Evergreen Senior High: The Good, The Bad, The Completely Unacceptable


#NotAnotherDimeJeffco 

Visitors, now that election season is drawing near, it’s time to highlight some of the pressing issues regarding Jefferson County ballot in November. Jeffco Visitors, this is particularly relevant to you, but general Visitors, I’d like you to track with me here. Sometimes sacred mantras -“Teachers Are Untouchable“- deserve to be debunked. 

I have been a bit apprehensive about publishing this particular column, because it’s important to me not to stoop to the levels I’m about to show you. However, teachers in Jeffco are not a special breed, they are human, with flaws and strengths, just like everyone else. Jeffco as a school system is deeply flawed, and it is troubling to me that we have zero recourse against the incompetence I am about to describe.

Toward that end, I’d like you to meet two Evergreen Senior High School science teachers, the two reasons I banned my last child from attending ANY science classes at EHS. 

Meet Cheryl Manning

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Photo credit:  http://www.ehs-manning.net/

When my first child started at EHS, he had had nine years of demanding Christian schooling. Classes were small, expectations were high, and children were trained to treat teachers with the utmost respect. I brought him to public school with great trepidation. I’ve been a teacher for years, and had my doubts about the consistency of delivery he would receive there. 

Imagine my surprise when I got a robotic “D and F” call from the district his very first quarter of attendance. The automated call informed me that my child was currently receiving a D or F in one or more classes. With minimal work, I tracked it down and discovered that it was in Cheryl Manning’s ninth grade life science course.

I was furious. My child was an exemplary student, why is he slacking off now?  Bright, verbal, attentive in class, and his first quarter he was getting an F in Science? I confronted him sternly. No child of MINE was going to fail in a lower-performing public school. 

“Mom! I do all of my homework! I do! I turn everything in on time! I promise!” Mrs. Manning missed something! She tells everyone she’s behind on homework all the time! “

I dragged him in on Parent Teacher Conference night and had him stand in front of Mrs. Manning-

“Explain yourself!” I demanded. 

 His face reddened at my embarrassing demand. 

“Mrs. Manning, I turn in all my homework. It must be in that pile somewhere?” He pointed to an unkempt, large stack of homework on her desk.

Manning poked through the stack, and retrieved several pieces of paper. She reviewed them, and entered some scores on her computer. “Oh, sorry, his average is actually an 86. ”

A solid B average. My bright, able son was performing consistently. I had to apologize to him right there.

After that trouble, I mistakenly allowed my girls to take the course when they entered ninth grade, as I thought they had no choice.  (My girls are six months apart. One is adopted, so they took a lot of classes together.) Manning kept up with the homework, but I was regaled, sometimes daily, with off-topic stories of Mrs. Manning’s opinion about things. Her opinion about ADD drugs, her thoughts on name calling, her thoughts about her own upbringing, with emphasis on the abuse she endured as a child. Her opinion on science education, and most aggravating of all, her take on any education-related political issue of the day, which was as left-wing as can be. All of Ms. Manning’s opinions were presented as rock-solid, inarguable facts to these fourteen year old children.  This is completely unacceptable. Teachers are to teach, not preach.

How ANY of this related to ninth grade biology concepts completely escaped me. There was no alternative to Ms. Manning’s class. My children were stuck, or so I thought. I gritted my teeth through Manning’s class, and my girls ended up in the next biology class. Again, no alternative, or so I thought.

Meet Dave Myers

(Jeffco Visitors, Myers has a secure public digital footprint. I couldn’t find a picture to show you. If you attend EHS, be very, very careful. Myers teaches biology there.)

Seven months before my husband died of metastatic colon cancer, Dave Myers gave a three day lecture on cancer processes. The lecture was filled with out of date, poorly referenced, inaccurate information. My girls, having a front-row seat to the suffering of their father, came home tearful and wide eyed after each day of the lecture. I reviewed their notes, and pointed out to the girls where Myers had lectured on wrong information. Naturally, my girls were upset and confused, particularly where Myers had pronounced metastatic cancers a ‘certain death sentence’. (To date, metastatic colon cancer has an 11 percent survival rate. Other metastatic cancer survival rates are all over the map, Myers was incredibly irresponsible for making such a pronouncement. Cruel to make it in the presence of students who were dealing with such a situation, and yes, he knew.)

Frustrated beyond words, I made an appointment with the administrator at the time. I had had issues with Myers before, brought things to his attention, and Myers had rejected my concerns outright. I did not have high hopes for this session. I asked for the administrator to mediate.

