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I love my dear friend Cassie and I miss her dearly. More than I can express. We started this blog as a way to keep in touch with one another’s thought life. She is one of the most influential people to my way of thinking and living. So here is some stuff about who we are. I stole borrowed this from a Facebook questionnaire for couples, but I thought it would be funny to write it about Cassie and me.

What are your middle names: Irene (greek for peace) and Dale (which I think is a family name).

How long have you “been together”: We have known each other since the fall of 2003 when we started college. We met at the very beginning of our college days and have stuck together since then.

How old are you both? I am 25 now and Cassie will be 25 in almost exactly a month.

What is the hardest situation you have been through together? I would say that our “separation” for the last 3 years has been most trying. I miss my friend every day. I am glad, however, that when we are together there is no awkwardness or difficulty. Catching up is easy.

Did you go to the same school?  We did not grow up together, but we went to Union University together (Go U U)

Same hometown? See above question.

Who is smarter? My initial  thought is Cassie. She is definitely faster at processing things then me. Neither of us are very Math smart, but Cassie probably still beats me in analytical and strategic thinking. She has made me a better thinker and writer for sure.

Who is most sensitive? We are both normal women and we have our sensitivities. I wouldn’t say that one of us is more sensitive then the other.

Where do you eat out most when you are together? In school our favorite place was Dumplin’s. Fruit tea, strawberry butter on fresh rolls, and cakes and pies that will make you “slap yo momma”. When I visit Cassie in Nashville we venture through the eclectic and fresh food restaurants of  East Nashville (It’s not a zip code, it’s a  lifestyle).

Where is the furthest you have traveled as a “couple”? I am embarrassed to say that it hasn’t been that far. St.Louis? Louisville? I’m not sure. We have traveled long distances to visit one another in the last few years, but that was not together. We need to remedy this soon!

Who has the craziest exes? We both have had a few doozies. I once had a guy I was dating chase another guy to fight him while driving my car. A liquor bottle was thrown at my car during this high-speed chase…We broke up shortly after that.

Who has the worst temper? We like to think of it as righteous indignation…

Who cooks? We both like to cook a great deal and we are both pretty good in different ways. We complement one another in the kitchen. I would also like to say that we like lots of variety in food and enjoy trying new things.

Who is a neat freak? We have both developed a desire for things to be clean. I know my house isn’t always clean, but I sure do like it when it is neat and dog hair dust free. I think Cassie feels the same. Don’t look under my couch though…

Who is the most stubborn? There could be an epic battle for that title. Needless to say, we are both pretty stubborn.

Who wakes up earlier? I think I do, but we both need a lot of sleep and have big girl jobs now for which we must wake in the early dawn.

Where did you meet? Union. It was wonderful! We first really connected when we realized that Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was beloved to us both. We sat for, who knows how long, singing the different songs from the musical. It was magical…In my own little corner in my own little chair….Impossible things are happening every day…

Who is better on computer? Again probably Cassie. She likes to know how things work and I don’t care nearly as much.

Who drives when you are together? I forget where I am going when people ride with me. I talk and get distracted from my course. I blame my mom (sorry Mom). Cassie is a more focused driver than myself. On a spectrum of girl drivers we are both closer to the good then the bad. 

I hope this didn’t bore you too much. It is my Ode du Cassie…

I love you like my right arm…or my left pinkie toe…well you get the picture.

I used to like boys. A lot. Now I like one particular boy who makes me laugh every day and keeps my feet warm on cold nights. Before I meet Ben, there were lots of boys in my life.  I wish there hadn’t been so many sometimes, but, unfortunately,  I loved to flirt. I don’t like to relive these relationships, but I have thought, on more than one occasion, that these boys each added or removed characteristics for which I am glad to have or not have now. Here is the list:

Boy #1 Bobby- I liked this kid forever.  We were friends from 4-7th grade when he asked me to be his girlfriend. For reasons that I still don’t understand and regretted forever, I said I didn’t want to “ruin our friendship”. How does a 7th grader come up with this? TV I suppose. I told him the next day I changed my mind. I guess I was too late. I liked him for most of high school, but I knew that my chances with him were zero. Lesson learned: think before you answer the first time so you don’t have any regrets.

