My youngest daughter was almost three weeks old when I went back to school. At the time I thought I could handle one class a semester and since my first class went well I decided to sign up for a second. To back track slightly when I was in school the first time around I didn't explore other avenues I should have. Math and the hard sciences have never been strong suits of mine and this might surprise some of the people who have read things I've written but I have a history degree mainly because I thought I wanted to go to law school after I graduated from college.

After college I ended up working in finance. When my oldest daughter was born I decided to stay at home with her. Both of my children were born early. They were both little babies, they were not healthy children and people used to joke about me having my own parking spot at the pediatrician's but when you're at school and you get a call that one of your children can't breathe you drop everything to go see her. Looking back I am amazed that I retained enough information to pass any of my classes.

Two years ago I briefly entertained the idea of going back to school. I wrote all of one whole writeup devoted to science which told me that school wasn't something I was seriously considering. Money has always been an issue for me so I decided to go back to work instead of investing in education. Going back to work was a major decision for me. I didn't really want to work at a restaurant but it was a part time job that would be flexible enough to allow me to see my children after they got out of school while offsetting some of my financial obligations.

Surprisingly I found out that I was good at managing other people who had talent and were willing to work hard. I met a lot of neat kids most of whom I'm still friends with. Periodically they ask when I'm coming back which always helps boost my ego. Some of them have asked me for references and I'd like to think that I played a part in shaping their bright young futures. From the smoothie shop I moved across the hall to the shoe store and then in March I moved to the store I'm at now.

Working in shoes has taught me a lot. I personally have changed over the course of the past year which hasn't been easy but has been good for me. The other day I was at work by myself. That rarely happens during the day but it was quiet at the mall until a guy and his son dropped by. I wouldn't have recognized the kid however one of the first things my former Anatomy teacher did was hug me. He told me I looked good and since the store was quiet I had an opportunity to chat with him for a while.

When my former teacher asked if I was still writing he mentioned that every semester he passes out an essay I wrote on how your kidneys function as an example of how things should be done and what he expects to see when students hand back tests. Before my former teacher left he asked how my job was going. I told him it was okay, I felt like I owed him honesty and it's not like I love working with people who rarely listen and couldn't care less about how I could help them.

Today I'm closer to forty than I am to thirty however I'm still not any closer to figuring out what I should do when I grow up. My former teacher reminded me that it isn't too late to go back to school. While I know he's right I don't know if that's what I really want to do with my life. An aunt of mine that I'm close to wants me to go back. Her husband told me I should go into education and a lot of people have told me I'm wasting my time and talents selling shoes at the mall.

Theoretically I know that anything worth having is worth sacrificing for but when I think about going back to school right away I'm intimated by the classes and thinking about how to pay for additional schooling when I've never used any of the education I have. Realistically I have two school age children who are fairly independent. Going back to school would mean they would have to give up some of the things they now enjoy. Part of me thinks it would be good for me and another part thinks that I can barely handle the life I currently lead.

Right now I don't know what I'm going to do and fortunately this isn't something I have to decide immediately. Going back to school is something for me to contemplate because it would open a lot of doors for me. My former teacher said he would like to see me get into technical writing and he told me not to worry about the classes because in his experience the people who do well are the ones who read the material ahead of time and are able to communicate effectively.

Probably the strangest thing about all of this is I feel more comfortable sharing this information with nameless, faceless people on the internet than the family and friends I have in my real life. If I called my sisters up I'd get a list of reasons why going back to school is not a good idea. They'd tell me to use the education I have to get a better job but I've looked online and in the paper; most of the jobs out there don't interest me or seem like a step up from where I'm at now.

Currently I feel like your basic emotional wreck. Frequently I throw myself into whatever change I'm bent on achieving forgetting that change comes with small steps that add up over time. Tonight my daughter asked why I was crying and there were so many things I could have told her but I chose to hug her instead. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and I'll be able to cope with more of what life has handed me and I've chosen for myself. Take care until then or whenever we happen to meet again.

I turned thirty in my time zone about 48 minutes ago, so I will allow myself my yearly luxury of penning a day log all about myself and my self-indulgent obsessions.

The first thing is actually about the calender year as opposed to the past year of being 30. When this year begin, I was quite honestly expecting the future to start. I was actually expecting, in some ways, the end of history, when everyone was on the same page, and we could move forward past prejudices of the past, etcetera. That is one reason why I started this calender year with the writeup hovercar: I thought it was the perfect writeup to start the decade. And for those of you who can't remember four months ago, something quickly happened on e2 that poisoned my thinking. That was the entire Ush debacle, which honestly I can't make heads or tails of. E2 has settled down over the years, probably because we all got to know each other a lot better in real life, and thus it was harder to be keyboard cowboys. And then over a couple of weeks, e2 was blasted back to being a turn of the decade chat room. Not to say that I sympathize with Ush, or even understood the reasons for the conflict, but that woke me up to the fact that the future isn't quite here yet. There is still going to be a lot more conflict, of many different kinds, before humanity makes whatever steps are necessary to save our own skins.

