This is a blog all just for me. It has no purpose whatsoever except for me to share some of the random nonsense I happen to be thinking about in my day-to-day life. Sometimes it sure is nice not to have a purpose.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Parents As Ghosts In The Graveyard

I just finished reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for a young adult literature group that's meeting today. Nothing like finishing in the nick of time! The book as a whole was an enjoyable, well-crafted fantasy book with the imaginative premise of a baby who is adopted by ghosts in a graveyard after his family is murdered. The boy named "Nobody," or just "Bod" for short, walks a line between the dead and the living. He's able to see and talk with ghosts of the graveyard, but he is still human. He gains special abilities that he learns from the dead, and yet he is still ultimately mortal.

While I enjoyed following the adventures of Bod as he grows up from a toddling baby to a teenager, it wasn't until I reached the end of the book that I finally felt emotionally touched. WARNING: SPOILERS! It is in the last chapter of the book, "Leavings and Partings," that the story seems to suddenly expand to express much more universal themes. It is with Bod's departure from the graveyard that I was able to see how his ghostly adopted parents are not just his parents in some fantastical story, but they are akin to the parents of any child.

One of the circumstances that Bod finds himself in as a living child among ghosts is that as he grows older and changes, the ghosts remain "stuck" or frozen in time. Child ghosts whom he once enjoyed playing games with continue to be children playing children's games as he becomes an adolescent and young adult. Similarly, his ghostly parents are unable to accompany Bod on his journey in life--they cannot leave the boundaries of the graveyard when it is time for him to go out into the world.

As children become independent adults, there is an element of physical separateness at play. I remember specifically selecting a college that was thousands of miles away from my parents, because the physical distance had meaning to me. Locating myself at the opposite end of the country was my way of leaving the boundaries of their control, knowing well that they would not be following me or be within reach. In practice, physical boundaries for living, human parents are much less restrictive than those for Bod and his ghostly family. My parents, for example, could still visit me at college and I could still make trips "home."

The physical distance between my parents and me, however, was representative of a simultaneous nonphysical separation. It was the intangible separation that was the most important to me and probably the most painful for my parents. Years after I finished college, my mom told me the story of when she and my father dropped me off at college my first year. As they drove away from the school, my dad started crying so hard that they had to pull over to the side of the road. For a man I never really see cry, even when members of our family have died, my new journey surely represented a loss that I see echoed when Bod's ghostly parents bid him farewell from the graveyard. My parents were undoubtedly happy for me just Bod hears his mom, "I am so proud of you, my son," but as a parent now, I realize that it may be a joy that is equally wrapped up in the mourning of a loss.

While my personality has always made me roaring to be independent, letting go may also be difficult, scary, or saddening for children. In the final chapter of The Graveyard Book, Bod asks his guardian, "Can't I stay here? In the graveyard?" The answer is firm: "You must not...all the people here have had their lives...Now it's your turn. You need to live." Whether children are ready to skip out the door or whether they need a little nudge, I think that this answer is key. Children "need to live" their own lives and should not "stay" controlled by their parents. This does not mean that children and parents cannot have an enduring relationship throughout life--I greatly cherish the current relationship I maintain with my parents. This also doesn't mean that children do not have a life of their own until they physically leave home. After all, the separation that occurs in real life is not one that happens in a single moment, but is instead a continuous process. In this light, childhood is a series of parents' "letting gos" of their children. It starts from the moment of birth when the baby who has spent months living inside of you is now suddenly an entity living outside of your body. It continues when they learn to take steps on their own without your guiding hand and when they spend time away at school or with friends.

At one point Bod starts to ask, "If I change my mind can I come back here?" But, he is immediately able to answer his own question, "If I come back, it will be a place, but it won't be home any longer." While I feel like the home you grow up in is a place that you always feel connected with and many people often feel comfortable in, this answer rings true for me. Home for me today is not the one that I grew up in, but the one that I have created myself. And, the more I think about it, "home" is not even so much a place as it is a space within me. Thus, in a weird roundabout way, my parents can feel reassured that as compelled as I have felt to leave them, finding my own true home has resulted in just as much a return to them. I recognize that everything that I have now is built on the foundation that they provided me, and that they remain an integral and inseparable part of who and where I am. In the cyclical nature of life, perhaps the separation that children make from parents is necessary so that they can indeed reconnect again someday. This idea ties in well with the closing lines of The Graveyard Book:

There was a passport in his bag, money in his pocket. There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill; and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion. But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Race From Mouth Of Babes

Today when I picked up my son from daycare, the four-year-old class was out in the playground. As I walked by the fenced-in grounds, a little girl startled me with her loud exclamation,"You look like a Chinese person!" Caught off guard, I simply said, "Oh, thank you." and kept on walking.