Boy#2  Steven- He is proof that a good boy is not enough sometimes. He was one of the nicest guys I ever dated. What was the problem, you ask? The truth is I have no idea. Honestly. But we broke up and got back together a few times. We didn’t have any mutual friends and our interests had changed (I quit playing basketball, etc). Lesson learned: mutual interests and mutual friends are important to a relationship.

Boy #3 Bradley- This was my longest continuous relationship in Highschool. He was kind and quiet and made me laugh a lot. My friends thought he was too quiet and it made me sad for a long time and also a little determined to make things work. He graduated and moved to Chattanooga (away from our small town) and, at that age, the distance got the best of me. Still a year and a half was a pretty good run for a couple of teenagers. The lesson Brad taught me: Patience and perseverance.

The College Years…

Boy #4- Jimmy- I met Jimmy at a concert. We went on a few dates, didn’t talk for about a year, and got serious (for about a month if that counts). I was pretty sure he was “the one”. He didn’t call me after a date and I didn’t hear from him again until about another year later. Luckily I was a little smarter the second time around. There are lots of things I learned from Jimmy, but to sum it up: hold all things loosely. (I could probably also add that the person who cares the least in a relationship holds the most power.)

Don’t worry…There are only a few more left.

Boy 5#Anthony- Anthony is a guy that I liked for his singing voice and good looks. I’m not sure what he liked about me because we were very different, but he taught me a pretty important lesson: Relax. Don’t seem desperate. It’s unattractive. It was a dose of a needed medicine.

Boy #6 Andy- We dated pretty seriously for a few months. It was probably good that we broke things off, but from Andy I learned to have fun and be spontaneous. Example: we literally drove an hour from Jackson to Memphis to get Girl Scout cookies from his mom who was a sponsor. I also learned that relationships don’t have to be full of angst. It’s actually a lot more fun when they aren’t.

Boy #7 Rob- Rob was one of the smartest guys I dated. He is now at Vandy working on his doctorate degree in Medical Physics (Andy is the other smarty pants…He is in Dental school now). He was a good and sincere guy and is now married to a wonderful woman (who is a pharmacist…Yeah, they’re going to be raking in the dough). From Rob I learned to make a clean break when you end a relationship. None of this “we’re still friends” crap. MOVE ON!

The Last and Greatest of them All:

Benjamin- I say often that I wouldn’t want to be single again. Ben agrees. The great thing about our relationship is that we suffered some injuries in our dating life, but there is so much to be said for what we learned. I would, by no means, recommend my dating life as the ideal, but when I met Ben I was ready for something good and lasting. So, here’s to all those boyfriends in my past. I hope your life is so rich as mine.

I am teaching a unit on Africa in my Honors Geography class. We were talking today about the health issues that exist there including Malaria and HIV/AIDS. I have tried to make it a policy in my classes to be precise and honest with my students about sex and the human body (any time you say sex students wake up and start listening which is a bonus). Per this policy I started asking students about what HIV is, how you get it, and what it is like to be infected. They were clueless and I was shocked. We talked about the scenarios in which infection of any kind of STD can occur and again my honors students were stumped.

During my planning period I did a little investigating and found a number of very revealing and useful statstics on the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) website. I shared this with other classes and again found some students uninformed. When I told them that Birth Control Pills and Patches don’t prevent STDs I saw a few revealing faces. Again, I was honestly thinking, “What the heck???” We spent longer then I thought talking about this topic today and I hope that my students will listen and make some smart decisions about their sex life; that they will wake up and get informed.

We have a responsibility as educators and adults in a society where sex is everywhere. I asked students to guess what percentage of American students have not had sexual intercourse and they guessed numbers like 25%, 14%, 30%, etc. In 2004, the majority of students (55%) were estimated to not have had sexual intercourse. What is the cause of this, you ask? Television and advertising I say. Any 5 minute segment of television is bound to have numerous sexual allusions or images galore.

