School has Become Nigh on Hell

Is this title an exaggeration? Sometimes I think it must be, but I keep coming back to it. I used to love my school. It was a haven, the place of friends and happiness, and I was highly sentimental about it. I am sorry for the way I am about to criticize people, and I want my readers to know that every day I am trying to forgive and forget. There are plenty of excuses I could make for my teachers’ behavior based on their backstory, but since that is not my information to share, you must trust me when I say these are not wholly wicked people. Nonetheless, here is a basic description of my reasons for leaving my school after this semester.

Every day I hope I’ll be sick, or that it will snow. I am growing to hate that which I loved for years and which I must now always consider a formative part of my coming-of-age.

My grandmother works there, and that I do not regret. It’s a major reason I ended up there in the first place. She works with the elementary students though, and I’m going to try to stay away from that for awhile.

I’ll start with the teachers, since they are basically ruling the school in whatever way they want. The only one who has a college degree obtained her degree from a Bible college. So not a lot of education with the folks who are supposed to be my educators. Now I have to give them pseudonyms, hmm…

Okay, so there’s the Kraken. Let me back up a bit and explain: my school shares the building with –and is in fact a direct root off of– an Assembly of God church. And the Kraken is married to the pastor of said church.  She has always been the most respectful of my differing religious views. She used to teach drama, and she has grandchildren. In pretty much every way, she is a respectable lady. But she does not enjoy being contradicted and can be quite nasty when provoked. She breaks down in tears on an almost weekly basis, often talking about God’s grace or Jesus. This wouldn’t be a problem if it was just occasional, but it happens ALL. THE. TIME.  If she isn’t crying about Jesus, she’s talking about religious matters in a slow, histrionic tone, which drives me absolutely nuts. It’s so excessive and cringy! She also likes to turn everything into a sermon, whether it’s an intricately patterned beetle, Les Misèrables, or 9/11. I mean sure, it’s great if you can see God in everything, but you don’t have to talk about nothing but God. And PLEASE stop crying about it.  One more thing on the Kraken: Last week, she directly told us all that it is a parent’s utmost DUTY to know everything their child is thinking, and that this ABSOLUTELY extends to reading their diary.  She told us that she always read her daughters’ diaries. I believe that is a serious breach of trust and privacy. Is it wrong for a teenager to have one place where her thoughts are secure? It really pissed me off because she acted like any parent who didn’t do as she did wasn’t really a good parent.

This is going to be longer than I thought. Next up, let’s discuss Mrs. P.  She is the principal’s wife. She dyes her hair platinum blonde, wears a boatload of makeup every day, and is obsessed with her figure; she is always on a diet. When angered, she gets really passive aggressive. Once, I mentioned in class that I believed Mary the Mother of God had remained a virgin all her life, and Mrs. P probably wanted to scalp me. She was very rude to me. She once said that she would hate to see a Muslim become president. She is judgmental of people who have tattoos, multiple piercings, or simply wear a lot of black. Mrs. P absolutely WILL NOT listen to your opinion. She, like the Kraken, cries nearly every week, but mainly when remembering people or animals that she loved. Despite this, she has a great love of art, she is passionate about her husband and grandchildren, and she reads more devotionals than I care to count. As the volleyball coach, she encourages everyone to do their best, even if they really suck at volleyball.

Mr. P, our principal, shares many of his wife’s political views. He too doesn’t appreciate offbeat styles, not even brightly dyed hair. He is awfully conservative, he hates cats, his ideas of gender roles are borderline archaic, and he won’t abide anything he doesn’t approve of to be in his school. His rules often seem to have no purpose. Today I was angered when I heard that the one of the teachers in the special needs class was conduced to leave because she had not found a church home among the plethora of local Protestant churches in the area. (It is a requirement at my school that you are a regular church attendee). It’s not that she wasn’t a Christian; she was, and she was a high-principled woman. Her sons had to leave the school also, which is why it was particularly upsetting to me. I had been getting closer to her oldest son, who might have become my friend if he hadn’t been whisked away so suddenly for such a trivial reason. I have digressed, but you get the picture, I hope. He has told other students and volunteers to leave based on personal style (one volunteer wore nothing but black; a student dyed her hair pink) and has angered a lot of mothers. When a group of students (including myself) took a college history course last semester, he lorded over it and assigned the professor’s assigned work to be done early, plus extra work that he thought would help us. And yeah, it might have been the right strategy for some of my classmates, and a few loved it. But I hate being micromanaged. This is COLLEGE WORK, after all, and college means you’re on your own. I grew to resent Mr. P and had a lot of anger burning in me for the entirety of Autumn. He had a rough childhood; I get it. He served in the Navy; I am grateful. But gosh darn, I wish he was a little more sympathetic.

