Monday, April 29, 2013

Jet-lagged Surprises

The journey home was unsurprisingly slow.  I arrived at Tegel Airport in Berlin 2.5 hours before my flight.  I checked in to find out that my flight would be arriving at Newark late due to an unplanned fuel stop in Gander, Newfoundland.  (There was no end to the corny jokes on the plane about taking a gander at Gander.)  I watched movies.  I read books.  I took a nice nap.  All things that I would be unable to do if I were flying with my children along for the trip.

I arrived safely in Newark, meandered through Immigration and Customs, and made my way to the gate of my flight to Indianapolis.  I got to be the B*&%h who opted out of the scanning machine on the way to my gate, and the TSA agent reminded me several times that it might take a while to get someone to do the required groping if I opted out.  I told him I had plenty of time to wait, and was happy to let all the passers by see me being groped by the nice lady who was almost as uncomfortable as I was with the whole thing.  (side note: Do you feel safer knowing I got a thorough groping?)  It could have been worse.  Some poor Pakistani guy with a 16 letter long name was standing there getting berated and interrogated for the entire time I was in line and waiting to get groped, all because they had cut off part of his name on his printed ticket.  Neither of these are good jet-lagged surprises.  

Little did I know that once I got through security ridiculousness, I was actually entering the 1st ring of HELL.  The entire gate area was filled to the brim with people sitting in every possible empty space on the floor and lines streaming out of all the food kiosks.  I found the departure monitors and quickly figured out what was going on.  Cancellations and delays were the order of the day, due to the ongoing sequester-induced furloughs of the air traffic controllers.  (Funny enough, I read that the Senate "fixed" this problem the very next day.  I wonder how many people called their Senator from the airport?)  My flight was delayed for 2.5 hours, making my total waiting time 5 hours in the hot & cramped staging area.  I found an open seat with a nice neighbor.  He was traveling from Kenya and had my traveling time beat by a good 10 hours already.  I impressed him with my knowledge of African geography and ability to sing the Jambo tourist song in Kiswahili.  (Anthropologists are serious travel dorks!)  The next guy that sat down next to me was a Merchant Marine Union Representative full of travel stories and working on a speech he was to give the next day.  We chatted.  I watched Inception on my iPad. We waited.  Much frustration surrounded me, but I tried to remember how lucky I was to be traveling by myself and not having to deal with figgety kids.  

When I finally got on the plane to Indy, it was full and everyone was in surprisingly jovial moods considering the circumstances.  The flight attendant cracked jokes and we all laughed at the ridiculous situation we were in and how it was congress' fault instead of the airlines for once.  I slept.  I slept that kind of sleep when you aren't even aware of closing your eyes and somehow wake up because the plane has started its final descent and your ears are popping.  I chugged a cup of coffee.  

I deplaned.  I did a zombie walk to baggage claim and my suitcase actually came out 3rd in line.  
Scenes from the Indianapolis Airport Baggage Claim:

I found the van to take me to my car that was waiting for me at a nearby hotel.  I paid for my extra days (since I missed my earlier flight), and got in the car.  I filled up the gas tank, got a gigantic coffee, and started on my way home to Evansville.  It was 11:15pm in Indianapolis and my body had NO idea what time it was.  I arrived in Evansville 3 hours later at 1:15am (having gained an hour when I crossed the invisible line into central time).  I laid down in bed exhausted and struggled to fall asleep.  It was 9:30am in Berlin after all.  

4:30am arrived, and I was WIDE awake after a short nap.  I read until 6am and then I listened for the sound of rustling kids in the morning.  That familiar plunk, pitter patter pitter patter didn't come for another 1/2 an hour and I layed there listening like a kid on Christmas morning.  Andy had told the girls I wouldn't be home until Friday afternoon, which had been a possibility.  They had no idea I was there.  

Mayzie came in first.  She squealed, "Mommy!"  and then ran to come give me cuddles in bed.  Annika heard her, and exclaimed, "Mama!!!"  She came running to join the cuddle puddle in our bed.  She crawled in my lap and promptly chastised, "Mama, don't you ever leave us like that again."  
"I won't sweetheart.  I won't."  

