My New Book

I love it when movies inspire people to do good things. That is why I watch them, dependent upon the mood for the day. It’s 1:30AM, my roommate is asleep, and I am listening to the soundtrack from the Help over Koss headphones that I grabbed in the major move from six years ago. My writing style is anything but academic, and yet I’m having fun.

As for the title of this particular blog, anyone who is actually following it, (I think that there is one of you), you read about how I want to write a dissertation on trauma following death and perhaps how to get out of it. At least one close friend is against this. She is in the middle of her own issues and this is too close. I never realized before how many friends have recent deaths in the family. That is not why I chose this topic for the dissertation. I chose it because of my experiences of six deaths in seven years. From natural causes, from accidents, and one murder, death is a prevalent theme in my life of late. the last death brought unexpected closure to the series. I have no idea of the arch of the book for the dissertation, but in the meantime, I feel like I need to write a Memoir. That is the purpose of this particular introductory blog, and the scariest thing that I have ever done. I’ve talked myself out of it more times than I can count. The closest that I’ve gotten to writing it is 50 pages and an outline, all stored on the hard drive that just crashed. It would cost about $700 to restore the hard drive and I don’t have that kind of cash whatsoever. So, I get the privilege of starting over after writing the first four chapters.

I am not sure how different it will be seeing as the timeline is my own. The names are changing to protect innocent and guilty parties, but what I will write is all truth. No varnishing. No changing it up outside editorial license. I don’t know what good or more likely what ill it will do. Nice little LDS girls don’t write Memoirs. Well, maybe they do. Some phenomenal LDS female writers out there are my heroines. I don’t read LDS fiction, so I don’t know what there is outside of Ender’s Game. At least, I’ve read a couple of LDS books, but nothing since I was a later teenager. They’re not a massive influence on me. I like classics, quirky writers with heart who occasionally swear but get their points across. I do not intend on swearing. I need to write what I want to read.

So, this is the birth of Almost Ten Years at BYU: An Absolutely, Unbelievably True Story. Tagline: The Names are Changed, the rest is the same. My family may hate me by the time it’s done. That’s the one thing that I don’t want. I also don’t want law suits. Being careful of what I write is important. I also will be, as my mother used to say, “brutally honest.” This isn’t going to show a beautiful picture unless a person wants parts of the human heart that matter. I am an idealist. I completely set that forward right now. Although I  wish for no rudeness, and  not to be mean to people, there is a strong possibility that people will get hurt. That is what has kept me back for years. The people who say to just go ahead and write, you don’t know the implications. It means that you see how it could effect your family, and you think about how the concept makes a difference. Of course I care about the people who I’m writing about. I’m not sure why I need to write it, but it’s been on my mind off and on since maybe 2007? The hard part is writing when you’re not exactly sure what the end is, and tonality during writing… do you write like you were a freshman, or do you write as the wiser student who is finally finishing these years later? I love the story. Yes, I’m in love with my life, but that’s only happened due to severe trials and hardships or heart aches in the meantime.

My life now is so different from where it was back then. I learned and loved so much. I would never replace it, and couldn’t replace it with anything else. What does one semi-overweight white girl from DC who grew up LDS have to share with the rest of the world, especially about some weird, out-there place called Utah, combined with LA and NYC? Yeah, great settings, I’ll admit. My life feels like a chick flick. Gag me? *grins* I’m a bit different from most, if not all people, but I’m also the same underneath it all. My life is one lived in faith. Wonder if that could ever come across were this to become a movie someday. *shrugs* We’ll see. All that I know is that I’m the main one who could write my story. The post-9/11 under play when seen from someone who was close to a lot of the major events of the ages. Yes, I was close for proximity to 9/11. I was at the President’s Initiative on Race in 1998. I was at the Napster hearing at BYU and I lived near to campus when Jimmer caught the basketball world on fire. Things like that.

I served a mission in LA when the DC sniper was shooting literally close to my home. Technology and the world entirely changed when I was away in LA. Then, New York, and falling in love with that city. Coming back, and being independent and staying as strong as possible with the gospel. Things are hard, but endurance is good. What we create is a very good thing. I need to go to bed now, but those are some of the thoughts going through my head as I finally write this pre-write. I need to start somewhere. Better late than never. Bring it on. 🙂

The Genealogy Doctor

So This is Christmas: Dissertations and Becoming Dr. Death

At least, it will be on Sunday. Yesterday I had an academic shifting-discussion with a lady on an American Airlines flight from Chicago to LA. I made her, her seat mate, and the mother across the way small crocheted snowflakes on the flight. Found out that the lady, P, for short, was on her way to Melbourne although she grew up in Chicago and loves cheese and caramel Garrett’s popcorn. That was for documentary purposes at some point. The man had a scotch, and the mother had twin children, a boy and a girl.

