New Year, New Decade

It’s time again for me to reflect back on the past year and choose one major goal to work toward this coming year. This year I have two goals, but one is a material one rather than a personal growth one.

This is the year I took the plunge to finally freelancing again, and it has been very successful despite some rocky moments. We are by no means on easy street financially yet, and I have been truly struggling at times balancing being the full-time stay-at-home parent with the shifting schedules of the gig economy (only a few hours for weeks at a time into madness for a few week). I feel drained, but also like this is really worthwhile for me. So, my big audacious financial goal for this year is to be stable enough come Thanksgiving to be able to adopt a local family and give them an entire Thanksgiving meal that they otherwise wouldn’t have. One of the office jobs I used to work did this every year for 5 or so families, and I loved it and want to be able to do it on my own and teach my kids more about giving to others. We did it a little this Christmas, choosing some new gifts for a boy through a local agency and then each of my kids selected one of their almost new toys to give to him as well. My 8 year old surprised me by selecting two actually and was asking questions that I tried to answer in age-appropriate ways. Selfishly, I want to be able to do more activity-wise with the family and not feel the pinch when it comes time to replacing things that we need, but I also really want to funds to support other creators and help in small ways for the needy in our community.

Creatively, I have felt all over the board this year. Sometimes the flow comes easy, sometimes it’s been a real struggle. And I feel like that with my physical and mental energy as well. A lot of that is the lack of sleep I’m still getting with my daughter, as well as finding some way to balance the chores and the here and now with my inner worlds. Actually, one of the truths I have learned this year is that there really is no balance without some kind of support structure in place, whether financial or physical (as in more hands willing to take over childcare or employees to do mundane tasks, etc). Every mom I know, whether working or stay-at-home, is always battling exhaustion, and the dads are frequently only a step or two more rested and that’s only because they tend to stress less about certain things once they are actually in bed. But I also know from experience that the toddler phase won’t last forever, that eventually I will have more time for myself.

So this year, my goal is to stop chasing that elusive balance and let things ebb and flow more. I need to continue my work in having fun, if that’s not an oxymoron, and just find joy in the messy process of creating and parenting and building things from the ground up. I need to feel like I’m really living and not being buried by obligations. In short, I’m tired of feeling tired, and I’m not going to put up with it anymore.  :-p

I have some audacious goals set, but I’m not going to share plans and deadlines here anymore. I’m accountable to myself, and I will continue working toward releasing works in various stages of completion when I feel like it. And as they are ready for release, I will share it here. If I feel like I have something to say socially or politically, then I will say it. But I won’t feel guilty anymore about self-imposed deadlines.

I hope 2020 is the start of some amazing times for everyone. I hope we can all start living to our fullest potentials and let ourselves shine. Happy New Year.

There Is Such a Thing as Too Safe…

My less-than-a-year-old car has started yelling at me every time I turn it on. For multiple reasons. First, it started pinging about needing an oil change, when it does not, in fact, need one for about another 2000 miles (somehow, the last time we got an oil change, the alarm was reset incorrectly). Then, it began to complain of low windshield wiper fluid when there was still plenty left. Now, it won’t shut up about the tire pressure. And sure, that one is probably valid, but not as detrimental as the beeping is making it out to be. One after another, as soon as the key turns. The fluid was topped off this morning, solving at least one issue, but the others will take a little more time. And this got me thinking about how so much today is idiot-proofed, and how maybe that isn’t such a good thing.

It’s not that I’m cruel or particularly unsafe, but I feel like we as a culture are worried about the wrong things, as far as safety is concerned. We have laws and technology and extreme measures taken to protect us, mostly out of fear of litigation on the parts of corporations. However, I think that depending on these things to protect us, we begin to lose our ability to make clear, common sense judgments for ourselves and we lessen our opportunities for enjoying a full life. We willingly swathe ourselves in bubble wrap without realizing how much our view of reality is obscured by the plastic bubbles.

It’s a tricky path to travel, though, isn’t it? And the argument for some of the laws and implementation of technological innovations (many clearly before they are ready for implementation), the “if it saves even one life, isn’t it worth the inconvenience/cost”, is a tough one to argue against.