Those cuddles were the best surprises a jet-lagged mama could have ever asked for after such an exhausting journey.  Berlin was amazing, but home is where my family is.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

1 Year Ago

Mama Kat asked: "Look into your archives. What were you blogging about a year ago around this time? Are you still dealing with the same thing? Your thoughts?"

Around this time a year ago, I wrote about 3 things: 
1. Annika's new short haircut
2. My friend Kate dealing with her son O's Autism Diagnosis
3. Our best Berliner afternoon EVER.  

1. We kinda ARE still dealing with Annika's short haircut.  She's gotten it trimmed short several times now, but really wants to grow it back out.  She's frustrated that it is taking so long and keeps telling me that girls have short hair.  She told me recently that "girls have long hair."  This totally breaks my heart by the way, and then forces me to list all the women we know with short hair.  I'm also getting ready to cut my hair short, so maybe that's why this hits me extra hard at the moment.  Everyone knows I hate everything being gendered, and I seriously hate that she is taking on these ridiculous gender stereo-types much to my chagrin.  I suppose it was bound to happen at some point. 

Here's what she looked like a year ago: 

2.  Kate is still dealing with all of the subsequent issues that come with having a kid with an autism diagnosis.  She's writing more about her triumphs and struggles on her blog now, so you should totally go check her out and encourage her to share her experiences more.  She's a crafty storyteller over at Pink Pancakes

3. The Best Berliner Afternoon EVER still stands as one of the best afternoons of our entire lives.  It was GREAT.  We've had some great days since then in various spots, but I will always remember this afternoon. 

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The View from Berlin

These are a few snapshots of my time here in Berlin.  Returning 6 months after I finished my fieldwork here has been the best thing I could have done.  I followed up with all of my research participants and got to see some friends here.  I had a great time getting to see my city again and feel completely re-energized about my research in a way that I could have never captured at home.  I love this city soo much and feel homesick for it before I even leave.

Research participants that don't want to have their pictures taken:

Silly girls that want to send pictures home to my kids:

SKYPE with 4 silly girls who all miss each other and 2 parents who miss everyone on the other side:

Lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in a long while:

Doing actual follow-up research at my favorite after-school help spot:

Lunch with my favorite au pair from the USA:

A beautiful lilac sunset at a photography exhibit peopled by dozens of hipsters:

The best bartender at a photo exhibit EVER handing out free adult beverages:

Playing with a lovely freshly minted 5 year old:

Yummy Turkish drink that tastes like bubblegum: 

Great conversation about "Why is Kanye white?"  at H & M:

New documentary that follows a German language integration course:

It has been an amazing trip filled with love and laughs and hugs and a little bit of crying.  This trip has refueled my passion for my dissertation.  Just by seeing my research participants again and getting to spend a little bit of time with each of them, I am reminded why my work is so important to share with the wider community.  I see how these teenagers live and want everyone to know about how complicated and wonderful their lives are.  I can't wait to move on from my methods and background chapters and really get into the meat of the beast (aka: my dissertation).  

Seeing my friends here has also been amazing.  It is so nice to be loved from around the world and fly thousands of miles to get hugs from familiar faces.  I'm always surprised at how easily I fall back into normal patterns with friends that I haven't seen in months (sometimes years).  This time I've been more surprised by the ease with which German rolls off my tongue now and how my brain switches without me noticing.  Some words still trip me up, but then I find myself forgetting the English words and inserting German into my conversations.  I never thought that would happen.  

This time tomorrow my plane will be taking off from Berlin.  I'll be sad to leave but happy to finally be going home.  It has been an amazing 2 weeks.  The view from Berlin is full of wild parties, wonderfully interesting people, relaxed Sundays, sunny picnics, budding spring, and one researcher refilled with promise and energy. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Missing in Berlin

I was supposed to leave Berlin yesterday, but let me back up a little.

