreed that british humor was by far the best. Our online conversations before we started dating were the highlight of my senior year, I hope you know that. You made me laugh, a lot. The first few months of us dating were good. It was nice to come over your house on summer afternoons and hang out and I liked all the Irish food that your mom made! I liked the family atmosphere of the house. I liked your hair, and the way your nose turns up at the end. 

Now that I think about it though, I know that we were never meant to be. I don't really miss aspects of our relationship because most of it was just self destructive. I loved hanging out at your house though, with your mom and sister and nikko. I just wish that it wasn't diluted with worry and anxiety most of the time. If I can't recall a good thing about our relationship, well - it probably wasn't good.

I hope that someday I'll be able to totally forgive you. It'll be hard. I hope that I eventually totally trust my current boyfriend. I hope that I'll overcome anxiety fully, and that you will too someday. I hope you finish your college degree and I really hope that you make some good friends. I know it sounds morbid, but I just have this image of you passing away someday and no one coming to your funeral. I hope that doesn't happen. I don't want it to happen, because no one deserves to die alone feeling like they aren't loved. I loved you, and I'm sorry if I ever hurt you or let you down in some way. I'm sorry if I ever caused you grief or pain or heartache. I hope you can forgive me, if you haven't already. I know you feel terribly about what happened and you know you didn't treat me well. I'll work on forgiving you, for real. I hope you stay well and that you are happy in your life. In some ways, I will always love you, although it's not romantic anymore. You were my first "real" boyfriend and for that, I thank you. It was definitely an experience and I don't think you ever really stop loving someone. I love you in the way that I care for your well-being and have hope your future and that it is better than your past. It will never be romantic and I will never wish that we could give it another try or that it were different. It is what it is, and here we are, living our seperate lives. Maybe I think about us more than you do. Is that weird? It's hard because I find that many of my issues from our relationship come up in my current one and I just wish that I could let it go

Maybe someday. 


Love,
Karen. 
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Monday, January 14, 2013

That Me to We Life, man...

I am tired. I am so tired that I considered not writing tonight but I want to stay in the habit so I did.

So yeah, as you all (whomever you are who reads  my blog) know, this past week sucked and the weekend started off pretty well, although my mom and I got into a shouting match yesterday over - wait for it - cookies.

My neighbors had to put their down down this past Friday and it's taken a toll on all of them, especially the mother. She's had Dwight from the very beginning and the middle child, Ellie, is also taking it particularly hard. So I asked my mom if we could bake cookies for them and she agreed, although she doesn't like spending the extra money on cookie mix. I know we're on a tight budget, but three extra bucks isn't going to break the bank.

Later that evening we were talking and I mentioned that we have neighbors that moved here last year and we don't even know them. Now, I might be young but I'm old school in some aspects, one of which is being neighborly and introducing yourself to your neighbor. I am also fairly shy when it comes to those things, so work that one out. But hey, I think I shared with you all that one of my goals is to start to live more "Me to We", and a nice gesture can be bringing cookies to a neighbor to start a feeling of community. 

Well, my mom flipped. She said that she doens't have the money to be baking cookies right and left (although we have cookies almost every week or every few days) and when I suggested that maybe we could use one of our mixes and use it for the "new" neighbors she said, Karen, I was walking down the street and I waved to them and they didn't wave back so why would I bother doing something nice for people that don't even wave back?

There are so many things wrong with that sentance that I don't even know where to begin. So because someone didn't wave back or was maybe caught off guard by it, you're not even going to TRY again to be nice?? Who knows, maybe they were having an off day. Maybe they didn't know we were their neighbors. Maybe they're shy. I DON'T KNOW. The fact of the matter is, is that just because of ONE EVENT you don't just cut off all niceities and hold a grudge.

My mother is very grudge oriented and has a very hard time letting things go. She's still mad at the lunch lady from when I was seven for not letting me get lunch because I'd forgot my money. I turned out ok, I think. I try to live and let live as best as I can and I really, REALLY want to start living Me to We. Woman, why are you ruining my groove??? Seriously.

