Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Fall Y'all

We are headed into the ninth week of school. Midterm exams are Thursday & Friday and then the new quarter starts next week. As always, time is flying by and I am grasping to hold onto some of the memories.

The fall season feels like it begins with the Franklin Fall Festival. The Key Clubbers paint faces and play games to raise funds for Children's Miracle Network. For the first time this year, there were many other face painters- several for free. So, we are going to have to create some new fundraising ideas for the venue next year.

Benjamin visited the Fall Festival for a while. He redefined the game of corn hole (played as a bean bag toss) by taking the bags out after they had been thrown in; as if by looking through the hole he had discovered these bags that no one could see otherwise.

We also visited the Boykins Pumpkinfest this year, where the Key Clubbers ran the Kid's Corral of games & activities. It was definitely more kid-friendly than the Franklin event, but overall, I'm rather disappointed by the image of "fall festivals" around here. It serves as a venue for at-home businesses more than anything else. At least Boykins had hay rides and a few goats in a pen called a Petting Zoo. I guess I just want the brass band playing in the park while everyone eats apple pie kind of event that movies are made of.

Homecoming was early this year. The theme was "Inspired." For "Throwback Tuesday" I wore the purple poodle skirt from last year's Relay. For "Celebrity" Day I went as... (wait for it)... Van Gogh. Yeah, the kids didn't get it either. I covered a black apron with paint splatters and wore a bandage over one ear and paint brushes stuck in my pony tail. Even co-teachers asked what happened to my ear. The kids, even after I explained to them who I was, still didn't get it. I just should have resurrected Cruella D'Ville, as planned, but I couldn't find any white hair paint in the stores.

Cameron went to Homecoming with his friend, Elizabeth. It was a very different Homecoming experience than my many years with Justin (and not just because it lacked girlfriend drama). He went with a group of friends. So, I left him at the park after pictures and they shuttled him from dinner to the dance. Also, I could not volunteer to chaperon the dance this year because being amidst college football season, I was home with Benjamin. I still think he managed to have a good time without me ;)

Most different around the McHenry household though is the advent of fall decorations around the house. Once upon a time I used to get really involved in all the holidays, but kids grow up, life gets busy, and at some point my festooning fell back to be only the Christmas schwag I begrudgingly put out late into the season. I want to embrace the holidays more. All of them- even Groundhog's Day. Last year, I promoted the idea of "Cancer Takes No Holiday" for a Relay theme, thinking it would encourage me to be more holiday-oriented. It didn't. So, I don't know what spurned me to break out the holiday color-coordinated tubs of decor this year- maybe knowing I could post pictures of them to my blog? Ha!

Oddly, we don't have many surfaces around the house, so most of the pumpkin & scarecrow tchotchkes landed on the mantle and the key table. There are are surprises nestled here & there. Like the two scarecrows in the foyer's window that Benjamin says are "holding hands" or the skulls on the living room table that he chases us around the house with as he "ooOooOOohhhhs" with them. (Yeah, that whole scare the toddler game we tried backfired. "Scary" is his favorite word right now rather than a plea for help.)
It used to be that I would have a distinct memory of when and where I bought each holiday item. That is no longer the case. Perhaps it's because of age, ha, or perhaps it's from years of buying the stuff for "next season" and it took MANY "next seasons" to finally get to the season to set it out. Maybe too it's having a youngun around again... and it makes you kind of a jerk if you don't celebrate all the pre-school construction-paper-homaged holidays. Or it makes you a Jehovah Witness, and well, my Saturdays are already too busy for that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Power of Negativity

I have a couple of different blog entries that have been rattling around in my brain for a while. Since the other involves copious amounts of pictures, I will ponder on this one for a while...

The sun's bright rays shine upon the heads of some people wherever they may step. Some people are so filled with positivity that rainbows spurt from their nose when they sneeze. I am not one of those people.

I am prone to negativity. Prone much in the way that a divining stick can't help but shake in the hand of its owner spastically until it reaches the water it seeks. Plainly put... I'm a bitch.

Or I can be. I've been working on it.

If I wanted to get all psycho-analytical about it, I guess I could blame it a childhood that rivals the plots of a Lifetime movie marathon on family dysfunction. I could blame it on those formative teen years when I took the "smart" classes, where I had no friends... or those same years when those same "friends" so openly talked about me behind my back... and I pretended not to care... well, because friends are so important during those formative teen years. I could make a whole list of things to blame it on, but I won't. Because it doesn't really matter.

I've gone through most of life having "one good friend" and then a circle of acquaintances. The "good friend" has fluctuated over the years, usually determined by which college I was attending or which job I was working at the time. The one constant though was the bonding factor that was our negativity and bitchiness.

I allowed myself to be absorbed into these toxic relationships for years. Friendships are mostly formed over common interests. Ours would be a general disdain for everything and everyone... and that's probably being kind.

In retrospect, I guess that I can look back now and see that it was the outward reflection of how unhappy I was with life. With myself. But that is me getting needlessly analytical again.

What is more important is that the time came in life, maybe about 5 years ago, when I became acutely aware of this trait. I would make effort to disengage myself from any conversations I saw leading to this path again. This meant rejecting some potential friendships and allowing myself not to "fake" others. In much the same way a recovering alcoholic is not going to hit the bars with his buddies, I was not going to engage in general bitchiness. This, of course, was a constant battle. I failed constantly. Not to make light of the alcoholic metaphor, I even found "sponsors"- generally upbeat people (those of rainbow snot) to absorb the good vibes from.

Then, I fell off the wagon completely. I fell hard and fast... for a new friend. I know that sounds... odd, but in reflecting on how quickly we fell into a friendship and then how harshly and abruptly it ended, it becomes very lucid how related the threads of all relationships are- friendship or otherwise. We skipped right over the acquaintance stage and fell into serious friendship quickly- the kind of friendship where on a day that you only e-mail about a dozen times and text about 30 messages, it feels like you hadn't talked at all that day. Then, the time came that I had to make some decisions for "me." And, just as abruptly as the hours long text marathons began, they ended. "Ended" is not an effective verb to truly express the abrupt halt to all forms of communication. The Break Up. In greater retrospect now, I can see how the negativity I had tried to pull away from had surfaced again, as a central point of that friendship. So much of our friendship was based on the common bond of disdain. Few conversations could evolve without general bitchiness pervading it. The faults of everyone else were just so evident to us... Then, I made decisions to remove myself from some of those situations- which was really best for all involved- and without that common basis about which to kvetch, the friendship ceased to exist. (And yes, I am being kind in that assessment. At peace.)

Now, I am back to trying to steel myself against the negativity that nips at me from every direction.

Jason once said about the military that "The only constant thing is change." The same can certainly be said about education. This year that can be said very loudly and very clearly. There a lot of changes going on... and I embrace every last one of them. It's draining to get on Facebook anymore and see the stream of complaints about school and work. In the face of so much stress and negativity, I have tried to be enthusiastically positive. I refuse to take part in the negative banter for the sake of being social. I am just not going to let myself get absorbed into it again. This can make for some lonely times.

Tonight I was faced with someone trying very hard to manipulate me into engaging in name-bashing someone who I work closely with and admire. I refused to give into it. As a matter of fact, I came to that person's defense when I could have just said nothing, and that felt pretty darn good.

So anyway, this is just what has been on my mind lately, being in an environment where it takes a conscientious effort to remain positive right now- and knowing how easily I can succumb to "The Negative." It's something I want to stay conscious of. To continue to strive toward.