I brought my girls’ notes in to Myers. The administrator asked for Myers to give an accounting, and Myers stated that he was ‘teaching to the standard’ during a twenty-minute lecture. I pointed out to Myers that my girls EACH had three days of dated notes.  A “twenty minute lecture” was certainly not the case.

I asked Myers about various cancer processes that he had taught about. I reminded him that my husband was in a fierce cancer battle, and would he like me to ask our oncologist to come and lecture to the class, and get the most cutting-edge information possible?

Myers launched into a disgraceful display.  I was, according to Myers, a “harpy” who had “zero reason” to come in and criticize him for “teaching to the standards”.

Visitors, I’m afraid I was less than tactful. I was also completely traumatized by the impending death of my husband. I burst into tears.

“Who the HELL do you think you are, Myers? If you are ‘teaching to the standard’, understand the standard is WRONG! I am offering you the chance to get some current, up to date information, and you are NOT INTERESTED!”

The administrator hustled me out of there.

Visitors, this is just wearisome. What I want to point out to you next is the depth to which teachers like Manning and Myers will stoop to accomplish their non-academic political agenda.

Check this out.

This is a screen shot from a web page that an pro-union, anti-reform organization called Jefferson County School Board Watch posted during the recall battle for my brother’s seat, last year. Typical of the Wendy McCord, Shawna Fritzler, Scott Kwasny crowd, this thing was a tissue of lies from beginning to end. What’s really incredible though, is this part.

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We’ve come to expect complete and total deceit from Wendy McCord and her crowd.  (See “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord”  and “The Endless Lies of Wendy McCord, 2.0” both parts, on this blog)

What completely flabbergasted me is that Cheryl Manning, Board Certified Teacher of Science at Evergreen Senior High, would make this up.

I was visiting my 96 year old dad that day, Visitors. Taking him out for ice cream, in fact. This is verifiable with his care providers. I was nowhere near Manning or McCord that day. But, as we know, the truth doesn’t matter to this particular wing of rabid Jeffco faculty, they make it up as they go along. (See, “The Lying Mouthpiece Of Jeffco Teacher’s Union: Meet Scott Kwasny” on this blog)  Manning, however,  was vicious, libelous, and relentless. And, she’s teaching your children.

I conferenced with my brother about this mess. John Newkirk, as you know, lost his seat under a successful tide of union-funded lies last fall.

John is a scholar and a gentleman. He was one of the few politicians who put up with harassment, criminal threats, union-sponsored hate speech to advance a truly altruistic agenda. He was for Jeffco kids, period, and paid an incredible price for his efforts.

His counsel to me was restrained. There is nothing you can do, Victoria. Incompetent teachers like Manning and Myers are protected. That’s one of the long list of things the reformers Williams-Newkirk- Witt were trying to change, and the voters voted FOR this kind of incompetence.

Visitors, there is something you can do, in fact, there are a lot of things. However, this column has run long.

First off, if you are a Jeffco voter who mistakenly voted FOR this mess, pay attention to the monstrous Jeffco bond issue this fall.

Vote Against It! This is over half a BILLION dollars for a district that simply will not take steps to advance the educational picture in Jeffco. The problems and corruption in Jeffco are far, far more entrenched then the ones I have described here. More on that later.

#NotAnotherDimeJeffco

Secondly, if you have children like mine, understand how concurrent enrollment works. This is what you can do – when my last child entered EHS in 2011, I refused to let the EHS science staff anywhere near her. Go to the high school counseling office, and get the forms for “Concurrent Enrollment”.  Go to Red Rocks, or the community college nearest you, and sign your child up for whatever you please. My daughter was 15, and we had to get a special permission for her to attend because the policy is usually 16. This was EASY. She then sailed through collegiate biology, anatomy and astronomy, which was taught in an objective, unbiased way. Yes, transporting her was difficult, but it was worth figuring it out.  She graduated with her class at EHS, with substantially less damage then my other three endured.

You’ve got this.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

What’s The Surplus For?


Check out this shot from my ‘surplus years’, Visitors.

Chris and me black and white

This portrait was ten years ago. I was 42, and Chris was the picture of brawny health. A mere four years later, heartache of the most enormous magnitude would be forced on me. My kids would lose a terrific dad, the world lost a funny and talented teacher, and frankly, I would lose a pretty smooth life.

I traded it for scarred and resilient children. I traded it for working all the time with a high degree of focussed intensity, and I traded it for some hard won successes.  In recent years, my inner emotional ‘bank balance’ has been getting pretty hefty. EA is going swimmingly, my dad is OK and my kids are making terrific life choices. Life is good, and I rejoice in this stretch of peaceful sailing.

Lately, it seems a though my situation has been an ‘anguish attractor’. I can’t figure it out. For my Christian visitors, one might ask “What is God doing here?”.

