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.