A Mind Like a Steel Trap or My Dad Was Right

A Mind Like a Steel Trap or My Dad Was Right

Photo via John-Morgan on Flickr

I’m 31.  When I was in high school (1994-1998) it was right at the time Bill Clinton was being investigated and impeached during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  I don’t remember much about it.  To be honest, I really wasn’t paying much attention.  What I do remember is thinking that Bill Clinton was bad.  Republicans were moral.  Democrats were immoral, irritating, and excusing Clinton’s behavior.  I think this might have been the beginning of my movement to the right.  The political right.

In college, I fell in with a pretty conservative crowd.  Many of my friends were self-identifying evangelical Christians.  Many of them had grown up in both the church and conservative families.  This was not my background.  My parents are Methodist, and they are both social workers.  They tend to lean left in political matters.  One time when I was in college, I was trying to explain something political from my point of view to my dad.  He in turn was trying to convince me that my viewpoint may not be empirically correct or the only side of the story.  Because I was 19 (or so), had a different point of view than my parents, and saw things pretty black and white, I was pretty sure he was wrong and didn’t have much interest in thinking through what he was saying.  After the conversation, he was talking to my mom and said something like, “She has a mind like a steel trap.”

I assume what he meant was that I wasn’t willing to open my mind to let any new ideas into it.  At the time I was sure that he was wrong.  He was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Of course he was wrong.  Wrong, right?

Whenever I didn’t know much about a candidate, I went back to abortion.  If I thought that abortion was wrong and there were thousands of abortions every year I had to vote for the party who was working to prevent that, right?  So, even if I wasn’t quite on board with the Republican’s thoughts on taxes, education, or another issue it somehow came back to black and white and abortion.  Even now as I explain, I’m having a hard time getting it out clearly.  I think at the time it wasn’t nearly as clear in my head as I wanted it to be.  (I got stuck at this point on the post for several days.)  Now, several days later, I still can’t do any better at explaining that thought process than I could then.

Gradually, my views began to change.  First, I started thinking about the death penalty.  I had been in favor of the death penalty, and gradually I realized that I had begun to believe it to be inconsistent with my values.  While I realize there are times in the bible when the death penalty is instituted, I think that there are so many things wrong with the way our society has instituted it, I cannot support it.  From the chances of executing an innocent person to the racial disparity in its use, I have many oppositions to it.  After I changed views on the death penalty, I began to think about other issues.  One by one, I found myself realizing that the core of my being did not believe the views promoted by the Republican party and particularly the Tea Party movement of the GOP.

From the GOP’s movement from a pay-as-you-go philosophy to a cut-as-you-go philosophy to their opposition to any sort of universal health care to their view of climate change, I realized one day.  What the heck!?!?  I am not anywhere near a Republican.  Gulp, in fact, I might be a…Democrat, and my dad might have been right!

I’m not trying to pretend like I suddenly think the Democratic party is perfect.  They have their share of people I’m not thrilled with.  They make decisions I don’t agree with.  They make mistakes.  I’m hesitant to label myself as anything right now, but I have to say my beliefs do fall much further to the liberal side of the spectrum than to the conservative side.

Don’t tell my dad.  🙂

A Place to Call Home

For the first 18 years of my life, I lived in one house. I love my parents’ house. It’s not huge or fancy. It’s not even what I would consider the perfect layout, but man, I love that place. After I left home to go to college, I lived in 11 different places. These include dorms, summer camp cabins, home with my parents for a summer, apartments, and the house we owned for three years. Of those places, the house definitely felt the most like home even though we were there only for three years.

After living in the house for three years, we started to reevaluate our situation. Did we really want to live in a place where it was a 10 mile drive each way to go to work, church, the grocery store, friends’ houses? In addition, our house had two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs. At the time, we weren’t expecting any children to be born in the near future, but we knew it would probably be an issue when Baby #3 was on the way. I also had a really hard time meeting anyone in the small town where we lived. It was primarily a bedroom community with no great places to meet other moms or kids. We talked about what to do for quite a while. Stay or sell? In the end, we decided that most of the things which we considered to be issues or problems were not going to change. We decided to put the house on the market and see if anyone would buy it. To our surprise we ended up with a buyer after the first day on the market. After that, we had a whirlwind 5 weeks of looking at houses, finding none we liked, looking at apartments, doing last minute fixes on the house, and moving!

We’ve been living in our current apartment for just under a year now, and while it’s not ideal, there are definitely things I really appreciate about living here. We are close to friends, close to a park, within walking distance of Jason’s work. The apartment is pretty affordable. It’s really pretty big for an apartment. The laundry room is right off the kitchen and easy to access for me during the day. It has a deck on the north side of the building which allows us shade in the afternoon sun. It has underground parking so I don’t have to take the boys outside to get them in the vehicle in the winter. We have a bike path practically out our front door. We are just a couple minutes from both grocery stores that we frequent. So, as I said, there are many *many* things to like about it. Obviously there are things which I don’t like about it, but I think every house or apartment has things like that.

Originally, our plan was to live in this apartment for a year and find a house this summer. Then, when I found out I was pregnant, we thought it might be better not to go through the work and stress of buying a house and moving during the pregnancy. One of the criteria we had decided on in our search for a house was an attached garage. It’s North Dakota. It can be cold in the winter. It can be rainy or windy throughout the year. Having an attached garage would be really nice. Unfortunately, the more I look at houses the more I wonder if that is a reality for us. My husband is the Chief Technology Officer for his company and does almost all their computer-related work. He also does some web programming on the side. I am a former special education teacher, but I am staying at home with our kids right now. It’s a priority for us to spend time together as a family. Lots of time by some accounts. I could work, but I would be sacrificing time with my young children and my awesome husband. Jason could work more than he already does by doing more programming, but he would then be sacrificing his time with me and his time for running, relaxing, and sleeping. How much can (or should) one person work???

So, because of our priorities, it seems like we have a couple choices. We can continue to live in this apartment and save money and hope that a house in our price range comes up with an attached garage. We can look at houses and go for one that doesn’t have an attached garage. We can wait until this fall (when I will be 7 1/2 months or more pregnant) and look at houses when the pre-winter price reductions happen.

I’m guessing that part of the reason this has become a major issue for me again is because I’m pregnant and probably getting some of those nesting-type feelings. Also, while it’s so much easier to find things to do with the boys in the summer, it’s really hard to keep two boys occupied in the winter. Thinking about doing that and having a new baby is definitely something that’s on my mind regularly. I’m also realizing that even if we stay here another year, with all the money we can save it still will probably not be enough to get a house with an attached garage. *ETA* As soon as I hit publish, I realized that I forgot an important thought! I loved my house growing up, and I want that same sense of place and comfort for my kids.

So, until then, I will be here in our pretty darn good apartment. Not loving the wimpy air conditioner but feeling thankful for the many things which are working out with us being here. And pondering.