Thursday, August 4, 2011
You know...the moments where someone does or says something that makes you look around to check and make sure that 1. everyone just saw/heard the same thing you just did and 2. that they're having a hard time believing it as well...
There's also the ones that aren't as mind blowing but that are just...annoying. irritating. Unnecessary.
I'd like to share some of my recent "...really?" moments :
1. This is a pretty common one but it bothers me more than is warranted:
Someone sends an fyi email at work- an update on a situation or whatever. and two or three people feel the need to hit "reply all" and say " thanks!" or "got it" or whatever. Seriously?? the whole office does not need to thirty emails a day that say one or two words and that have nothing to with them. My personal favorite is when it goes on even longer than that. Example. A co-worker emailed a bunch of us asking for someone to cover something for her. Someone hit reply all to say they'd do it (that's understandable because now we all know it's covered.) But then we all got 4 or 5 more "reply all" emails as they worked out the details. ...really?
2. So that one is kind of dumb but here's one that's far more serious.
As many of you know I work for a domestic violence and sexual assault agency called Voices Against Violence. I'm specifically their rape crisis counselor but most of our clients primarily identify with domestic violence over sexual assault so I do both. This week I took a client to court. She has a baby with her perpetrator and she'd had a year long restraining order against him for herself, but not their daughter who he was still allowed to have visits with. However recently there'd been a lot of evidence that he was being abusive to their daughter as well ( who, by the way, is officially the fattest, cutest, little ball of baby pudge I've ever seen in my life. 22 months old and has to weigh like half of what I do.) So we were going to court to hopefully revise the visitation so that his visits had to be supervised. This whole event led to several "...really?' moments.
First of all, both the father and the court were being ridiculously difficult. First there had been an entirely different court date that he claimed to know nothing about ( despite the fact that she'd told him several times). The court then decided that since they didn't have an address for him and he refused to give one that it was HER job to serve him the papers to appear. That's right. This little 18 year old girl, who had a year long restraining order on this guy that expired 1 week ago is supposed to SERVE this guy papers stating that she's claiming he's abusing their daughter and she's taking him to court. Oh, and they suggest that she do this when she's meeting him to give him her daughter for a visit. So get him good and mad JUST as he's taking your 22 month old daughter. ...really?
So the poor thing is brave enough to serve him. We get to court. and the woman we have to register with says that it has to have a sheriff's signature saying he was served ( ...but a sheriff didn't serve him...). When I pushed it, she says that if he's willing to sign it stating he received the papers, and IF he has ID and IF she can find a notary we can go forward. But, she says, if he wants to claim he was never served he can do that. So she basically GIVES him the idea to lie. .......really?
Now this punk kid is STANDING there....AT his court date. Meaning he knew when and where to come. And not only that, he's HOLDING the copy of the papers in his hands. Where else would he have gotten them? As soon as this woman says he can claim he never got them, he puts the papers behind his back ( if they can't see them, they're not there....) and says " She never gave it to me" ........really?
So I say " she never gave you what?" and the kid (as I was hoping he'd be dense enough to do) pulls the papers out from behind his back and says "the papers. She never gave them to me." .......really?
SoI ask him where he got them then and he gets all flustered and I just have the kid on the ropes when the stupid registry woman says "well he still doesn't have to sign it if he doesn't want to." ...are yous till talking??? So I give him my teacher/mom look...the classic "you-will-do-what-I-say-or-something-unspeakable-will-befall-you" look and say " are you seriously going to drag this process out longer? Sign the paper. Or we'll all just have to come back yet again because we're not dropping this." So he shows TWO forms of ID...to a friggin' notary...and reads this like..three lined document over for about 30 minutes he finally signs it and we're allowed to proceed. ...really?
Believe it or not...it gets better...
