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Back to the Future

I rarely respond to writing prompts, mainly because I know what I’m planning to write about without needing a poke in a new direction, but today I saw one that caught my eye. So here we are.

Here. (Not over there.)

If you had a chance to know what the future held, would you take it?

The world holds so many choices for asking people what the future holds. Tarot readings, palmistry, numerology, astrology, divination in general, psychic mediums. Whether or not they work is anyone’s guess. However, I can’t say I would want to know. Given the choice, I would take the surprises.

No matter what you believe happens in the afterlife or even if said afterlife exists, all we know for sure is that we’re here now. (Okay, some might want to debate that point, but I’m not trying to go more philosophical than I have to.) The last thing I want to spend this one, short life doing is worrying about what is going to come next. Seeing every bad or good thing lurking down the road, inevitable. I don’t like inevitability. I’ve resigned myself to the inevitability that I will die, but I don’t want to know when it’s going to happen.

My grandfather is about to pass away. He’s 83, and has already lived longer than any other man in our family. He survived a stroke and made almost a full recovery. He then got a kidney infection a couple months ago. They eradicated the infection, but now it’s back, and he’s made the choice that he wants to spend his remaining days at home, with no meds that make him sick, in the company of people who love him. He’s made his goodbyes. While none of that is easy, if I could imagine the best way to leave this earth, that’s how it would be. After living a long, full life, surrounded by family.

That’s why I don’t want to know what’s coming. Most people don’t get that kind of end. Many never get the chance to say goodbye, to come to terms with death. To look it in the eyes and take its hand willingly. I don’t want to spend my life worrying about what good will pass me by or what bad might strike. I want to work hard, live this life as well as I can, and push myself to achieve the dreams I have. I believe that if I do that, I will get where I need to be. If I tell everyone I love them now, share myself with loved ones, and treat others with dignity, I won’t leave unanswered questions when I go if it happens to be sudden.

So why wouldn’t I want to know the future? I like the present. The future will come. Time is inexorable. It moves whether you want it to or not. I can deal with whatever comes when it comes. Until then, I will love as well as possible and greet each dawn with hope and determination to keep moving forward.

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The Loved, the Lorn, and the Puffy Chairs

Today I watched a movie.  My boyfriend and I actually started it last night, but we were both sleepy and — let’s face it — a wee bit drunk, so we stopped.  I finished it tonight, and I’m going to attempt to review it here, with some interspersed reflections based on the novel I’m reading by someone in one of my writing groups which has a similar theme.

The movie is called The Puffy Chair. My first assessment?  It was remarkably painful to watch.  First of all, the female lead’s name is Emily, and she proved in the first 15 minutes that she was exactly the kind of girlfriend I don’t want to be.  Next, her boyfriend Josh proved to be the kind of boyfriend I don’t want.  And Rhett, the other main character, proved to be the only redeeming person for me, even though in one particular scene (actually two) I sort of wanted to aim an Uzi at his head.

I think the film had several good qualities.  It portrayed a somewhat believable relationship between an insecure woman who was looking for a commitment and a self-absorbed, passive-aggressive man who really wasn’t.  Neither of them were able to successfully communicate anything without it turning into a snit or an argument, which I’ve seen in many relationships, so that part was believable.  I couldn’t figure out if Emily was just really, really fed up with Josh’s indifference or if she was just really high-maintenance and moody, as one reviewer described her.  Either way, I was ashamed when I saw myself reflected in her at all, which I’ll admit happened a couple of times, and I really never want to turn into what I saw there.

To her defense, Josh was entirely incapable of discussing anything serious with anyone, let alone his girlfriend, who he calls “dude” throughout the entire movie — a not so subtle insight into the depth of his emotion.  When she asks why he loves her, he can’t think of a single reason outside of her sexy bits (literally — he changes the subject by grabbing her hoohah).  Granted, her reaction to his silence is a bit melodramatic, but even so, it shows the dysfunction there.  Later on when his brother Rhett calls him out on a pretty despicable action he took, he again gets defensive and nasty.