Heartache of all sorts has rained down around me. A dear friend is divorcing an addicted and abusive wife, and asked for my help to rent out his house. Another dear,  close friend lost a relative to a freak accident. Another was just hospitalized for a heart  issue, third time this year. Another has a child who was just diagnosed with bone cancer, stage 3. Yet another has joined the absolute legion of folks my age getting rejected by their spouses and enduring a bitter divorce. All have come to me, seeking counsel from me or merely a listening, supportive ear. I am happy to do what I can.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Chris and I were steered to some wise, Biblically grounded budgeting advice by our pastor. The late Larry Burkett ran a wonderful ministry devoted to helping God’s people learn wise money management according to Scripture. Nearly thirty years later I am reaping what I sowed, and often have a budgetary surplus to share with folks who have less than me.

It occurs to me, Visitors, that surpluses, or ‘extra’ can take many forms. None of my wounded friends are asking me for money, this is Evergreen, after all. But did you ever notice, as time goes on, that the essence of loss is lack?

Ponder that one with me for a minute, Visitors. I lost Chris, the most heartwrenching life experience I’ve had to endure, thus far. In the years he’s been gone, I felt the lack of a friendly companion, a useful partner, a father to these kids, and warm feet under the covers.

The people around me are lacking. Lacking health, lacking loved ones, lacking direction. Our society answers that in curious ways. It frosts my cookies more than I can tell you to listen to the myriad of predators out there who promise the moon to hurting people. I see it with every single hurting situation around me, these days. Take this vacation! Buy these clothes! Eat this product! Use this cosmetic! Do these things and that lack in your soul will be filled! What nonsense.  Listening to these types tell my people that the holes in their souls can be filled by emptying their pocketbooks nearly incites me to violence.

(Perhaps you’ve noticed, Visitors, one thing I lack is tactful diplomacy. My people can’t take this sort of directness. )

See, Visitors, I lost the burning desire to ‘be right’ a long time ago. What drives me now is the desire to be useful. Evergreen Academy is a great example of this. I get the privilege of guiding new parents every day in my job. Most of my clients are self-directed and accomplished, and most are self-aware enough to face their cluelessness head on (My clients are pretty endearing). New parents are easy enough to guide, usually they’re a pretty open bunch.

The newly grieved, though, are an entirely different matter.  The haze of grief is often impenetrable, and is often perceived as permanent. How to be useful to the ones that end up weeping on my shoulder, or slogging through a seemingly endless grief-stricken marsh, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings?

Christian and non- Christian visitors alike, I think the answer to this is found somewhere in the idea of community. Someone I respect once told me that ‘just showing up’ is critical to the meeting of any need. Reaching out in the real and digital domains, a simple “Are you ok? Just checking up on you” enhances the idea that we are not alone, there is a long chain of hands pulling even the saddest of us back from the brink.

I have a surplus of emotional energy now. I’m sure someday that will change, but in the mean time, I’m giving it away. It helps my little community around me, and honestly, it’s the least I can do.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Time To Ditch The Term “Sexual Purity”.


I’d like you to meet someone, Visitors.

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This is Beauty Beyond Bones. (beautybeyondbones.com) She’s a stunning, young Christian woman who writes a blog about her life, which starts with a very dark description of her bout with anorexia.

Visitors, her story is friggin’ terrifying. I had no idea. For those of us in helping professions, I’d like to steer you to her blog, where she eloquently writes about the depth of self-loathing, self-hatred and utter despair that lashed her mercilessly during her battle for her life. Beauty, as we shall call her, entered an inpatient eating disorders clinic at 5′ 6″ and 78 lbs. She was so skeletal that all of her inpatient medical personnel were on a death watch for this kid, and were surprised when she woke up each morning. She had depleted ALL of her fat stores, including the ones that protected her brain and vital organs. Her body was feeding on her muscles- the biggest concern being that her body would start to devour her heart, and it would stop. Horrifying.

Read here for a heartwrenching description of Beauty’s raging battle with profound dysmorphia. (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2015/03/) Brace yourself, this is a very difficult read. She’s a victorious delight now, and writes about her artistic endeavors in NYC.

Beauty is a true, powerful warrior of the Lord. With the help of the Spirit of God, daily she vanquishes the inner voice of torment that works so hard to convince her that she is unloved, a burden, a parasite, and the world would be a better place without her.

Beauty recently wrote a  troubling column detailing her commitment to her future husband. She wants to preserve her sexuality as a magnificent gift reserved only for the man God is preparing for her.