Of my primary teacher, Mrs. B, I cannot complain. Sometimes she is hard to communicate with because she displays emotion less than the average human. But I know that she loves me, and I am quite grateful to have her as my teacher.

I’m getting tired, so here are some more summarized reasons I am beginning to hate my cozy little Christian private school:

  • Tuition is nearly $700 dollars a month for both my brother and I. I know this is low compared to many private schools, but the education we’re getting is not worth that.
  • The curricula. All students either complete the majority of their homework online, or they work in “paces”(which are basically the most factually inaccurate, obnoxious Protestant Christian propaganda you ever saw). The elective choices are extremely limited.
  • I participate in choir, but they only ever sing Christian songs. I can’t drop out though, because I’m an “asset”.
  • I lose one hour every day to the morning “care group”, and another hour daily doing work-study to try to bring the price of tuition down.I spend more time doing extra Protestant-y things that I don’t need than I spend doing actual schoolwork that I need to graduate.
  • School uniforms. I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but almost all of the secondary students wear their sports hoodies every day, and it looks sloppy.
  • A lot of separation by gender. A lot of stereotypical gender role talk.
  • Teachers are hugely underpaid because the school is a “ministry”.

Maybe someday I’ll write a post about things I like in the school. But it will have to be after I’ve left, so that I can look back peacefully. I feel like I’m just whining right now. Forgive me.  I do sincerely love all the teachers at my school. They frustrate me to no end, and yet they surprise me sometimes with their goodwill. Please comment your opinion on this situation; I’d like to know.

Collectorofsoulsandindependent

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Loyalty is what now?

So apparently I am a loyal person.  I never considered myself as such. It isn’t a very pretty word, and I associate it with golden retrievers. Being a cat person, this mental image wasn’t appealing to me, and I had a subconscious notion that loyalty is a weaker trait. I will emphasize at this point that fidelity in marriage is of the utmost importance to me. It seems that in my mind there was sort of a disconnect between the word ‘loyal’ and its meaning.

But the sudden revelation that the term might be applicable to me when my counselor remarked on my being loyal to my friends.  Even though I see my school friends every day, share laughs with them, and love them dearly, my church friends will always be my best friends, and the closest one is 45 minutes away.   I do not require daily communication to maintain my relationship with these friends. I mean, I relish every moment (well, most) with them and sometimes after not seeing them for a week or two I feel gloomy.

My favorite book, color, animal, movie, and others very rarely change. I have been in love with one guy for two and a half years, even though I haven’t seen him since October 2016(he just texted me a late happy Valentine’s day, so I am super jazzed). I have a preferred gas station. When I think about it, there are a lot of little things that I will always choose over another.(i.e., Crayola Crayons[but isn’t that everyone?])

Maybe it is more a matter of habit than of loyalty.  What am I comfortable with? What have I always done?

Then again, I am very emotionally involved and will defend to the point of ridiculousness Star Wars, Claude Debussy, or whatever else I love that people attack.

Do I genuinely just hate the word loyal? I have no problem with being called trustworthy, steadfast, or devoted. Why have I just now realized that I am loyal? And why do I hate the word?

I solemnly swear that my posting will be as infrequent as ever. But if you took the time to read this, you’re one of my favorites.

