Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Which Chelle Procrastinates (and Babbles Quite a Bit)

Hello friends! It is a Sunday night, and I have reams of paperwork to in true Maureen Johnson fashion, I am procrastinating. In all honesty between the heat and crazy kids, I feel like my brain is FRIED. I find myself gazing off into space, practically drooling, trying to come up with words like "client," "prompted," and "unresponsive." Not really difficult words, and they are part of my every day vocabulary, but I have found myself struggling to complete my work more and more frequently as summer progresses. Not that I am ungrateful about my job, I'm not. I love what I do, but dealing with children who have severe behavioral issues is challenging at the best of times and horrific at the worst. However, I do feel gratified knowing that I am working in my degree field since I fought HARD to pay for college and graduate in great academic standing, and knowing that I am positively influencing the lives of these children.

My job has also made me crazy thankful for my own family. I'm not talking about my mom, dad, and brother. I'm talking grandmother, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, the whole shebang. At times they seem so overwhelming. If something is wrong they all know about it. If I am in a bad mood, I can't get away from them. I can never be alone. I can't have a phone conversation without someone asking me about it. There is no privacy. And it is wonderful. I know that seems super insane, and really I can't explain it. I always have a champion, there is always someone on my side, someone is always willing to listen. They cheer me up, they keep me level-headed, they tell me if I'm out of line. They encourage me, they shelter me, they support me, they fight with me and for me. They have given me a sense of self, a sense of loyalty, and family, and what is right and wrong. They taught me to stand up for what I believe in, and to never back down if I am fighting for what is right. They teach me every single day that it is okay to be different. I am definitely the odd man out in my family. I am the bookworm, the non-athletic one, the crazy kid who thinks that more money should be given to academics and the arts and that sports teams should have to raise their own money. Essentially, I am Hermione Granger.* They are not. Not that they are Malfoys or anything, they just don't see the world they way I do. They don't understand why I cry when I read about genocide in Africa, or give money to Uncultured Project. But they are still incredible people, and every day that I work with kids who don't have parents who are emotionally available, much less an extended family who wants to interact with them, I give thanks for my own crazy family. Because they love me, even when they don't understand me. They embrace my oddities and encourage me to stand out.

Speaking of bookworms, I got a TON of books this week. Barnes and Noble had a HUGE sale and I had like three coupons for there, on top of my regular discount, so I kind of went overboard. I'm really excited though! I'm not sure why, it's not like I've really been reading recently, but I still love books. I have no attention span, and I find it difficult to stay focused when I'm reading. HOWEVER, I started reading "Sea" by Heidi R. Kling today, and it is fantastic! I had to force myself to put it down so that I could work on paperwork a little bit.** I'm really excited because I got other great books, like Linger by Maggie Stiefvater and the 4th Gallagher Girl book by Ally Carter. Of course, since I am slightly insane I have to read all of the books that proceed these books. It's okay though, those books were AMAZING!

Now I'm off to finish my paperwork!*** If you guys have books that you are currently loving, leave it in the comments! If YOU have a crazy family, feel free to share some of the craziness with me, I'd love to compare insanity =)

*Also, I can't get through a day without making a Harry Potter reference.
**See how well that worked? I just found a NEW distraction!
***No, really! I am going to finish it... *looks around* *procrastinates*

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy (Belated) America Day

Happy July 5th! It just doesn't have the same ring to it does it? I had intended to write this yesterday, but since I spent the day celebrating the country I love with the people I love the most, it just didn't happen. Terrible I know! However, I did outline some things that I wanted to include, so I figured why not do this a day later? It's not like my love for America ended yesterday with the holiday after all. I love it just as much today as I did yesterday!

First I should outline what the big deal about America is anyway. My best friend Alissa (commonly referred to as BFF1 on Twitter) and I LOVE America. Not in a normal "Man, our country rocks!" kind of way. It's more of a kind of awe that we are allowed to be here, allowed to be who we are, allowed to say what we think. We make America references ALL the time. We randomly quote random speeches, we compare situations we are in to historical events, basically we are complete nutters. I'm not sure why we are like this. Maybe because she was raised on various army bases and I was raised in a small town where you love God, your family, and your country. Whatever the reason, we dearly love our country. We love the huge, wonderful things and the small, random, quirky things. We love the good and the bad. We love it for what it is...a place that isn't perfect but that gives us the opportunity to be ourselves, to grow, and to be magnificent.

So now that I've been cheesy and funny...on to the ten things we love about America.