So because they were trying to settle it without appearing before a judge they met with a probation officer first. Since the restraining order is no longer in effect I wasn't allowed to go in with her. But she comes out and tells me that the father took the opportunity to ask to be awarded 10 more hours of visitation per week. Not only was this not the forum for that, but we'd all DRAGGED ourselves down there in the first place to determine if he was even going to be ALLOWED to see his daughter without supervision. And he decides that NOW would be a good time to ask for more visit hours........really?
3. A lighter one: A couple of months ago my boyfriend and I went out to dinner. As we were waiting to be seated a man came out who had just finished eating and was leaving. As he passed the hostess station, without slowing down or missing a beat, he sticks his whole, rather large, hand into the dish of after-dinner mints, and pulls out such a large handful that he has to use both of his hands to contain it, and then continues to walk out without so much as batting an eyelash. I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard. I mean...really?
4. People who use the break down lane as their own personal fast lane during rush hour. ...really?
5. An honest to goodness line from a resume (and no I didn't get this from a website or something) " I have been passionately thinking about volunteering for the last 10 years." ....really?
6. So. y'all know about my cat, Max. Because I seem to believe that he is actually my child, and in order to keep him very healthy and me free of huge vet bills, I buy him rather expensive cat food. If you buy it in the super large bags it's not that much more expensive and keeps him healthy. I used to feed him "Science Diet", but then once after he spent some time with my parents whose cats eat an even slightly more expensive and healthy brand called "Blue", my mom mentioned that he had really liked it and I might want to consider switching him to that. Well, boy was she not kidding. I purchased a huge 15 lb bag of it but was continuing to feed him the science diet until I ran out. Without any front claws, so all with his teeth, that punk ripped around the entire circumference of the bag to get to the blue food. and I didn't realize it until i went to pick it up one day and this 35 dollar bag of food went EVERYWHERE...really Max?
Since then he's been on the Blue and I'd tried to keep the bag out of his line of vision and we'd had no further problems. Until recently. One day I apparently didn't leave him enough food and he ran out before I got home ( before you feel sorry for him, please realize that he's a little piggy and already eats way too much.) He found the bag of food and started to rip it open again. So I put it up on a shelf , put a bag around it, and put a towel over it. In the middle of the night I heard him getting into it again, so I re wrapped it all up, and wrapped the entire bag with three blankets. Wrapped- not just laid the blankets over, but wrapped all the way around so the weight of the bag was holding the blankets in place. I woke up to find that he had somehow managed the get it unwrapped from three blankets, had bitten through the bag and had chewed a huge gaping hole in bag of food as well. Now only if I could get him doing all this on tape I could sell it to "Blue" and it could be a commerical showing what a cat will do to get their food...
Oh. And by the way...his bowl of food? Totally full.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
I had a full sized mattress/bed. And then (long story) I ended up with a queen sized. For free, no less. That's my kind of deal.
Now...here's the thing I shouldn't admit....for SOME reason, I had it in my head that full and queen sized sheets were the same. Yeah. I know. I have no idea why I thought that made sense. I still swear I've seen on some kind of packaging the words "Full/Queen" and I thought it had been on sheets. I figured that they were pretty close, and that on full sized mattresses they were a little loose, and then on queen sized they were tighter....or something. Truly, my logic didn't go very far. Clearly, I hadn't thought it through.
So. I set up my new bed, completely on my own by the way. (that's right, I moved a full sized box spring and mattress out of my room, and moved a queen sized box spring and mattress into my room all by myself. Leave your messages about stubbornness and stupidity at the tone..... *beeeeeeeep*)
Believe it or not, that was the EASY part. I then proceeded to try and put my full sized sheets....on my queen sized bed. In retrospect, I REALLY REALLY wish that I had a video of it. I think that was the best work out I'd had in A WHILE.... For some reason, it took quite some time to sink in. I kept thinking that I had the sheet placed wrong, and would turn it 90 degrees in the hopes that I had just done it wrong....but (obviously) to no avail. Now most people at that point would have admitted defeat and realized that they needed to get different sized sheet. But I am not most people. I am Ashlie Stitt. I live to make a complete fool of myself.
