I was at work last week, and somebody asked me if I had tried a certain meat product.  When I said no, he automatically replied with, “I didn’t know you were vegetarian!  I mean, I figured you ate meat because of the gun thing.” (I’m pretty open about my views on guns and gun control at work, and people know that I carry outside of work).  I was pretty stunned.  I mean, this fellow made two assumptions: because I hadn’t tried the product, I was automatically a vegetarian, and because I carry a gun, this presents a disparity.  I disagree on both parts.

First, just because I’m an omnivore doesn’t mean that I have tried everything that has meat in it.  I have never tried blood sausage or veal or venison either.  That lack of experience does not make me a vegetarian.

Second, just because I carry a gun does not mean I can not be a vegetarian.  I don’t carry a gun to hunt-I carry it for self-defense.  I actually know a vegetarian who carries a gun, and it’s not weird or shocking to me.  There are lots of reasons that people are vegetarians, and there are lots of reasons that people carry guns-assuming that the two overlapping is strange is kind of naive.

I know that the comment was not meant in an insulting way.  I know that.  I was just really surprised by the instant use of stereotypes.  I think that as soon as this fellow found out I carry, he automatically fit me into a category that I’m not really sure I fit into.  I was disappointed.

Unfortunately, we all do this.  We meet someone and automatically categorize them based on one or two things we know about them.  But people are so much more complex than that.  We are so much more than just Republicans or Democrats, men or women, young or old.  We are more than our race, our job title, or our education.  And it frustrates me when we stereotype others based on a set of often inaccurate assumptions about a group.

So please, don’t assume I can not be a vegetarian just because I carry a gun.  Never mind that I’m not; just don’t assume that.

First of all, I’m back!  I have almost completed my first round of chaos.  The research proposal is in, as is the homework, and the test I was supposed to take today was moved to Thursday.  I have already studied for it, so anything beyond what I have done will be less pressured, which is nice. 

Now, in my last post, I mentioned an internship I am applying for.  After the class I am currently sitting in, I am going to print out my updated resume and hand in my application, which means that I am done considering applying for this internship and now I am really doing it.  There’s something scarily final about turning in an application; it means that it is actually in writing somewhere that I have decided to pursue the path the application takes me.

So what is this path, you may ask?  Well, I am currently applying for the Arizona State Legislative Internship Program.  For an entire semester, I would work with state representatives, committees, and maybe even the Supreme Court or the Governor.  I would not be getting coffee or running errands.  I could work as a liaison, or present information to different groups in legislature.  I would be expected to research and write.  And, I would even get paid; not only is my tuition waived for the semester, but I am paid $4,200 for my work.  While this may not be a lot of money for four months, quite a bit of it could just be saved.  Plus, I would still receive federal aid in the form of grants, which could also be squirreled away.

So what’s the catch?  Well…it’s…in Phoenix.  And I can not commute from Tucson every day.  That means that I would have to live for a semester in Phoenix.  Since the internship is full-time, I could not transfer to another store, so I would have to either take a leave of absence or quit my job, and I am not sure if I can take a leave of absence due to the $4,200 I am being paid. 

I would have to move away from my husband, my immediate family and most of my friends (I have extended family and a few friends who are going to school in Phoenix, so I wouldn’t be completely alone).  It would also mean temporarily leaving youth ministry, and leaving my awesome, brave, smart, sweet students for four months.  Four months!  That may not seem like a lot of time, but so much can happen in that period of time.  I would miss everyone terribly, especially Nason.  I would miss our late night drinks and conversations.  I would miss hiking and gardening with him.  It’s a scary thought, to leave everything behind for a semester, but the opportunities and adventures that this internship  would provide are too good to pass up.

I’m getting ahead of myself here.  After all, I still have to make it through two rounds of interviews.  However, I can not help but think that it’s actually happening.

Most of the time the store I work at is filled with pretty cool people.  They are smart, opinionated, and interesting.  They bring their kids (who are adorable) and joke about their weekend.

But then there are the people who are cruel, and impatient, and rude.  Like today.

I was working at a register today when a man came through my line.  He didn’t acknowledge the fact I said hello, to start.  Then he entered his pin wrong.  When I told him that he needed to swipe his card again he looked at me as though I had uttered some sort of profanity.  He had a problem with one of the screens.  I tried to help him, and he yelled at me.  He left in a huff, and I tried to get on with my day, even trying to laugh him off as another grumpy old man.

The woman behind him didn’t see it that way.  She shook her head and angrily said that he shouldn’t have treated me that way.  She told me to hang in there.  And I started crying, because she was right.

I can not stand it when people speak cruelly to one another.  So often we do not think of how the words we say can hurt somebody, and too often when we are hurt we put up our protective armor, distancing ourselves from the problem.  Sometimes I wonder about the disconnection that plagues our 21st century lives.  While often I think it is due in part to the abundance of alternative communication outlets, like Facebook and text, I think the reason we disconnect in the first place is to make it easier to put on a brave face to the world.  The world makes it not okay to be sensitive and emotional, as though these are things that make you less of a person (something that I have always been plagued with).  So we try to make it hurt less.  We put up our walls and hang out in the fortress of our mind, rather than come right out and say when something is the matter.

The thing that has always bothered me is, does putting on a brave face really ever solve anything?  If no one ever raises the issue, whether it be impatience or injustice, does it really ever work itself out?  Perhaps it does some of the time, but not as often as I would like to think.

Or perhaps he was just a grumpy old man.