Some Life Lessons from the Past Couple of Weeks

  • The closer you are to certain goals, the more difficult your path becomes, both within yourself and externally. Almost as though we each must follow the “hero’s quest” in actuality and slay all of our inner and outer dragons. Note: this is really, really annoying.
  • Synchronicity continues growing exponentially, even in the face of the more difficult journey. If you are on a true path, you will have assistance in fighting your way through.
  • Life occasionally will throw something so ridiculous in your face that it will drop your jaw and make you chuckle ruefully for days.
  • It is not always the easiest or simplest choice to be positive or act from love, or even to act at all. Some days, even when everything appears to be sunshine and rainbows, you can want to just stay in bed or be angry or sad. The thousand pinpricks that we all deal with every day can add up to a massive wound seemingly out of no where. The strongest thing you can do is to be willing to treat yourself compassionately when you feel this way. Acknowledge the validity of the feelings and let them go.
  • And here’s the most important lesson I had driven home to me this week, one that I vaguely knew but never articulated. There will be times in this life that you cannot help another person, however much you might want to, because there will be nothing that you can do for them besides hold them and experience their pain with them. And it is so important when you feel powerless in a situation like that to take a step outside yourself and not make it about you, but about the person you hold dear and want so desperately to make everything better for. Everyone has to experience pain, and maybe if we were more willing to just simply be there for each other, we would find the pain easier to bear and to share. I think this is maybe important on a societal level too. We’re so quick to make everything about ourselves rather than acknowledging the validity of others.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media

In further building upon my post from earlier this week about the cult of “me”, I have been considering how I feel about the entire concept of social media and the various ways it helps and hinders people to function as individuals and in society, and how it feeds the egocentric mindset that we all seem swayed to exist in. I truly do have a love/hate relationship towards the Internet as a whole, and Facebook specifically since that is the site I use the most in my personal and career mode.

The Good about Social Media:

  • It allows people to stay connected with others, increasing their potential for building and maintaining friendships as well as business networking. Between the two of us, my husband and I have someone in almost every major city in the U.S. that we could crash with if we needed to, and if those people in turn pass through our area, we relish the opportunity to feed and house them.
  • I love having the chance to share in the triumphs of the people who I’ve worked with on various projects and friends who used to be more present in my life. I enjoy seeing that beautiful babies have been born (although frequently could stand with a few less pictures) and learning about career and life advancements. And when someone has to share a tragedy, it allows me to send long emails or letters or packages as appropriate to the depth of our relationship, or to even just send a bit of online comfort through the social media, although that at times seems so lacking and phony to me.
  • It gives people the opportunity to stay informed. I enjoy reading various articles that some of the people I’m friends with or follow post, especially when I’m neck deep in various projects and can barely remember my own name. I told one friend of mine recently that I relied on him to keep me informed at such times because he does post a lot of really thoughtful articles and accompanies them with insightful commentary. It also, if you look for it, allows you to broaden your horizons and connect with individuals with a different worldview than your own.
  • It can give you support when you most need it. I am part of a closed and private Peaceful Parenting group on Facebook that contains a smallish group of women from across the US, and we’re all at various stages of “crunchiness” but we all strive towards parenting in the best interest of our children, which can be a rough road to follow, especially when some are fighting against being raised in abusive environments or spouses that have anger issues or live in parts of the country where things like breastfeeding and babywearing are frowned upon. Having a safe place to discuss almost anything is invaluable (we do tend to stay away from religion and politics to a large extent, to keep the waters as calm as possible, but I have other friends I go to when I want that kind of discussion).
  • It can help build your momentum as an artist/entrepreneur – I posted a picture of a completed project last week, and someone I’m recently friends with from another project said “I didn’t know you do that!” and we’re in beginning talks to have me create something for her now, which is money in my pocket and one more person talking about my work.
  • Having social media around makes it so people aren’t creating in vacuums. For me, there is an aspect of my personality that would love to hide away, never be online. To be that artist and writer that dies at an old age, never having shared anything with the world. Having the social media so readily available forces me to be more open about my work, my creativity, and my process. Which is important. I need to be forced outside my comfort zones.
  • I like Facebook because it allows me to reach quite a few people with my whole “create ripples to cause waves in others” goal. I post quite frequently, mostly with the goal to make people smile or feel good or a little silly, often slipping in a link to an article to try to get people to think, occasionally becoming overly passionate when I just can’t keep my mouth shut, and I know for a fact it’s had an effect on some people. I’m sure it’s had an effect on others but they just didn’t tell me, and they may never, but I’m fine with that. I don’t need to necessarily know.