I also posted a status on facebook a week or so ago asking people to like my status and I'd do a random act of kindness. I got 11 likes, so I guess I'd better get cracking! The cookies are one of the acts. I guess volunteering is another! Heyyy, that's two so far! :)

Also, I know it's not much to complain about, but the internet at my house has been SO SLOW. And for someone who watches a LOT, a lot a lot of online tv, it's been hell hahaha. Well, school on Sunday!! 

I gotta go make my lunch for tomorrow. 
Cheers!

K xx
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

All that world change, yo...

I am TIRED. So tired! I volunteered today working on the revamping of the inside of a transition home for women. It looks great and they're hoping to get it open by the end of January or sometime in February. I really cannot wait, and I hope I can volunteer at the home, too.

So yeah, I painted the downstairs bedroom with a woman and then I cleaned some windows and then I worked outside, trimming some bushes. It was hard work, but the painting was the best part especially because it was purple - my favorite color!

Coming back home with the woman who gave me a ride there, we had to stop at Home Depot so she could pick up some stain for a piece of furniture and that gave me the opportunity to pick up some paint swatches thingies of all the different colors in that group. I would LOVE to paint the living room or my bedroom, or both!! Too bad paint is like $25 a gallon -_- I also am probably going to move out in a year or so to live with my boyfriend and as it is now I'm only at home over vacations so it's like, what's the point? However, it would be nice to redo the room anyway in case my mom decides to use it after I move out. And I'm also living in my room for three months over the summer so it's not like it'd totally go to waste...

But it's been a long day, anyway. It felt great to volunteer and start living "Me to We". I'm also almost done with my observation hours, so I'm going up to the house again on Thursday and maybe on Saturday again! There's definitely a lot that needs to be done and there are also people who volunteer there every day. I have confidence it can be done!! I can't wait to go back there after it's all finished and see the final product :)

This week has seriously been so crappy just with anxiety and everything but I do feel better today. It was nice to get out of the house and not worry about anything but the paint or the plants or what have you. I needed it! Even though I'm exhausted, I feel enlivened on the inside!

Love,
Karen xx
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

I picked you people over Tetris

Let me tell you, that's a sacrifice.

I've been having some anxiety issues lately. I do so well for a while and then when I'm at home over breaks I just get super anxious because I don't have enough to occupy my mind.

I've never been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, but I know I have at least some form of it, and I probably get some from my mom. I don't know if it's inherited or made socially, all I know is that my tummy gets all wibbly-wobbly and I think bad thoughts and I make a big thing out of little problems and issues from my past creep up.

It sucks. Majorly.

When I first started to get really anxious, I was in my senior year of high school into my freshman year of college. The guy I was dating at the time didn't react well to my anxiety since he had it as well and I don't think he intended to, but he made me feel like I was crazy and for a while, I thought I was. After he and I broke up, I seriously just wanted to go live in a convent with some nuns in the french mountains and never speak to boys again. I wish I were joking, but there were days when I seriously considered it. But day by day and year by year, I'm learning to live with it.

So yeah, this past week or few days have kind of sucked because literally everything has been making me anxious. I'm not really sure of the source of my anxiety, but I suppose it has something to do with not being in control and emphasizing the negative instead of the positive. It's also been hard at home, I think, where my mom doesn't look for a job and instead uses her trash mouth on online Backgammon. When I told her to be quieter for the third time today, she told me to shut up. So that was fun. 

Some days I just want to be like FUCK YOU ALL. I don't know, I'm not an angry person but I'm only human and have my limits to attitude, stupidity, and shallowness. 

I went over my friend's house today and she's a very sweet girl, but she doesn't question issues the way Tony and I do. Even though Tony questioning everything annoys the crap out of me sometimes (sorry darling), I never realized how much I appreciate it until I'm with someone who just...accepts things. 