All in all, I found it really hard to sympathize with any of the characters.  They were all completely wrapped up in themselves.  They wanted what they wanted when they said they wanted it, and if they didn’t get it, the world ended.  I’d give it a C.  Maybe even a C-.

I don’t really like dwelling on dysfunctional relationships, but I volunteered to read a book penned by a fellow writer in which the protagonist is an adulterer, and I just read the first six chapters of her rationalizing her affair, which depressed me.  Especially after watching that movie.

After watching the movie and reading that book, I got the overwhelming urge to be the best girlfriend ever.  I also reflected on my own relationship and came to the conclusion that I am intensely fortunate to have found someone like John, and that despite the similarities between our names and that movie’s characters’ names, we are so not them.

I am so happy with him that it sometimes makes me bubble right off the ground.  Which is glorious.  So in regards to the title of this blog?  I’m that first one.  I’m not lorn — love, for, or otherwise — and I’m decidedly not a puffy chair.  I’m loved by an extraordinary man.

Take that, cynical world.

we are beggars all.

Today I have been listening to and thinking about this song, the lyrics of which will be interspersed through this post.  The song is called “The Weight,” and it’s by the band Thrice.  My boyfriend brought it up the night he gave me my magic wand, and though I couldn’t think of how it went right then, I had heard it before and was taken in by it.  I honestly think I have never heard a truer expression of what true love is, and I am deeply touched thinking about it.

There’s many who’ll tell you they’ll give you their love,
But when they say “give” they mean “take”.
They hang ‘round just like vultures ’til push comes to shove
And take flight when the earth starts to shake.

Someone may say that they’ll always be true
Then slip out the door ‘fore the dawn,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

Another may stay ’til they find someone new
Then before you know they’ll be gone,
But I won’t leave you hanging on.

No, I won’t won’t be that someone.

This will likely be a very candid blog — not that I am ever anything else, but you know.  Just a disclaimer.  I have often felt like a beggar.  In many ways, my life has been that of a vagabond or a drifter.  I’ve moved 33 times in 25 years.  I have gotten where I am today because of intensely hard work and because of the help and charity of others.  I use the word charity not to imply a sense of pity, but in the almost spiritual sense of giving out of the need to pass on the blessings one has been given.  More about the act of giving than the perception of need implicit in the receiving end of such a gift.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

Some talk of destiny, others of fate,
But soon they’ll be saying goodbye,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

‘Cause a ring don’t mean nothing if you can’t haul the weight
And some of them won’t even try,
But I won’t leave you high and dry.

I won’t leave you wondering why.

In love as well I have often felt the beggar.  I have often felt myself unworthy of real love — I have been tossed aside often enough that I am supremely unused to having anyone stand by me.  I have always been at the whim of others’ convenience — there when it suited them and cast off when it stopped being convenient for them.  I think because of this, I don’t understand why anyone would want me when I am the mess that I am.

And come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

And storms will surely come,
But true love is a choice you must make and you are the one.
That I have set my heart to choose
As long as I live, I swear I’ll see this through.

I spent quite a long time waiting for my current boyfriend.  We knew each other for a year and a half before we started our official relationship, and I won’t pretend that some of that time wasn’t incredibly difficult for me.  I still wrestle with the idea that I’m either not enough or too much or both at the same time.  I think everyone feels that way sometimes, but I have it honed to a fine art.  Which is why I think that this Thrice song is such a resonant depiction for me.  I’m not used to a love like this.  As one of my favorite gods said in one of my favorite books (by David Eddings), “Thou wilt warily give love, but you must also learn to accept it.”  I’ve never known a love like this, but come what may, I will see it through.  In the words of another, newer favorite song, I’ve got nothing left to lose.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and I see no end.

Come what may, I won’t abandon you or leave you behind,
Because love is a loyalty sworn, not a burning for a moment.
Come what may, I will be standing right here by your side,
I won’t run away, though the storm’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight.

In other news, my beloved city of Nashville, Tennessee is under water.  If you haven’t heard about it, the Cumberland and Harpeth rivers that both run through and around Nashville gained about 26+ feet over the weekend, causing catastrophic flooding and billions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses.  I-24 became a raging river, and the water was forceful and deep enough to detach homes from foundations and even sent a modular school building floating down the interstate.