1) Freedom: I am well aware of the fact that freedom is the number one amazing thing about America. We are fortunate to live in a place where we are allowed to vote, get an education, work, believe what we want to believe, and basically be who we are. Not everyone has basic rights, so my freedom is the number one reason I love America.
2) Epic Television: This is one that I had on my list when I called BFF1 to ask her for two items to add to my list, but it is also the first thing she said. It may seem stupid, but just like Harry Potter has provided me with a world full of people that I love, TV has done the same thing. While it's true I may not reference Chandler Bing or Stars Hallow on a daily basis, but I do whistle an alarming number of TV theme songs. TV provides an escape which everyone needs. For me TV shows provide an outlet for my nerdity, and for BFF1 TV represents change in both culture and technology. We love TV. Classic TV, new TV, reality shows, animal shows, cheesy TV, PBS, Food Network, talk shows. We just love it. And BFF1 REALLY loves it. TV is to her as books are to me. So we love that America has AWESOME TV.
3) History: Pretty self explanatory. America is a pretty young country, and yet SO much has happened here. I don't have a lot to say about this one. Basically without the history of our nation BFF1 and I wouldn't have nearly as many references to make.
4) Disney: When I called BFF1 up she didn't say Disney, and I really don't know why honestly, maybe she just KNEW that I would have it on the list. Maybe it is just such a given that she didn't figure she needed to mention it. I don't know about the rest of America, but I grew up with Disney. Disney is the first thing I can remember loving outside of my family. Disney is something we have experienced together. There are maybe two Disney cartoons that I have never seen. Disney also represents the various shifts in our culture and technology. It also shows that no matter how much things change, they also stay the same. My two year old cousin loves The Aristocats as much as I did. I love Cars as much as my four year old cousin does. And I paid for a movie ticket so that I could see HSM3 with BFF1 in theaters. So even though it is a worldwide phenomenon, Disney to me is another fundamental benefit of living in America.
5) Diversity: America is a pretty diverse place. Economically, culturally, scenically...there are so many different things to experience here. For BFF1 it is exploring a small town and seeing what it is that draws people there. For me it is wondering around a city and seeing how different it is from my tiny place on the mountain. I love things that are unique and different, and I think that America really gives me the opportunity to experience those differences.
6) The Vlogbrothers: Okay, this one is a little silly, and also has spread to all corners of the world. However, John and Hank Green are amazing! Not only are they funny, they have inspired an entire group of people to embrace the nerdy part of themselves that most of us have been convinced to bury deep inside. They have also inspired us to reach out to others, to befriend people we would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet, and to stand up for what we believe in-whether it is stopping global warming or speaking out about censorship. They have taught us how to properly insult people (with Shakespeare), how to turn the other cheek, how to imagine people complexly, and so much more.
7) Smith's Rosebud Salve: Okay, this isn't really a GO AMERICA type thing. However, it is an amazing product. It fixes my dry lips, it helps when my hands get chapped from playing outside in the snow, it works as a moisturizer in a pinch, it is a miracle product! And it's made in America with all natural ingredients, which is pretty awesome.
8) Dolly Parton: Okay...this one is all BFF1. For me Dolly doesn't really scream AMERICA, but for BFF1 she really does. For her, Dolly represents the American Dream far better than Steinbeck, Elvis, or Miley Cyrus. Dolly is a small town girl who fought hard to achieve her dreams. She is a strong woman who worked hard to get what she wanted. Has she had too much plastic surgery? Sure she has, but that's her right. She has had a wonderful career as a musician, before autotuning ruined modern music. She has been in several hilarious and heartwarming movies. Best of all? She has her own theme park, and who in this country doesn't aspire to owning their own theme park? I know for a fact that BFF1 and I would LOVE to have one!
9) Our Unbreakable Spirit: So this one is a GO AMERICA type thing, but seriously! There have been so many things in the history of our country, up to and including that whole "taxation without representation" thing. So many examples- Katrina, 9/11, Vietnam, Civil Rights, and so on. All of these are examples of times when people have stood up for their beliefs and for their fellow Americans, and to me that is what this country is about. Not everyone agrees on everything and not everyone believes the same things, but at the end of the day we come together for our fellow countrymen and we care about them. Whether it is a soldier from a small town who gave his life for our country or a huge city that has been impacted by a major disaster, we all feel it and we ban together to overcome it. At least, that's what we do where I'm from.
And Last but not Least Number Ten (also straight from BFF1's list)....Us-Ally and Chelle: In her words we are on the list because "we are the coolest Americans I know." I agreed to put us on this list because we are pretty much Made of Awesome. We are diverse-I'm a nerdy bookworm who is loud and outspoken, she is a quiet fashonista who can outline the history of most any TV show or Disney movie. We have extraordinarily epic bad luck. We laugh at anything and everything. We have overcome MANY hardships between the two of us. We try to make the best out of things, regardless of how much we complain about things. We love people. We love this country. We are cheesy and silly and smart and wonderful girls, who embody many of the things on this list. So she's right...we ARE America, and that's why we are on the list.

So there it is, my love letter to America. Do you love America? If so then why? Or, like you think we are completely bonkers? Probably the latter...but stick around and I promise, before long you will love us =)