Today my friend and I were talking about having kids. I always wanted to have kids, until I met Tony and he and I discussed what we would do. If we do decide to have children, we're going to adopt because in my opinion, every child should have a loving home. Also, I know it's cliche, but there really is an overpopulation of the planet. Tony would ask me why, why people feel the need to have children, what the point of it is, and so on and so forth and what basically happens is that he makes me question and then I can decide for myself. The questions are so legit though, that it makes my opinion change haha. 

But I was talking to my friend about this and I told her I had been questioning the reason behind kids, and she didn't get it. She thought I was talking about why couples have kids, which is part of it but I mean the really BIG WHY. And when I said that, she said I was overthinking things. I texted Tony about it, and he said that "people use the word overthink when they aren't doing any thinking." Honestly, I'm inclined to agree. Not that my friend isn't smart or doesn't think, but it seemed like the question of why was just too big for her to handle.

Am I really strange for being able to question? For being able to think outside the box? My mom told me to do it for years, I guess I am now.

Not to mention to top my fury off, we watched Miss Congeniality which was funny when I was 11 but now I think it's totally sexist and just...not good.


Whatever, you know? I'm done for the night.

-K
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Grateful Dead

No, not the band.

I was being very smart and making an allegory - sometimes I can be very witty and think up creative titles. Why I can't do it for my papers or for a username or whatever else, I don't know. I suppose my creativity is unleashed or something.

I'll tell you what, it is nice to just type to get my thoughts out and not have to write a paper or in a spiritual journal or do some type of reflection or assignment. I like just writing and as I said in my first post, although I don't get into things that are too personal on here, they are personal enough that I feel better when I'm done typing. These posts are just what's been going through my mind, and you all (if anyone besides Tony even reads this...heh) get a glimpse into my life and my thoughts, which I think is cool.

So yeah. The grateful dead. 

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude, and there was even a question on my MTEL (teaching test for Massachusetts). I am a firm believer in being grateful for what you have, because there is always someone much worse in the world. I don't say this to make anyone feel bad, although it's usually used on small children to help them be empathetic. That's fine, I guess, but I use it with the purpose of spreading awareness and understanding that there are people who fight to live every single day. There are people dying from hunger, from pollution, from terrible working conditions - daily. I don't know about you, but it absolutely appals me. 

But what gets me is that a lot of the time, their terrible working conditions, poverty, and hunger are caused bu us. What? You may ask. No way.  

Yes way. Not in all cases, of course. Some countries are just terribly impoverished due to a number of factors: corrupt politicians, a lack of monetary aid, the climate surrounding the country, and so on. These are all factors that go into poverty, starvation, and disease, and many major countries take advantage of this and tell the leader of a poor country "Hey, we'll give you this money if you give us some land and let us build a factory (plantation, etc) and employ your people." It sounds great, but works terribly. The only reason they move to a third world country is because it's cheaper than having a factory here. And people complain about not enough American goods! So usually the governments will take the land away from either farmers or indigenous people who have had it for thousands of years, thrusting them into desperation as the land was their source of livelihood, and then they are forced to work at the American factories or other sources of industry for terrible pay and living conditions. 

And usually their lives are worse than they were before. It's easy for us to exploit people when all they are to us is a source of income. 

So here I am, in my house, eating my food, wearing my clothes, and it's hard not to think of the people who might be starving or wearing rags to give me what I have. It's depressing, really, and I'm not sure what to do about it. Practically everything I wear and eat at my house isn't fair trade (except for my coffee) and it's really hard. I don't know. It's just difficult to live with the knowledge of what really goes on in the world, and I don't know how people do it. 
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Cloudy with a chance of sexism

Not by me, of course.

You know, I do like to think of my family members in a good light as best I can, but as I get older I realize that they are human just like the rest of us. 

When I was younger I used to take everything they said personally -- for whatever reason, my family is very focused on appearance and it used to reflect on me. My grandmother, God rest her soul, was always very critical of what I wore and if I asked her if something looked okay, she'd either give me a backhanded compliment or a criticism. My uncle Mike...well, we'll talk about him later. My uncle Paul (whom I will be focusing on in this particular entry) would make comments about people being un-attractive or attractive, and my mother thinks fat people are disgusting. 