The thing that seemed important to me was that while speaking with the woman, I decided on a doctoral emphasis and general research topic. I am between my first and second semesters of graduate school for double Masters degrees and although my life will probably change dramatically over this next year, and I hope that it does in a very positive way, I think that this doctoral emphasis could help someone. Helping someone know that they aren’t alone is incredibly important to me. The emphasis is trauma following death.

Once January ends, it will be six deaths in seven years. I was batting par for the course there for a while, but this past year has been (knock on inanimate object) the best. My first without a major traumatic life experience since 2005. Well, I moved across the country and started grad school. That is a different version of trauma all together. From my oral history class, I learned more about how to cope with and deal with trauma in real-time. That was definitely not a part of the intended learning outcomes of the course, but life experience being what it is, it happened. We read a lot about people in traumatic situations, and I am beginning to see it with a bit more of a clinical eye. Not with an eye that doesn’t care, but everyone goes through trauma eventually.

Whether or not a person believes in the Afterlife, this is still a case where it’s one of the hardest things that a person can go through. Some people never leave the state of trauma that happens with death, and some eventually find their way out of it. Seeing the quantity and sheer size of disasters these days, knowing how to deal with post-mortem trauma in survivors is important. I have no plans of becoming a psychologist, but I do plan to give some degree of relevancy and “Your life matters” to the people who get left. As universal as family and food, so is death. I also do taxes. 🙂

Relevancy when it comes to death is something that I prefer to establish through historical context. I don’t know whether that many people would see things the way that I do. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I have a unique perspective given my experiences in family history work, and a sincere love of all things old. Okay, that doesn’t make me unique. Add training and education, and I may still not be unique. However, it’s not every day that a person decides to take on the task of learning how people deal with after-effects of death in a historical context. At least, I’ve never heard of it before. I want to really become a genealogy doctor, able to help anyone who needs to know a given resource. While I consider this, I also know that I’m great at starting things. It just takes me a long time to finish them, especially to finish them well.

It concerns me how studying this topic could negatively impact my future family life. The other side is that it could give my family members a  unique perspective contributing to positive reactions, and defying the “bad fear” of death. I prefer that my children some day not have “death wishes” or that they don’t act to hasten an untimely demise, but instead never to fear death. I don’t. It’s a time for going home, but it’s not yet. You work hard in this life and you make sure that you have the relationship with God where you understand that His grace saves. That never means that you stop working hard, helping others, etc. It means that you step it up a notch and remember where that grace comes from, particularly intent on moving forward, on progression and helping make good things happen. Never step on anyone else’s agency, but help channel influence in positive directions.

There’s also an app that I am trying to figure out how to make, or to make an “appative” as it were. (App as an additive to already-existing software or freeware= appative.) Working with existing technology to make something that works better. There are things that I need to make happen, and I hope that I can do this, or find a way of making things work properly.

Yours truly,

The Genealogy Doctor

Preserving History: A Take on the Egyptian Library and Personal Documentation

As a genealogist but more particularly as a preservationist of useful historical artifacts, the burning of the Egyptian library got to me. The first truly preservationist blog recommended buying a fireproof box, and keeping essential documents inside that box. I wish that Egyptian library followed that policy. As soon as I heard that it burned, I thought about flame-retardant systems and how Egypt had one example of this already more than a thousand years ago. Personal time-travel wishes for going back to the library of Alexandria and rescuing documents is not an option. Neither is there an option for saving the 1890 census from the 1920’s fire, or the St. Louis NARA military records fire in the 1970’s.

While becoming a digital documentation fanatic, I love my paper. When I was a child, I had to stop and stare at stationery in stores, and I love the smell of a well-cared for museum. It’s the one of the most glorious smells in the world. The smell of old, well-cared for books versus musty dusty rusty is vast. The archivist in me knows that digital only takes one good electro-magnet to erase despite best efforts at keeping it functioning whereas paper, when done properly, lasts for hundreds of years if not thousands. Metal is better for inscriptions while rock isn’t bad for more everyday use. And no, I’m not suggesting using metal or rock for making different items, but they’re not bad choices for consideration of things meant to last literally for thousands of years. Thank you, again, Egyptians and hieroglyphs.

