Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TBT - Inventory of Life Experiences

As part of my bachelors degree program at University of Phoenix, I was required to write an "Inventory of Life Experiences," basically to justify the credit I was requesting as "prior learning."  As we packed up our stuff last summer to move into the basement, I came upon the pages and set them aside to someday blog.  Yes, it's a somewhat sterile personal history; the kind I was willing to share with complete strangers.  But it's a history nonetheless, and as such, it belongs here.

It is kind of funny for me to read between the lines of what I wrote to remember the stories how they actually happened.  It is interesting to me that wrote a history that didn't include friends or relationships prior to Kirk (and it seems a little unfair to the pivotal people who shaped me).  It's not surprising that a detailed account of my education is what seemed like a personal history to me.  And it is kind of cool for me to get to read something I wrote three months before Adam came into our lives.  The last nine years certainly have been a totally different chapter.   Here it is, the stuff that 23-year-old Andrea thought was important.

My Personal History

I was born on September 28, 1981 in Ravenna, Ohio to Charlie and Jackie Casdorph.  We lived in Ohio until my dad graduated from college.  During this time, my mom worked at a bank.  We moved to Utah when I was four, and I know very little of Ohio other than it is where I was born.  I had a very happy childhood with parents who loved me and supported me in everything I did.

When we moved to Utah, my mom started working for a private school, Challenger Schools.  She worked her way up through the system and eventually taught in the middle school.  I attended Challenger for preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and eighth grade.  I was able to skip first grade because I was very ahead in my school work.  I believe my love of reading comes from the excellent education I was able to get early in life.  It also comes from the fact I rarely see my dad without a book in his hands.  Education was always very important to both of my parents.  My mom was actually my teacher for both fifth and sixth grade, and she was the best teacher I have ever had.  Some people probably thought being the teacher's daughter would mean school would be easier.  For me, it meant my teacher knew exactly what my potential was, and anything less than that was not good enough to get an A.  In fact, I never got straight A's while in my mom's class.  I always got a B+ in penmanship, because she knew I was just not trying.

When I was in seventh grade, Challenger did not have a middle school.  I had the option of going to Crescent View Middle School, where all the kids from my neighborhood would be going, or Midvale Middle School, where I could participate in the ALPS program.  My parents left the decision up to me, and I decided to go to Midvale because education was very important to me.  This turned out to be a year of very had lessons for me.  First, I was a little surprised to find the kids in the ALPS program were not very accepting.  They had been in school together most of their lives and had no interest in making new friends.  I spent much of the year immersed in Anne McCaffrey novels, trying to escape the void that was my social life.

Second, I did not like very many of the teachers.  At Challenger, I had always felt my teachers really cared about whether or not I succeeded.  At Midvale, I did not feel this same sense of caring.  I really did like my English teacher, though.  His class was enjoyable and informative, and I felt he really cared about his students.  About halfway through the year, he had some health complications and had to resign from teaching.  He was replaced by a woman who knew less about the rules of grammar than I did.  I had a very strong foundation from fifth and sixth grade, and when she would teach the class an incorrect principle, I tried to respectfully point it out.  She felt I was being rude and disrespectful, and she did not like me as a student.  At this point, I made a very bad subconscious decision that I did not need to prove anything to her.  I chose not to turn in a research paper for which I had already done the work, simply because I did not want to do anything to please her.  I ended up failing seventh grade English in the fourth quarter.

The next year, Challenger was restarting its middle school program.  They would have a seventh grade, but no eighth grade.  I made the decision to return to Challenger as part of the seventh grade class because each of the subjects except math would still be ahead of what I had learned the previous year at Midvale.  For math, I was given an Algebra II book, and I mostly taught myself.  If I had questions, I would ask my mom, and she did her best to help me.  There was no one at the school, though, who taught Algebra II.

In ninth grade, I had no option but to return to public school.  This time I decided to attend Crescent View.  I had an enjoyable year and got good grades.  I also began to make some friends and enjoy the social situations.  I went to Alta High School where I participated in the music programs.  I was in the Madrigal and A Cappela choirs as well as the Jazz band.  I took several AP and honors classes, and I got pretty good grades.  However, I did not work as hd as I could have.  I could have easily earned a 4.0, but at this point in my life, it just wasn't important to me.