May the Force be with you,

Collectorofsoulsandindependent

 

2017 Lessons

For me, 2017 was laced with life lessons. I’ve jokingly said that I haven’t been in my comfort zone all year, and even though I’m typically cheerful these days as we reach January, I definitely had some rough patches.

I turned 16 in March. That in itself is pretty momentous, and I had my dearest friends over and had a grand old time.  Later that March, I emailed my romantic interest happy birthday, and gave him my phone number. He texted me one afternoon when I was chopping lettuce, and I almost cut myself in nervousness and excitement. At Pascha, in April, I had a few moments despair, realizing that all my friends were getting into relationships and I was still totally single, missing a guy I rarely talked to.

At some point in the late spring I started doing Pilates, and fell in love with it. I was faithful, and I now consistently work out for 20 minutes, four times a week. It’s not a lot, but I’ve never been the most kinetic of people and this pleases me and fits my schedule. (By the way, I highly recommend blogilates on YouTube. Cassey Ho is AMAZING!!)

In June, I got my first job at Sonic Drive-in. I had been sending out applications for months, with little success. Finally I had to suck it up and (sweating all the while) call Sonic to inform them that I had applied. Within 30 seconds I had an interview scheduled for the following day, and within the next 24 hours I had a job. Initiative pays off, folks. I have a good boss and I am the primary ice cream person. Combined with my Pilates routine, I have grown stronger this year, and though I’ve gained weight (which I frankly needed), I’m probably in the best shape of my life. I feel (and dare I say look!) great. And I still eat Pop tarts fairly regularly.

In August, school began again, and I started my first concurrent college course and working extra in English to make the future easier for myself. Here I must be cautious so as not to condemn my well meaning teachers, but the college course (American history) was the source for much stress for me, and I grew to hate it. It was micromanaged. We were required to answer questions at the end of the chapters which were not assigned by the professor, and we had to have our essays looked over before they were submitted, and we spent five hours a week on what was meant to  be a 3-hour course. During class time, little was accomplished. I did pass the class with an A, but the experience was painful. I also had to take my siblings to school every morning, pick them up every afternoon, and be ready for work by five o’clock four days a week. I continued to do Pilates, keep up with homework, and try to get enough sleep. My stress levels became so high this semester that I was having borderline suicidal thoughts, and was often depressed during the day.

It was during this time that I officially made the decision to leave the school next year. I will home-school myself 2018-2019 and graduate quickly. Mom approved this decision. It isn’t just the disastrous college course; this is something that has been building up for awhile. It’s difficult to be an Orthodox Christian in a Protestant school. And I disagree with a lot of things taught there, not just theological, but their adherence to stereotypical gender roles and their fear of anything “not normal”, like multiple piercings, wearing a lot of black, or tattoos. It’s a good-willed but stifling environment.

Other major things that happened this year:

  • Discovered Vine. RIP.
  • Visited a monastery with some friends.
  • Got my driver’s license (my second time taking the test)
  • Decided that if I’m not a nun I’m going to be a counselor.
  • Got a major haircut. 18″. Sold to an Estonian businesswoman for $180.
  • Found out the love of my life was an atheist.
  • Witnessed two of my RL ships getting together… and one breaking up.
  • Really, truly accepted myself as I am in this very moment.

Life goes on.  Here’s to you all, that you may have a blessed 2018, full of growth, experiences, and memories to cherish.

Love you all,

Collectorofsoulsandindependent

A Difference of Opinion: Part 2

This is probably the first time I’ve posted two days in a row, which is frankly pathetic, but I hope it happens more often.

As I said in my last post, I am under a good deal of emotional stress right now.  If you haven’t read my last post, Difference of Opinion: Part 1, I encourage you to go do that, then come back.  Anyway, I want to talk to you all about coping strategies.

Since my text conversation with Herb, I have prayed on more frequent intervals.  I think this is obvious for most Christians.  No matter what’s happening, the first thing you do is pray.  You get the job you wanted; you pray in gratitude.  You find your life to be in danger; you pray for protection.  In any circumstance where we are afraid, lonely, or hurting, we PRAY.  It’s what we do.  Prayer and its health benefits are similar to meditation and the benefits associated with it, so if you aren’t a praying person, this might help.  Drink coffee and meditatively watch the sun rise.

