- We moved to a wonderful new neighborhood that was just what we had in mind when we were house shopping. Now we have 4 times the number of bathrooms we used to. Other than having 4 times zero maids to help with the cleaning, it's all dreamy.
- The kids got bigger and smarter.
|This little Cupcake just turned 5|Our Rip Claw is in double digits! (The bike only lasted a day)
- We adopted a cat! Minerva is loved so dearly, we've even become the weirdos (I can say it because we're included) who walk their cats.
- I've continued to work as a substitute teacher, and I'm pretty good at it. I know being the best substitute teacher is kinda like being the best fantasy football player- great! Nobody cares!- but it means I get to work whenever I want and the schedule flexibility is excellent.
- Running has continued with some ups and downs, some injuries, recoveries, a medal here or there, successes and failures. I still love pounding out the miles, even though I haven't achieved anything extraordinary...
...unlike these dear friends and family members who ran the Boston Marathon this year
Of course, the past couple of years haven't been all sunshine and roses, but things are generally excellent 'round here.
There, now that you're caught up and have fallen (back) in love with my blog, it's time for the reason that drove me to break out the rusty old typing fingers here: I'm going to school to become a paralegal. What's that? You're slightly taken aback but generally feel like that announcement was anticlimactic? Let me try to change your mind. See, it all started at book club.
My (I can call it mine because I started it) book club began about 7 years ago. We take turns selecting books to read, and discuss them while stuffing ourselves with scrumptious snacks. We have a pretty amazing mix of ladies, and our book choices are diverse and (usually) excellent. "The Count of Monte Cristo" was my personal favorite novel and everyone (yes, you too) should read it. "The Omnivore's Dilemma" was my most recent choice, and reading it changed my eating habits for the better.
|If you've read "The Omnivore's Dilemma," the chocolate souffle/McDonald's fries combo makes sense.|
|The Count's quote made it onto my shelf of favorites.|
It was this book, though, that changed not just my habits or the order of my favorite novels, but life as I live: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Yes, that link takes you to Amazon so you can go ahead and buy it right now. On the website for the foundation the author started years ago, the book is described as follows: "A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice..." (I linked the definition for that term because I couldn't have given it to you without looking it up myself.)
I don't usually consider myself to be super suggestible or gullible. I certainly can't remember any other time when a book changed the course of my life. When I watched Making a Murderer , for example, I understood that there was more to the story than viewers were shown. I know that the show was edited to be entertaining and provocative, so even though it made me lose some faith in our justice system, I made myself remember that I was really presented with just one side of the story.
After reading "Just Mercy", though, I came to understand the brokenness of our justice system is not simply a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact that we can choose to see or remain blind to. The truth is, justice in our country is not blind.
Criminals get away with it. Innocent people go to jail. People with dark skin are treated differently than those who are white. Poor people are taken advantage of. Children live in prisons for the rest of their lives after mistakes that they would almost certainly never make as adults. People with mental illness are abused and imprisoned instead of being treated or hospitalized. At the root of our justice system we don't find balance or impartiality; we find bias, greed, and sometimes mind-blowing unfairness.
I don't expect to become The Paralegal who Fixes Everything (Although if that is what I become, I would like a cooler, superheroish name. Princess of Justice. The Everything Fixer [who is pretty besides]. Sup-arale-Gal. We can work on it.). I don't presume that I'll ever truly fix anything that has been so broken about our legal system since its inception. I know, though, that I cannot turn away from the horror. I cannot step over the screaming, seething, hideous mess of wrongness and go on as if it's not there. Even realizing that I cannot name a single paralegal who has ever done anything memorable, I know for sure that I have to be part of the solution. I have to do everything within my power to right the wrongs.
So, at the ripe old age of closer-to-40-than-30, holding my 13-year-old, unused Bachelor's degree, driving my newish car away from the dream home that I own with my dream man, leaving my sweet, talented children in the care of others, I will go to school. I mention my age, home, etc. because when I went on campus to purchase my books ($680! Ouch!) and get my ID card, I realized how very different I am from the typical state college student. It makes me nervous to think about being the oldest in class. Or the only mom. Or the only one who has no idea how to dress like an adult who is in college and will constantly feel the need to justify her clothing choices to random strangers. Because of my previous college experience, I have met a lot of the requirements for graduating with an A.S. degree in Legal Studies, and I should be finished by this time next year. After that, I would like to work for a non-profit law office, offering help to those who can't afford to buy their way out of legal trouble. I want to assure you that I'll let you know how it goes, but in all honesty, you may have to wait for news of the crowning of Queen Paralegal after I do my world changing stuff. Want to help the cause without going the career/life change route? Donate to the Equal Justice Initiative. Or at least, wish me luck with writing WAY more often than once every 2.5 years.