Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012: some thoughts and photos

With all the guests randomly stopping over, and the dinner party at my house, I was so afraid that the top scene of this cartoon was going to be my house between guests on Christmas. I will admit, keeping my house in a state of semi-perfection can be a challenge for me and the kids, even on a regular day.

Pipe cleaner collection
I like the toys that inspire imagination for my kids.  Imagination doesn't tend to stack well on shelves or fit in neat rows. Imagination doesn't always clean up after itself. Part of imagination is having a tolerance for not knowing what is coming next and spontaneously combining ideas from things that were supposedly separate. It's not a tidy philosophy, but I do like to let play time take over for a while.  There is inevitably the point in this process when enough is enough, play time is over. We must clean up.  For Christmas I let the reins go more than usual in this regard for the kids and I made the conscious decision to focus myself on making the food amazing and minimizing mess control in between food prep and talking to my lovely guests. The kids and adults appeared to very truly enjoy sharing the spirit of Christmas together and my apartment felt like a comfortably populated warm home with an eye level window view of the first snow of the season.  Sigh.  The presents I gave them this year included an incredible collection of pipe cleaners and a special box filled with brightly colored feathers.

The kids managed to sleep until 8, which I thought was totally fair. We all woke up and together we all checked out the living room. Bea and Vinny were in their new pajamas so that they would look nice in pictures. This is a Colbert tradition I've adopted thanks to Christmas eve with Arlene and Mary Ann. Bea's Christmas jammies this year made her look just like a leopard.  Thanks Mary Ann! How cute. Funny that I bought some kitty ears totally separately that just happened to match perfectly. Santa must be psychic! At least he was when I was a kid. Now that I'm grown I have to figure out how to be the mind reader. Oh wait, no I have to find a way to conjure up money.
Kitty Bea waking up slow next to a family of sledding penguins.
I took the kids to visit Santa sitting on a throne in a fake plastic version of the North Pole at Eastview mall. Vinny wanted to touch the fake snow just as bad I remember wanting to touch it. It's that seemingly built in human yearning for the thing just beyond our reach.  Put the gifts on a charge, buy a brand new mini mansion in a cookie cutter configuration on a road named after something humans are destroying on this planet, live life on the edge. I bet Eastview uses the exact same rolls of quilt stuffing and white cellophane sparkle snowflakes they used at that mall when the carpet was green and I was a kid in a stroller.  I remember Mom used to like parking at Woolworths or Fay's Drugs.  I remember sitting in the car outside Sears watching it snow while Dad loaded our brand new long needle fake Christmas tree into the car.  I remember my parents talking about keeping it forever.  I remember my Grandmother talking about downtown, and I think of Midtown.  It's a hole in the ground. I wish I could ask her about her visits there.

I feel old and worn as a Mommy of two approaching Christmas. I don't want to teach them to over-do as I think I was taught.  I want to teach them to center themselves and live life awake.  Bea asked Santa for a pink whistle with a bird on it.  Vinny wanted trombone.  Santa looked at me inquisitively and told the kids he was stumped.  I just said, "I guess that's what they want." He told them that he wasn't sure if he could do that or not, but that he would try.  A pink whistle with a bird on it is pretty specific, and a trombone is likely very expensive.  He managed to find a pink recorder and put a bird sticker on it for Bea. Vinny somehow got his hands on a slide whistle, but I'm not sure where that came from. Wishes were fulfilled, though I didn't spend $20 on the pictures.

Vinny thinks his new saw is amazing!
We let the kids open the presents very slow. They seemed to want to take a good look at everything before moving on to the next thing. I fought my childhood inclination to open all the presents fast and then play with them when no one is around.  Santa brought Vinny an amazing work bench constructed of wood including wooden screws, nails, bolts, pre-drilled lumber, and cubes to help fasten the lumber together in various configurations.  Mat started putting that together as I began brewing an extra yummy pot of coffee.  This toy is amazing and Vinny hasn't stopped playing with it yet. I found it for $60 less 15% at a great big store that at least pretends to care about human rights and the environment.  Bea's best present was a digital camera.  She has been taking tons of pictures of the most random things.  She's admittedly jealous of Vinny's yoyo.  Vinny is very jealous of Bea's Monster scaring flashlight. I'm proud to report that they have been playing together nicely, especially when they decide to share new toys.

We celebrated Christmas eve with the Colberts where we helped decorate the tree.

My best attempt at photographing overtired Vinny decorating the tree at Grama and Grampa's house.