I wish that more people realized that their lives are important. Not as in they themselves are the best being that ever was since the beginning of time, but their existence matters. People who understand that existence matters like documenting it. Maybe there is a natural proclivity toward removing traces of existence in the short term. My gas receipt although theoretically useful for tax deduction benefits at the end of the year isn’t something that I really care about. I try to pay with cash, and so there aren’t any strong numbers on there to hold against me. That said,

DOCUMENTATION IS IMPORTANT! No, I do not recommend becoming a pack-rat and storing every single paper that a person ever created in their entire lifetime. That is unwieldy and unmanageable when there are hundreds if not thousands of papers for the life span of most educated people. Vital records- store them, make copies, and put them in bank vaults. These matter. Tax documents going back at least seven years, and if possible a copy from every year (the IRS can audit going back that far, technically, but seven years is the minimum). Medical records, especially immunizations, matter. Religious documents, wills, and court records, or anything that a government or governing body of any kind creates also matters. That includes school transcripts and similar records. Within my own record stashes are my father’s high school varsity letter in chess, (yes, he’s smart. Brilliant, honestly,) his and my mother’s wedding pictures, and some of my and his school transcripts from when we were both in grade school. Things like this add human interest in the “blank space” otherwise occurring between birth and marriage for most ancestors.

Although many people are hugely into scrap booking, I am not. However, scrap booking is a valid personal history builder as is blogging, etc. Family websites are good things, and there is no way to get away from digital documentation in family history. I wish that the current software programs kept up with the needs of the field, although I need to test out RootsMagic 5 to see if they upgraded their documentation systems. I love the Memorize Feature for ease of use in referencing a document multiple times, but otherwise regarding genealogical software programs they all still have issues or else I have not found one with sufficient quality to address my daily needs. Still/always searching!

I’d give a lot for a program to have all of Evidence Explained‘s examples in Wizard format along with automatic digital download capacity for websites and similar mediums, and be transferrable between computers or more compatible utilizing basic GEDCOM utility languages. Makes me wonder what the limitations are for the underlying code structures.

Moments to Be Grateful for: Recent Semester Review

It’s the end of my first semester of grad school. I am surprised at how fast it all went by. I started out being terrified, and after trying some things on a whim, they worked out exceeding my best expectations.

Coinciding with this is my first avid use of Twitter and I adore it. It’s a place where I’ve learned quickly that not much gets filtered, (unless there’s something that I don’t know), and I’m starting to not be nervous as my personal and professional lives intertwine in ways that I never expected. Parts of my life already bled between atmospheres, but I am re-learning that you get back what you put towards others. The more-positive I become about life, the more wonderfully or beautifully infectious the thoughts processes become. Bottom line? I’m in love with grad school and so grateful that I felt to come to Chicago back in ’06. It took a really long time to get here, but I’m here and I adore this place. The people are nicer than I ever expected, the driving as intense as I like it, and the food is fabulous, albeit more expensive than I wish. My schools are a beautiful blend of city meets suburbia and I can’t get over how much I love the  thing. The people, the day, the feel of it all is better than I ever planned for myself.

Being a temple worker is also exactly what I need. During the LUC conference, one of the questions that the commentator posed was about the theological aspects to the topic. I purposely left out most of it. Although I could give him very solid answers for any theological questions that he has about LDS family history, the thought was not to over-explain but to simply be cool with it. I am very much willing to discuss any belief in question. Although I am not unequal or uncommitted, there wasn’t a strong need to delve into the theology at that forum.

I am extremely grateful for the respectful response that the paper generated. Because of this, I can move and continue scholarship. This past week there was a reading for Oral History class that dealt with the lives of people who live in Mexico, revolving around an oil boom/bust period called Mexican Lives. Part of what I read made me think of people who win the lottery. When you’re not used to having money, it gets to you and you blow it quickly. There are options for you that were never available before and it’s nearly a manically high feeling attached. At least, that’s what is reported. After taxes, it’s this big spending spree that normally leaves people in worse condition than previously. I do not wish to denigrate anyone who has won a lottery, but that is the stereotype. So, yes, the money got to the heads of the people in charge and financially destroyed the country before it had anywhere to go.

There are also the social implications inherent in a society where it is taught that there is a Mediator figure or a Savior in terms of the people of the society expecting someone else to save them. I agree with needing a Mediator, and there is a crucial need for a Savior, specifically Jesus Christ. I am a fan of grace, and believe that my works are a result of believing in grace. Feel free to disagree. No problems.

