September 2011


It is unfortunate, but I’m not always well versed in self esteem. In fact, I tend to second guess myself far too often, only seeing the negative aspects of what I have done or said and completely ignoring the fact that I might have said or done something quite brilliant….which, from time to time, I do actually do or say. Seriously. I really do. I know…..I’m surprised to hear it, too, and I’m the one saying it. See? Self esteem and I are not really on complete speaking terms. I know….don’t even ask what my point is, because you know I have one. I always do.
Today, I spoke to my favorite professor at school. I’ve had her for three classes, so far, and her insights as well as her guidance are just amazing when it comes to literature. I can’t exalt her literary insights enough. When I went back to school in the Spring of 2010, it was her lit class that I took, and I learned SO much in that class…about literature, but also about myself. Which kind of leads me even closer to my point…
As I said, that American Writers class taught me way more than I thought it would (especially since I was so intimidated by the fact that it was an upper division course, and not only was I a Freshman, I also had been out of school for over 20 years). I knew I’d learn more about various American writers…that was a given. And since I was more steeped in British writings, I knew there was quite a bit to learn. The styles between the two are so completely different, that it was really strange to delve into the American after being a self-proclaimed British writing enthusiast for so long (and thereby avoiding American writers). But, along with learning about the technical differences about the two types, as well as genres, I learned a lot about ME. I learned that I am really, REALLY good at literature; at reading and comprehending it, as well as pulling it apart and analysing what the author meant when they wrote what they wrote. And, I learned that I love it, even more than I thought I loved it. If I had to do this for the rest of my life, I would be absolutely contented. Reading and analysing….there is something absolutely sublime in the sheer concept, at least to me.
But this is about self esteem…primarily MY self esteem. My reasoning for meeting with my professor (and advisor) was to get my final papers from her, from the Spring 2011 semester (I had her for two classes last semester, which was hard since she requires SO much reading, but hard in a good way). I am always very interested in how I end up doing on my final papers in my Lit courses, because I learn a lot from the grades I receive on those papers. In this case, I did perfectly on my upper division (a 200 out of 200) and I was ten points shy of a perfect score on my 200 level course (240 out of 250 points). She discussed the reasoning behind the ten points off on the latter paper, and I understood as well as agreed with her reasoning. I made silly mistakes….I knew everything she was telling me, and I even knew these things when I wrote the paper, but for whatever reason, I focused in on the wrong areas. Not that I was wrong…I just wasn’t complete. And this is why I ask for my final papers back; I learned quite a bit when she and I discussed that paper, and it will absolutely help me to become a better literary scholar.
In the course of our discussion, we were talking about things related to literature, and I confessed that I knew I’m damn good at what I do. I GET literature, and I know how to write about it. My writing proves that I get it, because I know I get flashes of brilliance in what I write. I know this sounds haughty and quite egotistical, but it’s true. I do have moments of brilliance. I also have moments of complete ridiculousness where I completely miss the point, but that’s really part of life. It’s those moments of brilliance that prove to me that I am truly good at what I do. And it’s why I do it….I love to pick up and book, read through it, and see the little clues the author has left for the reader to convey the reason why they wrote the book (books aren’t always meant to just entertain…just to let you know that. Read Dickens and tell me that his stories were meant merely to entertain…). These clues are like little presents, left for the reader to open and discover. I live for those presents. Call me a geek or a nerd, but I honestly do.
The really cool thing was that when I did say that I’m damn good at what I do, my professor agreed with me. This is someone I look up to….a mentor of sorts….and she basically told me I rock. For someone like me, who really has a hard time really admitting that I’m good at what I do, that was an amazing moment.
When I got home, I pulled out my papers and read through them. I hadn’t even thought about the topics of these papers since I’d written them, so the content was somewhat forgotten. And had I not known that they were written by me, I think I might have thought them to be pretty flipping awesome. They really were that good. As I went through them, even the one where I sidestepped the main point, I was shocked at how well written they were, in both content as well as mechanics. The person who wrote those papers knows what she’s doing. She really is amazing. I am amazing.
I know….a lot of people will think this is a silly posting. And in a way, it is. But I needed to say it. I am far too hard on myself when it comes to my work, and I underestimate myself on a regular basis. I focus in on where I am lacking, rather than admitting that where I am great far outweighs the parts that are sub-standard (and even sub-standard is a harsh way to put it, since it’s hardly sub-standard….it’s just not at the perfection I feel it should be. I have very high expectations, which means it’s too easy to beat myself up when I don’t hit the level I feel I should). But those papers were great, awesome, fan-effing-tastic. They really were. And my professor agreed with me, which means it must be true 😉
It really is hard for me to admit to these things. I do beat myself up far too often, and never give myself the credit I deserve. It’s time to reverse that to a certain extent, and admit the fact that I rock….most of the time 😉 Now to start believing that on a consistent basis. That will be the hard part.

