Monday, February 16, 2015

Raisins & Peanuts

Good English, well spoken and well written, 
will open more doors for you than a college degree.  
Bad English, poorly spoken and poorly written, 
will slam doors that you don't even know exist.

- William Raspberry   

In February of 2009, I dropped $1,000 for a MacBook Air.  It was a wise investment.  Before I bought the Macbook, I had a Dell laptop that I trudged through grad school with, & if I think about that Dell laptop too long, I'm still, years later, overcome by the urge to scream & throw things.

I planned my wedding (or, mine & Trey's wedding, rather) on my MacBook.  I opened & filled up Word documents with possible names for my kids on my MacBook.  I wrote my grandmother's obituary on my MacBook.  I wrote every word, all 97,000 of them, of Edie & Dr. Foster's saga on my MacBook, as well as every word of every blog I've written, including what you're reading at this moment.  I searched for & discovered our home on my MacBook.  I watched Jack Bauer's triumphant return last summer on my MacBook.  I sat up most of the night in Reagan's room in PICU last year with my MacBook in my lap.  I researched & learned a thousand details regarding what I need to know to care for a diabetic child on my MacBook.

This is me on my MacBook while on vacation in Florida; I feel obligated to let you know we were on vacation because, well, that couch.  I was a few months pregnant with Reagan at this time::

Here's Reagan with my MacBook:

I don't have any pictures of Henry with my MacBook because they don't play well together. 

My MacBook has been good to me.  No, no, it has been great to me; we've loved each other well.  It's been a wonderful six years, perhaps the most transitional six years of my life.  When I bought it, I was newly engaged.  This Wednesday, when I will, the Lord willing, purchase its replacement, I will do so as a married mother of two.

My MacBook is still ticking right along, but it has been six years, & I know eventually I'll have to replace it.  Reagan has an appointment with her endocrinologist Wednesday, which means we'll be in Jackson, home of an Apple store, & so I've decided Wednesday is the day.  I plan to buy another MacBook Air, & pay a little extra to have a kind Apple employee transfer six years of my life from MacBook I to MacBook II.  Consider that I'll learn Reagan's most recent A1C on Wednesday as well, & you can see why it will be an emotional day.

All this MacBook ruminating has me thinking of Steve Jobs a little more often than I normally do.  I always open my classes, be it an English or a speech class, with the William Raspberry quote above because I just love it so much, & it's a sentiment that sets the tone with which I like to begin each new semester.  Perhaps a bit ironically, the late Mr. Raspberry expressed this idea while speaking to graduates at Dillard University.

Steve Jobs had no college degree.  His name is often cited along with a list of other non-degreed folks who're wildly successful, or were in their lifetime, despite having zero diplomas to matte & frame & hang on their wall.  The merits of a college degree debate is always an interesting one, & one that has resurged of late because, if you didn't know, Wisconsin's current governor, Scott Walker, has no college degree.  The left in this country, by which I mean the left & the media, are falling all over themselves to investigate & discredit Walker.  Please do understand that this means they fear Scott Walker, a fact I hope the GOP establishment notes as we move toward primary season.  Notice no one is digging in Jeb Bush's past.  

Trey often voices concern over the state of American universities when our children are of age to attend.  When people are walking away from four-year universities with degrees in Women's Studies, Gender Studies, Climatology, & other such nonsense, you have to wonder what will be the breaking point.  When will someone stand up & say, "No, this is ridiculous, we cannot have people leave these universities with nothing but a mound of debt, an irrational hatred of white men, & a completely useless degree."  Yes, I know this is rich coming from someone with an English degree, but I do think English degrees are defensible.  Perhaps we'll head down that road in another blog.

All this was rattling around in my head last week.  I attempted to sit down & begin typing this out Friday, but the opportunity never presented itself, which is a diplomatic way to say, "The kids drove me nuts.  All day long."  I was at home with them all day Friday, & it was in the middle of the day, while Steve Jobs & Scott Walker & Women's Studies were consuming my thoughts, that I was again reminded that there are so many things you cannot learn in a classroom; I've watched too many men with Ivy League degrees on their resume run the national debt up to conclude otherwise.

So, Friday.  I didn't eat lunch Friday.  I had grand plans to do so, but, much like my desire to sit & type for a few minutes, an opportunity to sit & eat never presented itself.  This, below, is a picture of the fake fruit Henry tried to eat.  This was the least destructive thing he did; the rest of his exploits involved liquid.

Around four Friday afternoon, I grabbed a box of raisins & a can of peanuts & dumped the raisins & some peanuts in a bowl.  I sat down with the bowl, a spoon, & a cup of coffee.  I was immediately swarmed by both kids, & Sophie was circling my chair beneath me, hoping for a wayward morsel.  I wanted so much to sit & eat my meager snack alone while drinking my coffee.  Four little hands were clamoring for my bowl.  Reagan wanted the raisins, which are full of carbs; Henry wanted the peanuts, which are not yet safe for him to eat.  I tried to convince them both that what they really wanted to eat was what their sibling wanted, a little reverse psychology, but to no avail.

I didn't appreciate the raisins & peanuts circus while it was in progress, likely due to having not eaten enough food that day, while still consuming coffee, but it's just the perfect microcosm of my life right now, of motherhood in general.  Reagan doesn't understand why there are times raisins are forbidden, & other times, if she's low, I shovel them in her mouth faster than she can chew.  Henry doesn't understand that he's too young to eat peanuts, that his peanut eating days will come, in time.  He just sees me encouraging a hungry Reagan to eat nuts ALL THE TIME, because they're so low in carbs, yet filling.  