Read this one, Visitors, there’s something off here.  (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2016/06/13/v-card/.)  Did you catch that? Beauty is a committed Christian woman, yet somehow she’s saddled with the idea that obedience to God’s direction for sexual exclusivity is somehow weird. Granny panties-orthopedic shoes- six cats at home weird. Conspicuous, somehow unnatural, weird.

What’s up with that? What did we, fellow Christians, have to do with adding to, or lightening that burden that weighs on Beauty?

I’d like you to meet someone else, Visitors. Her name is Diane, and I met her through a shared interest in dance.

Diane was blindsided by a recent divorce. She’s the same age as me, and had been married for the same 23 years. Diane was very engaging to me for many reasons. One of which was that her husband presented as if he were an abuse survivor, a topic that they never broached during their marriage. Predictably, physical intimacy was a challenge for Diane and her husband,  one that became insurmountable and eventually was the tipping point that ended the marriage.

Diane was devastated by this. She simply didn’t see it coming. When her husband abruptly had her served with papers, she was plunged into an ice-cold, isolating eddy of despair.

Physically, Diane is one of the most stunning examples of humanity I have seen. She’s an eight time IronMan athlete, her full head of chestnut hair sprinkled with becoming touches of grey. Running is her specialty, she habitually brings home Firsts in her age group in any race she participates. She’s nationally ranked, and coaches running groups of lesser athletes with humor and grace.

I helped Diane pick out some clothes for a student production at her studio. For me, it was a blast to peruse shocking pinks and lively blues and talk about tailoring items to flatter her unusually fit physique.

Diane could hardly stand it. As we got to know each other better, I would be very direct with Diane.

“Di, look at this dress.  It makes your shoulders look great! Your legs look fabulous in this one, and this one makes you look smoking hot all the way around!”  With every observation, Diane seemed to withdraw, to pull farther into herself. It was as if, in her fifth decade, any aspect of healthy sexuality was somehow taboo, off limits for even adult women to discuss. What’s up with that? Two fellow Christians, talking about sexuality-related things. Why should this be hard?

Like all of my post-40, newly divorced friends, Diane was floundering. Everything she thought she knew to be true had been rocked by this profound rejection.  Diane was ashamed of her life,  ashamed of her failed marriage, and doubted God’s love for her.

Privately, sexual intimacy loomed in front of Diane as a solution. If she could find another man to ‘love’ her in this way, someone with whom she could share her most intimate desires, perhaps life would regain some sense of normalcy. Perhaps she would feel better.  Someone to fill her lonely days, someone to appreciate her athletic aspirations, maybe even someone with whom to share the second half of her life.

It is terribly hard for me to watch my divorced friends suffer like this.  Self deceit is a  trap like no other and Diane paid the price.

One freezing Colorado afternoon, I held her hand on the surgical table as the gentle doctor removed a portion of her intimate parts. I gave her tissues as she wept in lonely sorrow over another man who she thought had loved her, and had abandoned her to the ravages of a cancerous sexual infection he had given her.

Diane was alone, rejected,  again.

Christian Visitors,  how can we mitigate this, help ease this suffering of our own?  We simply must drop the shame, that will help.   We must unbind the language of cultural judgement, and attach our value to the word of God. ALL sin is created equal, ALL steps outside of God’s best break the heart of Jesus.  Beauty has enough on her plate without shame, and Diane is bone-tired and weary. We have to talk about these intimate things, and we have to do it in a healthy way.  Science and the Word of God tells us that sex is entangling, every single time. There is no such thing as ‘casual’ sex, ‘free’ sex, or ‘meaningless’ sex. That said, sexuality is a gift! ALL aspects of it!

Beauty, you are simply lovely in your slinky little  dress and stiletto heels. Your makeup is darling, and your fashion sense is impeccable! Diane, you’ve worked very hard on your body, and now, you are the picture of glowing health. Your athletic performance is reflected in your lovely form,  and  you are drop-dead gorgeous in cerulean blue.

American Christians, let’s look at this hurting population through the lens of unconditional love. There is no difference at all between Diane’s mistake and me holding a grudge, or getting angry for no good reason. We are ALL impure.  Jesus made us all righteous, if we allow it.  Let’s start looking at each other how Jesus does.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

Pornography. About as Bad As It Gets.


Don’t leave this piece standing for your reading child to see, Visitors. Adults Only.

Porn.com-Logo

Don’t Google this.

Pornography. We just can’t leave it alone in this country.

When I published the previous column, a reader looked at the thumbnail on Facebook. She saw the nude that I used to illustrate a point, and promptly lambasted me for publishing ‘pornography’ and contributing to the problem of lust among Christians.  (The fact that she didn’t bother to actually read the essay before criticizing is another discussion entirely.)