The Bad about Social Media:

  • It is designed to be addicting. Much like prepackaged foods, social networking sites are made to hook you and keep you on for as long as possible and keep you coming back. Which is disgusting. It becomes a time suck. Even myself, who I don’t consider being addicted because I can easily turn it off and walk away, and even though I read and process the information on the sites very quickly, find myself occasionally wondering where the last 20 minutes or so have gone.
  • In that time suck, it prevents people from engaging in reality with each other. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the playground with my son and seen another parent on their phone for the ENTIRE TIME I was there, texting or screwing around on Facebook. And I try to be understanding, thinking to myself that maybe this is the only time the parent has to do this, etc., but seeing how starved their children usually are for attention and how readily they engage with me as I play with or talk to my son, I doubt this is the case. So we’re able to come up with witty responses online, but unable to meet each other’s eyes in public, let alone open up enough to directly connect.
  • It gives constant information to marketers. Companies are making money off of us, they are then crafting ads to get us to spend money and give them even more information to then sell about us. And we give in willingly.
  • It is creepy. We are all voyeurs, peeking into other people’s windows. Everything from seeing a picture of your friend tagged in someone who you aren’t friends with’s photo to the super creepy timestamp Facebook puts on it’s messaging system (really, I don’t want to know if someone’s seen my message and is taking their time getting back to me – way too stalker-y).
  • It creates a false sense of intimacy. And this is where I feel guilty, because I completely manipulate this aspect of social media to suit my needs and wants. I share intimate details of my daily life at times, fostering that sense of intimacy, but in reality, they are details that don’t really reveal much. Mostly, I do this to keep my family off my case for not seeing them more, I think, but it also has made it strange at times because some people feel closer to me than I do to them. I mean, I adore a lot of people. I enjoy supporting them on their way through life however I can. I see the potential in friends and strangers alike. But the number of people who consider themselves my intimates and the number of people that actually are my intimates is vastly different. And therein lies most of my guilt. I simultaneously draw people in but keep them spinning and dancing so they don’t realize that I’m not revealing my innermost self. Honest to a fault, but still private in the inner tumultuous workings of my brain and heart.

So… conclusions? Social media, like anything else, has the potential to be useful or destructive. It can help us grow or keep us stilted. It is yet another aspect of our daily lives that we have to make a conscious choice about, and that can be such a bummer.

The Tragedies That Change Us

Memorial to Virginia Tech students – image from The Telegraph

As I was searching my old journals for poems and snippets to post when I get busy next week, I came across this section of my morning pages that I wrote riding the city bus to grad school the day after the Virginia Tech massacre.

I want to cry out over it, this society of ours. I want to weep and tear out my hair, to scream and shake people out of their apathy. But I sit on a bus, not making eye contact, with a lump in my throat. And I will shove the tragedy from my mind, and joke and laugh. And behind it all, I’ll feel an empty space in my soul. Another missed opportunity to start the revolution.

Reading this got me thinking about all the moments of violence that have happened in my lifetime and how each has changed me profoundly. And also the media circus that has surrounded each. I mean, America has “lost its innocence” more times than is even possible in my 31 years. By the very definition of the phrase, shouldn’t each individual only lose their innocence once? Or is the naivety of our American culture such that once the dust clears (in some cases literally), we pull a blanket over our heads again? Or is that just human nature? I don’t know. To use the Garden of Eden metaphor, though, humanity doesn’t lose the knowledge it gained by eating the forbidden fruit once they were kicked out of Eden.

For me, the exact moment I lost my innocence was when the Oklahoma City bombing happened. I was twelve. As a precocious twelve year old, I had already read Orwell’s Animal Farm the year before because my older brother had a copy laying around, and I understood it to a large extent. And I knew there were “bad people” in the world that did “bad things”, I knew about war and death, but the Oklahoma City bombing was my first moment of shattering.

Oklahoma City bombing – image from History.com

I couldn’t believe that someone would target babies and young children. And when I went to my mother sobbing, asking how someone could do such a thing, she had no answer. When I followed it up with “how could God allow this to happen?” for the first time (first of many), she had no answer there either. So this was the moment I was disillusioned of adults having the answers, and the moment I first questioned my religious upbringing. My innocence irrevocably lost. And yes, each time another tragedy struck, I was horrified. Columbine happened on my spring break, and my sister and I watched the live feed. My mother called me in college to turn on the T.V. on 9/11, and I saw the second plane hit. I still don’t think I’ve entirely processed my feelings regarding the Sandy Hook shooting. But I never was able to lull myself back into my innocence after the Oklahoma City bombing.