Yesterday I started to harvest mesquite pods.  For those of you who don’t know (I just recently learned this too) the dry beans can be ground into a tangy flour and used in baking.  Being a passionate cook with a mesquite tree in her front yard, I decided to harvest the beans this year and give it a try.  I went out there, bucket in hand, and began to pluck the beans from the tree.  the trick, I had read, was to just tug on them very gently-if they do not come off easily they are not ready for harvesting.  I got a few off of the lower branches , but most had already fallen to the ground and consumed by rodents and bugs. 

Then I looked up.

At the top of the tree there were a lot of beans that were just right!  My mind started racing excitedly, and I began to try different strategies for getting the beans into my bucket.  I tried grasping the branches and pulling them towards me, but that was very unsuccessful.  I tried to shake the tree, but that was ridiculously ineffective.  Finally, I realized what I had to do.  I took a breath, set my bucket in a safe place, and climbed the tree. 

Although it was more difficult, and I ended up being bitten by a few bugs, I finally managed to grasp the beans at the top.  And they were exactly what I needed.  And now I have lots of beans to be ground into flour, and that makes me pretty happy.

While I was up in the tree, I started to think about how so many life events work the same way.  We always have a few options whenever something that requires work enters into our life:

  1. We can put in little effort (picking from the lowest branches)
  2. We can try to take shortcuts so we are not inconvenienced (grabbing the branches)
  3. We can do it the right way, even when it’s more difficult (climbing the tree)

This can go for anything-relationships, school, jobs, morals, etc.  I’ll admit, sometimes I try to take the shortcut.  If there is a way to do something that’s easier, even though it may sacrifice effectiveness, it seriously tempts me.  But I try to do it the right way, even when it’s hard or frustrating. 

So I guess I’ll end this post with a question: what kind of harvester are you?

I have been working in customer service positions since I was first employed.  First I took a position as a waitress for a small Mexican food restaurant (which is now closed), and now I am at my current job, as a cashier in a grocery store.  And there are times when I can’t stand it.  I don’t plan on being in customer service forever (I want to work as a counselor eventually), so working as a cashier can be frustrating simply because it does nothing to prepare me for that particular career path.

But, even though I would rather be doing something else, I cannot deny the things I have learned, and I would recommend the job to anyone.

Working in customer service teaches you all sorts of life skills that unfortunately are lacking sometimes in daily life.  From working in customer service, I have learned how to be patient.  I have learned humility.  I have learned the art of maintaining a positive attitude despite how I may feel that day.  The specifics of my job have taught me how to be efficient, observant, and thorough.  The people who do well in customer service must have these traits, or at least learn them, in order to survive.

Now, if somebody were to offer me a position that is more relevant to my eventual goals, I would take it in a heartbeat.  My current job is not my ideal job, and (like I said) I do not plan to work there for the rest of my life.  However, the company treats all of us pretty well, and it is a good job for my current stage in life.  And I have certainly learned some life lessons while working there.  I think if everyone worked at least a year in customer service, the world would be a kinder place.  But for now I’ll just keep smiling for those who refuse to.

After UCYC, house sitting, and our trip this past weekend, we are finally home.  Although they have been fantastic, the past three weeks have felt like a marathon, and, quite frankly, I’m glad things are getting back to normal.

It’s nice to be home again, in our own house, living life a little more peacefully.  Now that our big summer plans are done, we have time to actually live in our new house.  Though we started the process of settling in, and we are mostly unpacked, our home plans were put on hold as we went all over Arizona.  So the past couple of days have been nice.  We started getting things ready in the garden, and we now have about half of the chicken wire set, a trench dug, and a game plan for the nasty squirrels that destroyed our first plants.  This morning, we transferred some century plants across the backyard. 

The inside of the house is looking good as well.  Overall the place is cleaner and better than when we moved in.  Right now we are searching for a futon and some end tables to put in our entertainment room and bedroom, and we have plans to paint and tile  in the (hopefully) near future.

It is great to be home.  I love this house, and I especially love the area where we now live.  It is so beautiful, and so full of life.  This morning we saw a family of quail at our bird feeder, as well as finches and thrashers.  There is all sorts of desert wildlife in our own backyard, and, though some of it is troublesome, most of it is interesting and beautiful.  The nights are incredible; we can see all the stars out here from our porch, and it is very quiet and peaceful.  Overall, it is a wonderful place to call home.

PS.  This photo is courtesy of my husband, Nason Simpson

Our house is slowly becoming our space, a little bit each day.  We have scrubbed walls, picked out paint colors, and even found a free desk via Craigslist to put in our developing home office.  We have been gardening, and weeding, and picking up trash.

But the one thing that kept being pushed aside was the kitchen floor.

This floor is pretty gross, to be blunt.  The linoleum is not very flattering, and there are several cracks and scrapes in it that make it the worst part of this otherwise fantastic room.  And, to top it all off, it was filthy.  We said we would mop before we moved the furniture in, but it didn’t happen.  Then we went to Prescott, and now that we’re back I’ve been staring at it in distaste.

And today, I finally mopped it.

It is still an unflattering color, and it is still cracked.  But it is clean now, and it feels like a little weight has been lifted.  This may seem odd, but for me it was a small victory.  I do not like to clean, and I especially do not like to clean things that other people have made dirty, and that floor was dirty when we moved in.  I kept putting it off because I did not want to do it, and I kept making excuses as to why it could be done another day.  But today I said ‘no more.’  I just grabbed the cleaning supplies and went for it.  And I feel better because of it.

I tend to put off the things I do not want to do, and it is something I am trying to change.  Taking care of the house has been a great tool for relieving some of my tendencies to procrastinate, and I hope that the floor can mark a change in my attitude towards undesirable tasks.