Most of you know that I have been in graduate school for Criminology for about the past year or so. The last class I had was a well-structured overview of digital crime, and pornography was highlighted. CHILD pornography, in particular, has simply exploded in the past 15 years, after we, as a country, had made great progress in stamping this one out. More on that later.

Visitors, how Christians treat sexual issues just exasperates me. See, all my life as a Christian, I have worked hard to separate Biblical Christianity from American Christianity. Nowhere is that dichotomy more apparent than in the area of sexuality. My allegiance is to the word of God, and not to American attitudes about sex and sexuality. In my growing years, in the area of sex, the emphasis was mainly on refusal skills like “True Love Waits” and other “No” tactics. The Biblical basis for this is sound. Sex is a promise, sex is ‘glue’ for married men and women, sex is part of the ‘becoming one’ process, sex is actually holy.  All true, all grounded in solid theology.

The irksome thing about this, is that very little attention was paid to the wildness of sex, to the playfulness of sex, to the utter freedom that married couples have in the area of sexuality. Christianitytoday.com is a pretty good starting point for topical Bible studies for anyone curious about Godly sexuality. In paging through their offerings, and the offerings of other solid Christian resources, I discovered some interesting things. There are titles like “Confronting Sexual Addiction”,  “Understanding Lust”, “Too Intimate Too Soon” and “Living In A Culture of Sexual Immorality”.

All right, all of these deviant things are important topics, and deserve solid treatment. But how about the healthy topics? There’s this -“Romantic Sexuality”- sounds pretty good. “Sex From God’s Point Of View” -Hmm, better see some solid scripture there, and this one that looks great -“Crazy Good Sex” where a Christian psychologist addresses six pressing male sexuality issue with BOTH solid research and solid Scripture.

So, there is hope.

As I continued this bit of a research jag into Christian resources, I realized that the ratio was out of whack. The deviant sexual titles outnumbered the healthy ones by about 12 to 1. That’s incredible. Titles like “Stolen” and “God In A Brothel” and the scariest “In Our Backyard” alone expose the terrible evils of human sexual trafficking. Other sexually deviant titles abounded. Twelve deviant titles to every healthy, Scripture-based one. What’s up with that?

See, “Culture” to me, is like a living organism. Our national culture is vibrant, constantly changing, made up of vastly differing parts. It can be healthy, or it can get sick. As Christians, we have a call to minister to the sick, the weak and the powerless. This can get ugly. There is a tidal wave of flesh peddling and exploitation that is enveloping our culture, and we must, simply must, be aware of it before we can treat it.

Porn.com is a website referred to in my digital crime class last quarter. As part of a research project, I had to look at several snippets from this detestable site. At the beginning of the course, I made the mistake of Googling “porn.com” on Google Images, trying to find the logo for a powerpoint slide. Instead of the logo, I saw several revolting things that still make me queasy. With a SINGLE innocent query, I saw real-life pictures of vaginal sex, anal sex, anilingus, fellatio, polyamorous situations, and erotic asphyxia. Publishing images of these actions is legal, they are available to everyone with a computer, and we, Christians, make a sick world sicker by walking past them as if they don’t exist.

Visitors, particularly Christian ones, stay with me here. The number of internet porn sites in the Surface Web is difficult to pin down. According to http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html, there are about 4.2 million pornographic websites on the Surface Web or about 12 percent of Surface Web sites.  42 percent of all users have viewed porn at one time or another. 25 percent of ALL search requests are porn-related. One in four, Visitors.

Average age of first exposure to porn? 11.

Number of youths who have received an unwanted sexual solicitation? 1 in 7.

Number of youths who reveal to their parents or other adults that they have been solicited? 1 in 20.

Number of youths who repeatedly seek out internet porn? About 1 in 8.

Gracious. One might ask, what on earth can we do about all this? As a teacher? My very best advice is to address it. NOW. TONIGHT. If you don’t, some internet pornographer will, I promise.

Of course, you have to apply your adult judgement to the development of your child. You know them best, you can decide which words to use and how to address what issue. I completely land on the side of internet censorship, with as much education your child can possibly stand.

With that in mind, your child will be able to think more clearly than my critic that I referred to at the beginning of this piece. The idea that the nude in the previous column is pornographic, is, in a word, absurd. We simply must help our children see things as clearly as possible and give them the tools to navigate such desperately sick situations as authentic pornography. Educate them, NOW, about healthy sexuality, about the joy in God ordained mutual sexual giving. Doing this will help our children actually be salt and light in a terribly sick world.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Laziness And Risky Reality- With Single Dad Laughing


So, Visitors, ever notice how rapidly we are losing our humanity behind our screens?

texting-2

This worries me, on many levels.

