Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later

It is September 11th, again. Seven years after the attack on America, we as a nation are still attempting to heal from the deep wounds inflicted in each of us on that day. Talking heads around the country have expounded on how we should acknowledge this day each year, what the permanent memorial should and shouldn't be, and how best to go forward as a nation. All of this chatter comes from raw emotions still unresolved seven years after that horrible day.

Today marks a first on this blog, a guest blogger. One of my most faithful readers and the subject of many posts here is Offspring #2, my fifteen year old daughter, Erin. And today she will be the first guest to share this space with me.

She was eight years old and in the fourth grade on this day back in 2001. Here are her thoughts on September 11, 2001, seven years later.

"Some people hijacked planes this morning; I heard it on the radio."

I didn't even flinch when my best friend walked into our classroom and spouted off her new information on the day in America. Why should I? At eight-years-old, I had no idea what "a hijacking" was. Even two hours later when my small, five person, 4th grade class was huddled around the radio, I didn't understand the severity of the situation. We were the only students in the school that knew what was going on; the principal had ordered the teachers not to tell their classes anything, but Mr. Medina and his five rebels, isolated in the only second story classroom on the entire private school campus, dared not heed this instruction and miss out on the important events of that chaotic day. My innocence didn't even suggest that I might worry about my Dad who was on a flight that morning. I had no idea at the time that my sister, one hallway away with the other middle schoolers, would be oblivious until we got into the car together that afternoon. I had no idea then that I would be writing about it today.

Looking back, I guess we all try to focus on the silver linings: we came together as a nation, we brought out true American heroes, and we proved our strength in the face of a tragedy. But, when I think about it, a lot of that has worn off. It's election year- we are definitely a divided nation. Those American heroes that stepped up? Many of them are injured; I can imagine that all of them are haunted by the reality of the images that live in their minds from this day. And why does it take a tragedy to show our strength? Now, it's just our generation's historical day of magnitude. For our parents it was Challenger. Our grandparents had JFK's assassination. D-Day. Pearl Harbor. Everyone has their own story of that day. Everyone has their own fear from that day. Everyone will always have that day. Own it. It's ours. What more can we say? What more should we say?

Out of the mouth of babes . . .
Thank you Erin!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Making and Breaking Habits

"They" (whoever they are) say that it takes twenty eight days for a behavior to become a habit. I have never heard a statistic on how many days it takes to break a habit, but I fear that it is much fewer than twenty eight. Since school started only two and half weeks ago, I have broken many of the good habits that I established over the summer. I have surprised myself with the things that I have let slip by since the 25th of August, the first day of this academic year. If you are reading this, you have probably noticed that one thing that I have neglected is regular posts here. I can't even give you a good reason for it. I'd like to say that I haven't had time to write because I am getting ten hours of sleep every night, all my papers are graded, I have lesson plans for the entire semester, and my house is spotless. No such luck. None of these things is true. I have no good reason for allowing my habit of blogging to be broken.

The sad thing is that blogging is not the only thing that I have neglected. Over the summer I was diligent about making my bed every morning. Admittedly part of the reason that I established this habit in the first place was to keep the dog and cat hair, deposited by critters who spend more time in my bed than I do, from accumulating on my sheets and pillow. It was so nice to crawl in bed every night between sheets that contained not a trace of animal hair. Those days are gone. I can't tell you the last time I actually made my bed first crack out of the barrel upon rising. It just isn't happening. "Why?", you ask. Sadly, I don't know. Yes I get up earlier during the school year and my morning has more of a routine, but why is making the bed not a part of that routine? Again, I have no answer.

Another thing that I have let slip is knitting. Today was the first day I have knit in several weeks and the only reason I did today was because BK had a ball of sock yarn in the car. I did not have any knitting in any bag that I had with me. That just isn't normal for me. Because of Spirit of Knitting, BK, Alissa, and I have had very little time to knit things for our own families and ourselves. We have recently decided to cease publication, partially because we are all busy with other things and partially since we began publication five years ago, the market has been saturated with knitting magazines whose advertising budget and manpower we can't compete with. Considering that we made the decision to quit so that we would have more knitting time, I can't figure out why I have knit nary a stitch . . .and I have ungraded papers and a dirty house.

I have never been a big fan of TV, but I do like to watch the Tonight Show and the news regularly. I can't tell you the last time I've seen either. We're on hurricane Ike? How did we get to "I" already? Don't they start with "A" at the beginning of every season? I can't believe I have missed eight storms. And what is all this talk about bulldogs, pigs, and lipstick? I feel so out of touch with the world!

A fairly new habit that I began over the summer was journaling with mandalas. Prior to blogging, I was an avid journaler. I never intended for this blog to replace my paper and pencil accounts, but it has. I am still using the same spiral notebook for handwritten journal entries that I was using at this time last year. That is unheard of for me. So, I decided to try a new approach, drawing mandalas each night rather than writing. I was quite diligent from early in July until the start of school. Though I have not completely neglected my morning and evening routines, making the bed and knitting, I have not drawn every night like I did during my summer break.

What is really going on here? My teaching load is double what it normally is but my schedule is certainly manageable. The extra classroom time that I have does change the flow of my week but it really is not an excuse for breaking all my good habits of self discipline. The fact that I have no logical explanation for permitting myself to stray away from these good disciplines is inexcusable. These things have been the mainstay of my sanity in the past. And, I still need them for that.

Now that the weekly routines of this academic year have been established, it is time for me to figure out how to work these things that I need and enjoy back into my daily schedule. This just should not be problematic. I have no good reasons here for my neglect other than inattention and laziness.

For my own well-being, I need to dedicate 28 days to making my bed first thing in the morning, and promise myself some knitting time every day, perhaps while I am watching the news or the Tonight Show. Drawing mandalas could happen in place of housekeeping or grading papers. Surely that wouldn't be a problem. Or would it? I'll let you know how long it takes me to reestablish my old habits, but only the good ones! For now, I am going to go draw a mandala and then crawl into my slightly hair enriched bed.