I picked up my son from inside the building, signed him out, and walked out again past the four-year-olds. This time, several of the kids called out to a boy in the class, "Matthew, your mom is here!" Having been through this drill many times before, Matthew just ignored the kids as best he could. After all, these notifications happen every time that I happen to show up when the class is playing outside and they see me.

Why do the kids assume I'm Matthew's mom? Because I'm Asian and so is Matthew's mom. In their eyes, we either look so similar that they can't tell us apart, or what I've decided is more the case...they can tell us apart, but they find it "funny" to pretend that they can't. It's not as though I think that the group of four-year-olds have an insidious agenda of racism, but I think it reinforces how race continues to play a significant role in our society. Even though plenty of adults love to claim that they "don't see color," I think the uncensored honesty of children shows that it is unrealistic to make such a claim.

I know that young kids will speak their mind without cruel intentions. They'll tell someone straight to their face that they're "fat as whale" or tell a woman with facial hair that she has "a moustache just like Daddy!" They haven't yet learned how to have empathy and they certainly haven't picked up social graces. I understand all of this and wouldn't expect any different, but still...I have to admit that getting yelled at across the playground, "You look like a Chinese person!" was enough to shake me up.

With that one exclamation, I remembered how I felt growing up and realizing that I was different from my mostly White classmates. I remember how they'd always set me up with the one other Asian boy in class. I remember when we learned about Pearl Harbor in junior high and a kid turned to me and asked, "So, why'd you bomb us?" I remember being chastised for "not knowing my language" and for always resenting having to answer "where I'm from."

In adulthood, I've to embrace and appreciate my cultural background. I now cherish my heritage so much, and as my husband also greatly respects it, we even decided to give our son a Japanese first name to honor this part of his ancestry. I honestly feel like I've come to peace with my racial identity, and yet today was a good reminder that there is still that vulnerable child inside of me who never wanted to stand out as different. I also see it as a good reminder to be sensitive to the journey that my son will face as he discovers his racial identity as a "hapa," half white and half Japanese. I want to be especially thoughtful of his experience because it will be uniquely his--one that neither my husband nor myself will have known firsthand.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Permission To Not Be A Perfect Child

My last posting, Permission To Not Be A Perfect Parent, was about the pressure I often feel to be a perfect parent. Writing this has really made me reflect upon how much of the pressure that I feel is just perceived and how much is truly directed or intentional. After all, if I step back and view things from the outside (using the dissociative technique I described in a previous posting, Learning To Take Criticism), I can see how all of the parenting advice that accumulates to make me feel inadequate is probably provided on a one-by-one basis with the best of intentions. It is only when being bombarded by the many voices en masse that I feel the pressure of feeling like I'm "not enough."

With this in mind, I am also busy thinking about how children, too, can often experience the pressure of feeling like they're "not enough." There are a couple of passages that stick out from some of the extracurricular reading that I've done over the past week. The first passage is from the young adult fiction title The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. In the book, sixteen year old Jenna wakes up with no memory of her childhood after having survived a horrible car accident. Part of her re-education after the accident consists of viewing hours upon hours of video that her parents have recorded of every year of her life. As the title of the book suggests, a central theme in the book deals with the concept of "adoration" and how it may be a double-edged sword. In Jenna's words:

They placed me on a pedestal from the day I was born! What choice did I have but to be perfect! And if I lagged in math or soccer or navel gazing, they got me a personal tutor! And then I was tutored or coached until I was perfect! I've been under a microscope my entire life! From the moment I was conceived, I had to be everything because I was their miracle! That's what I had to live up to every day of my life!