Life is full of moments that shift you (or should be, at least). Positive and negative moments that force you to grow and evolve. I still try to figure out the why sometimes, because that’s what I do, but I know that I never will know everything. Finding the answers to some questions inevitably only leads to more questions. And, for me, that’s what life is about. I wouldn’t ever want to blindly follow or forget any of the life lessons I’ve learned.

Why I Try to Avoid the News at Times

Okay, so there are really THREE reasons why I avoid the news at times. The first is because frequently the way it is presented is sensationalistic garbage. The second is because I feel too much emotionally about the subject matter. (Like the whole debacle with the SNAP cuts. I just… it is too depressing to think about on so many levels.) But the third reason is what I’m going to talk about today. And it’s this – sometimes I hear or read something, and then get SO FREAKING INTERESTED in it that I want to learn all I can, and that’s a distraction and a luxury that I can’t usually afford these days.

This morning, I had on my local public radio station as I drove around (usually opt for music from home, but something made me switch it on this morning), and I heard this interview on NPR with former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who was accused of spying for both the US while he was in Iran, and then Iran while living in the US. And my historian-trained (and character-loving) mind just lit up, and I want to research this man and follow the threads of his public life back and delve deep into Iranian history and I just can’t take the time right now. I’ve got an extremely narrow window of getting a ton of personal projects done (including finishing the edits/rewrites on “The Cephalopod Maid” and completely overhauling our office/studio room to allow me to take on the freelance work I’m about to be inundated with), and then I’m going to be almost literally buried in work for a few months at least, with every free moment spent with my son. If I’m good, maybe I can treat myself to a research session this weekend as a reward (and what a huge nerd am I that doing research is a REWARD to myself for being productive?).

I find the entire debacle of US relations with the Middle East and Central and South America from post-WWII onward fascinating, albeit a fascination that leaves me feeling disgusted and dirty by association (even though much of it happened before I was even born). To talk democracy and freedom from one side and then topple democratically-elected leaders in order to set up dictatorships of our own choosing, to destroy infrastructure and education and impoverish entire generations under the guise of blocking Russia and the dirty communists from winning but in what really was a way to protect special interests, and to have much of the information readily available but not generally discussed or even acknowledged by the US population at large… I don’t know. It’s interesting, in a “gets the gears in my mind whirring about the human species” interesting.

And in getting all kinds of fired up, I’ve realized how much I miss the passionate discussions I used to be able to have. In undergrad, I loved the upper level history classes that involved interpreting what we learned about history, which, along with the hours spent in debate with friends (coupled with talking about movies and music and sex and stupid in-jokes and sharing silly things from the internet, of course), meant that I had plenty of opportunities to indulge in the level of discussion that I’m talking about. Post-undergrad, I was able to still get some of this through being part of a writing group for a year that conveniently included many of my friends from undergrad. In my MFA program, we tended to have a tunnel vision on our projects much of the time, but we got plenty of discussions in through and about our projects, and I was able to throw the occasional dinner or themed party. Then we moved back east, and while I’ve made friends, there isn’t that level of depth involved. Now I focus so much on my son, so much on my work, so much on scrabbling to make money, and these are all definitely worthwhile pursuits, but something is lacking. And it’s difficult to admit that life is lacking in any way, but there it is. I miss having friends that are well-read and willing to engage in discussion, that I don’t have to fear will take offense if I get over-passionate and in fact will sometimes wind me up just to watch me go. I miss sitting in a smallish group and having my opinions challenged, and challenging other people’s opinions. I miss the mental stimulation and learning, both about the topics that we’re discussing and the people who are talking with me. I mean, my husband and I DO talk, but after being friends since 2000 and together since 2001, it’s more of a “wow, I learned this” with not a whole lot of discussion because we already know what each other thinks a lot of the time. And while I love having talks with my toddler, the mental stimulation that I crave just isn’t there yet. 😉 There is always the internet, yet I’m enough of a snob to be unsatisfied with online discussions in the long run.

Well, all that is something to consider as we contemplate where we’re moving come fall (hopefully) and as I still weigh in on what I want to do for the next portion of my life career-wise. In the meantime, I have to focus. Expect to see a lot of old art and poems coming up here soon, because I probably won’t have time for anything else. I decided to take the freelance work with the smaller, independently-owned shop rather than the one tied to a major corporation with bad reviews. I’ll be making slightly less money, but I’ll keep my integrity, don’t need to carry the liability insurance, and they’re willing to work around my schedule. Plus, it makes me feel somewhat less like I hold a useless MFA to be utilizing at least some of the skills I learned while in school.