I have been in Berlin for almost 2 weeks.  I followed up with all of my research participants.  I spent time with many of my friends here.  I even got to relax a little bit and meet some new people. Overall, it has been an extremely successful trip if you ask me.  I had fun and got some work done.  Then there was yesterday.

I was all set to make it to the airport on time.  I splurged a little and took a cab from one friends’ apartment to another since I was feeling sick, and my friend Maggie was all set to drive me to the airport at what I thought was the correct time.  Why I thought it was the correct time is now a complete mystery to me.  We were in the car on the way to the airport when Maggie asked me to check on my flight because of the Lufthansa strike and to double check where she should drop me off when we got there.  We were less than 2 miles away from her apartment when we figured it out.  My flight was not indeed at 4:30 pm like I had in my head rather it had been at 9:30 am like a normal international flight.  What was I thinking?

I didn’t immediately start crying.  I actually started laughing at how ridiculousI was.  In my sickness haze the previousday I had neglected to check in online like a sane person.  I’ve had a weird dizzy pukey virus for thelast few days here, and been in a complete state of whuck.  Andy was sure it was the “hangover virus” butI’m pretty sure that a ½ liter of beer doesn’t garner a hangover in me.  So I’d missed my flight and had to figure outhow to get home.  A million scenarios playedout in Maggie and my well-traveled minds, and we arrived back at her house so Icould call the least helpful airline in the history of the world.  I’ve had previous ugly experience with them,so why I flew them again is just silly. 

I called the reservation line and got a very gruff German lady, speaking in English because there was no way I was going to be able to negotiate this situation in German despite my linguistic competencies.  I was still holding it together rather well under the circumstances, until the lady YELLED at me like I was 5 years old. 

“Well ma’am, you should have called within 2 hours of the flight.  Now you are going to have to purchase an entire new ticket.” 

Crying commenced at this point. 

Between sobs, I choked out, “I can’t afford to buy a whole new ticket.  I really need to get home to my two small children.  I’ve been really sick here.”

She had absolutely no sympathy for me.  She repeated the line about needing to call within 2 hours 3 more times and found me a flight out on the 29th (1week after my originally scheduled departure) for only $269.  My crying got much worse.  I told the lady 2 things:   

1.“I realize I should have called sooner, but I am actually unable to change the past at this point so it isn’t really helpful to keep pointing out what I should have done.  I just need to solve the problem.” 

2. “I’m going to have to call back when I calm down.” 

I cried to Maggie. She actually apologized for not checking it herself, and told me to call back and try again.  I collected myself and called back.

This time I got a much more sympathetic Asian-accented woman on the phone.  I started with an apology for not calling sooner and explained how I had been sick.  She was immediately helpful.  She found me a flight out on the 28th,though I would have to pay a change fee. I was sad as that would mean I have to miss my LTYM rehearsal AND not see my kids for an extra 6 days.  I cried more. 

She then asked if she could keep looking with a different route, so instead of flying Berlin-Newark-Indy I may have to make additional stops.  Naturally, I said yes.  She found me a flight out on Thursday morning (the same as my original one on Monday) with one additional stop in Cleveland.  She even figured out a way for me not to have to pay ANYTHING for the change because of the on-going Lufthansa strike in Germany right now. She was BRILLIANT and I loved her immediately.  She even apologized to me noting that I may miss my quick connection in Cleveland and have an extra 4 hour layover.  I assured her that I didn’t care, as I used to live in Cleveland and could then visit with some friends if time allowed.  (Don’t get too excited CLE friends!) 

Maggie assured me that it would be fine for me to stay with her family until I leave and even offered to drive me to the airport again on Thursday.  Friends like these are 1 in a million!!  She even apologized that I have to sleep on their pull-out bed instead of in her daughter’s bed as before.  I’m just happy this ridiculous mistake isn’t going to cost me $1000+!!!  Of course, it IS going to cost us some money, but not nearly as much as if I was in a place where I didn’t know anyone.   

