Wednesday, January 21, 2015

So Much Life

Well, I didn't intend to take that many days off blogging in between posts. Just so many things happening, I didn't know where to begin.

First off, I decided to take "Advance" to heart and started researching again exactly which classes I needed to finish off my social studies endorsement. I have a B.A. in History already, but not enough US history to make a good high school history teacher.

I need a year of U.S. history, one class in Pacific Northwest history (a state requirement to graudate high school, usually completed in 8th grade), one American government class (POLS 202) and unfortunately one class in macroeconomics (ECON 202). I figure I will get the poli sci/econ stuff (which will be more of a struggle as some math may be required) out of the way first.

I have applied for admission at the local community college, which offers all these classes, and will do one class per quarter. Then, after that, I apply to the Masters in Teaching program which will take two years and get me a secondary endorsement in history/social studies. So, I'm going back to school in a couple months!

And then, ten days after I applied for registration, I got a job offer out of the blue. Part-time, which is perfect, and maybe with benefits, even better. So, now suddenly, I'm going back to school and working part-time. Well, gee, "Advance" was the right word for 2015 after all!

How will it all work out? One day at a time. I started thinking about Lillian Moller Gilbreth (the real life "Cheaper by the Dozen" mother) again and how she managed it all. She had eleven children when she was widowed and a professional business to take over as well as her husband's speaking tour. While she had a flawed perspective on some things (eugenics) she was truly amazing in many ways. I'm spending a little time re-reading her book "As I Remember" and a comprehensive biography written about her, "Making Time: Lillian Moller Gilbreth -- a life beyond Cheaper by the Dozen."
Gilbreth Family
One of my favorite quotes from her children's retelling of their lives goes something like this: "Mother was afraid of storms and would hide in the closet terrified, but when father died she stopped being afraid. The worst had happened and nothing would frighten her again." That's a loose paraphrase. I identified with that a lot though. When children are depending on you alone, you realize that there isn't time for being silly or stupid or fearful. You lose a lot of your fears when you compare how small they are to the big things you've already survived.

So, Advance! And welcome to the challenges of 2015. 

In the mean time, I went down two rabbit trails of research. It's relaxing.

1. I read through the lineage of the modern Japanese imperial family and drew a family tree. The emperor and empress are probably the world's cutest elderly couple.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, 2015
As a long time fan of the British royal family, it is interesting to note the differences between them. The Japanese imperial family is much more confined and conservative--the women have a very peculiar formal court dress that is something in between modern and Victorian (why don't they wear traditional Japanese dress more often, I wonder?)--and very strict inheritance laws.

Imperial family at New Year's Day lectures.
There was a movement to allow girls to inherit a few years ago and then one of the emperor's grandsons finally had a son and so the issue was dropped. About fifty percent of the Japanese imperial family have no children, a few never married. Of those that have children, they are overwhelmingly girls. Very different than the European royals that almost always marry and have two or three children. I wonder how much is genetic and how much is self-restraint. After WW2, all Japanese nobility were disinherited and made commoners with the exception of the descendants of Emperor Taisho, the father of Hirohito (Emperor Showa), and all daughters of the emperor automatically become common once they marry (unless they marry a prince, who would have to be a cousin at this point, and unlikely, given the dearth of males in the family). I also learned that Japanese emperors and empresses are given new names after their death, in fact they have several names over a life time: a childhood name, an adult name, possibly a ruling name, a posthumous name.

2. I developed an interest in postage stamps--not particularly because of their collectible value, but rather as another way of sharing art and color with the world. I love the way Patrick at Edelweiss Post uses vintage stamps arranged by theme or color to make stationery sets. I am all eager now to see each new stamp the USPS releases, though the "forever" value makes them a little boring. I think collecting stamps of small value, the ten cent/five cent/two cent stamps, gives you more opportunities for artistic arrangement. Why? Just to add color and interest to a personal letter or greeting card.
Lillian Gilbreth on a US stamp.
I will have to be on the lookout for this one!
I've been trying to get into the habit of writing letters more often, especially to the friends and family who are rarely on facebook. It takes a knack to have a conversation at a slower pace and keep it from being ridiculous and redundant. My dad (out of state) likes to email, but it's fast, almost too fast. Once we've exchanged the news there's nothing to say for a week until there's new news. But when you write a letter, it's like the conversation just keeps going from week to week; there's a feeling of being able to take your time in what you want to say and not being perceived as rude for not answering in five minutes. (Do you do that in your instant messaging or texting also? Just delay the reply to slow down the conversation? I admit it, I do.)

In 2013 I made a big effort to send a lot of Christmas cards and inside I printed a short letter about the history of Christmas greetings and sending cards. I realized at that time that the card is the gift. There isn't a need for exchanging other gifts with friends at the holidays when the card is beautiful, well-made, and thoughtful.

 My virtual stamp collection of Washington State theme stamps. So far, I've managed to collect only the 4-cent Space Needle and 25-cent 1989 centenary stamps and a few tribal northwest coast Indian art stamps as well. Shocking to see how much postage has gone up in my lifetime! The 25-cent stamp was first class when I graduated from high school. This year, I believe it has increased to 49-cents.

Stamp collection and geneology...retro cool or middle aged? ;)

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