Friday, January 16, 2015

Lessons from stake conference

Twice a year, several of the local church congregations get together for a meeting called "stake conference," which name I wish referred to something having to do with vampire slaying, but the "stake" just refers to a big tent, and alas, we don't even really get the tent these days. Stake conference just means we spend two hours listening to people talk.

One of our speakers was a woman who spoke about trials. One of the biggest trials in her life, she said to us, her voice bordering on tears, was trying to home school her eight children.



The people in the congregations who attend my stake conference consist of people who all live within a couple of miles of me. And this woman was from one of these congregations, in my neighborhood. And the schools in my neighborhood are great, with opportunities that this woman will never ever ever be able to give her kids at home, like language immersion and AP classes. What a waste of a trial to stress out about something as pointless as teaching kids at home when the local schools are good and the teachers strong. Why in the world would you home school your kids when it is so hard and there are such good people who would teach them better than you can? Why why why?

And then, before I got too judgey judgey (well, ok, after), I realized that my own hardest "trials" right now are also completely self-inflicted and must seem stupid to many of my peers.

Reader, I have a continuing, very secure job that pays very well and a beautiful home in this nice neighborhood with good schools.

But I am moving.

There. I said it publicly.

I do not want to work for G.O.D. University anymore. I feel like a hypocrite working for them. They are a very conservative religious institution, and I have opinions that do not match theirs. And lately, there has been a culture of oppression and fear amongst the natives. I have strong opinions, opinions that I am mostly good at keeping to myself. But sometimes the morally correct thing to do is to share the light and knowledge you have found. I do not want my opinions on something irrelevant (beards?) to get me in trouble with my job. So I'm leaving. I have taken a job somewhere else, where my opinions and questions and concerns on religion are irrelevant.

(And also where the ghost of Lucy Walker won't keep me up at night. But you will have to learn about Lucy on your own.)

One of the reasons I've been traveling so much is that I've had job interviews. And one of the reasons I've been sick is that I've been stressed out. Crazy stressed out up late at night heart pounding crying stressed out.

But we've made a decision -- the craziest decision we possibly could have made -- and it is a good decision and a happy decision and I will post it here soon for those of you who haven't already heard it.

The lady who home schools has reasons to home school that are very important to her, I am sure. And the lady who uproots her whole family from a very good job has very good reasons, too. Or at least reasons that are important to her, even though they may seem pretty stupid to others. And stupid to you. They are stupid reasons. But that doesn't make them any less important to me.

So there.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Since this is my first post of the new year, I think it would be appropriate to list new year's resolutions. Typically, I like to resolve to do things that I know I can accomplish, to make myself feel better at the end of the year. For example, "do laundry when necessary this year." Note the vague wording allows some flexibility even on how frequently I change Jonathan's sheets, in case I decide I need that flexibility later.

However, this year will be different.

Why will this year be different? Because I know something about this year that you don't know. I know that this year, the Apocalypse will happen. Around August 2nd, in fact.

In preparation for the upcoming apocalypse, I have a single new year's resolution this year, which can be summed up into a single word: "Organize."

That's it. That's my resolution for the new year. If the Apocalypse is coming in August, then the very most important thing I can do to prepare for it is to organize.

And when I say organize, I do not mean that term to be vaguely worded so I can sneak around it when I need to. I will, indeed, look through every dark corner in every closet in my house. I will dig through all the drawers and make Final Decisions on whether or not to keep my treasures-of-truth from 4th grade. I will purge the pantry. The garage. The side of the house where we stash the old pots we aren't using but might use someday. All these things must be organized by August and the Apocalypse.

And not just house. I will organize my office at work. I will organize my research into a new, exciting grant proposal. And finished papers, sparkly and bright. I will organize my teaching into scanned folders containing notes and assignments and exams from semester to semester, that can fit onto a single hard drive.

Too much? You say. Yes, I have indeed cut off a large amount of work for myself with this resolution.

But ... Apocalypse.

It must be done before then.