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As most Americans know, today is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. It’s hard to believe that it happened ten years ago….for many, it seems like it all happened yesterday. Most people can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, and how their lives changed at that moment. I am no exception to this…I can tell you exactly what I was doing and where I was for that entire day, but for very different reasons.

The morning of September 11, 2001 looked like just any other day when I woke up to get the kids ready for school. The day was bright and sunny, but there was a bit of an autumnal nip in the New England air, just to remind everyone that winter was just around the corner. Typically, I would be lamenting this realisation, but this particular morning, my mind was on something completely different, and it was not airplanes and terrorist attacks. You see, when I awoke that fateful morning, and got the kids off to school, I was also getting myself ready to have a baby. I was already overdue…about a week and a half, in fact…and my contractions were close enough together to know that this was the day. I got Mr Izz going, telling him that we needed to get to the birthing centre, procured the babysitter for the little ones who were not in school yet, and then called my friend, Karen, to tell her I was *finally* in labour. I told her that we were going into Keene and that I’d call her when it was all said and done, and then she told me that some plane had flown into the World Trade Center in NYC. She thought it was a Cessna at that point, so I asked if the pilot had been intoxicated or whatever. She had no idea, so I shrugged and didn’t think much about it as I drove over to our neighbours’ house to let them know we’d taken their daughter out of school to babysit the kids, and that we were on our way to the birthing centre. It was then we found out that it was an airliner that crashed, and another one had crashed since. I was in shock, but no one knew anything at this point, so while I was concerned about what was going on, I had more pressing things to deal with….my contractions were getting closer together, and it was almost a 30 minute drive into Keene.

We arrived at the birthing centre, talked to the midwife, who checked to see my progression, and it was decided that I should walk for a while to get things going…I had been in and out of labour for a couple of weeks, but it always seemed to peter out at the last minute. This seemed to be no exception, for when I arrived at the birthing centre, my contractions had almost stopped. So, we walked. I must have walked a couple of miles, if not more, that day…we first walked through a huge cemetery where I saw a white crane. It was a beautiful site…and actually seems a bit prophetic now when looking at it with all that was going on around us. At this point, we were still completely oblivious to the attacks, for we did not have a radio or television nearby. We were just walking, waiting for our wee one to decide to make his or her appearance.

We walked for hours, all over downtown, and there did seem to be an anxious air which seemed prevalent. There were very few people walking around, and those that were seemed to be very disturbed. At one point, we did walk into a shop which had a television on. There seemed to be something huge going on….the scene on the television screen was one of chaos and fear, but I couldn’t determine where it was or what was going on. And a rather huge contraction determined that I needed to get moving. But this time, it was around 2pm. I had been walking around since a bit after 9am.

The last stop we made in town was the local Catholic church…they were having a Holy Hour, and we thought that it would be a good place to sit and rest, not to mention say some prayers that things would be alright. And yet we still didn’t know how not right things were in the world.

As we sat in the church, my contractions started to pick up, and we had a rather long walk back to the birthing centre, so we left. I remember having to stop in the middle of a crosswalk because I was having a huge contraction, and making the crossing guard stop traffic for me because of it. It was after 3pm when we finally arrived at the birthing centre. The midwife got there shortly after, and she told us a bit about what was going on. For the first time that day, we heard what was going on. And for the first time that day, a wave of concern for something other than my own plight went through me. I had no idea of the horrific nature of the events in NYC until that moment…and here I was bringing life into a world such as this.

I won’t get into major details about the birth of my 8th child, but I will say that my Victoria Marie was born at 4:59pm….soon after the Twin Towers fell, from what I understand. The reason why my labour seemed to start and stop was because she was breech…she was born feet first. I’d like to think that means something about her character, and perhaps how it might pertain to the circumstances which surrounded her birth.

So many people lost so much on September 11, 2001. Many lost loved ones, but those that watched as the events unfolded also lost a certain amount of innocence and hope as it all happened. I have never watched it, for I couldn’t. I needed to keep that hope in my heart, for the sake of my children.

I have often wondered why Victoria was born on that day…if you can attribute a “why” to such things. I think, in a way, she was hope, in the form of a tiny baby. Hope that life can, and will still go on. Hope that despite how bad things were at that moment, we will rise above it. And hope that peace can and will happen one day. I know, as I looked into my baby’s eyes after I understood at that had transpired on that day, I saw hope. And love.

My Victoria is ten years old today. She is well aware of what happened on the day she was born, and while there is always a certain air of melancholy which surrounds the day, we’ve always made it a happy day here at Casa Izz. Life did go on, and while those things lost will never be gotten back…and my heart breaks to this day for those who lost loved ones…I still see hope and love when I look at Victoria. Her life, in the middle of devastation, gives us that hope…that despite all we have lost, there is still so much to gain.

Happy birthday, Victoria Marie. I love you.