Really, I think this episode in my life is serving to strengthen my faith, because I suddenly have the urge to read Scripture, especially Psalms and the Gospels, but eventually all of it.  People of other faiths, I am not trying t exclude you, but this is what’s helping me.

Thirdly, I have created a “Getting Over Herb” playlist, compiling songs that promote confidence and make me feel better about the world. Titles such as “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John, “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, and the classic “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas, are buoying me up out of Emotion Ocean, and helping me breathe.

Talking it out is also a good one.  Tell a close friend or family member what you’re going through.  If you don’t have any friends or close family, get a counselor.  Heck, if you can’t do that, write down everything that’s bothering you and burn it.  Rant. Swear if you need to.  Don’t bottle it up.  Which brings me to my main point.

Do not hide from uncomfortable feelings.  Let them flow.  Be uncomfortable for a while.  Our capacity to feel love, sorrow, happiness, heartbreak, and pain is one of the things that makes us human.  Use coping strategies to work through difficult times, but do not forget your pain.  This is how people grow, and become better and wiser.

Play some music. Pray. Cry. Have a beer. Read Scripture. Sleep. Spend time with friends. Watch your favorite movie. Repeat as many times as necessary.  This isn’t the end; it is the end of a chapter, and the beginning of a brand new one.

 

Au revoir again,

Collectorofsoulsandlibertarian

Theoretical Heartbreak

Do you ever just want a pair of arms to cry into?  Strong arms, or rather, a strong person who will comfort you and tell you everything will be okay.

My ships are sailing. Translation: Two of my closest friends have recently started dating the guys I’ve shipped them with for years.  I am really overjoyed, because they are really good matches.  But I am also saddened, because things must change.  It makes sense to go to your significant other for advice, to tell stories, and share secrets.  That will take precedence over sharing with your good friend, as it should I suppose.

What if all of my friends get married to amazing people, perfect matches for them, and I am left alone?  I guess I don’t have a problem being single until all of my friends have significant others. and are walking on air.

I wonder if my friends actually consider me an important person in their lives.  I wonder if any has been or will ever be in love with me, and won’t be put off by my excessive emotions, quirky habits, and all of my imperfections.

I could be a nun.  But I still need friends.  I have learned the lesson that I need other people, not just God.  Of course, I need God above all, but I have had to swallow my pride and accept that I cannot live without other human beings.

I love my youth group.  I truly, deeply love them.  I was imagining a what-if scenario where I had to be parted from them permanently, and I confess that I cried in the shower.  My heart would break.

I feel stupid for being so emotional.  Is any sensible person as emotional as I am? Am I a ninny? Will anyone understand what I’m feeling and not judge me for it?  Again, I feel ashamed of my insecurity.

Whew.  This is my most open post so far.  No hateful comments, please.  I just needed to write.  Thank you for your patience.

CollectorofsoulsandindependentIMG_20151210_064634_hdr

Time for Some Self-Reflection

     Well, as of Monday, it is Great Lent for me and all of my Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters.  I have stopped playing mobile games and watching humorous YouTube videos (though speaking of which, you should check out Studio C).  I am also effectively made a vegan, and rice, Oreos, and pasta are a great blessing.

      I have been thinking for some weeks that what I really needed was Great Lent.  I have repeated patterns of laziness, binge-watching Downton Abbey or Star Trek: TNG, being rude to my neighbors, and in general becoming an a-hole.  I need a change.

     And this time of fasting and repentance, to be ultimately followed by Easter, or Pascha, gives me the opportunity to slow down for awhile and really examine myself and what I’m doing.  It’s also an excellent chance for Spring cleaning and planting spinach, but that’s secondary.

     When I start taking my life for granted, I become careless and despondent.  I play Village Life and forget that my life is temporary.  I get wrapped up in domestic affairs and the rights and wrongs of my six siblings behavior, and I forget to analyze mine.

