Thursday, January 27, 2011


WOW! I cannot believe how quickly January slipped away. We had so many things going on with work and home and school and...ahhh!!

So, some quick updates:
  • I am SO happy to report that Johnathan had a clean bill of health after his last colonoscopy. He is 1 year cancer free! We are incredibly excited about being able to move forward. I am even more excited about Relay for Life this year, too! Johnathan can truly walk his survivor lap with pride!
  • Snowpocalypse 2011 kept us out of school for a number of days, disrupting all the aspects of school for us, including exams and the change to the spring semester. Needless to say it interfered with all of our scheduling, grading and such to the point that even TODAY we were still retesting from the fall semester. However, we did start the 2nd semester yesterday and I think I'm going to be challenged and exhausted as we adjust.
  • We were also so excited to celebrate the holidays with Johnathan's oldest sister Alisa, her husband John and their children. It was the first time we were able to open Christmas presents with all of the kids together. What a joy to see my niece and nephew open presents and say "I got Buzz! I got Jessie!". That morning was very special to us, even if we were celebrating Christmas in January.
  • I do plan on returning to blogging more regularly once things calm down a bit (and yes, I know that I say that fairly often when I get slack). Hopefully I can start writing about books and sharing more photos :)
I think that's all the major updates for now. Hopefully, I'll be back to blogging soon!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sticks and Stones?

What has transpired in Arizona is nothing short of tragic. A 9 year old girl who was born in the waves of 9/11 has lost her life. A federal judge has been killed. An Arizona Congressional representative is in critical condition following a gunshot wound to the head that went through her brain (according to reports).

Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

True. But guns hurt indiscriminately.

My friend Erin blogged about the events a few days ago, and made a point of mentioning that no one can truly be held responsible except the shooter. And technically, I agree. But, I'd like to also point out people can be motivated by others (see cult mass suicides, terrorist attacks, etc.). That isn't to say that this particular shooter was motivated by political speech by any leaders from any party, but I also think it's too soon to rule it out. I think what she was getting at mostly (and I don't pretend to have psychic abilities) was that it's not fair to point fingers at any one person or group in the immediate wake of such an event. Rather, it may be best to form a more nuanced opinion once we get all the facts that are available. Nothing is going to undo what has happened; why waste time and energy firing angry remarks at each other?

So, now that I've explored other reactions, I'd like to offer my own idea:
It's categorically unfair to dismiss the harsh, violent rhetoric of political camps when something like this happens. We spend so much time as a society talking about action rather than acting, so we shouldn't be surprised when someone else elects to act. Is it coincidental that Sarah Palin (who I openly criticize for her lack of intelligence and ease of being imitated) had gun cross hairs on her website in the state of Arizona with the name Gabrielle Giffords attached? Maybe. Do I think Sarah Palin was openly advising people to go out and put these people in the cross hairs of real guns? I don't think even she is that stupid. However, political leaders can often underestimate the power of suggestion.

On the whole, I think some of the conservative movement following the November 2010 election will be stifled by this harrowing event. It's very easy to sit in Washington, removed from the reality of this nation, and say "there will be no compromise" and sign letters that clearly state your party intends to block every piece of legislation until you get your way (are we three years old again now? Pouting until we get our way?). I don't think it's necessarily fair that those with an opinion contrary to the left (and sometimes the President) are going to lose ground they fought for because of this, but it also isn't fair to assume that everyone who doesn't vote conservative eats granola, doesn't shave, sings Kumbaya and is carrying a baby killing, gay marrying, death penalty ending, gun abolishing, pot smoking, global warming conspiracy agenda, either. What happened to the America that is all about diversity? The Great American Melting Pot (please sing along, School House Rock-ers)?

All I'm trying to say (I think) is that we desperately need to learn to get along, or at least agree to disagree. Let's all have a beer (or a coke) and sit down and talk about our differences. I mean, John Boehner's gavel (compensation, maybe?) is big enough for both sides of the aisle, and the people in between.

Please don't think for one second that I have an issue with conservatives, because I don't. In fact, some of the people I respect the most are conservative, or at least more conservative than I am. But they get my respect because they are well read, well spoken and don't just spout off whatever is forced on them by someone with more power or influence. Those I interact with agree to disagree with me in the midst of conversations about the issues of the day, and it doesn't have to affect relationships.

This is where the reader and writer in me gets frustrated because we only seem to acknowledge the power of words when the results are life threatening. Sticks and stones and guns and bombs all cause serious damage.

Let's keep talking.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010: In review

I am openly stealing the format of this post from Adrian , a friend from high school whose journey continues to move me with each post. If you haven't read her blog, you must! Anyway, I think she has it right when she breaks down the year month to month to discuss each important moment. So without further ado....