Let's start with my mother. Growing up, I was overweight and still am although I am changing my lifestyle bit by bit to be a healthy one. I remember for one of my dancing pictures she made me suck in my tummy so I would "look good". I was never happy in dance class because I was bigger than the other girls. Whenever she saw a fat person on the bus, train station, etc, or someone on the news like Honey Boo Boo's mother (that one was recent), she would call them gross or disgusting. So I not only despised my own weight, but the weight and appearance of others.

My uncle Mike is sexist in a different way, and it's mostly because of religion. The gender roles in my house are very segregated, and my mom and I usually end up in the kitchen while my uncles wait for the food. Now, I don't mind cooking, I really don't. I'm also pretty sure that the reason that we cook is because Mikie can't - he can barely use the microwave - and Paul's idea of cooking is making chicken plain or having a TV dinner. 

When I asked Mikie what he thought about me covering my hair or just hair covering in general, he thought it was great because hair, to him, is attractive and covering it would save HIM the distraction of being turned on by it (in so many words, of course). Not for me also, because that would be creepy, but just in general.

But, um, EXCUSE YOU. A woman covering her hair doesn't do it for a MAN. I can't generalize, of course, but usually a woman who wears hijab does it for herself and her own empowerment. She chooses what she wants to reveal or cover and that in itself is empowerment. And that is where my uncle Mike has it wrong.

Now, my uncle Paul. He's kind of like a dad to me and taught me almost everything growing up: how to tie shoes, how to ride a bike, to rollerskate, ski, and to drive. He gave me punching lessons when my (now non violent) friend Jamie was being a bitch in camp when I was 10. So you get the idea. A dad. Cool. But he is also terribly sexist, and although I didn't want to believe my mom when she used to tell me, I've come to my own opinion that yes, he is a bit.

Tonight after dinner we had a small conversation that sparked this whole journal entry. Who knew my life was so blog worthy, eh? Me either. He came to my room and we were chatting about old actresses and he said that one of them "had a face like a truck". I responded with "No, all women are beautiful" and he said that "no, some are just ugly". He also made mention that if there were two Karen's in an interview and one of me was "pretty" and one was "ugly" then the pretty one would get the job. Firstly, that's impossible, and secondly, if there were two me's then I would both get the job because let's face it: I'm awesome. Also, maybe I could get a job based on, oh, I don't know, my merit instead of my looks?

I know that some people do focus on looks when hiring. For example, the modeling industry. Or acting. Both of these examples shouldn't, but they do. And while it is true that ageism and sexism are both prevalent in some offices, it doesn't mean that this is the case everywhere and it certianly doesn't mean it's right. I am also going to go into an industry where my looks are not a factor, nor should they ever be. I also plan on wearing a headscarf one day, so the people who inteview me have to be faced with my actions and my accomplishments instead of my hair, cleavage, or makeup. 

My uncle Paul also said that being taller also helps women get jobs. Well, I'm 4'11 so I guess that means I'm never going to be hired then. He said "well, you can just wear heels then." Oh, I can? Sure, lemme just pull my stilettos out of the closet to please you. A year ago, I would have worn heels. In fact, just last March I wore heels to my observation hours in an elementary school and let me tell you, it was a terrible, terrible mistake. This winter break I'm doing observations again and (OH DEAR LORD, WHAT A TRAVESTY!!) - I'm wearing jeans *le gasp*. Since dating my boyfriend, who is a lovely lovely person and very smart in many ways, he's convinced me that wearing heels is not a way to go. First off, they hurt. Secondly, they cause major leg, hip, and back problems. Third, they were invented by a man to make a woman look good. They are also very common for fetishes, but that doesn't go in to why I don't wear them.