Is Tolerance on the Internet Possible?

Last week, I posted my illustration Vessels with my poem An Open Letter from The Little Book of Insurrection or the Poetry of My Discontent up on Tumblr. Within a short span of time, it had been reblogged on an anti-feminist site with a long diatribe showing how it is a prime example on how bad all feminist poetry is. It wasn’t excessively cruel, and the language wasn’t overtly violent or offensive, but I was amazed that someone had expended the energy to create an anti-feminist Tumblr account and deliberately searches the feminist tag for posts to mock. I went back the next day, though, and the reblogging had been removed. I don’t know if they actually did a little research and realized that my collection was only 1/12th of feminist leaning or what. I’d be interested to know their reasoning behind taking it down.

VesselsI, honestly, was more entertained than anything. And I felt rather bad that someone hates an entire group of people so much that they waste their time and energy on such a fruitless task. Truth be told, An Open Letter is my least favorite poem in the collection. It’s too long but didn’t lend itself to cutting it down. However, the message it contains is important, full of my righteous anger at the legislation being passed against women. I also love this illustration I created to accompany it.  And as a woman, the issues pertaining to women concern me.  So I included both illustration and poem in the collection.

A confession: up until my mid-twenties, I was one of those women that wanted nothing to do with the term “feminist”, except in a historical context. Part of my desire to be judged as an individual and not take on the characteristics of any group, I’m sure, more than anything else. But the pendulum of equality has really swung in the opposite direction since the economic downturn in 2009, for everyone, and I accept the label of “feminist” now. It’s difficult to be aware of the facts and NOT take on that label. Although, in broader terms, perhaps I’m more a secular humanist than anything.

Anyway, today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am acutely aware of my privileged position in society. As a well-educated white hetero married woman, I am granted access to opportunities and have a much easier time than I might otherwise. I mean this in all sincerity, that to only be judged based on gender and class and the fact that I’m an artist (and maybe to a certain extent my intelligence – smarts can be a detriment these days) means that my life is a piece of cake comparatively. But that doesn’t mean that I am incapable of fighting the good fight, working towards more social justice for everyone.

It seems to me that people who care passionately about societal issues, of which there seem to be a growing number, are all fighting different battles in the same war. We can’t, as individuals, possibly fight on every front simultaneously, and if we try, nothing will ever be accomplished. So it seems in our best interest to respect each other’s chosen path, to tolerate and try to understand alternate viewpoints, to build each other up rather than tear each other down, regardless of whether you’re fighting for women’s rights, class rights, race rights, education, animal rights, climate change, etc. The end goal, enabling everyone to live a quality life, not free of strife or sadness, but free of oppression and hatred, is the same. But we won’t ever get there if we hold our own path as superior to any and all others, in my opinion.

The Gender Bias Swings Both Ways

I’ve had a post (or several) brewing for over a month now about women verses men and female sexuality and feminine strength and all kinds of fun stuff like that, brought about from catching snippets regarding various issues, and I plan on beginning to tackle that next week.  But I realized earlier this week that the bias goes both ways, and that males get a fair bit of shaming and belittling, often in much more subtle ways.  So before I get all “I am Woman”, I wanted to muse on the male bias.  As the mother of a male, it is important to me to see what I am up against.

So what incident brought this male bias to my attention?  Some news article?  A piece of celebrity gossip? No. It was watching an episode of Leapfrog with my son – specifically Math Adventure to the Moon.  Let me say that my son has learned SO much from watching the Leapfrog series and playing with the toys.  He’s not even three yet, and he can count to 100 and read/spell over 50 words, in part because of these shows.  Thanks to Math Adventure to the Moon, he can also now count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s.  But as we rewatched the show together, something bothered me.  The main characters are twin brother and sister – Tad and Lily.  They get to go in a rocket ship, and they are each allowed to bring ten items (an introduction to counting).  Tad goes first, and he brings, among other things, a trophy, a toy dump truck, a framed picture of his older brother, and a baseball glove.  Lily, when it’s her turn, brings a jar for collecting specimens in space, a magnifying glass, the first aid kit, and a lunchbox with food.  Without any dialogue, the makers slip a nudge and a wink in about how dumb boys are.  It is absolutely done on purpose and completely insidious.  If not for his sister, Tad would be screwed in space.