In the last column, I detailed to you my excursion into online relationship building. Online hilarity aside, there is something happening here that is essentially broken. In the single week I have been exploring, I have had several texting relationships with interesting men.

I am rapidly losing patience with the online world, so I am developing my own internal standards.  I won’t text with an interesting man for more than three days, for example. Honestly, for me? That’s it. I am all over meeting actual real-life members of the opposite gender who interest me. In real life.

  506e8f23c5f981cfd2a3294ac1b52f4d

What’s more distracting? The lovely woman or the distracting screen? 

It’s been about a week, and about half a dozen of these virtual conversations. So many of these guys are good at online conversation! Witty, entertaining, and interesting as all get out. After day 3, I propose a meeting, and the response rate drops dramatically. Interesting. Texting is so incredibly easy, and so distracting from the real, actual humans on each side.

Here’s what I wonder about screentime, Visitors- what seems to be broken here is a sense of relational work, and I just can’t stand it. Three days is more than enough to decide if you want to have coffee with me, just go ahead and pull the trigger.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that, it always is. See, men in my age demographic have been beaten up. Usually, there’s at least one divorce in the story, and if there are children in the picture, some assorted heartbreak there.

(I’ve discovered I’ve raised intolerant children in that area. I detailed one of these custody-battle stories with my oldest daughter, her response? “Geez Mom, you’d think these guys would have thought this through before having children with someone they really don’t like.” Hmm, some truth to that.)

I get it, men, and it’s ok. You’ve had it rough. You really have, my heart goes out to you. Here’s a suggestion, let’s not overlay that on me, please? Don’t manufacture some sort of grief or pressure that you’ve been carrying, and pretend it’s coming from me.  I’m safe. Stop texting me. Rally some courage. Let’s FaceTime and arrange a coffee date. Real communication is tough, I get it, but you’ve got this, I’m sure.

What’s becoming interesting to me, is that there seems to be very little difference between the men who claim to be Christians, and men who are flat-out prowling for dates.

One of the prowlers propositioned me. It was actually hilarious, and he pulled it off. He was part of the younger set, not quite 40. We were merrily texting away, him as eager as a puppy.

“….We could meet for coffee at the park, and then if we liked each other, we could go back to my apartment?”

Uh, after two days of texting? Pass.

One of the Christians simply couldn’t figure it out.

“Hey Angel, did you sleep well? What’s going on at your job? How are things?  Text me back when you can.”

Gracious! Delightful man, you have a phone in your pocket. Zip the texting, please.

See, Visitors, actual, real-time, face to face communication is risky. Even in some cases, difficult. Check this out-

Stutttering humor

Stuttering humor. It’s OK! I laughed the loudest! 

You guys know me, I stutter. You know the reason why, a minor brain injury as a toddler. I just about DIED laughing when I saw this on Dan Pearce’s website, Single Dad Laughing. (danoah.com)

Dan is just an amazing blogger and author. I love this guy. Dan has battled obesity, the demise of two marriages, the challenge of adoptive and single parenting, and crippling depression. He’s our tribe, he gets it. Life sucks. It’s just terrible. Awful things happen, and something is waiting around the corner to ambush you, even now.

On the other hand, life is frigging awesome, especially face to face. The love of friends (like you,dear Visitors)  is a gift! The face of a child is hopeful! There really is a God who cares! Whole Foods has cookies and cream ice cream!

The stuttering thing is emblematic of all this, Visitors. See, unlike you fluent speakers, I take nothing about speaking for granted. It’s hella work! My parents were good, I landed in speech therapy around age 6, and stayed there until, oh, about two weeks ago.

I’ve been trained in all of these tiresome fluency techniques, I’m aware of breathe control, articulator use, word choice, soft contacts, blah, blah, blah. It’s like playing the piano. If I practice, I’m pretty good. If you distract me, or I distract myself, things might get a little slow.

Speaking IRL, (In Real Life, for those of us over 45) is a flipping challenge for me.  If you muster up the courage to put down the screen and actually speak to me in the same room, I might stutter. Or take a little longer to say something. Guess what? You get to show me what an awesome real-life person you are! This is how it works-

Me: “Well hi! It’s nice to see you! Shall we go to starbucks and grab a t-t-t”

You: “Table?”

Me: “Yes, table.  Hey, look, that was sweet, but I really can’t stand people finishing my sentences.”

You: “Oh! Ha! Sorry!”

Me: “No worries. ”

See? That’s not so tough. Road bump crossed,  imaginary crisis averted, Victoria awards you mad courage and respect points, and a nice coffee date likely follows.