I have realized, with some help, that I don't have to be a slave to the fashion industry and the media telling me that I'm not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, or that I don't wear enough makeup. The fashion industry, who's top execs are men telling girls what to wear or not wear to make them look pretty. Look at who owns the top magazines - Vogue/Teen Vogue, 17, Cosmo, etc etc etc. Men. 

Okay, before you get any assumptions, let me assure you that I am not a man  hater. I really am not, despite what you might think because of my rant. I am simply stating that it is the opposite sex telling women what looks good while I personally think that women, if they had no previous disposition or had never read a fashion magazine in their life, would choose to be comfortable instead of trendy. It's not the general male population's fault that much of media outlets are owned by men. I'm not on a crusade to hate or destroy men or say that they are all women haters, because I know that is so untrue. Men and women both can be a victim of what society thinks about the opposite sex. I know I was like that, and it can be hard to get rid of. It can be done, though. 

It should be the woman's choice to wear what they want, to be pretty how they want, to feel sexy how they want. There shouldn't be any outside influence

Unfortunately, there is, and I feel so liberated now that I'm not a part of it anymore. Growing up, I used to watch America's Next Top Model, the Tyra show, etc, and no one ever told me that it's okay to look like how I look like. It's okay to show my natural hair color. It's okay to wear T-shirts, jeans, and sneakers and NO HEELS. No one ever told me that makeup isn't only bad for me and the environment, but that I shouldn't have to wear it to feel confident. No one ever made me feel secure in myself, is what I'm getting at. I am now, thanks to my boyfriend and a few others. Mostly, I accredit it to myself. I can thank Tony for introducing me to the concepts but I was the one who listened, and for that, THANKS ME :)

So no, Paul, there is not one woman or man who is ugly. There is only society's definitions of ugly, which I see you have fallen prey to. For that, I pity you. It must suck to be a slave to society. 

I don't need heels or to be taller to get a job, and neither does any other woman. I can get a job based off of who I am and what I've done.

All people are beautiful, and all shine with a light from within. God made you. He/She/It made you perfectly. It is what you do that makes you, not what you look like. I can dwell comfortably in that now, and I hope that you can or will as well.

-Karen
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Sunday, January 6, 2013

"If ignorance is bliss, then count me out..."

This is something my boyfriend said to me after I told him about what I was thinking this morning. Here it is, are you ready?

How can I be grateful and appreciative of what I have when there are people who don't have anything in this world?

I know for some people this would make them even more appreciative of the thigns they have, but since I've learned a little bit about globalization and how the world works, it's very hard to NOT think about what goes in to our daily lives.

For example, today for breakfast I had coffee (fair trade, so no worries there), sugar in the coffee and cream, honey nut Cheerios cereal, some mango slices, and grapes. First of all, I am fortunate enough to not only have enough to eat, but a surplus of it. Every day that I go into my kitchen I think about how fortunate I am to not only have a kitchen, but have the choice of what I want to eat. 

Okay, so there's that. So let's talk about the sugar, hmm? It was Dominoes sugar, and they are absolutely not fair trade certified. They are also one of the largest sugar companies. So sugar cane is cut, often in searing hot weather, but in places where there are many poor people, so companies can take advantage of the fact that they could pay them as little as they wanted and yet the people would still take it because they are desperate. Sometimes people can end up in slavery because of this. So because my sugar that I put into my coffee isn't fair trade, that means I have no way of being sure that the people who grew, cut, and processed the sugar cane weren't exploited. Well, that makes me feel great, huh? 

Then my cereal. I won't go into detail about the ingredients of the cereal, but when I opened the large, family-sized box my uncle had gotten, I thought "how many children could this feed if they were starving?" Terrible, right? Not the fact that I thought about it, but the fact, the FACT that there are starvin children.

Now, my mango. Although I got it at a local market in Boston, the people there do not usually grow their own goods; they buy them and then sell them for a much lower price. So looking at the label of my mango, I see that it was a product of Ecuador. Alright, so let's see here. Going from my knowledge of Latin America, the government of most countries there are corrupt, if not very corrupt, and many also exploit their people (most of the times the indigenous population) by giving American and other European companies land so that they can use it for their companies. In terms of fruit, I would think that somewhat of the same process occurs, or that an American company buys out a local one or takes the land away from the farmers that were doing the work anyway, and re-employs them with terrible wages and working conditions. 