I'm sure those of you with active imaginations can picture me flying all over my room...hitting the wall...falling off the bed....etc. I don't need to report that this did NOT end well. Again, a You-tube video of this event would've been a BIG hit. I wound up lying on my sheet-less bed, sweaty, out of breath and utterly defeated.
Then, and only then, did I call my mom and say "hey....are full and queen sized sheets NOT the same thing???"
Now that I probably have you laughing hysterically at my expense, allow me the metaphoric moment:
This made me thing about all the times in my life that I really thought I knew what I was talking about, or I really thought I knew what was best. I would be so intent to make something work- just so incredibly sure that I could make something I wanted, happen. I just had to want it bad enough. And be willing to get a little sweaty...and bruised...
And all the time Heavenly Father was watching me try to force a full size sheet onto a queen sized bed, shaking his head, thinking, " Good grief, Miss Ashlie, when will you learn??"
I'd also like to point out that, other than making me stupid, thinking that the full and queen sized sheets were the same thing was actually NOT the problem. The problem was that I waited until I'd declared war on my mattress to actually call and ask the simple, and at that point, already answered question. Yes, I'd still look like an idiot, but at least I wouldn't be an idiot covered in sweat.
It was a great reminder to myself to not force things. And to be willing to concede that I might now know what is best. I should just let it ride and have some trust. And buy some queen sized sheets. :)
So I have started a bunch of blog entries...and not QUITE finished them....and it's just stupid. So I'm about to post a couple in a row.
The first one- " In the service of love" was written in October
the second one-"the parable of the bed sheets"- was written in November.
and there will be another coming soon... :)
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
That's a pretty standard question for anyone to ask. If someone knows enough to know that you're a student, that's one of the most commonly asked, if not the most commonly asked, default questions.
And why not? It's a good question. However, it's also one of those queries where, more often than not, the asker doesn't REALLY want a complicated answer. I mean, in fairness, I ask questions all the time that I really don't care for a detailed answer. "How are you?" If the cashier at the check out line started giving me a long winded answer, going into specifics about their work life, personal life, health, mood, etc....I'd probably be a. shocked, and b. likely to try and extract myself at the earliest opportunity. I mean, if they want to say more than "fine", I'm cool with that, but I'm not going to pull up a chair.
But I digress. (shocking)
Although it is meant as a simple and safe question....in my case you probably couldn't ask a more complicated question...
Many of you know that I am currently in my first semester in the Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine Program at the Boston Medical Center. This is a unique program in that it is housed in a medical school, and offers a scientific, neuro-psychology approach, and is more clinical that some other programs. It's a great program and I 1. love it and 2. am still waiting for them to tell me my acceptance letter was a mistake....
So how IS school? Well, as previously stated, I love it. At the same time? It can be a little rough. It's busy, and the course work can be a little challenging, etc but that's really not why. It's a program where you are encountering and facing things about the world that you don't like; where you are learning about yourself and you biases. You are re-evaluating the way you look at the world, what your opinions are, how you feel about people, social issues, etc. In many ways, you're basically getting to know yourself in an entirely new context.
Believe it or not...this can be a little emotionally taxing. You are consistently aware of your own shortcomings, the depravity of some, the indifference of others, the misconceptions and ignorance of many. In many ways I am very aware that I am just one, small, tiny little girl in a large world full of intense problems. It can start to feel very lonely and your work very futile. In addition to be only one...you start to become acutely aware that YOU are screwed up. I have my own issues. I am entirely imperfect. What on earth can I possibly offer or do? are you kidding?? I'm just lucky I got up and dressed in matching clothes that aren't on backwards this morning....
So for example. Today we watched a video on trauma. The stories these people told brought me to tears. I am...constantly amazed by how people hurt each other, and with what little regard they attend to some one's emotional well being. These people had gone through things I had never even considered as possible. Their authenticity and open demeanor broke my heart. As I sat in my class, unsuccessfully trying to hide my emotion, I had those feelings of "what on earth am I doing??" And then suddenly, one of the men in the video who had started working with other victims, offered some eloquent insight. He said, " In the service of love, only broken hearts will do."