Once Trey returned home on Friday, I did manage to finish reading Karen Kingsbury's Redemption, this month's book club book that I promised you I'd begin reading last Monday.  It was a fast read, & I must say, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  I won't say much about the book today, but I will tell you that, after some disparaging words about Christian fiction, both here on the blog & on Facebook, I am considering writing an upcoming blog titled, "The Fine Art of Eating Crow."  Not taught in college: humility.         

One of the (numerous) themes in Redemption is that, like Reagan demanding raisins when she needs to eat peanuts & Henry whining for peanuts when raisins are the better option for him, so often we don't understand the why of God's timing.  Sometimes God says, "Not now.  Not yet.  Do it this way; Do it My way," & in those instances, it is so hard to keep plugging along, to keep trusting, to keep praying, to feast on the peanuts when what you really want is the raisins.  Not taught in college: the virtue of waiting . . . for anything.  Fill in that blank any way you please.  Waiting on sex.  Waiting on God.        

One thing being a parent has given me is a better insight into God's view of us as His children.  I sometimes wonder, when I am at my wit's end, when I haven't had lunch & I can't even eat a snack in peace, if God is ever that exasperated with me.  I know, without a doubt, the answer is a resounding, "Yes."    

I don't know if Scott Walker would make a good president.  I do know the media is aware of the appeal he has, otherwise they wouldn't be digging through his past, finding gems like this:

There's no class that teaches the fine art of negotiating a raisins & peanuts situation while you're strung out on coffee & short on patience.  Much like parenting, serving as the American president, if one is to do the job well, requires knowledge that cannot be taught in any classroom.  No amount of tuition can buy the humility & graciousness needed to deal with the family members of fallen soldiers.  A wall of diplomas won't reduce the national debt by one cent.  No one needs to sit through four years of college, or two years of grad school, or three years of law school to know that abortion kills living babies.  If you're my neurosurgeon, then yes, I'd like to see your diplomas, but I'd be happy to give Scott Walker a chance to run this country.  I'd sure love it if he approached the job with the tenacity with which he's handled his job as Wisconsin's governor (not taught in college: how to defeat Democrats in three statewide elections in the span of four years).  You don't need a college degree to know that unions are beneficial only to the bank accounts of those who run them; in fact, sometimes it takes years of college to unlearn what is otherwise blatantly obvious.  

As I tell my students, my students seated in a college classroom, I don't regret the time I spent in school or the degrees I earned, but many of my most valuable lessons were learned outside the classroom.  I also echo Mr. Raspberry's sentiment above & tell them that if they're unwilling to learn to communicate effectively, both orally & in writing, they're wasting their time & money in college.

Saturday, Valentine's Day, was much better than Friday.  Trey went to his office early to get a little work done, & I woke up to find this on the table:

It's a Kelly Moore bag.  If that doesn't mean anything to you, that's okay.  If it does, you know how happy I am.  Yes, I think I am going to exchange this one, which is "Eggplant" in color, for a mustard-colored one that I think will be more versatile, but color aside, I was very surprised.  Trey & I usually don't get each other much, if anything, for Valentine's Day, which is exactly what Trey told my sister when she informed him of the bag I'd been eyeing.  

After the Kelly Moore bag euphoria, the kids & I lounged with our milk & coffee.

Then, I dressed Reagan for her date with Nana.  They went to see the Paddington Bear movie, & Reagan was all smiles - - a fake one & then a real one, at my insistence - - while waiting for Nana to pick her up.

Moments after Nana's arrival, Reagan did or said something that drew a reprimand from Trey, & so these are the only pics I got of Reagan & Nana:

Trey spent a good part of Saturday playing Mr. Wizard cleaning guns.  You can imagine how much I love disassembled guns spread all over my white table.  The smidge of guilt I felt over the bag Trey bought me vanished after I'd walked through the kitchen four or five times.  Then, on Sunday, Trey spent the entire afternoon shooting with his friends, & the bag guilt was so far from my mind I almost bought myself another bag online.  I think I may be done with my bag guilt.  I know, I said I wouldn't buy any this year (if you recall my impressive list of resolutions), but you know what?  I carry so much stuff every day, everywhere I go.  There is a 100% chance I'll need a bag (sometimes two or three!) when I leave the house, but the same cannot be said of a gun, of which Trey has quite an impressive array.  Not taught in college: how to live with someone whose hobbies are expensive & make you crazy, & potentially lead to your name showing up on a government watch list.  One thing I won't be carrying with me in the future: bag guilt.

Henry's part in the gun-cleaning effort:

I ended Saturday in the best possible way.  I went to the grocery store alone, & then I got a cup of coffee at the Chick-fil-A drive thru.  I sat alone in the parking lot & drank the coffee while listening to Michael Buble.  The coffee was so hot & so fresh.  When I ordered it, the nice young man said they'd have to brew some, & would I mind waiting?  I think my No! was so enthusiastic it caught him off guard because he chuckled a little before asking if I wanted any cream or sugar with it.  

My MacBook & I bid you farewell.  Our collaborative efforts to bring you this blog have been highly rewarding these past four years.  Maybe in this new era on the blog with my second generation MacBook, I'll find myself ruminating about the election of an American president who holds no college degree, expressing myself via an incredible machine imagined & made possible by a man who held no college degree.  Wouldn't that be the best

This is MacBook I, signing off.  



  1. Anna, I really enjoy your writing. It is so well done and full of wisdom...seriously. I always look forward to reading what you write!

  2. Thanks, Kate. And may I say, ditto!

  3. Anna, what a delightful read and what truth about the peanuts and raisins.