The governments of these countries feel that they are doing their country a service because they are getting paid for the land and so the money can go into the federal bank account or what ever other system they have. 

Even though I'm not entirely sure about the process that went into my mango, I can assume that because it is not fair trade or a product of a company that is, that there might have been people who were terribly paid, overworked, or that the company has a detrimental effect on the environment because of pesticides, which also hurt humans.

Wow, I know, right? And my grapes, I have absolutely no idea. 

So you see, I'm in a bit of a predicament. I want to feel grateful for what I have, I really do. And I AM. But at the same time, I am NOT grateful that the people who grew/made/produced the things that I have might have been exploited, in poverty, hungry, etc. And no, I do not know this for a fact. But, I have learned that although it is great to assume the best about large companies, there is usually something bad going on underneath the surface. The pattern of taking away land and selling it to a HUGE comapny in a country that has much poverty is extremely common. It happens all over the world, and as I write this, there is probably one such deal going on or at least being considered.

What do I do? It kind of sucks knowing that what I have was made at the expsnse of another, and am I ungrateful for thinking that is unacceptable? No, I don't think so. So, here is my predicament. If you, my friend, made it all the way down to here, I commend you, thank you for at least considering what I have to say, and appreciate you reading my posts. So for now, that is all.

Love,
Karen xx
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Saturday, January 5, 2013

What a relief!

So, my mom and I went to the bank this morning (I'm trying out new fonts, do you like? I quite like this one, it's much easier to read! Anyway...) and four out of my five fees got waived! The guy who helped me was so nice and I know I am very lucky. So, only (!!) $87 had to come out of my savings and my mom was very nice and put $20 in my account so I'm not at zero dollars. My uncle Mike was very gracious yesterday and when I told him what happened, he offered to help me if I needed it. So, my mom suggested that I could ask him for $90, the cost of what came out of my savings, and $50, for my phone bill next month, a grand total of $140. I was going to ask him but she got to him first today and he said he would. Yay! So, at least I'm not totally poor anymore. Well, yes I am, but I'm not in the red anymore. Whew!

I have to be really careful with what I spend now. I've never been overdrawn before recently and it is scary! I'm going to try to get another job on campus next semester and be more dilligent about putting money into my savings. I also want to be come an international orientation leader, which would be right before fall semester and spring semester next year, and when I get home from school I'm going to apply to become a sub for the school system which is great because it pays per session, basically.

I hung out with an old friend today, who I basically get to see twice a year because we're both in college and we watched the first Pirates of the Carribbean, the best one in my opinion. I'm going to eat dinner now, and then watch Jeopardy, have tea, watch 27 dresses and possibly crochet. I deserve a fantastic night in, dammit. We'll also see if I can get up (HA...HAHAHAHAHA) for church tomorrow at the Unitarian church a ways down the street for me. 10:30, we don't meet too often. I would love to go and check it out but just...setting an alarm...what a predicament, eh? May that be the least of my problems.

Very grateful for the good things that happened today! And now, dinner. I am also grateful for the food I have to eat.

Love,
Karen xx :)
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Guten Morgen! No, wait. Um...Buenas tardes? Nope, that's not right either. I guess I'll have to pull out my evil villan voice and just say "Good Evening" with a creepy eyebrow raise.

So now that I got that out of my system, hiya. How're you? I'm good too, thanks for asking.

Well. Actually...I'm not so good. I was for most of today, but this evening kind of sucked. I took my MTEL today, my second teaching test in Early Childhood, and it was alright, I suppose. Weird questions to be asking about Early Childhood, unless K-2 involves discussing what the House of Representatives does and calculating Farenheit to Celsius. No, I didn't think so either. But whatever, it was easier than the practice test, so that's good.