One of my closest friends had to be emergency evacuated from her apartment — she’s very lucky, and it turns out the water only got ankle deep and her car even still works, but thousands of others were not so lucky.  My old boss had to sit and watch from his home as a man was stranded up a tree in his Forest Hills neighborhood — Tom couldn’t get to him as there was fast moving water that was far too dangerous to move through, and I’m told the man was stranded there for at least 20 hours in the pouring rain.  There are thousands of other stories like these.  I’m dismayed and disappointed that the national media is paying only cursory attention to this disaster.  Almost 30 people have died so far, and countless others are without power, clean water, and homes.  If you are at all able, please text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the relief efforts.

I only lived in Nashville for a year, but it is a truly lovely city full of warm and inviting people.  To see loved ones and colleagues entrapped in this disaster and also being nationally ignored is heartbreaking, and I wish I could do more to help.  I don’t get a ton of views on this blog, but hopefully enough people will read this and be moved enough to spare $10.  If enough people do it, it really does make a difference.

Please help.  We are beggars all.

❤  Emmie

issues

i can tell right now that this is gonna be a toughie.  i can also tell that i need to do it, if nothing else for my own clarity and peace of mind, which is something i sorely lack right now.

i have some serious issues.

the one causing me the most pain…actually, anguish…is the fact that i am so used to feeling like a burden to those around me that i am absolutely terrified to ask for what i need, because i feel like it will be treated as something superfluous and worthless.  i find myself falling all over myself to be thankful for things that should just be normal human kindness…which on one hand means i don’t take things for granted, but on the other hand means i truly expect people to treat me badly and like i don’t matter.

today was by far the worst day of my teaching career.  one, i’m a first year teacher.  two, i’m a first year special education teacher. three, i have virtually no training in the field of special education.  four, i’m taking ten credits this semester in grad school.  five…my mom landed in the ER last thursday and i had a truly terrifying weekend wondering if she was going to be okay.

i woke up this morning to the sound of mourning doves.  for some reason, that sound is absolutely chilling to me.  like the idea of someone walking over my grave.  in the quiet of the pre-dawn, it sort of scared the bejeezus out of me.  i felt like crap, but i pried my butt out of bed and went to work anyway, because i had an IEP meeting to run at 9.  so i went to work, fixed a few things on the IEP, and then spent 45 minutes frantically running around when i realized that the principals had commandeered my instructional aide, and there would be no one to cover my class.

i was able to get it sorted out at 8:55 am, and i ran downstairs to the office for the meeting…and promptly got yelled at for the IEP not being perfect, then because i had totally dropped the ball and completely forgotten to get a general educator and social worker there.  this meeting was scheduled thursday…and a few hours later, my mom landed in the ER, leaving me more than a little preoccupied for the next four days.  i then spent 40 minutes running around trying to get these people to come, only to run into a social worker and start crying in front of a student who hates me and once threw a desk at me.  awesome.  add humiliation to the list, as if getting yelled at in front of a bunch of colleagues in the special ed office wasn’t enough.

i ran the meeting okay and was able to survive it…mainly due to the fact that i apologized profusely to the kid’s mom and explained what had happened to my mom and why my brain was not in work mode at all, and she was so sweet and understanding that i wanted to yell, “take that” to the coordinator and stomp out.

i spent the rest of the day trying to get ahead of my IEPs for the next couple months, mainly due to the fact that i don’t have assigned inclusion classes yet, two days into the semester.  i was literally on my way out the door ten minutes after teacher day ends, and got paged back to the special ed office to do something i wasn’t aware i had to do…mainly because the coordinator has done it for every single other IEP i’ve had this year.  i was coughing up a storm and sweating profusely and feeling ten times shittier than i did when i woke up…but i stayed and did it anyway.  i seriously do not know what to do with myself.  the second i got into my car, i burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying for a half an hour.