At the moment I realized...the fact that I have been hurt in my life, the fact that I am often an utter screw-up...my very humanity is what will make me GREAT at what I do! When you are serving others in love, your heart has to be broken. You have to be REAL and genuine. You have to be a person- flawed, and ever-failing.
So school? It's breaking my heart. And I love it. :)
Monday, August 23, 2010
Therefore the next few entries will probably be a smattering of random thoughts and events that I have had since I started school again. But before I get into that, I want to share a story of something that happened right before I started my new program. An event that, I believe, was both symbolic as well as indicative of not only my past, but of things to come.
It started with a board game.
Yes. A board game. The board came called Life. You remember that one, right? You start off as a tiny pink or blue peg in a little car, you spin the wheel, and hope to end up at "millionaire acres". You can make choices about college, career etc but truth be told, most of the game is left up to chance and the spin of the wheel and/or draw of the cards. There are stops to get married, places you land to have children, and buy a house, etc. You can land on drawing "life tiles" which you keep face down. When you turn them over, there are various accomplishments on the back and an accompanying dollar amount. They range from things like the winning the Nobel Prize, to reading to your child. At the end of the game you get to turn them over and see all the many cool things you accomplished in your life, and collect the associated dollar amounts.
This past August I had gone home to my parent's house and we decided to play said game together. It turns out...that I am a disaster at Life. ( please avoid taking the easy shot. I'm about to say it for you anyways...) I kept landing on things that made me lose my turn like flat tires and car accidents ( how ironic....) and I was spinning more ones and twos than were statistically conceivable. By the time I finished school, both of my parents were easily half way through the game, and when I finally got to the "Get married" square, my parents were 3/4 of the way to the end. ( Again. Resist. Don't worry. It's comin'.) I lost my job twice, lived in the cheapest house that I could get, and had to take about a billion turns to finish off the game once my parents reached the end. I thought for sure I was in dead last place for the game.
However, when we finally added everything up, I had actually won the game. And not just by little...I had slaughtered them both. I was completely shocked. It might sounds stupid and corny, but I immediately thought of several analogies to the real game of life ( at least...MY game of life....)
Yes. Sometimes I am a disaster at REAL life, too. Did I say sometimes?...I meant...something else... like kinda always. ( phew. said it. you can now exhale.) Sometimes I feel like a total "mess in a dress". And I'm sure that that viewpoint is shared by many. I am STILL in school. I'm getting a SECOND masters. In order to accommodate an internship and an honors program, undergrad took me five years. ( Ironically, I did everything for the honors program except the final thesis...so it only made my coursework take longer because I had to do things like take an advanced math AND an advanced language...AND I voluntarily sold my soul to the HFAC by singing for BYU choir which was one credit but took the time of 5 or 6....) I have been engaged ( and not only once...but a little bit twice...) and I am still not married. To this point I've had very few good relationships, and no good relationships that lasted any considerable length of time... ( anyone getting depressed yet besides me? )
I metaphorically "stumble and fall" a lot. But my reaction when I was such a mess at the game was important...
I mean, come on...it's funny!! Of course there was a little pinch of "ouch. this is hitting a little too close to home..." and then I decided to shrug it off and to laugh. That decision was CRUCIAL to me enjoying the game- just like life. ( as in real life.) Now, I'm not going to pretend that throughout all the disasters of my life that I have always been able to laugh at my situation, but I think that my sense of humor helped me more than I can express, and that a general positive and optimistic attitude is vital to being happy. I might be a disaster...but at least I'm a disaster with a smile on my face who is laughing at herself. ( ALMOST as hard as everyone else....)
I also found it ironic that I was doing a lot better than I thought I was. This was partially due to the life tiles, but I think I also was being hard on myself and only recognizing when something bad happened, and only noticing the good things my parents were "doing".