I currently have €15 in my wallet, so I may have to take some money out to buy food at some point. Maggie also wants me to go shopping tomorrow, so I may end up spending more money on a dress or clothes that I can’t find in the states.  But overall, I’d say that this little snafu isn’t going to be as fiscally painful as it could have been. 

I’m definitely going to lose my Time-Nazi status amongst our friends, but I’m ok with that.  The moral of the story is either:
Don’t get sick at the end of your trip and forget to check your flight the day before. 
Be really good at crying over the phone to garner sympathy and make sure to time your ridiculous mistakes with an airline strike. 

I’m guessing I won’t make this mistake again.  

Today I feel like these guys: 

But at least I get these kinds of city views:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Apathetic Adolescent Apologies

Mama Kat asked us to write about a time we had to apologize, and this was the first story that came to my mind.  I am typically quick to apologize now, being that I'm adult and a little less pig-headed than when I was a teenager.  This story will NOT make you like me but it WILL make you laugh.  If this is your first time here, I promise that I'm not like this anymore.

It happened when I was 13.  My brother and I had just moved in with my dad and stepmom and we were having a difficult time adjusting.  It was a very difficult transition further complicated by the facts that we were 11 and 12 at the time of the move and our stepmother had never expected us to move in with them.  She was young (not even 30 yet if memory serves) and only had one daughter of her own who was then only 6 or 7, I've forgotten at this point.  Six months after we moved in with them, it was evident that things were not going smoothly.

I don't even remember what precipitated my ridiculous retaliation toward my step-mom.  It was probably something stupid like her requiring that I shower at night instead of in the morning.  Whatever it was, it surely did NOT warrant the revenge I sought on her that night.

I do remember feeling very strongly that I was in the right at the time and that I should exact some sort of revenge for whatever wrong had been done to my teenage self.  I also remember for some reason being either allowed or required to shower in my dad & stepmom's bathroom.

I plotted.
I schemed.
What could I possibly do to make her "suffer" as much as she was making me suffer right at that very moment?
How could I make her understand exactly how angry I was?
Where was that soft spot I could hit her to make it sting?

Standing in the shower, I had an epiphany.
There sat her exorbitantly expensive bottle of Redken shampoo.  It was only about 1/2 full.  She loved that shampoo and fought my dad to still buy it even when the budget was tight.

I finished my shower, and got out.  I opened the cabinet under the sink and took out the bottle.  I reached back in the shower and grabbed the Redken shampoo and slowly started to ooze the other bottle into the narrow neck.  I squeezed to make it go faster, replaced both caps, shook up the shampoo to mix it, and finished by rinsing and wiping the evidence away.  I had done it.  All there was to do was wait.

The next morning I awoke to a SCREAM from the opposite end of the house in the shower of their bathroom.  Cha-ching (it was the 90s), I had DONE IT.

Alas, the scream was only one of anger.  My intended result was not achieved.  She'd smelled it as she lathered it up and rinsed it out right away.  I was to be punished.

I got grounded for a month and was required to purchase a new bottle of shampoo with my own money.  Naturally, my teenage mind did NOT think it fair, but in retrospect it really was.  I mean, how would you punish a teenager who put Nair into your expensive bottle of shampoo?

I apologized begrudgingly to my stepmom, and the prank became legend among my friends.  Regardless of the required apology and requisite punishment, I'm pretty sure my teenage self still won that battle in the end.

I'm pretty sure this kid is going to be the teenage nightmare revenge monster for all of my previous transgressions though.  

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring is...

-Fragrant cherry blossoms on the trees that Mayzie calls snow

-Gloriously brave and sunshine-y daffodils standing tall despite the chill that's lingering in the air

-White, purple, and yellow crocuses hinting at the beginning of a new season

-Magnificent magnolia trees with bulbous beautiful pink and white blooms that never stay long enough

-Tulips poking their strong stalks out of the ground and holding their colorful heads up high

-the internal debate of when is too early to wear shorts

-that panic of "crap, did I miss that conference deadline already?"