I met my mom after and had a scrumptious (turkey) burger (insert pretentious non-beef eating statement here) and then we went and got cheap veggies and fruit at Haymarket in Boston and trekked home. I got another notice from Citizens, concerning an overdraft fee, which I thought I had paid already. Apparently not. The one they sent me was for $65. Okay, I thought, I can pay that. I'd have to do it out of my savings, but that's nothing new. So I went online to pay it and found that APPARENTLY I'm overdrafted by $235. TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS. That is a LOT of money for me and I called my mom in and I'm making her come with me to the bank tomorrow so we can dispute one of the stupid fees. They charged me $185 for God knows why. Sigh, sigh, sigh. Money. I hate it. But hey, I'm grateful that I'm not thousands of dollars in debt. I guess college loans would count but I actually don't have that much to pay back when I graduate. However, I digress.

I'm trying not to stress about this because I know that money doesn't MEAN anything. The only value it has is what we place on it, and money doesn't rule my life, even though I think it does sometimes. I have more in my savings than some people will make in an entire year, and I know it's the little things that count. I'm reading a wonderful book right now called Me to We - Finding meaning in a material world by Craig and Marc Kielburger, the founders of the wonderful organization Free the Children. I'm on the chapter about gratitude right now, and after seeing the huge overdraft that I owe, it was hard not to panic, but I am grateful that I have options on how to pay it off and that $235 is the least of my worries.

And if you haven't read Me to We, you should. You really, really should. It will change your life, I promise. And I never break promises :)

I will leave you with a quote that stuck with me today:
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie.

I don't know if anybody reads my blog, especially considering I just made it yesterday, but if you read this and make it all the way down to the end, I encourage you, my friends, to think about what makes you grateful and comment below!!

Love,
Karen
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oh hi there.

     Well, here I am: journaling for the new year. Let's see how long this lasts, huh? I figure, what a great way to not only get some of my less scary feelings out but also try to spread my ideas and philosophies and figure out a new way that I can learn more about myself. Oh, and I can re-improve my internet grammar so I don't start writing in lowercase and forgetting how to spell in real life. Shall we?

I've been doing observation hours at the school down the street from me for a class I had...last semester. Problem: Not having a car. Solution: Do the 40 hours of observation over winter break and take an incomplete for the class while they're being done. Pro: I will get my grade. Con: I have to do it next semester - again - for another class and also, read: No car. Walking to school. Cold. Very, very cold. Plus, only a half hour lunch.

But you know what? It's okay. I'm doing Kindergarten now which used to be fun but now that I've realized what my priorities are (I'll save that for another post, another day...), I want to teach kids that are maybe just a little bit older so we can go more in-depth into world issues and so I can teach them about community service, etc. I'm doing second grade Wednesday of next week, and I've never observed in a 2nd grade class so I'm excited!

Tomorrow I have my MTEL, which is the Massachusetts teaching licenscure test. I'm taking the early childhood, and smart me had foresight and scheduled my test to be in the early afternoon so I wouldn't have to get up early. Thank you, smart me (self-hug)! I'm kind of super nervous, because here's the deal: My block application, which gets me into student teaching for next year, is due May 25th. I need to have passed all three MTELS before then. I passed the first one, am taking the second one tomorrow, and then I need to wait 60 days until I can take my next one. It also takes 30 days for the score to arrive. So, if you're doing the math, that means IF I pass I can take my next one in March, then wait 30 days for the score, which brings me to April. OH. MY. GAWD. I am cutting it SUPER close. I also won't have time to take any others if I fail, unless I want to do an extra semester at school.

The education dept. used to let us pass our first MTEL, apply to the block, and take the other two while doing student teaching, but they changed it this semester so it really threw off a lot of people. So, that's my life tomorrow, essentially.

Well. I am really, really tired. Another rant tomorrow then, yes?

Oh btw: Oh, by the way, this is me and my boyfrannnn:


Peace and love,

Karen xx
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