It has been a great point of pride for me that I dropped out of Calculus in High School, in favor of a Photography class that changed my life. The sappy story of how a sarcastic art teacher and creepy darkroom tech might alter a course of personal history is a tale for another time. I am writing today to regersiter a complaint against the esteemed George W. Bush. In a round-about way, lest the Feds get my address this time.

In light of my current occupation changing the diapers of twin six month olds (Monkey and Turtle) and the fact that various Nanny web-sites assured me that I will never, ever, in a million years of economic upturn, make a penny more, or have any sort of job security, or have benefits or paid vacations, ever, I am looking for (yet another) career change. This makes seven in three years. This time, I'm hoping it will stick. Instead of looking for glam jobs, like kayaking near mile-long glaciers looking for whales, or hanging out with male prostitutes at 2am on dark street corners of sketchy 'hoods, or teaching crack addicts how to avoid rattlesnakes and start fires with sticks fifty miles from the nearest road in the Utah desert, I am buckling down and going for something a little more (gasp) mainstream. Maybe it has something to do with getting married (settling down?) in March. Maybe I am aging. Either way, it's a scary step for my little soul to plunge down.

I have been scowering the web for post-baccalaureate teaching certification programs. Every so-called "job" I've had has involved some form of teaching, and usually the teaching parts of the job are the only palatable bits. (ok, so surfing glacial drift and being tailed by angry bull-seals was pretty cool, too. but i'm trying hard to be positive, here.) I finally found one that looked good. It's on-line, so no matter how many times Peter and I uproot, I can continue to take the classes. They'll work with whatever state we end up in to find a student-teaching spot. It looks like it will take me less than a year. I hail the unsullied blessing of the Internet. The good news keeps on rolling in ...

Until I actually talk to a human, a very helpful and informative and infinitely discouraging human. This interaction reminds me once again that I should have become a luddite. She informs me that in addition to the very hard graduate level online classes, I have to take any number of "core" courses - she'll have to look at my college transcripts to be sure - but they will include chemistry, physics, history and (i nearly dropped Turtle at this point) calculus. Let me remind my listeners here that I am looking to teach FIFTH graders. Pint-sized, fashion maven, 4-square playing, eager-to-please ten year olds who are lucky if they can put a couple of fractions together without breaking a sweat. Calculus.

When I worked in a school district last year, I interacted with teachers in every subject at nearly every grade level. I also know many teachers from all over the country (thanks to my exponentially expanding list of places I've crashed.) I have yet to talk to a single professional educator who does not physically bristle when the No Child Left Behind Act is mentioned, referenced or hinted at. They become visibly irate, their mannerisms become jerky, faces turn red, speech becomes curt. This generally does not leave a favorable impression on a soul.

Now that I may have to take remedial mathematics for a decade or so, in order to teach tykes how to divide up a pizza into eights and then add them together to make a half, I am beginning to become a little bristly myself.



(penned mid-august)

I think I need to back up to the beginning on this one. At least, the beginning of The Drift (as I have decided after very little thought to call it.) Somewhere during my tenure at Emmaus, I decided that the god the Christians believed in was not a god that I wanted to believe in, or for that matter to be associated with. Alternatively, I no longer believed that the Christian version of god I had grown up with (belated as I may have come to this) was the sort of god that might be true. I tried for a few desperate months to stop believing in god at all, in Houston (an easy enough place to dwell with that dark thought,) but to no avail. For whatever reason – at this juncture whether because it’s true or because I’ve been so well indoctrinated is quite beside the point - I could not stop believing in god altogether.

The interim time in Warrenville attending Rez, although a balm through friendships and the blessing of mundane physical labor, did not stop my mounting desire to distance myself from the Christian church in general. Although I wanted to disbelieve altogether, the familiarity of friends, of liturgy, of the rhythms of church seasons, and simply the habit and comfort of the subculture I found myself immersed in was something I needed around me to heal and grow in other ways (to whit: making good girlfriends, losing much fear and cynicism around marriage, working through some unfortunate choices I’d made with boys, raising a puppy.) For all the brilliant sermons and inspiring guitar riffs, Rez did nothing to further convince me of the authenticity of the Christian viewpoint. Attending a Bible Study geared to bring some girls into the Fold drove me from it at a run. By May I was restless both spiritually and psychologically. I could no longer stand selling The DaVinci Code (please, people, get it OFF the best seller list) day after day. I could no longer keep singing my way through the liturgy.

So I found myself running off to Alaska, hoping for distance and some kind of solid ground to stand on. It was here that The Drift began it’s transition from a vague, half-hearted meander to something more purposeful and less Drift-like. The conclusion I came to in the summer, wandering in the Chugach with the now quite large hound, was that God does, in fact, exist. Although it was a great relief at the time to come to some solid conclusion, this conclusion did not get me very far: So we are accepting that a god exists – we are even going so far as to assume monotheism at this point? Excellent! What is the nature of that God? How does God interact with humans, or does it even do so? Why are humans conscious in a way no other animal is? Is it soul, mind or something else? Is consciousness eternal or finite? What is our responsibility as conscious beings? How are we to live? Who or what are we to live for? How are we to interact with this creator-being, and respond to it? What are we to chalk up to Its doing and will, and what are we to blame on ourselves, on others, on falling barometric pressure? And none of this even begins to touch on the quandary that Jesus and the claims of the Gospel present. Without the framework of Christianity to fall back on, there isn’t much ready direction for a skeptical non-philosopher such as myself. And so I found myself falling back on my old framework when I came to gaps I hadn’t time (or brains) to work out yet.

And here’s the rub: I can’t disbelieve the old paradigm, while simultaneously falling on it for support. I believe this is called cognitive dissonance. I cannot (by way of example) disbelieve in hell, and simultaneously believe I am condemning myself to such a fate by my disbelief. Yet I do.