-wondering when the pollen count will be high enough to make your sinuses fill--(soon, very soon)

-trips to Northern Europe to watch it all again from the beginning

I love the renewal that Spring brings with it, and a trip back to my fieldsite is just what I needed to be re-energized to dive back into the drudgery of finishing up this dissertation.   

Greetings from Berlin! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

6 of My Favorite Quotes

I arrive in BERLIN today!!!  Yay!!  
By the magic of being able to schedule this post, here is my submission for Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop this week.

These are six of my all time favorite quotes, as prompted by the world famous & amazing Mama Kat: 
1. "We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we must cling tight to each other in order to fly."
This actually made it into my wedding vows.  It is my all time favorite quote about love!  I've never found who said it actually, so if anyone knows, please leave it in the comments.  When I was younger, I never wanted to get married.  My stepdad was always trying to tell me that I needed to find someone so that we could accomplish more together.  It wasn't until I read this quote and later met my husband that I truly understood what he was talking about.  
2. “I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.” --George Carlin 

I hope I don't alienate too many readers with this one, but it is soooooooo true and hilarious.

3. "You own everything that happened to you.  Tell your stories.  If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better."  Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott is a goddess among writers who inspire other writers.  Her book Bird by Bird changed my life when I read it.  This quote gives me the courage to write about some of the unmentionable, too hilarious, and painfully embarrassing things that have happened to me.  You've been warned people! 

4. "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." 

Again, I can't find who said this, but it is one of the most true statements for my own life and so many people I know.  My mother always says that the goal of life is to have the best stories at the old folks' home.  I'm working on it mama. We always find a way to pay for the things we think we need in our lives, and travel is almost ALWAYS at the top of my list.  Again, I'm not sure who said it, so let me know in the comments if you do.  

5. "Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't."  Bill Nye

Respect for the knowledge that comes from differential experiences is paramount in understanding what it is that you can learn from anyone in the world you meet.  This is one of the things I LOVE about the field of anthropology, because this is phrase is pretty much a given in our field.  Expertise comes in many forms and wisdom can be acquired down multiple pathways.  Understanding the world from another perspective will change the way you look at your own life/culture too by the way.  It is a little mind-boggling actually, but we love it. 

6. "Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." Bill Cosby 
Motivation Motivation Motivation.  Quit being afraid and just GO FOR IT!  Stop mulling over all the worst case scenarios and figure out how to make it happen.  The risks are worth the reward and no person ever got rewarded for figuring out all the ways that things might go wrong.  I <3 Bill Cosby so very much for this quote! 

So my quotes are about love, religion/politics, writing, travel, understanding through respect, and motivation to chase your dreams.  I hope these weren't too up in the clouds optimistic, but a girl with anxiety issues needs these sorts of quotes in her life.  

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, April 8, 2013

10 Ways I Listened to My Mother

Tuesday 4/9 is the date of our first rehearsal for the inaugural Indianapolis show of Listen to Your Mother.  I'm so very excited to meet all the brilliant ladies of the cast.  In celebration and anticipation of our very exciting meeting, we've decided to write posts listing 10 ways that we have listened to our mothers.  My brilliant mother will be glad to know that I actually listened to her a few times.

Here we are eating lunch in Venice, Italy on our dream vacation together!  

1. Don't settle. 
Whenever my mom talked to me about the future, this is what she's say.  It typically pertained to marriage, but also to following my dreams.  She was totally right, and I'm so glad I listened to her on this one.  

2. You have great potential. 
When I was 2 years old, my mother taught me to say, "I have great potential."  I always knew that she believed in me, and part of that knowledge came from this simple phrase.  She's been my #1 cheerleader from day 1, and fulfilling the potential she always saw in me has been a driving force in my life.  

3. You're going to have to let that boy behind some of those closed doors you have.
Mom told me this about Andy.  The moment she said it, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I started to cry.  How did she know I even had closed doors in there?  I did, and I've never regretted it.  