Gracious. Well, we could go on about this for hours. I guess, before I lose all hope, I’d like to ask you guys to come alongside. Put down the &$#% screen. Have tech-free dinners, tech-free weekends. If you’re married, DO NOT take that thing to bed.

If you’re single, like me? Send me one, last text.

“Starbucks, 5:30. Looking forward to it!”

Much love,

 

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Online Dating and the Digital Language of Love


I have news for you, Visitors. I’ve started online dating, and it is a blast.

Nothing for OKCupid?

Nothing for OKCupid?

Now, most of you know me pretty well. I’m a committed Christian, and in my life, I take all comers. I have “normal” friends, single friends, married friends, adulterous friends, gay friends, a dear person who is an authentic transsexual,  deviant friends with every fanged addiction imaginable, and families in every single configuration you can possibly come up with. It’s very enriching.

(I model this take-all-comers attitude in my school as well.  When we admit people, we have a very directed interview, where we explain that we come from a conservative Biblical worldview. Of course, we cover the usual things-curricula, regulations, teacher qualfications, etc.  We also explain, clearly, that your preschooler will get Christmas as Jesus’ birth, Easter as his resurrection, daily prayers, Bible stories, all the things a good, solid, Christian school should provide. Choose EA or not, but know what will happen. )

I had heard about OK Cupid among some of my friends, so I decided to open an account and see what the commotion was all about. I figured there is nothing inherently unBiblical about meeting people like this,  it piqued my curiosity.

Well. Those of you familiar with meeting people this way know the drill. Fill out a profile about yourself, mark some interests, set your limits, and off you go. Gracious! One hour and 253 “likes” later (no exaggeration) I started sifting through all this information.

Good heavens alive, Visitors, what an education! I put down my professional reading for the night, and started reviewing data points.

Data point #1 : Hi! I’m Rich. Ever consider dating a younger man? Your profile looked great! (Rich, 32, teaches English at a public school in Denver)

Data point #2: Hello Beautiful!  I’m Ed. You have a calm “vibe” and I’d like to get to know you better! ( Ed, an engineer at Martin Marietta)

Data point #3: Hello, Gorgeous! I’m  Mitch! (Followed by this groaner) God was surely showing off when he made you! Care to chat? (Senior petroleum engineer at a local oil company)

I quickly activated my ‘predator sensor’ and wrote off the creepy idiots asking for intrusive information. Surprisingly, this was, oh, perhaps 20% of the total. Fewer than I would have thought.  I then wrote off the ones with obvious health problems, for reasons you can guess.

People like Rich, I shelved for further attention, more on that later. “Mitch” and “Ed” types (not their real names, of course) garnered my attention. Why would professional, educated men resort to something like online dating? Are we desperate, boys? (Ooops, pots calling kettles black, came to mind)

So, I gave some thought to this. See, in my case, meeting like-minded, Christian, male buddies is nigh on impossible. I work with a team of delightful women. Middle aged (mostly),  white, devoted-to-their jobs women. All of you know that my dad stroked a while ago, so I gladly take him to HIS church, full of gentle grey heads. I go to grad school with hard-boiled (usually married) cops or fresh-faced twentyish grad students.

Is it too much to ask to hang out  with someone my own age? HA! Not on OK Cupid. This whole thing is just fascinating. As I continued to peruse the data points, I discovered my vocabulary to be lacking. How about these newly-coined words-

Sapiosexual- Someone who views intelligence as the most attractive characteristic. (OK, that’s a pretty cool attribute)

Demisexual- Someone who can only be sexually attracted to someone with whom they have developed a strong emotional bond.  (What? Isn’t it supposed to be like that?)

Omnisexual-(synonym to Pansexual)- Someone who is attracted sexually to both genders.  (Oh, brother, how convenient.)

This exercise in vocabulary development led to a whole new world of ‘blue’ vocabulary that I can’t possibly relate to you, Visitors, without censoring this essay into nonsense.

At any rate, I whittled down this tidal wave of interest into a few likely candidates, so far.

“Rich” piqued my interest immensely. What!  He’s 32! Mommy issues? I won’t lie about my age as a matter of pride. I could be your mother, boy!

Seriously!

Seriously!

What followed was an utterly charming conversation with an athletic young man who actually likes introducing middle schoolers to good literature. Turns out he was at a recent 21 Pilots concert the same night I was, and had just as much fun. This light and fluffy guy actually likes the focus older women possess. Hilarious!

“Ed” was genuine, if a bit of a downer. A parent of adult kids, Ed is four years divorced, and striking out on his own, relationally. Fair enough.