Reading this made me question the adoration my husband and I have of our son. What does it mean that we take picture upon picture of him and that we video record many of his milestone and ordinary moments? What does it mean that we spend time writing about him and give him an inordinate amount of "kissies" on a daily basis? I know that the answer does not lie in neglecting him, but how exactly do you love a child, without imposing the pressure of being placed on a pedestal? I know I felt like I was in the presence of a miracle when I was pregnant and again when I gave birth. Every night when he finally falls asleep, just the raising and lowering of his chest is a beautiful wonder, and every morning when his eyes pop open fresh to face the day, my faith is renewed in the world.

At the same time I'm a parent, I am also the child of my parents and I know the burden of wanting to have their approval and acceptance. This brings me to the second passage that resonated with me this week, which is from the memoir Boy of Steel written by my friend and colleague Steve Montgomery:

[M]y mother poured all of her affection into me. I had given up on trying to please my father--it was clear that I couldn't even pretend to be the son he desired me to be--but my need for my mother's approval was equal in strength to her need for me to be her perfect little boy. My fear of disappointing her began to overwhelm me.

On the one hand, a child's need for approval is one of the most powerful ways that parents can get their child to "succeed." I remember reading a parenting book years ago that explained how parenting has changed a lot from the past. Since children are no longer afraid of adults in terms of corporal punishment, the best tool parents have for getting children to follow their rules is to realize that all children ultimately crave approval from their parents.

The flip side to this is in recognizing how this power is so immense that it too can be crippling even though it is not a physical blow. I hate the thought that I may overwhelm my son with a fear of disappointing me. I want him to know that I love him and accept him as he is. Of course, the real test will come with each of my son's "failures." Will I necessarily approve of all of his life's choices and is unconditional approval necessarily the answer? Perhaps the distinction is between approval and acceptance so that while I may not approve of everything he does, I can strive to accept him no matter what. Then again, my mom has said in the past, "I'm happy if you're happy," but it was always said when I could feel she was anything but happy. She did not approve and all that I wanted was her approval--acceptance alone did not feel good.

So in the end, maybe the most important thing is to realize is that we're all, both parent and child, flawed human beings. We may try our best all along the way and still always end up failing in some ways. We may love deeply and still never be able to avoid inflicting pain. Thus, maybe my focus need not be so much on how we can accept one another, but how we can learn to accept imperfection.

Permission To Not Be A Perfect Parent

Being perfect in general is not possible and so being perfect as a parent is also not a realistic goal. Nonetheless, most parents are constantly striving for perfection or at least for making the least amount of mistakes possible. I think we all look into some crystal ball and realize that a couple of decades down the line, our child could easily end up sitting in a therapist's chair blaming us for causing all of their problems in life. After all, how many of us have been guilty ourselves of pointing fingers at our own parents and how their imperfections scarred us in some way.

Our parents weren't perfect and we certainly are not ourselves. But still, we turn on the television and we catch episodes of Super Nanny, which demonstrate that if only we were "super" enough parents, then perhaps our children wouldn't be throwing the tantrums that they're so good at throwing or maybe they would be better at sharing, following the rules, and picking up their toys. We do a little Internet research on ways to get our children to sleep in their own bed, and we find hundreds of thousands of pages telling us that we are simply not being consistent enough or firm enough. We never seem to be enough.

Enter The Girlfriends' Guide to Toddlers by Vicky Iovine. I had read The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy when I was pregnant, but I didn't realize that there was also a Girlfriends' Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood or one for toddlers. I think that I was so busy just trying to survive during my first year that I didn't spend too much time doing reading of any sort. Now that my son is two, I'm returning to my reading and research craze, most of all because I'm busy searching for some direction or advice to help me feel more secure in navigating the tumultuous toddler years.

The first book I read during my recent reading kick was recommended by a co-worker of mine: The Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson. There is obviously an audience out there that finds this book helpful since it not only came highly recommended to me, but also has been a staple in child-rearing literature over the years. I could not, however, stomach reading this book. It is like when you meet a person and realize that you simply have such differences in personal values that you know you will never be able to have a conversation that goes beyond discussing the weather.