4. Be nice to that one, he's a keeper. 
She knew it the first time she met Andy, but meeting his parents sealed the deal.  She knew I'd found my match.  I did too by the way, but it was really nice to know that I had her approval.  

5. It's all just a phase. 
This was said in reference to my children.  Every time I call my mom worried about some weird thing my kid is doing and whether or not they might need therapy, she gently reminds me that it is all just a phase.  Remembering that this too shall pass in the infant stage was so amazingly comforting to me.  It seriously helped me get through all those sleepless nights of nursing Annika every 2 hours for 45 minutes at a time.  This is some of the BEST parenting advice I've every received.  

6. Things disappear, collect memories instead.
Mom always told us that the goal is to have the best stories in the old folks' home.  I've come to figure out that this not the way that everyone approaches life, and I'm so grateful that I learned this lesson from my mother early in my life.  

7. Do what makes you happy in the long run. 
Whenever I have a big decision to make, I always remember this pearl of wisdom from my mom.  I think about how I will feel about the decision in 20 years.  Whichever path will lead to regret down the road is the one I pass.  

8. Better living through chemistry.
Mental illness runs in both sides of my family.  About 12 years ago, mom started saying this mantra to me.  It helps me to remember that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, and that getting help to function isn't either.  Sometimes I forget and get all serious and worried that I'm leaning too hard on a medical crutch for a socially/culturally exacerbated issue, and then I remember my mom's wise words.  I'm POSITIVE that I can cope better and achieve more in part because of the amazing drugs that get me through the day. 

9. The only thing you can put inside your ear is your elbow. 
I only MOSTLY listen to this for myself, but I've definitely repeated this to my girls.  It is hilarious to watch them try to do it.  

10. Call your mother! 
I do call her, all the time.  Sometimes we even skype.  :-) 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'd Make a Horrible Famous Person

Mama Kat asked us to write this week about something we learned from a magazine.  I have to say that most of what I've learned from magazines is that I would make a horrible famous person.  I honestly have no clue when it comes to fashion, make-up, style, posing, extreme dieting, pilates, and the whole seemingly high school-esque social network of Hollywood.  I assume these are the things you have to know about in order to be famous.  Well those things, and of course how to design your own fragrance.  

I've had subscriptions to magazines almost my entire life.  Seventeen, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, People, and several others in this same vein have received my money at one point or another.  My academic adviser actually calls People Magazine the American Journal of Pop Culture and encourages me to read it to better relate to my adolescent participants.  I mostly just read it for the occasional pictures of hunky/brainy celebs like Ryan Gosling & Matt Damon, and of course for the easiest crossword puzzle ever.  Despite all my reading about which color is in this season and what style of shoes would look best on my feet, I have yet to ever really absorb the fashion and style advice given there.  

What did I actually absorb from those magazines other than a really distorted image of what the female ideal is?  Good question!  I'm not sure.  I swear I must get something out of the magazines, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is.  I do literally get something out of magazines though.  For the past 7 years I've been collecting ridiculous advertisements from them.  You know, the ones that make you laugh out loud because they are so ridiculously sexist and absurd.  I've been saving them for someday when I'm teaching a class.  They are fascinatingly disgusting examples of cultural ideals being shaped into consumable bites, and I mostly can't stomach them.  

I do also read parenting magazines occasionally, but I've yet to read anything groundbreaking in one of them.  I mean, how many times can you write about how exhausting parenthood is and which product is best for diaper rashes.  As with most magazines, I'm typically appalled by the sheer volume of space that is taken up by advertisements, and parenting magazines of all stripes do this too.  Even the crunchy parenting magazines fill up their spaces with advertisements for organic non-toxic butt paste or what-have-you.  As is probably no surprise, since I'm such a world famous blogger and academic, I much prefer trusted internet sites and academic journals for getting my information.  Surely I'm not the only one.  

So fame, sorry we won't ever tango. According to all the magazine experts out there, I just don't fit your mold.  That's fine with me.  I'd rather not have the paparazzi following my every move anyway.  