That got me thinking about all the stupid sitcoms in recent decades where the dumb but lovable manchild is matched against an attractive but shrew of a wife.  How hilarious.  Or not.  But it is an easy script formula and it sells, so why worry about it?  Because the message it sends out is one that is bad for both men and women.  For men, it says I can’t do anything right.  For women, it says I have to do everything on my own.  And really, those emotions are the crux of most relationship problems that I hear about personally.

Oh, and for you men out there who live alone and manage to dress and feed and bathe yourselves on a daily basis, my hat is off.  Because evidently in our society, that is so against the norm.  And if you are somehow caring for children or pets all by yourself, well, you are practically mythical creatures!

Bottom line is that we can’t afford to keep stereotypes as the norm.  People are individuals, every relationship dynamic is a little different from the next, and every interaction we have with another is an opportunity to change and grow.  So why do we indoctrinate such thinking into our culture?  Human nature?  I don’t know.

Help for an LAX Shooting Survivor?

On Monday, I found out that I knew one of those shot last Friday at LAX from my time spent in CA.  And I was shocked.  Brian Ludmer is going to be okay.  He was shot in the calf, and the doctors are confident that he will recover over time.  But his medical expenses are going to be high, so his family has started raising money to help out.  If you are so inclined, you can donate here.  No one should have to have medical debt the size of a mortgage to recover, especially in a situation like this.  If you don’t have the funds to donate, please consider spreading the word or just taking a moment to send good thoughts his way.

I had the opportunity to work with Brian for a couple of years.  I knew him to be quiet but always smiling, incredibly hard-working, and his strength of character just shines through him.   Here’s the picture they have up on the fundraiser.

Brian Ludmer

I knew peripherally about the shooting at LAX, but I was working so many long hours this weekend that I didn’t care about looking into it more.  Once I found out that I knew someone involved, though, I started to care.  And then I felt angry and ashamed that I was so numb to begin with.  A feeling of “not again” and that was it.  We should care.  We need to care.  Not be incapacitated by our caring, but there needs to be some emotional connection.  Apathy is the easy answer, but it’s apathy, to a large extent, that allows the problems of our society to continue.  A human is a human, and life is life, and no matter where in the world lives are being destroyed, we should care.

Brian was lucky.  Others aren’t, every single day.  It’s sobering to think about.

Gettysburg Visit

So, I realized I never actually did a post on how Gettysburg was.  In a word: hot.  I took exactly three pictures, and none of them turned out very good because the sweat was pouring down my body and stinging my eyes.  The humidity made it feel like we were swimming at times.  But the visit was still worth it.

We drove through the country roads of Pennsylvania that morning, and it was a lovely drive.  The forests mingling with the farmland, the mixture of very old and very new houses, the small towns, the beautiful waterways, lots of horses – it was lovely to see from our air-conditioned vehicle.  🙂  We drove through Hanover, PA and saw some amazing old architecture.  Just really picaresque the whole trip.

When we arrived at the battlefield, we decided to just do a “small” loop of the trails because of how hot it was.  You could do a car tour as well, but since it’s such a pain to get a two year old in and out of a carseat, we pulled out the stroller, went inside the visitor center to sunscreen in the air conditioning (Badger brand, if you’re wondering – works well and has completely safe ingredients but tends to show white against your skin once you start sweating no matter how much blending you do.  Still, my eyes water and burn using normal commercial brands so we put up with the gentle and safe alternative.  And it smells REALLY good.)  Then we took off for the trails – through the woods, across a street where we noticed a construction crew, then to the battlefield proper.

It’s always nice to gain some historical perspective.  To really reflect on the soldiers that fought and died where you are standing.  I’ve studied the Civil War quite a bit and read a lot of literature from that time, so it was fascinating.  And I did as much reflecting as I could while taking turns pushing the stroller in high heat and humidity.  And somehow, we got turned around, went on a longer loop than anticipated, and had to try to figure out how to get back to our car.  We came out much further down the road and crossed the street again only to find that the walkway was blocked with cones and rope.  We went back and forth over whether we should just try to walk off-trail or go up the busy road towards the other trail entrance, when an incredibly helpful park ranger came across the street to us and told us that they were just a couple of days out from opening the trail back up so we could duck under the rope and go on our way because the road wasn’t safe with our stroller.  Such a nice man.

See, they didn’t really advertise the fact that the trails were closed (where we noticed anyway) because we were the only idiots actually trying to hike in the heat!  But we were saved!  And made it safely back to our car.

We drove through the city of Gettysburg, got a little turned around so got a nice tour of campus, and at lunch at a decent family restaurant.  Then we were on our way home!