In contrast, when I picked up The Girlfriends' Guide, I felt like at last I had met someone who spoke the same language as me. Granted, the humor may be a little over the top for some people, but I am just soaking it all up! Although I'm still just getting into the book, I wanted to share two passages that really struck a chord with me. Here's the first one:

Toddlerhood is hell, while you're going through it. But once you've survived the journey, you realize that maybe you didn't need to get so worked up about the pottying on the houseplants; that maybe a four-year-old could still sleep in a crib and not suffer structural or emotional damage; and even though you would swear on a Bible that your little one ate not one organic particle for two years, look at him now, so tall and strong. Every day I thank Mother Nature for being so much smarter than the rest of us mothers. She actually devised a system in which we parents could make one mistake after another and our kids would not only survive us but turn out pretty much how they would have if we'd done our jobs perfectly.

Yes! This was exactly what I needed to hear at this moment in my parenting life. I needed to be given the permission to not worry about being perfect. Now, before someone out there starts saying that this gives people the permission to be lazy, let me assure them that this is not the case at all. Not having to be perfect does not mean that you stop trying to be the best parent that you can be. It just means that trying to be the best parent that you can be is often enough. The second passage that I'll quote is just more along these lines:

Toddlers will learn to accomplish nearly all of the milestones that signify a successful passage through this stage all by themselves...You can demonstrate the function of a spoon for weeks or you can keep all spoons hidden in the drawer, and when his personal DNA says he's ready for a spoon, he'll quickly figure out how to use a spoon. Really try to hear me when I tell you that you need not teach your child to walk, to climb stairs or to drink out of a cup. There is a force of nature that compels a healthy and stimulated toddler to figure this stuff out on his own.

I loved this specific passage, because I still remember how one mother I know was scolded by her pediatrician for allowing her one year old daughter to still use a sippy cup. The doctor insisted that she should only drink out of uncovered cups from a year on. I always wondered if this doctor had any real grip on reality. Yes, a one year can drink from a real cup, but they also inevitably shake any cup around like a maniac. Experts may criticize parents for causing speech delays in their child or future orthodontial issues, but they also aren't the ones living with juice splashed all over the floor and walls. Then again, I guess none of us are supposed to allow our children to have any juice these days either.

In some ways, we are lucky to have access to so much advice in this day and age, but it's also this excess of advice that makes me often feel so inadequate. I think that the way The Girlfriends' Guide departs from other parenting books that I've been reading lately is to release parents from the burden of expectations regarding keeping your child "on track." We don't need to adhere to some model developmental schedule for our children, we just need to make sure that our children are "healthy and stimulated." These are two goals that I feel are very practical and ones that I believe my husband and I are achieving so far. We are always open to and striving to improve our parenting skills, but it is empowering to realize that perhaps we are not so far off track when it comes to what matters most.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Memory is Bad, How is Yours?

I know for a fact that I cannot trust my memory. For about the last 5 years, I have been keeping a journal thanks to my husband who inspired me to do so. My husband has been an avid journal keeper on and off since he was a small child. He is so diligent that he writes in his journal every single night before he goes to sleep. I'm not so good and so I will write about every 5 days or so, but I still think that this is pretty good.

The style of journal that I have is pretty neat. It's a 10-year journal with a page for every day of the year. Each page is divided into ten rows so that every year you write in the next row down for any particular day. It works out well, because you can glance back and see how you spent each day in previous years. As I'm 5 years into the journal now, it is enlightening to look back and see what we were doing a year ago or 5 years ago. While it seems that time flies, it is also amazing how much changes in just one or a few years. This may be especially the case since we have kids in our life. A year ago, for example, my son was just one year old and not even walking. Two years ago, he was a helpless little newborn. Three years ago, he wasn't even conceived.

Returning now to my comment about memory... I am mentioning my journal, because it is one of the best measuring sticks I can use to measure my memory against, and it proves time and time again that my memory is horrible. It never fails that I will look back in my journal only to realize that there are so many details that I would have easily "lost" had I not written them down. It is for this reason that I am so quick to question the absolute validity of witness testimonies in court cases. Perhaps events that require a court case are significant enough to become more imprinted than other memories. I think, however, that most people do not remember things as accurately as they might want to believe.