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Close to You

Annika will be 5 next month, and I already feel her pulling away a little more every day.  She's becoming more independent and asking for help less and less.  Cuddle time is shorter than ever before and I have to ask for goodbye kisses most days as she sprints out the door to go to preschool.  Her walk is more confident and her choices more calculated, which are both great things for the most part.  It doesn't pain me yet, but I see it coming miles down the road.  I relish every moment that she's still my little girl who wants to cuddle up on the couch and help me cook in the kitchen.

On Monday I came home from working after the girls were already in bed.
I walked in the door to find this:

Annika had placed her shoes inside of my shoes.  I love the smallness of the gesture and the adorable way she explained it to me the next morning.  She was so proud, and it made me smile both times.

Then I went upstairs to find this:
Annika had placed her toothbrush next to mine in the holder.  When I asked her why she said, "I just want to be close to you."  Me too love, me too.  


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kickstarter Campaign: Women Priests in Ireland!!

My friend Meagen is pretty amazing.  Not only is she the mom of two adorable boys the exact same age as my girls, she also runs her own consulting firm dedicated to adult literacy education, is a famous blogger of all things Hough Neighborhood in Cleveland, and is now planning to write a book.  Did I mention that I LOVE her soo much and miss living close to this kindred mama spirit sooo much it hurts?  She's brilliant, and she's raising money to get started on her research for the book.  She has to go back to Ireland to do it, and I for one am totally interested in reading the future publication titled: 

True Story: How Women Became Priests in Ireland 

Naturally, I had a few questions for Meagen after checking out her Kickstarter page.  Here are my questions along with her finely crafted answers: 

1. What got you interested in the project?   

I have always been very interested in the experiences of women called to lead religious communities. I took Brigid as my confirmation name when I converted to Catholicism in 2004. She is an Irish saint who was Abbess of a joint monastery and convent in Kildare. When I visited Ireland in May 2012, I hoped to learn more about Brigid and saw devotion to her everywhere: Brigid's wells in towns, Brigid's crosses in homes. I am not alone in my devotion to her inspirational leadership that has lasted through the centuries. However, because Irish people tend to be fond of interesting stories over historically accurate ones, I haven't quite pieced apart the fact and myth of her life.
However, while I was in Ireland, I did see more recent history about women's religious leadership discussed in a little article in the Irish Times. It mentioned the slow process of change in women's ordination in the Anglican Church of Ireland. I'll attribute that fortuitous find to Brigid's inspiration. I still have the article. I started looking for books to find out more. When I started talking to others about the topic of women's ordination (or reserving the priesthood to men, depending on who I'm talking to), I found an intellectual challenge and a lot of energy that has carried me to this point.
I think conflict can be transformative and life-giving for religious communities if it doesn't escalate to combat and division. Even though the story is very human and painful at times, Irish Anglicans really give us a great model of how to respectfully address controversial issues head-on. Also it's a happily-ever-after kind of story, which makes me happy. 

2. Will you take your boys with you to Ireland for the research portion of the project?   
My research assistants will be staying with their grandparents in Ohio and attending Vacation Bible School while I travel.

3. What is your favorite Irish beer?   
I actually don't like beer! Sorry, Guinness and Smithwicks. My signature drink is a double Bailey's on the rocks. I also love the Irish Flag which has whiskey for orange, Bailey's for white, and creme de menthe for green. We learned about it from Sean in Cobbler's Bar in Westport, Ireland, who has perfected it. But I haven't found a bartender since who can fully separate all three layers. 

I think the perfect drink is reason alone to go back to Ireland, but doing book research will make the trip that much more sweet.

So go to Meagen's Kickstarter Page to watch a short video about Meagen's project and to read a little more in her own words.  You can pledge as little as $1 to Meagan's campaign, but pledging more gets you some really cool stuff.    
If you'd like to read more about other projects Meagen is involved in, check out the homepage of her consulting business: Farrell Ink .  

Just for fun, here is an adorable picture of all our 4 kids together from May 2011.  I don't even think she's seen this one before.  

Go now, give her some money!  


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