i’ve only been home for about two hours now, and i still feel absolutely like crap.  i spent a half hour on the phone with one of my best friends, and i just…wish i could make some sense out of the way my brain works.  because in addition to the way i feel about work today, i also have had some other, more personal things crop up that have left me feeling rather rejected and lonely.  the worst thing is, i am pretty sure it’s all in my head.

and once again, it’s because i’m terrified to ask for what i want.  in the past, my needs have been treated like garbage — utterly unworthy of being fulfilled.  how i felt has been invalidated.  and now that has left me feeling like my every breath somehow burdens those around me.

wow that sounded suicidal.  don’t worry; no thoughts of that in this noggin.  seriously.  life sucks right now, but i do think it will get better again.

regardless of how emo i sound, it’s still rather true.  i feel that in asking for what i want, i’m merely sticking out my neck so someone can use it as a stepping stone to get what they want from me.  which i recognize as a totally skewed way of looking at the world; it’s just so deeply ingrained in me from past experience that i honestly don’t know how to confront it.  i suppose the first step is actively recognizing it?

maybe the second part is reaching out and asking for what i need.

i’ve always been very independent; just ask my mom.  i think that’s another reason i am afraid to express my needs and feelings when i think it might inconvenience someone — i’m afraid it makes me weak in some way.  doesn’t matter.  i still need to find a way to do it, or i will spend my life resenting when i don’t get what i need.

saying that reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite movies…also incidentally one of the handful of chick flicks i can a: tolerate and b: enjoy.  it’s from sliding doors, and it goes like this:  “gerry, i’m a woman.  we don’t ask for what we want.  but we reserve the right to be pissed off if we don’t get it.  that’s what makes us so fascinating…and not a little bit scary.”

epiphany moment.

i so do not want to be that.

i’m all for the mystique of the feminine (i inverted that because if you have read the book, you’ll know that the feminine mystique isn’t really all that exotic; it’s actually a soul-killing symptom of a wider problem).  but i want to take the mystery out of what i need.  relationships shouldn’t have to be an elephant dance ; they should be more like a ballet — when you take that leap, you should know you your partner’s going to catch you.

deep down in my heart of hearts (sorry, corny), i know that’s what i have.  a partner who will catch me.  someone who will pick up the pieces that others have left in ruin and help me put them back together.  it’s getting that thought strong enough to conquer the combined voices of past experience that’s the tough bit.

days like today, when everything on earth seems to go wrong, it’s even harder.  i guess at the end of a day like to day, i have to somehow come to a peaceful spot and let my thoughts swirl around like a tempest until i find the eye of the storm where all is still and i can see clearly again.

maybe my issues will get more resolved after all.

holidays

holidays.  high holy days.  whatever that happens to mean to you.

sorry i’ve been absent.  i’ve been busy being in love.

yes, i meant to write that.  it happens, i suppose.  love is an easy thing to be caught up in.  especially when you never expected to find it for real or be allowed to touch it.  it all started a year and a half ago.  to make a long story a wee bit shorter, i (and he) knew from the beginning where we should go when we met.  but we couldn’t then, and we couldn’t for a very long time.  i couldn’t help waiting though.  i had to know what would happen.

so for the past six months, we’ve been finding out the “what next” after we got our chance.  and for the past two months, we’ve been together, in the official sense of things.

i never thought i’d have this chance again…and i certainly didn’t expect to ever find love that wasn’t the unrequited variety.  and yet.  here i am.  how lovely and odd.

needless to say, i’m really very happy.  i wrote something a couple posts back about how it’s one thing to be tolerated and something else entirely to be enjoyed.  appreciated.  i’ve never had a relationship where my quirks and idiosyncrasies were valued rather than merely put up with.  and it’s not as if we’re in the realm of rose colored glasses — this is also new territory for me because we’ve known each other for a year and a half.  and i’m finding that i simply enjoy him.

i’m finding that after a year and a half of wondering, hoping, waiting, nail-biting, pacing, laughing, soaring, head-scratching — i’m finding that after all that, his cogs and my cogs fit together still and simply turn.  clockwork.

when i’m with him, i’m more me than i’ve ever been able to be with anyone.  no pretentiousness or hiding.  and he’s who he is.  and that’s what i love about us.  that we’re two whole people building something more.

i was talking to a friend today who is also very happily ensconced in love.  we decided that there are few better feelings than falling for a good, good man.  especially when there have been so many bad ones before.

so this holiday season i am celebrating life.  i’m celebrating the changes that have brought me to dc and teaching my children to the best of my ability.  celebrating love and good friends and the changing of the seasons.  being grateful for what i have and the ability to share.  wishing i could do more for this world.