And I am okay with that. I would have preferred riding off into the sunset, but it looks like we have years of arguing ahead of us. I hope internet unpleasantries are the worst of it.

At the same time as I am getting used to the fact that the future may be more struggle than reward, at least for a while, my own life is slow paced and relaxing in a way that is probably outside of the norm for most of American culture. I am unemployed, I live with my mother, and I volunteer and ride my bicycle. The reasons for this are many, but it is not a permanent surrender on my part, rather a strategic withdrawal in the face of new economic realities about what the prospects are for a young, educated person. I left Portland, a city where everything was happening, to move to a small, rural community. I don't regret it at all. I am almost afraid at how happy I am to have the high point of my week be a volunteer shift at the library, and how I really don't quail at the thought of continuing such a seemingly-boring lifestyle for a long time.

And one final note: over the past year, I have continued the pattern, first started in the fall of 2008, of being one of the most frequent and regular contributors to this site. I became an m-noder a year ago, and over the past year have written over 200 nodes. I honestly don't know where the impetuous from this came from. I also don't think my own contributions are that extraordinary. I wish that my writeups wouldn't stick around for days on the New Writeups nodelet. But I also don't know what, when and why E2 will find a new roll in the internet.

There is a video, on youtube, of a few people hiding under a table in a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. It was recorded by a 15 year old boy who went to the mosque on a normal Friday afternoon to offer his prayers. I don't know what happened to this boy, whether he survived the massacre or not, but in the few moments he managed to show us, we see honesty. We see sincerity, we see courage and an unwavering faith in God. We see humanity.

For those who are unaware of exactly what happened last Friday, I'll give a brief summary. Two mosques of the Ahmadi sect of Islam were attacked by gunmen of the Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a branch of the Taliban currently operating in Pakistan. Over 90 innocent worshipers were slaughtered and several hundred others were injured. Why did this attack happen? Because mainstream Muslims have declared Ahamdis to be infidels over a religious disagreement, i.e. Ahmadis consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (who died in 1908) to be the messiah of this age. The government of Pakistan has banned Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims, from declaring their faith in the form of the kalimah, from reciting the traditional call to prayers or using the traditional Muslim greeting (peace be upon you), all under penalty of death. Ahmadis in the past have been killed for their faith by fanatical clerics who claim that anyone who takes the life of an Ahmadi will have a special place in heaven, but never on a scale as large as this attack in Lahore.

We have only bits and pieces of information about what happened inside the mosques. The majority of the survivors were hidden through the whole ordeal, so a coherent picture of what actually happened isn't really available. The aftermath, however, is very clear. Blood and scorch marks from grenades cover even the ceilings of the main prayer halls. Hallways are filled with ankle-deep pools of blood. Shell casing litters the floors and roofs of the mosques, and the image of the gunmen spraying AK-47 rounds from atop the minaret is forever ingrained in our minds.

In the end, the majority of the attackers escaped despite the "efforts" of the police. One attacker was killed and another captured, but both were taken out by courageous Ahmadis who were willing to put their lives on the line when they realized the police were doing nothing. Outside the walls of the mosque, onlooking Ahmadis begged the police commandos to take action, and when the police refused, they begged for weapons so they could enter the mosque themselves. For four dreadfully long hours, onlookers were forced to hear the dying screams of their friends and family members in stunned disbelief, unable to do anything.

It would be easy to arbitrarily place blame on any number of Pakistani government officials here, but that would cheapen the value of the sacrifices made in those two mosques. The fact is, over 90 of my brothers are dead. These were not hostile or combative people that died last Friday. These were completely normal, hard working, peaceful members of society that had committed no crime. They were retired military officers, shop keepers, tailors, farmers, and IT professionals. They did not deserve to die.

To be honest, I didn't even want to write anything about these attacks. I felt like nothing I wrote could ever really do justice to this tragedy. But then I thought about the story of one man who called his wife just as the attackers forced their way into the basement room where he was hiding. He told his wife he loved her, told her to say goodbye to his children, and with literally his last breath, he asked her to remember him. Seconds later he was shot in the head.

The media will squeeze as much air-time as they can out of this story, but eventually it will start to fade from the news. Governments will start to forget, the UN will move on to the next genocide, and all the people who were enraged by this tragedy will start to settle down. I wrote this so that one day when all this grief and sorrow has passed I might look back at this writeup and remember. Maybe I'll remember all the pictures of bloody walls and the sounds of automatic rifle fire. Maybe I'll remember the inadequacy of the government's response or the multiple failures of the police. Most of all though, I hope to fulfill that dying man's last wish and never forget that so many innocent people died because of blind hate.

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