Vinny made an interesting attempt at wearing a stocking.
 The day of Christmas I did not leave my home.  Here are a few photographic highlights.

Centerpiece for the dinner table!

Close up of my pink Christmas tree.

Bea is just cute.
Dad carving the perfectly cooked, perfectly timed prime rib.
I made a feast for eight people this year.  The prime rib roast came out perfectly medium rare and delicious.
The tiniest cutest ladybug!

Bea opening a present carefully selected by Mama and Auntie. Finger print art!

Decorating the tree with Mom and Dad Colbert

Bea flipped when she opened this.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Something about me.

I really started learning stuff back in the autumn of the year 2000 at St. Lawrence University.  One of five courses I took my first semester of college was intro to environmental science.  I still have my two and a half inch thick text book, even though I could have sold it back for good money.  It was painful to learn all this from a teacher who basically started out by telling us that there is no real solution.  That same semester, my first year class also studied environmental issues and international politics.  It was enough to immerse me deeply in the problems of this planet, that's for sure.  After reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and also The Man Who Grew Young by the same author, I became passionate about making a difference in the world.

My second semester I decided to steer away from such a deep focus on the environment. I knew it was very bad, and that was enough.  My second semester first year course was "Toxic Avenger's Theatre." That course really stretched me far beyond my comfort zone and pushed my creativity to the limit.  The following semester I took international politics and then, early in the semester on an off day, September 11th happened.  I decided to focus my learning on international politics and math. I was doing well in most of my courses.... but I had become so deeply depressed by the shock of learning about the impossible ills of the world I was not sure I could carry on.  I spent a semester in Europe and then dropped out of college.

I felt it was time for me to switch from a science and math focus to a creative focus.  I took courses at a few different community colleges and then designed my own degree program at Empire State College.  I carefully planned out a highly balanced, extremely well rounded education topped by a study in the use of literature in education.  I did not study how to teach but rather the broader concept of education in general.  After finishing my highly coveted degree, I spent two years earning minimum wage in urban poverty until I realized that a career in librarianship was perfect for me. I wrote a compelling application essay and (surprise!) conceived my daughter the same week. I learned of the pregnancy two weeks after I was accepted at the University at Buffalo's library science program.  This same month, my grandmother died.  I underwent several serious lifestyle changes to adapt to the pregnancy, while at the same time I awkwardly began a degree I wanted second only to my baby. We moved to Batavia and got married.  We moved back to Rochester. As soon as my prepregnancy figure returned, (surprise again!) I became pregnant a second time.  I finished my MLS and then gave birth to my boy child three weeks later.   Perhaps this might be the right answer to "tell me something about yourself"  for someone looking to hire the best of the best? I don't know. What makes one best better than another best of a different variety?

Honestly, I am the sort of person who is interested in so many things. I must concentrate to narrow my focus and execute detail oriented work.  Seeing the big picture is something that comes naturally to me.  I like to bird walk ideas, as one started project gets set aside unfinished as I become excited about a new concept that then in turn feeds to another.  I will return to my old projects.  I do intend on finishing them one day.  Deadlines help me.

My current focus is learning about how humanity must change the way we interact with our environment if we are to stop living as parasites on the planet and begin to shift our way of thinking toward sustainability.  My daughter's preschool teacher says I should just talk about going green.  That's something palatable that people can learn about somewhat comfortably.  Learning about sustainability and permaculture can be overwhelming and depressing.  I think that now I am ready for it.  As a pretend librarian, I imagine that I am in a position where maybe somehow I can make a difference by providing my imaginary patrons with just the right amount of information so that they want to learn more and continue to live an increasingly green lifestyle.

I fantasize about being able to build a collection of very useful reference books in these subjects.  I am lying.  I see titles and reviews of books like these and I ignore them all the time.  I have zero budget.  I have kids to look after and there are so few jobs out there paying a wage that will both meet our physical and financial needs.  The only thing I want more that a part time library job, is a nice home comfortably within my budget where I can raise my family. 

I interviewed for a position nearly two weeks ago....

I just discovered my nice rejection emailThey will keep my resume on file in case of new openings and all that.  I know that I should not feel bad as they interviewed quite a few of my well qualified colleagues, but rejection is intensified by how few and far between open positions have become.  Will I even get another chance within a year?  The more time that passes, the more shiny new graduates are also waiting with their freshly sharpened skills and advice from their professors on how to get that job.  I owe money for this education. I care about this work. I have children to think of. I have goals for myself that I have been holding on to for a long time.  How am I supposed to accept things the way they are? I can't.