One of the best examples that I've come across lately is with my toddler. Last week, my son hit me when he was tired and upset, and he did it in front of my mother. My mom was appalled and said that my brother and I never did anything like that when we were children. Red flag! We really never did anything like that at all? What about the stories I've heard my parents' friends tell about how my brother used to ram head first into them? What about the fact that I was a stubborn little girl who never wanted anyone to force me to do things their way? I'm sure she's right that we didn't hit and kick once we were old enough to understand better. But, does she really remember exactly how we behaved when we were toddlers? She was only in her late 20s and early 30s then and that was over 30 years ago now. My guess is that her memory is simply not as accurate as she thinks.

Again, I am the first to admit that my memory is faulty. Heck, I have a hard time remembering what life was like with my son when he was an infant and that was just a little over a year ago. I certainly wouldn't expect my mom to remember what I was like as a toddler. But, I do wish that people would at least be cognizant of the fact that their memories may not be perfect...and so maybe they shouldn't be so quick to be appalled by something like a toddler that hits!

Closing on a side note, I do recognize that memory ability varies from person to person, and even with the same person, memory differs based on the type of information. An extreme example of this is presented in the book The Woman Who Can't Forget: The Extraordinary Life of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science by Jill Price. In this memoir, Price explains how she can remember every day of her life. If you tell her a specific date, she can remember exactly what she did and what happened in the world. Meanwhile, there are others like Daniel Tammet, an autistic savant who is able to remember Pi up to 22514 digits! In comparison to either of these individuals, my memory is pathetic! But, my guess is that my memory is probably pretty average, which means that chances are...your memory is as bad as mine.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Learning to Take Criticism

I've decided that one of my mid-year resolutions is to improve how I take criticism. I think that this is definitely one of my weaknesses. When I receive criticism or even perceive receiving criticism, I get my feelings hurt and I can be very defensive. Speaking on my own behalf, I think that criticism is doled out a bit liberally these days (see my previous post, One Critical World). I also don't think I'm so uncommon in having a hard time taking criticism--who does like to have their faults pointed out?

Excuses aside, I am going to work on being more gracious when I feel like I'm being criticized. I did a little research to find some advice and one simple piece that I am going to try to incorporate is thanking the person for their feedback. Now, I will need to make sure that my thanking comes out calm and sincere and not sarcastic. That will perhaps be the hardest part, and I think that it will rely on me developing a true calmness in my being when facing criticism. An approach that may help in this regard is one psychologist's recommendation to try dissociation. In a nutshell, you are supposed to try to remove yourself from the situation, as if you are an observer of the criticism rather than a recipient. This is not to say that you completely disregard the criticism, because there may indeed be some useful information being imparted. The key is to take the "personal" part out of the message and simply view it as neutrally as possible. Then, it's just a matter of deciding if the criticism has potential benefit for you or not. Chances are there is probably some kernel of truth worth facing if you're brave enough to recognize your shortcomings and even braver to try to improve.

Another step that I'm going to try out in addition to thanking the person for their observation is to turn around and ask them if they have any advice on how I can improve. Again, the success of this will rely on me being able to do so in earnest without any defensiveness or sarcasm in my voice, facial expressions, and body language. And again, that will be the hard part since I often feel hurt or embarassed when criticized. So again, I guess I'll give the whole dissociation technique a chance and see how well I can pull that off. It seems as unwieldy a technique as something like "visualizing yourself winning the race," but I suppose could prove just as powerful when accomplished.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I just processed the following book at work and it brought tears to my eyes: Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury. Here are some snippets from the author's note at the front of the book:

We spend our children's days celebrating their firsts. First step, first tooth, first words... But somehow, along the way, we miss their lasts. There are no photographs or parties when a child takes his last nap or catches tadpoles for the last time. For the most part, it's impossible to know when a last-moment actually occurs... Would I have held on longer if I'd known it was the last time?... Sometimes with tears in my eyes, I chronicled the life of a child and all the last times we might miss along the way.

While this book is geared toward "lasts" that parents encounter with their children, it can apply to life in general and how we often do not fully appreciate moments while "in the moment." If we were to actually stop and recognize the fact that any experience may be a "last" and that we may never have the same opportunity again, perhaps we would better savor each moment that we have.