I definitely have nothing whatsoever against the Catholic Church, the major Church background of Mexico and much of the world. My family was Catholic in earlier generations, and I go to Catholic schools. Far be it for me to ever rant on another person’s religion. When you’ve been a minority your whole life then you know that what you appreciate and love more than anything else in the world is not appreciated by everyone. You don’t mean to be defensive. It’s just that you never know what other people’s experience is with your religion, how people practiced the religion or didn’t, and you have to have faith that your own life is your best “defense” against nay-sayers while still admitting and acknowledging your own humanity.

It’s also another thing that people who are not my religion hold people of my faith to a higher standard. What I do gets scrutinized regularly, and I expect it. I have to be an honorable person, and still open-minded and positive. It’s a fine balancing line, and you just pray that who you really are comes out in a positive way as people see you. The whole “by their fruits” notion. I want to be honorable. I expect that my life can be happy now, and I am grateful for the good moments. It’s not always going to be happy all the time, but I think that it’s a combination of attitude about the potential trial and being okay with it.

During the final for a class presentation this past week I knew that I wanted to present a short video on current museum practices and a spec spreadsheet for the technical aspects of the digital needs of the historical society we were trying to help. The sound in the presentation room wasn’t working. Under a lot of pressure for this final to get everything together and for it to work right. There was a point where it appeared as if nothing could be done and I was stuck without half of my five minutes. A call to the IT person later, the problem got solved. While waiting for the little miracle, two of my presentation group partners did their absolute best to help out. At one point, I was so scared that I was sipping water in rapid succession from the drinks table. I was sitting at the main table, being quiet, trying not to freak out and sipping water non-stop. This was not content anxiety but technological disability anxiety. One of my presentation partners saw this, got up from his space at the large table where we were all sitting, and tried to help again even though there was nothing that any of us could do at this point. Both of the guys in my group worked hard to get the sound to work. Although I couldn’t express nearly adequate thanks for their efforts, I guess that this is the best that I can do now. I went over time and in a moment of hypersensitivity afterwards, and sent the group an apology email for going over time. The IT guy fixed the sound, and things started, albeit ten minutes late.

The moments that mattered to me in all of this were my group members trying to help even when it appeared that there was no hope whatsoever, and then my praying a lot while sipping water that it would work out. Finally, it worked and I was extremely happy for it. My part of the presentation was long, and as-mentioned above I felt badly about that. In wanting to make sure that I didn’t step on anyone’s toes, I went a little overboard.

It was interesting to see how much of people’s personalities came out in the presentations. I’m the girl that likes the tech and likes multi-media presentations even if I’m behind the times. I also like to give people a solution that they can implement tomorrow if need be. Everyone else has their pet projects and similar things, and the evolution of the class over the course of the semester was enlightening, rather uplifting, and I learned a lot. Those were God’s core expectations for me while in Chicago. I don’t think that they are done yet, perhaps, but it was rewarding to see changes in behavior from my first crash-and-burn horrific presentation to the multi-media slash-through that felt up-to-the-second current. It was a great change.

How I feel about Chicago has also changed a lot. I went from loving it to wishing I wasn’t here or anywhere, to being given the space and opportunities to grow into where I am. I have one last paper/presentation/take-away materials final left and I’m still in love. This is an experience is never to be forgotten, but cherished for the wonderful thing that it is. If a man could make me feel as alive as this city does, that would be incredible.

I respect my classmates more than they will ever know and I care about who they are as people. As of this upcoming Thursday, I must have my work done and that is paramount to anything else besides what I need to do for Church. Priorities come in their proper forms, I hope. One friend mentioned that she read the blog and so I will return to the focus on the practical aspects of family history. My whole life has to do with various forms of public history, and so I will try to make things better for tips on how to do this seemingly simple and dynamically complex field. Till next blog, I am,

The Genealogy Doctor

Twitter, Grad School, and Teaching Thoughts

I’ll keep this bare and stripped down since I need to get back to my transcription work. There is only one class in Oral History at my university (afaik.) I want more of it. There is not enough time to teach enough about this distinct, nuanced field. My teacher does his solid best, and he and the class are impressive beyond words. Doing this (transcription work), though, is another thing entirely. I am in love with the practical aspects of history and I soak it up like fresh-baked baklava and honey.