January: We spent New Year's Eve and Day (and at least one more day) in the hospital as Johnathan recovered from surgery to remove the tumor on his colon that was discovered during a colonoscopy in December. I returned to work after a week home with him, and we also met with an oncologist to discuss treatment options. Johnathan also entered graduate school at North Carolina Central University to pursue his Master's Degree in Information Science. I started my internship in Curriculum and Instruction.

February: Johnathan began chemotherapy as a precautionary measure, since his oncologist gave us the option of doing so or foregoing it. We decided that the extra 5% 5 year expectancy was worth 18 treatments. We celebrated Valentine's Day with a dinner and gifts.

March: Chemotherapy continued, and Johnathan's side effects are low at worst. His hair thinned a little but he did not experience nausea or other symptoms of the chemo. He continued his treatments at 3 weeks on, one week off. The indoor percussion competition ended with our ensemble earning the bronze medal at championships at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

April: We took part of my Spring Break and set off for Asheville for a few relaxing days, including a visit to the Biltmore Estate on Easter. It was a lovely weekend that provided me with just the time and space I needed to reconnect with my husband in the midst of all the chaos of school, graduate school, band and his chemotherapy.

May: I graduated with my MA in Curriculum and Instruction from ASU. My mom and best friend were in attendance when I walked across the stage. My husband was at his sister's wedding, and we had a late dinner after both events to celebrate :) I was relieved that even though I had another summer session to complete, I was finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We participated in our first Relay for Life and Johnathan walked his first survivor lap. What a way to end the month! Our team, Go JoBe Go, raised over $600 for the American Cancer Society, and for a team that got a really late start, that's not too bad!

June: Johnathan is quickly approaching the end of chemo and is still doing great. The school year comes to a close and my contract was renewed for the 2010-2011 school year; the year I am eligible for tenure! There is a lot of joy in our house this month as we celebrate moving forward.

July: I finally finish all the coursework at ASU, and chemo is over! David, Johnathan and I took a vacation to Oak Island for the most restful, fun week I think any of us had experienced in quite some time. We cooked great meals, drank great wine and spent most of the days on the beach, and even took two trips to Wilmington for shopping and site seeing. We celebrated my 26th birthday with my parents and a dinner at their home.

August: Johnathan and I celebrate our 3rd year of marriage; one that has surpassed our imaginations in both challenge and joy. We cooked a quiet dinner at home and dressed up to celebrate the occasion. A followup appointment goes well with the oncologist. I receive a letter from ASU confirming my acceptance into the Add-On licensure program in School Administration. Just three classes and I'll be eligible for a position as an Assistant Principal.

September: School is back in full swing for me and Johnathan is back at work 4 days per week, as he is feeling much stronger since his chemo ended just over a month prior. I am working all kinds of crazy hours as the yearbook adviser, taking on a new role at school while attempting to balance just one more year of coursework and internship hours, along with a minimal commitment to David's band program, which basically boiled down into a little bit of travel and becoming a band spectator; something I did not think I would enjoy, but did.

October: We get to celebrate Johnathan's 26th birthday, the first one following his cancer diagnosis. In honor of the event, I register Go JoBe Go for the 2011 Relay for Life and start recruiting team members. We attended the Relay Kickoff this month, too. Johnathan and I, along with my parents, spent Halloween weekend in Chapel Hill where we had dinner with David and Ashley Donovan after a super exciting Carolina homecoming football game. The Heels won!!

November: School is starting to catch up with me, both the one where I work and the course I'm taking through ASU. I foolishly attempt National Novel Writing Month, which was a complete and total failure, though the experience taught me a lot about writing and about who I am as a writer. I think I'll try again next year (maybe?). We spend Thanksgiving with both of our families, extending the holiday to the weekend when my brother and his fiancee arrive. The tradition of Black Friday shopping in my pajamas online continues. We dare not go out on this day!

December: A month of appointments. Johnathan's next followup with his oncologist goes well; his hemoglobin levels are well within normal range. We meet a new gastroenterologist and schedule Johnathan's 1 year colonoscopy (can you believe it?!) for January 18, 2011. Christmas is beautiful; both in the sense that we have come so far in 2010, and the blizzard that dumped lots of snow in Cherryville. We spend Christmas Eve and Day with family and friends, then enjoy some time off from work. I traveled to Raleigh to spend 2 days with Ashley outlet shopping, and we rang in 2011 with friends in Greensboro.

I will never forget how I felt on New Year's Eve 2009. We were in the hospital, and I remember thinking that surely 2010 will be better. It was. 2011 is looking even brighter and more hopeful than I could imagine. Thanks for reading this year; thanks for sticking it out with us; thanks for your thoughts, prayers and concerns during Johnathan's health struggle. I appreciate it all more than you will ever know.

Here's to 2011,