For college, I decided to go to Utah State University to study music therapy.  The subject seemed like a great way to combine my love of music with helping people.  When I got to USU, though, I discovered I did not enjoy my music classes, because they turned my favorite thing into work.  Additionally, the music therapy program seemed full of people who weren't quite talented enough to make it into the vocal performance or piano performance majors.  I again made a bad subconscious choice, this time to quit trying to succeed in college.  I began missing classes on a regular basis, generally attending only the rehearsals for the choirs I was in.  I got F's and incompletes in most of my classes for two semesters.  I came home for the summer an decided to try to major in English.  However, my next semester at USU was just as unfruitful.  I ended up dropping my classes and moving home before the semester even ended.

A few months after moving home, I decided to post a profile of myself on a dating site,  I didn't want to pay to post the profile, so I did not include a picture.  I had posted the profile out of boredom and mostly forgot it was there.  After a few weeks, though, I got an e-mail from a very nice-sounding guy who essentially told me that he was perfect for me.  He said he had read my profile and that he fit my description of the perfect guy, except that he was not musically talented.  We communicated for a few days through instant messaging, and then we decided we should go on an actual date.  One week after meeting online, we met in person.  One week after that, we were engaged.

Kirk and I got married on August 10, 2001.  Our first year of marriage seemed very easy.  We adjusted to living with each other without too much trouble, although we rarely got to see each other because I was very busy with work and teaching piano, and he was very busy with work and school.  Although I had always wanted to wait a year after marriage before having kids, when I got married I suddenly had a very strong desire to have a baby.  I stopped taking birth control and expected to be pregnant within a few months.  That is how it had happened for most of my friends.  It didn't work that way for us, though.

In December of 2002, we got a dog named Sam.  I had begged my husband since we had gotten married to let me get a dog.  I think he could tell that since we still didn't have a baby, I really needed something to give my affection to.  Then in January, we found out that I was pregnant.  We had been trying for so long, and we were so excited, so we told every one we knew.  We probably told a few people we didn't know.  In March, I had a miscarriage.  For weeks, I had to endure people telling me "it was probably for the best," and that I would "get another chance."  Then for months after that, I would run into people who hadn't heard who would tell me I was way too skinny to be pregnant.

In May, Kirk went in for some routine knee surgery and came out with a Staph infection.  After two separate hospital stays, we ended up moving in with Kirk's parents because I could not take care of him alone.  Kirk couldn't even get out of bed without my help for about a month.  During this time, he had an IV in his arm.  In addition to all the medicine he needed to receive, the bag had to be changed twice daily, and I had to give him shots in his stomach at regular intervals.  Kirk became depressed at his loss of mobility.  I was still depressed from the loss of the baby.  After about 6 weeks, he was able to go back to work, but he was still not really able to bend his leg.  In addition to all the emotional stress, we also had a huge amount of medical bills piling up.

Kirk and I had always been able to communicate effectively, and it had kept our marriage very strong up to this point.  However, Kirk started to hold in his emotions about his injury because he could tell I was very upset about the baby.  I didn't want to talk to Kirk about the baby, because he was so emotionally laden due to his injury.  Added to the strain of living with Kirk's parents after having been so independent, our communication issues started to have a huge toll on our relationship.  I started spending more and more time away from the house, immersing myself in rehearsals for shows and spending time with my friends.  I felt guilty for not being there for Kirk, but my guilt just drove me further away.

Things finally came to a boiling point after about 6 months of steady decline.  Kirk and I were able to acknowledge our individual and joint issues and begin talking about them again.  I went to counseling for a few months to get some help sorting out the emotions I was feeling.  A few months later, we were able to buy our own house again, which helped in more ways than one.  It has helped emotionally to provide a place that is just ours.  It has also helped Kirk's knee to improve because there is a lot of yard work to be done.  Our relationship is now stronger that it ever was, and we have learned the important lesson that there is nothing more crucial in a relationship than communication.

After having such a difficult time in 2003, Kirk and I decided that we were going to ave a good 2004.  We felt we really deserved it.  I know you can't actually plan those things, but so far the year has been great.  We love our house (and the second dog we got shortly after the house), we are becoming more financially stable, and I am six months pregnant.  We have been married for over three years, and having endured what we had endured, I am certain we will be married for many more.