Being active on Twitter this past week, my mind feels like it’s riding a great wave. There are so many organizations and other things for digital humanities and history in general that I had no idea about. My undergrad ended nearly four years ago, and there was a lull of creativity during the interim due to other jobs and unemployment doldrums. You never see what is out there until you have a medium showing it to you, albeit indirectly.

I think that I am an idiot for having resisted Twitter for so long, but stubbornness needs changing through education. Wow, WHAT an education! I am not sure that I am learning so much due to opportunity, due to lack of opportunity and thus trying to absorb at almost alarming speed, or what. I haven’t felt this happy about life since I interned in New York five years back. Although other people who I worked with were avid social media early adopters, I did not see much use to Twitter until now. I was even annoyed by the Twitter ads all over the place. Resisting new media does not help. Being a part of it and leading the discussions, or at least listening does. I have relatives that are not part of any social media whatsoever. It’s ironic due to their jobs. But the privacy that my family ensconced in me as a child is dead. I understand social protocols, and there are many levels to my privacy settings. However, anyone who thinks that all of their information is private does not realize what is out there. You either control your own media, or someone else may do it for you. In another case of family, one adopted one form of media and not another. My sister and I split our media streams down between the two mega-providers of T and FB.

Due to a recent class in Museum Mgmt, I finally listened to the presenter (who obviously knew her stuff) and her mentioning that she got her earliest news that way… My currency on news media stopped when I went to college. Between lack of time for television and otherwise filtered reporting in the great and open spaces west, I was news starved for some time. I knew that things were happening, most of which I could ignore. It’s as if my brain went into isolation mode for about eight years to a decade, but specifically since ’05. Due to various family needs at the time and my reactions to them, it probably did.

It feels like I am back on the planet again. I don’t know that many people who talk about news that much. Most of the time I normally assume now that everyone knows what’s going on, and frequently knows it better than I do. That is usually the case. I’ve been out of the loop for a few years. Feeling like an antiquated zombie is not in my best interests.

Due to the immediacy of knowledge, it becomes instantly passe. Thus, people do not talk about it unless it is chatting online/news feeds. This limited face-to-face interaction was unheard of…even a decade ago. It is such a strange phenom for a culture that says that it wants social connection. More like generations of watchers. We can see things and we can make snide remarks or not comment at all if we do not want more interaction with the topic, but what about building something better versus cutting down and slashing and burning something?

Yes, I am an unusual graduate student who hates being snide. I do not see a use to it, but I have to swim with the PhD’s and the people who otherwise could intimidate me out of the program. One of my programs is more “touchy-feely” and the school is small enough as a nice, suburban place. I got there and I felt like I’m in a little nice cocoon, protected. Yes, it’s grad school, but it’s softer. The other school is sink or swim. The candidates in the second program know their stuff and make you fight to keep up. It’s challenging as all-get out and reminds me a lot of my undergrad institution. You either make it or break it. If you make it, you fly. I don’t want to think about breaking it. The people who go to this school are smart, savvy, opinionated (in some cases), and otherwise give me a run for my tuition.

I presented a paper at this school for a conference. The first positive public reception to the topical love of my life, family history/genealogy, dumb-founded me. These people aren’t my religion. Due to geographic density and age/marital-demographic, I would go to Church with them if they were, so I would know it. These people have no connections to my topic, but they were more respectful than most of the people who I know. My treatment was as someone who had relevancy. This has only happened a few times in my niche groups, and so I it took me off-guard in the most pleasant way possible. Perhaps I was a little defensive going into it. My topic is more-niche than most, and in the historical field it is traditionally seen with a derision that makes boiling oil look pleasant.

My commentator changed my life with a simple email and phone call. He thought that the topic was great, and after the conference (which, as stated above went over enormously well considering the pressures I was under to get the paper ready, perfected, and updated from a senior thesis of four years earlier;) he met with me about further work in the topic of my paper. It’s as if the topic is seeing new eyes in the field. I am so glad and grateful. Fighting for this for my entire college academic career (much longer than most people’s), I feel like for the first time I am coming into my own. Twitter and the resources there are opening things up for me that did not exist years ago. Although I don’t have funding for it, I’m even considering a PhD. If I could find funding, then why not? A teacher of mine in the undergrad once remarked to the class that she got her PhD at 40. This surprised most of the class. She said that she was going to turn 40 anyway, so why not? I’m kind of in a similar boat. I love learning more than almost anything. Good things, good people. The Masters degrees will probably put me in hock for the rest of my life anyway. I didn’t think about being a professor, and still don’t, honestly..