But all this so far has been my commentary on our educational system, legislative priorities, parenting methods, and the media and entertainment industries. I started thinking (and I’ve been doing this a lot lately), what if this where my very own child? Would I want them to have condoms and be taught how to use them? Would I put my daughter on birth control pills? I want to emphatically say no. But the the honest answer is I don’t know? I don’t have kids now, but what if I did? How would I, on the one hand, develop a child with a healthy sexual view of them selves, while on the other hand create boundaries for enjoying this gift with the right person at the right time? My answer: that’s why I married a therapist.

Maybe the answer lies in the question? I think lots of kids are severely over-sexed. They believe that it is normal to be promiscuous and with multiple partners and the students who do not not feel pressured to have sex are prone to view sex to be “dirty” or “evil”. Developing a healthy view of sex in the right context is a task desperately needed for today’s teenagers. Boundaries are the other difficulty with teens. They need to learn some relational skills, but guiding them through where to go and not go is as tricky as anything I can imagine.

There are parents out there who do not even have the skills to get their kid out of bed for school, let alone create any influence in the kids sex life. This is my shameless plug for therapists in school settings. I talk with parents regularly who seem lost as to how to handle their student and are desperate for some help. There is no one in our public schools really equipped with the tools to help parents with their students. Employing therapists in our schools is the answer to this issue. Better parents make better children. Why would we not want this?

This is as serious a situation as any facing our youngest citizens today. It is a problem among teens of every age, race, and economic status, and I can say little other than the fact as an educator I see the effects of this daily. There is work to be done and changes to be made and we are all responsible and we all can be a part of the solution. This requires us to speak up: to our kids, to the media industry, to doctors, to our legislators. I will not be easy, but it must be done. The risk we run in silence is far too high.

I wrote this last year, but never published it. Maundy Thursday is rolling around soon and I think it still applies.

I have felt the kindess of hospitality, of meals shared with friends. I have felt the lonliness of long nights and the betrayal of ones close to me. I have denied my association with friends when it was advantagous to me. I have cared for people when they were in crisis. I have washed my hands when I should have used them to stop an injustice. I have watched friends suffer from the loss of loved ones. I have (not often enough) set aside my desires for the good of others. In all these ways I find the myself in days leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.

I atteneded a tenebrae service on Maundy Thursday. As we entered the sanctuary there were lit cadles. As the scriptures were read to follow the stations of the cross a light was snuffed out until, with the crucifixion, we were left in total darkness. We exited in silence.

I realized as I was driving home that I feel Christ’s compatriots, their emotions, deeply and freshly. I empathize with their loss, I confess to be unfaithful as they were. What I also relized is that this is, too often, where my experience ends. The feeling of leaving that service in silence and darkness has pervaded my experience with Christ in the last few years. I have lived a sort of christian half-life. I am stuck in the darkness of the crucifixion. I, like the disciples, have  mourned the loss of the presence of Jesus, the presence that I once knew and now feel sometimes without.

It is a hard place to be and a place that lingers in-spite of my vain attempts to shake off the shadows. I am working to find my way out through God’s grace and perseverance in my life. Ready for Christ’s resurrected light.


we should keep this up

The people I love the best

Jump into work head first

Without dallying in the shallows

And swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element,

The black sleek heads of seals

Bouncing like half-submerged balls.

 

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,

Who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,

Who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,

Who do what has to be done, again and again.

 

I want to be with people who submerge

In the task, who go into the fields to harvest

And work in a row and pass the bags along,

Who are not parlor generals and fields deserters

But move in a common rhythm

When the food must come in or the fire be put out.

 

The work of the world is common as mud.

Botched, is smears the hands, crumbles to dust.

But the thing worth doing well done

Has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Greek amphoras for wine or oil,

 

Hopi vases that hold corn, are put in museums

But you know they were made to be used.

The pitcher cries for water to carry

And a person for work that is real.

 

by Marcy Piercy

This says all that I want to say…