When I say, "My divorce was so public, and while so many people were so caring and quick to comfort, it was a very public issue," most divorced ladies understand. It's not just a fleeting thought, "Wow. They separated." It's, "But they were leaders in the church. And they separated because of WHAT?" and then the genuine love and concern and care come in.

This is church family at its best, folks. And it was so welcome. So needed. But so, so visible. It's hard to say, "I'm getting divorced" without saying, "There's biblical reason." What a euphemism. Like noooobody knows what that means. Everybody knows what that means.

So, some divorced ladies - especially ones with biblical reason - sob on their floor for 6 months (IE: me.) (Then ladies like me start feeling better, and then life starts getting better. Thank goodness.) And when you're on the floor sobbing, lots of people ask how you're doing. Because they're really, truly loving people. But then when you start feeling better, you have to re order your life. And people you don't talk to often still ask you, genuinely concerned, a year later, "How ARE you doing, dear?" But then you're feeling better and you don't necessarily want to return back to that place of ... complete darkness. So that question, as genuinely loving as it is (and please, if you want to ask somebody that, please ask!), chafes a little.

And then you think, "My good Lord. What a mess I was. Everybody really saw that????"

Yup. Everybody really saw that.

Despite the blog, don't get the wrong idea. There's some things I like to hold to myself.

Like Shoes, for instance.

Lots of public opinion about the next boy I would date. Lots of well meaning people wanting to help me be critical. Lots of loving, amazing people who don't want to see me get hurt again. Yikes.

I don't want that either. But the want and the need to keep this close to my heart so I could think about it - and the trust between Jesus and myself that had to be built up again - (that's a hard one to explain) were soooooooooper big.

So. I'm not apologizing. That was my decision. But there's a little explanation.

Shoes is not perfect. That would be annoying. Especially considering how flawed I am! But Shoes is:

Loving, gracious, compassionate, humble, logical, witty, smart, and hilarious. And as an added bonus, he gets my I love Jesus but I'm a little different politically than most people in the church. There will probably be no pictures of anything else than feet due to his public position (he's a smartie - exactly my age, but graduated from one of the top 25 law schools) in the small Vineyard Town, but that's ok. I'm ok with some privacy.

Shoes has been around for awhile now - our time together has been adding up to equal many months. Who knows where it will go ... I thought my church marriage would last my entire lifetime ... but I still trust. And I'm not in a hurry.

I realized a couple of days ago that my most recent postings have been fluff with no detail. Today’s posting: regarding school. Next posting: regarding Shoes. Maybe this will help clear up some things I’ve (all right, maybe purposefully, but really, isn’t that a prerogative …;) ) glossed over.

Regarding school. “School” for me at this point constitutes 9 credit hours as I’m enrolled in a 3 year, ¾ time program. It DID constitute 7, until the school informed me that unless I took on two more credits, they would not release my graduate plus loan money. Attempting to enroll in an End of Life / Palliative Care class got me nowhere (full, full, full), so I enrolled in a Pilates class (there’s one) and a Relaxation Yoga class (there’s the other). (I needed those two credits pronto. Relaxation yoga is body awareness, breathing, mindfulness … and Pilates has already given me a foot fungus from the public mat. I should have learned my lesson from the Y in the Vineyard Town. This has already happened! And I should just know better. It’s cold and flu season … and it’s not like the mats are disinfected … ever.).

But. You know. I do more than Pilates and Yoga. There’s Social Policy. And there’s Social Justice. Social Policy has owned my life (sorry, Social Justice). You see … there’s this Policy paper … and I’d explain it, but most people start yawning immediately … so I’ll skip that part. In short, I need a social issue, a focused demographic, a policy, and then I need to retrace the policy to the federal level. I don’t have a clinical placement right now, like the 2 year students do, to draw ideas from, and the entire job thing to draw experience from … well … they weren’t kidding when they said Oregon has the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the nation. However, just today, my good friend Stacey M. from the Vineyard Town stepped in and said, “Why don’t you write about monolingual Spanish domestic violence victims that have great challenges participating honestly and fully in protection order hearings because of the language barriers? I’ll give you statistics to start with.”

Mmm. I’m greatly indebted to Stacey M. I think the era of the Policy paper owning me may be coming to an end.

And then there’s Social Justice, where we spend all of our time discussing the intersections of power, oppression, prejudice, assumptions, and how we, as social workers, need to be aware of all of this in our work. The part I like best about this class? Listening to everybody else’s stories. They’re just so … gorgeous.

Everybody in my program … we’re all so different. So different. And everybody in my program? We’re so alike. Who knew that I would end up in a program where I would be encouraged to be overly analytical and over think everything? This is me. This is them. And the bonus? Most of us value grace and compassion to the extreme.

I drown a little in the readings and I’m still a little intimidated by the Big Bad Policy paper (just a tad). But this was the right thing to do. There’s actually an MSW program in the Vineyard town, and I’ve been asked many times why I didn’t just stay home and do that program. And there’s so many answers: the program I’m in now is ranked well by U.S. News – the other program is not ranked (at least by U.S. News); Vineyard Town held a lot of mixed memories for me; I felt there was nowhere else to go at my last paid employment position.

The crux of it, though, is that I was just ready.

I was so ready.

So I love the city. Really. Truly.

About 80% of the time.

The rest of the time, I'm a little tired of little things. Like the man who likes to sit outside the bookstore on a bench with his pants around his ankles. Good thing he wears boxers.

Or the man who tells himself, "I KNOW, right?! I'll just DO IT!" and then runs out of the bookstore with {unpaid} textbooks stuffed under his shirt.

Or the fact that for the first 3 weeks of classes, we've discussed {nonstop} the intersections between politics and spiritual beliefs. That, however, is another discussion altogether. Suffice it to say I don't fit in there in or out of the church. Either way.

Someone told me there was room for everyone in this city. That might be true. There are certainly enough different opinions in this city. Everybody has one. The grace and compassion for each other, though ...

That, too, is a different story.

So I'm going to have to write my own.

Story, that is.
go to class

go do my homework

go catch the bus

go to work as a temporary cashier at the campus bookstore

go on the weekends.

go. do. experience.

School's been the most interesting adjustment. I feel like I'm always reading, always writing, always studying ... and I'm only going 3/4 time. In fact, I found out I had to add 2 additional credits to access some of my student financial aid, and instead of adding another class, I added Pilates and Relaxation Yoga.

Well. Ok. In all fairness, I did try to add "Supported Employment" but never heard back from the prof. for permission.

And all the craziness has been broken up by visits from Shoes. And those are always appreciated. More than appreciated.

Shoes and I went to the zoo, where many of the animals were missing, ill or sleeping. A weird time to be sure, but than this little guy walked out unexpectedly and everything seemed ok again.

And we hiked into Triple Falls on Sunday. There's a book, actually, of Portland area hikes. Our mission is to do as many of them as possible before it gets too cold.

Aren't we cute?

Busy, busy, busy.

On to the social justice homework ....