Why are we so hard on ourselves? When I'm being honest I have to admit that I focus primarily on all the wonderful things that other people do- their talents, their accomplishments, their strengths, and then look at everything that I do wrong. I think that is in part because I don't KNOW what they do wrong, because I'm not always with them whereas I can't get rid of myself, but I also think that bottom line I'm hard on myself. I think we're ALL way too hard on ourselves. And at the end of the day...we're doing better than we think we are.
Also, I think there's something to be said for the fact that you don't get to see what you accomplished until the end of the game. I believe strongly that we are unaware of much of the good that we do, or at least the degree to which it impacts those around us, and that at the end of our life we will be blown away by all the good we accomplished and those we helped.
So yes. In many very real ways I am a total screw up. But overall? I think I'm winning :)
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
It's not a secret that I was engaged until this past February.
And yes. I am still very much okay with that. Beyond okay, really. What was ironic was that everyone's concern for me started when I was coming out of the woods instead of during the year and a half PREVIOUS to the break up. It took me about two weeks, of what I will admit was crazy insane emotional pain. And then, what felt like almost instantly, my blinders came off and I became incredibly grateful for things turning out the way they should. I have been very, very happy ever since. But I digress.
What might be less known is that I started dating someone pretty quickly after my engagement break- a guy in my Boston ward named Mark Bean. We had a great relationship. Mark treated me incredibly well, we communicated very effectively, and we were great friends in addition to dating. We split amicably and with absolutely no drama because he was moving away for two years, and I had gotten into my program that will be keeping me here for at least two years. Our relationship was exactly what I needed to help heal, process, and to have a good taste in my mouth concerning relationships in general. I am so grateful tor the interaction and time we were afforded, and for the chance I had to get to know Mark as a person.
Then came: My unpopular decision.
I decided that for the summer I would not date. I mean, not that I wouldn't go on a date, but barring a piano falling on my head, I refused to get into anything even remotely resembling a relationship. At least for the summer. And even then...we'll see. Like...we'll take the summer and then it'll be up for review.
This decision elicited quite a reaction. Some were just extremely surprised while others considered it quite an irrational, rather irresponsible and/or self destructive choice. Others thought it just plain stupid. After all, I'm not getting any younger, and why would I take myself out of the running for a relationship when I'm sooo clearly running out of time....( don't get me started).
On a slightly more serious note, not only am I not 19, but I love being in a relationship. I am really intensely loyal, fiercely monogamous, and I get a sick amount of pleasure out of doing things for a boyfriend or whomever. Meaningful personal relationships, romantic or otherwise, are where I get my joy and where I find purpose. Most people that know me well know that about me- that I love relationships in every form. I don't want fifty thousand acquaintances- I seek to build relationships. This is why, I think, a lot of people were surprised by this decision. While it doesn't seem like a huge deal, it did feel like an odd thing to do. Moving the opposite direction on the spectrum, almost growing younger is not something I generally would want, or consider it smart, or even natural, to do.
So I thought the reasons for disapproval for my choice, varied from...well...to put it bluntly, asinine and kind of insulting, to understandable. And I got it. I mean, it made sense, knowing me. But I felt strongly that this was the best decision for me at that time. So, I ignored everyone. Shocking, I know. (As a side note- believe it or not, I DO listen. And legitimately consider. I simply reserve the right to utterly ignore.)
But moving on: This decision? Best decision of my life. I absolutely needed this time. I feel it was incredibly vital for me to reestablish my independence.I realized after a few weeks that I truly felt SINGLE. The reason I could tell? It was a BRAND new feeling! I suddenly became aware that I had not been, what I would consider truly single in a long time- arguably since I REALLY started dating. For the last six or seven years of my life, I honestly feel like I have 1. Been in a relationship 2. Been getting out of a relationship 3. Been "complicated" with someone 4. Been getting into a relationship 5. Majorly hung up on someone and therefore unable to really feel like I was "free" or 6. Any numerous combination of the above. I was tired. And I needed a break. It was an amazing feeling to feel obligated to NO ONE.