I am not perfect at always remembering this, but it is something that I have consciously done in the past. With our niece, for example, I think about how every time she spends the night at our place, it may be one of the few last times. My husband and I have so many dear memories of her spending weekends with us since she was a small child, but now that she is 16 years old and nearly a senior in high school, these occurrences are becoming more sparse and we realize that soon they will cease altogether.

I remember this also every time I take my son for visits with my grandmas. I feel so grateful that he has two great-grandmothers in his life and that both of them are so wonderful in playing with him. I will often take a step back and just admire the interaction, because I know that since they are already in their mid-80s, I cannot take their role in his life for granted. Of course, since we never know when anyone's life may end, having this appreciation should not be limited to people who are of an advanced age. We should appreciate all the time we have with everyone!

On a bright note, lasts are not always such a bad thing. There can be the last time that your toddler bites another kid or the last time that your child wets the bed or the last time that your teenager sneaks out at night. Of course, even a "last" of these types of occurrences can leave you feeling oddly nostalgic. For example, it's not that I love changing diapers (although I don't hate it), but I would feel a little sad knowing when I've changed my son's last diaper. I think the sadness is in knowing that, for better or worse, you've reached the end of an era. At that point, I think it's always important to realize that the end of an era also means the beginning of another. We should make sure to enjoy all the positive aspects of a new era rather than wasting time mourning the one that's already gone--as always, it comes down to enjoying the present moment.

I'll close this posting with some of my favorite passages from Kingsbury's book:
  • "The last time that I lifted you and held you on my hip" and "The last time you ran to me, still small enough to hold" - This still hasn't happened with my son, thank goodness!
  • "The last time you woke up crying" - Sometimes our son will wake up without crying, but he certainly hasn't had his "last" time yet...when do kids stop waking up crying?
  • "Our last adventure to the park" - Our niece used to always go with us...we'll have to force her to go with us soon so that the last time isn't in the past. We love pikuniku time in the park!
  • "Last colored picture made" - I thought about this when our niece was over last weekend and I saw her coloring. She used to always color as a kid and I think the only reason she did it recently was because she was bored enough at our place. Still, those were fun days when she would color for hours, creating amazing masterpieces.
  • "I keep taking pictures, never quite sure of your lasts" - Hey, this is good justification for my addiction to taking photos!
  • "The last time when we cuddle with a book, just me and you. The last time you jump in our bed and sleep between us two." - I LOVE cuddle time and this is something I don't even want to think about ending.
  • "The last time that I help you with a math or spelling test." - I really do miss helping our niece with her homework and am looking forward to helping my son with his homework. Call me crazy, but I love homework time!
  • "The last time that you need me for a ride from here to there." - We've seen this happening now that our niece's friends all drive. It's easy for parents to complain when their kids need them, but then there is also an emptiness sometimes when they suddenly don't need you anymore. Of course, not being needed is not such a bad thing. I truly believe that my job as a parent is to raise my children to be independent.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Knitting Class Flunkie

As a lifelong overachieving student, I've never experienced being one who falls behind with assignments. I can't remember turning in work late and certainly never missed an assignment completely. With my current extracurricular knitting class, however, I have fallen far behind with our weekly assigned squares. Today we received our 37th pattern for the afghan that we are working on and I just barely finished working on the 17th pattern. This means that I am 20 patterns behind!

I'm not too concerned about my lack of progress, because I'm taking the class merely for enjoyment, and I am certainly not the only one in class who is behind. Nevertheless, I've fallen into a bit of complacency about ever catching up. It has been an eye-opening position to be in, because I realize that this must be the feeling that other students get when they start missing assignments or their grades start to slip. I can finally understand how easy it is to feel like there's no point in putting out the effort to get back on track, because you feel like that is never going to happen anyway.

I realize that this logic is not true, because I have tried to explain the faultiness of just such logic many times when I was teaching. I would always remind students that even if they fell behind or their grades were low, they shouldn't just give up, because that just makes it all the worse. Now here I am 20 patterns behind in my knitting class, and rather than buckle down to catch up, I've left my knitting bag in the trunk of my car yet again. I'm just as bad as all of those other students I used to lecture! At least now I can better empathize with their lack of ambition.