It may not work, but I’ve thought of ways to teach classes in Family History to undergrads. Maybe not the same way that BYU teaches it, because honestly, you don’t have to know the ecclesiastical to do well in it. Just that I was thinking of how to present such information to a bunch of teenagers. Well, older teenagers but people with the same mind-set. It’s different from how to present it to children or to older adults. I taught Sunday School on the topic for around five years, and my typical presentation has  entertainment value. No one has ever seen me present like that out here. It’s candid, but a little abrupt and needs refinement. I haven’t taught in a long time, either. It’s a persona, performing. Although performing like that is fun, it does not translate into the personality that I want to have when not in lecture mode. I like the idea of being strong, but being a kinder, gentler person. Teachers have the line and they play along it, but I don’t know how to put it forth for an undergrad audience where it will translate well. I guess I just haven’t taught in a long time.

That was more than I was planning to write, and I need to get to my section of the transcription and then make key lime pies for tomorrow. There’s a part of me that can’t stop writing, loves it, wants to do more of it, and when not posting on social media I am looking up information to write something else or hw. My life is busy, complicated, and I feel like I fall in love regularly. But it’s good. My life is the best that it has been in an extremely long time and I want to express sincere gratitude for that. Everything may fall apart tomorrow, but I am happy with what I am doing now.

~The GenealogyDr

Tatting: Cross-Generational Talents

Conversing with a coworker recently, I found value in hobbies that I figured were a lone specialty. One of these hobbies is tatting. No, I do not know how to make skin pictures using needles, etc. I leave that to professionals and those inclined in that direction. Tatting is a very old needle or shuttle tradition and is becoming one of many “lost arts.” During the summer of 2010 I took a class on tatting as I knew that my great-grandmother could do it, and I figured that I should have capacity to do anything that my ancestors could do. Perhaps an arrogant assumption, but the MTV generation figures that it can do anything. Anything is possible with practice, determination, and the right thread.

My teacher was the “Mad Tatter,” one of the few certified tatting instructors in the US. His course cost enough for a pair of shoes in Chicago, and on the budget that I had, it was a tough but good course. He should teach this course at college level. I put as much effort into that as I do for graduate school classes, but there was enough material to justify it. What I learned, however, is that my ancestress was amazing. I have not seen any examples of her work. Since my experiences watching excellence in this art form noted needed determination and guts, that observance gave the objects value that I was not expecting.

Thinking about this experience also made me consider farming. I am not a farmer, and have minimal personal experience in that job. My grandfather was the end of the farming in the family as he drove delivery trucks when he was younger to farmers and later went into the military. His adopted father grew up farming. My father’s lineage were engineers, store keepers, weavers, tobacconists, and have been on the cutting edge of whatever technology was around for the few hundred plus years for my direct-surname lineage. Others of my father’s side were truck drivers and cops. My mother’s lineage had stone and plaster masons and farmers.

My experiences with people who grew up on farms are of some of the most hard-working people that I have ever met. They do more in a day, hardly complain, and have a work ethic that is otherwise lacking in my generation. A part of me loves to connect with the ground and I like to keep herbs and small container gardens in my city dwelling space. This is nothing compared to breaking up fields, and I have no idea about modern-day agriculture outside of documentaries, seeing farms near my Grandma’s house, and talking with friends who live in California’s strawberry and citrus belt.

Conclusions about what my ancestors could do versus what I do on a given day is that of a change of economy and a change of life style. I am not as rugged as those old farmers. That is not to say that my challenges are not equal to my given time. My determination and self-esteem come from meeting and conquering challenges that did not exist en masse even a decade ago. Understanding present-day social pressures and norms, the world is a different place than when I was a child. I am nostalgic for my grandparent’s young adulthood when the major world wars were over and the “American Dream” seemed possible. My generation gets to prove itself in a world where the global economy shifts and wobbles as if drunken, and where there is no promise of safety. Community barely exists and the situation appears up to us to make things work. Previous generations think that we feel “entitled.” That is not the case in 2011.

I value the past implicitly as I like to learn from other people’s experiences. My ancestors could do things that took serious skill and talent; some of which I find incredibly difficult. I now know what people did before television and movies. Tatting a small piece can take up two hours without thinking about it. I think that past generations were better socializers than mine, despite prevailing social media. In an era where everything is about immediate gratification, I am grateful for the examples of hard work, discipline, ingenuity, and creativity that came before me. World conditions negatively slide, but I want to focus on positive creative abilities. Recapturing good things and skills of the past make my life inherently better as I learn them.