I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for knowing me better than I know myself- to know exactly what I need, and for guiding my life and decisions. It is times such as this that I realize how much I trust Him. The experiences I've had and the people I've been blessed to know could only have been so perfectly crafted by a loving Father in Heaven.
So. I'm single. And lovin' it.
This does not mean I'm going to become addicted to being single. All it means is that I'm really enjoyin' it. So if something or someone is going to drag me away? It's going to have to be good. Dang good :) :):)
Thursday, March 25, 2010
So I've been having several interesting conversations with people as of late, that had a common theme: The notion that I, as a religious person, have fairly cut and dry ideas and beliefs of what is right and what is wrong- of what will make people happy vs what is simply instant gratification. Many people seem to equate this personality type as someone who is judgmental- who has no room for others in their life who do not live by the same set of "moral rules", and who view themselves as near perfect and are therefore, intrinsically hypocritical.
Although I do believe that this description is true of some religious and/or conservative people, I feel like it is equally as true of those who are not. So many are screaming for tolerance so loudly that they are completely ignoring their OWN intolerance. Why is it not my right to believe as I do? Where is your tolerance of me, and my beliefs? And for heavens sake, calm down and stop screaming because THAT is oppressive...
Ironically, although I have many, many things in my life that I am not proud of, that I know I need to work on, and that I am woefully inadequate at, I would have to say that compassion is one of my greatest strengths. Morality and rigid personal rules are not a necessary precursor to judgment. You can judge an action without judging a person. As I have gotten older, I have NOT become more liberal in my view of what is fundamentally right and wrong, but I'm more broad minded with how I view those who try and fail, for those who see things differently, etc.
Examples: Infidelity? Wrong. Stealing? Wrong. Sexual promiscuity? Wrong.
However, I don't think that given the right set of circumstances that I would be above those things. I would hope I'd have the strength to say no, but I'm not assuming that I would. I don't understand everyone's circumstances. I don't know their thoughts, feelings, hearts, emotions, etc. It doesn't make their actions right, it means that I might do the exact same thing if I were them because I'm a weak human, too. I know that there are good, sweet, amazing people that have done things that are very wrong. I have done many things that are just plain wrong. that doesn't negate who they are or I am as a human being. It is our humanity that gives us this weaknesses, as well as the inner moral courage to overcome them, and the compassion towards other to display forgiveness and mercy. Therefore morality and compassion are not mutually exclusive characteristics in me or anyone else.
Also, as a fun little...feminism side note: Also in these conversations, the topic of "typical male behavior" came up and what you would just have to let go because "men are men". I'm sorry...but I don't accept that. Biologically programmed or not, men are completely capable of controlling themselves. We overcome a good percentage of what our "biological" impulses. Is it NORMAL for a 2 year old to throw a tantrum? Well...yeah...but they are supposed to mature and not do that eventually. Is it normal to WANT to key someone's car when they screw you over? Yeah...but you don't do it. If you're hungry and someone's eating...do you want to steal their sandwich when they're not looking? Yeah...but you don't do it, because that would be immature, selfish and wrong. What makes us humans, not animals, is our self control. Men have that ability, too. Expect it from them. They're up to the challenge, I promise.
Also....on the other side of that...I am getting a little sick of men talking about how manipulative women are; the complaints that women are so incredibly irrational, and that all that is possibly wrong with this world is that women are just too darn emotional and have ruined everything. I do agree that women can be a big, fat, pain, and I don't exclude myself from that. In fact, in general, I prefer being with men over women. However...I do just want to quote...a favorite TV show in closing because it's pretty much exactly how I feel:
"I love men!... But you cannot ignore history. History has shown that, in general, it has been the men who have done the raping and the robbing and war mongering for the past 2000 years. It has been the men who have done the pillaging and the beheading and the subjugating of whole races into slavery. It has been the men who have done the law making, and the money making, and most of the mischief making. So, if the world isn't quite what you had in mind, then you have only yourselves to thank."