     So I intend to spend Great Lent working on self-improvement, primarily spiritually, but also mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically.  I will began learning new guitar chords.  I will write more.  I will get outside and listen to the birds, feel the wind on my face, and get some exercise.  I will spend time in silence, simply enjoying the aura of my life, and listening to every sound, feeling every bit of material touches my skin, and really appreciating both the fullness and emptiness of life.

     I may try to blog more before Pascha, but no promises.  Thanks for subscribing!

                                                                                            Peace Out,

                                                                                                          Collectorofsoulsandindependent

Sex? Meh.

I am now fifteen years old.  Which is kind of an awesome age.  It’s the first age that I truly feel secure with who I am and what my purpose in life is.

Thirteen and fourteen were generally sucky for me.  That was partly my fault, no doubt, and there was constant angst and anxiety.  And my circumstances supported instability.  My parents literally went to court and divorced the day after my thirteenth birthday.  Then I was in the path for an unending stream of events, including custody battles, a new school, mom struggling to find a good job, new friends, new crushes, new feelings, and in general, confusion.

Now, I hope you can see that this was an extremely volatile period in my life.  I was learning more about the world and about myself, and please be patient with me, I will get to my point.

Sex. I suppose nearly every teenager of that age is fascinated by that once-forbidden subject, which is now so glorified in the media, and so hushed up at home.  And now boys were so much more interesting; the knowledge that they are so fundamentally different from yourself was enough to have you pondering for days.

Of course I went a little boy-crazy in middle school.  And since I go to a tiny school where all ages are kind of lumped in together, of course in the Spring of 2015 I fell in love with an attractive, older, insecure, manipulative guy, right?  Ugh.  Let’s not go into that.

Anyway, now that my life and priorities have somewhat leveled out, I can honestly say that the idea of sex isn’t really appealing to me.  I am not asexual, and I do experience attraction, but I don’t particularly care if nothing happens beyond that.  Sex is weird.

If I marry, than of course I’ll have sex. I’m sure it will be delightful, if other people’s descriptions carry truth.  But I don’t look forward to it; I am not so perpetually fascinated by the secrets of the bedroom as I once was.  And I think that’s okay.

Au revoir,

Collectorofsoulsandindependent

 

 

 

 

Body Image

I recently have been struggling with my body image.  It’s odd, because I know fully well that it is what’s on the inside that counts, and that the only people who judged me by my appearance were the ones whose esteem I didn’t value.

Understand, I have never been by any means overweight.  I’ve always been relatively thin.  My fear was not so much that I was fat, as that I would become overweight.

I began analyzing my body in the mirror, looking at my thighs, my belly, my arms, etc.  I found flaws everywhere.  And I started paying attention to what I ate, and thinking about calories.  I guess I should mention that I get a lot of comments on my body from my family.  Let me give you some examples.

younger brother: You have an enormous butt…. You’re so fat…. her gigantic butt is in my way….

dad: If you start getting close to 130 pounds you should probably slim down…. You should probably be a little underweight, for health reasons…

mom: you’re too skinny… if anything she needs to gain weight… you are extremely skinny….  she’s like *this* big around… I was never that small… I never wore a size 4!

basically every female relative: YOU’RE SKINNY.

I officially don’t believe any of those.  On the 5th of this month, the day after I had been stunned and rather hurt by my mom’s accusations of “restrictive eating”, and staring in the mirror wondering if I really had lost that much weight, and if I was too skinny, I looked in the mirror again, and realized that I like how I look.

I know that I am a healthy weight.  I think I look good.  I will not give license to people’s negative comments on my appearance.  I do not want to lose weight.  I do not want to gain weight.  I will not eat past satisfaction, nor will I let myself go hungry.  Furthermore, I will wear makeup because I want to, not because I “have” to.  I will wash my face, but realize acne is a force of nature, not to be controlled.  I will wear clothes that I am comfortable in.  I will not spend hours on my hair unless I make the time and I want to.  How I look is hardly the most important thing about me.  And in my private opinion, which you all have the right to disagree with,

                                                               I am friggin’ sexy.