“Mitch” is Armenian, and speaks more graciously than he writes, thank heaven. He’s an attendee of an Armenian Orthodox church, and invited me to a service. I think I shall go!

All of this simply cracks me up, Visitors. The communication skills required in this kind of relationship-building are immense. We only get words until we talk on the phone, and even that is incomplete. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats in-person communication, and that’s coming next. I’ll keep you posted.

With great hilarity,

Victoria

PS- I love you all, and I can anticipate the cautions a mile off. Remember, I am safety-minded to the point of paranoia. Meeting in crowded, well-lit spots? Yep! Telling someone where I am and when I’ll be back? Got it covered! Applying all of my newly-acquired background check skills to these guys? You betcha!

🙂 V

Life at 52: Finally Playing With A Full Deck


So, I turned 52 a little while ago, Visitors, and I couldn’t be happier.

When I was younger, I thought that the fifties would be some sort of gateway into senior citizenship. As if five decades carried some sort of identity card that gave me street cred, and I could lord it over those younger than me.  (Oh, wait, what about that red AARP card?  How did they know my birthday, anyway? Creepy.)

Hilarious.

Hilarious.

Instead, I find it cause for meditation and action.  One of my favorite Star Trek characters once said “Recently, I have become aware there are fewer days ahead than there are behind.” (TNG, Picard, for you purists.) Well said. In our fifties, this is likely the case.

Since Chris died, I have been acutely conscious of the fact that time is more valuable than gold. It’s funny, if you’ve walked with someone to their death, perspective changes on all sorts of things. When Chris was fighting his battle, the cancer establishment that surrounded me often concentrated on achieving ‘more birthdays’, ‘more events’, ‘more time together’. I grew to appreciate that idea then, and treasure it even more now.

I was discussing this type of thing with a new friend the other day. He’s about the same age, and we were sharing stories of how we had gotten to where we are.

I  listened to my friend’s meditative  inventory.  He listed to me all the things that were going right in his life, all the reasons he had to be thankful. I realized that at this age, I do that all the time myself. Kids doing well? Check. Dad all right? Check. Roof overhead, food on the table? Check. No looming disasters of impending doom barreling down the tracks at me? Not today, thank God.

See, Visitors, Jesus said that there are some things we will always have with us. The poor. Troubles. Trials. Oddly, we are to ‘consider them pure joy’ because these things produce endurance and maturity in us. In James 1, we are told that this will make us ‘mature and complete’ lacking in nothing. Yah, I guess I can see that.

I grow so tired sometimes though, of Christians who preach that we are somehow entitled to abundance of any kind. In the midst of the past few years of suffering, I have grown weary of the idea that we are somehow entitled to ANYTHING at all. The Apostle Paul says we are to owe nothing, except a debt of love to each other. (Romans 13) Matthew 25 says that when we are kind to people with less, it is as if we are being kind to the King of Heaven.

So, perhaps we are entitled to kindness from our brothers and sisters.  Imagine with me, if you will, Visitors. What if we actually did share with those who have less, as if we were sharing with Jesus? What if we lived debt-free, except for the ‘debt of love’ owed each other, that Paul talks about in the book of Romans? Hmm. What a wonderful world that would be.

In the mean time, I reflect on my own worldliness. I’ve gotten beat up since Chris, my mom, and everyone had the nerve to die on me. This is true. My list of ‘wrongs suffered’ is pretty long. Really, though, in these smooth sailing times, it’s a lot easier to see that God actually does heap blessing up on blessing to us undeserving Christians. I’d like to see that more clearly in the midst of the storm.

That’s a prayer for myself. Clarity.  Also, to be more willing to share. Share more, share better, give for no reason other then we are asked to do so. Our heavenly Father loves us, and we love Him, and he asks us to do this. Share our money, share our  time, be the kind of Christ in the flesh that Jesus would want us to be.

Share too, of our maturity. Visitors, those of us who have endured great loss, do you ever feel like this? Princess Louisa, a child of the king. Her battle for clarity, purity, servant to her people, all have left marks on her body and scars on her face.

What's next, for my people?

What’s next, for my people?

Or the weariness of Donal O’Sullivan, the last prince of Ireland, preparing his people for a losing siege against the merciless British?

Weariness can overtake.

Weariness can overtake.

Our suffering has given us gifts. (I never, ever thought I would say that.) We are marked, to be sure. Some of our marks are permanent, and hard to view. Hard as it is to believe, people look to us after suffering. People look to us for reassurance, for succor, for guidance. We’ve been where they are. We understand. Let’s lead our people with our endurance, maturity and grace.

Much love,

Victoria