2009 is winding to a close.  when it began, i looked it in the face and said, “you’re going to be a fantastic year to put 2008 to shame.”  i wasn’t wrong.  i’ve found so many things this year.  a place in this country i can call home, which i never thought would happen.  a job i can do well that makes a difference.  one of my students called me on thanksgiving to say hello — made my night.  said job also gives me approximately 3 months per year of time i can write and pursue those things close to my heart.  by the end of this i will be financially stable for the first time ever.  i’ve found love, in more ways than one.  i may be busy and stressed, but i’m building a good life for myself here.  and i cannot wait to see where it goes.

happy holidays, whatever you celebrate.

may your days this winter be full of warmth, joy, and peace.

love.
emmie

meet the monster

chaos and noise.

that’s what i hear right now.  in my mind, there’s a strange hush.  i can’t quite call it silence — there’s a buzz there i can’t quite distinguish.  regardless, i know what it’s saying to me.

i just finished reading a book called crank, by ellen hopkins.  written in a series of poems in a variety of styles, it’s a novel about

meth                            addiction

love                                          falling

rape                              regret                                   resentment

family                           loss

drugs

self

and a myriad of other things.

kristina is an a student — friendly, well-adjusted, well-liked, pretty, somewhat shy, somewhat unsure of herself, virginal.

bree is a blaze — brave, strong-willed, stubborn, assertive (sometimes aggressive), flirtatious, carefree, confident….addicted.

they are the same body — though hardly the same person.

kristina finds bree the summer she meets the monster.  she’s introduced to it by

her father                                 a golden-eyed boy

the desire to break free

in a span of months, the monster devours her.  the monster is meth.

meth (crank, crystal, ice, glass, jib, the monster) is a nervous system stimulant drug.   in case you’re wondering what’s in it, it contains alkali metal, ammonia, metallic lithium (from batteries), metallic sodium, and other materials generally considered to be poison.

it induces euphoria, supreme sensory overload, etc.

reading this book was a bit intense.  especially because i read the dedication after i read the book.  it was dedicated to anyone whose life has been touched by the monster.  and i realized something rather profound (at least to me).

that includes me.

most people don’t know that my dad is a meth head.  it’s not something i knew for a long time, until he confessed that dealing and possession of methamphetamine were what was behind a lot of the jail time he’s done.  there was also the realization that, under ever-so-slightly-different circumstances, i very well could have been kristina/bree.  in my podunk montana town, i used alcohol to rebel.  you know, get drunk and see how fast  you can drive.  stuff like that.  if i’d visited my dad during that year and a half or so where i really tore loose, who knows what i would have done?

it gave me chills, just how much i related to this girl feeling like she had dual lives.  kristina on one end.  bree on the other.  while i myself can’t dredge up a name from the depths of my being to describe that other part of me, i know she’s there.  in the book, bree is the one i admire in a lot of ways.  aside from her addiction to drugs, she’s a lot more self-assured, a lot more carpe diem, a lot more immediate than kristina.  i think in my life i’ve managed to find a balance between those parts of me.  being introduced to hardcore drugs very well could have tipped the scales.

i saw myself in her many times, getting into bad situations that turned worse.  while i have not made nearly the number of very bad choices that this young lady did, looking back on my life, i can see just how precariously i perched on the fence at times.  oddly, most of the people i know would never see that side of me.

at the end of the day, i wonder who my bree is and just how much of me she makes up.  i don’t think it’s a coincidence that the name “bree” shares three letters with “free.”  in crank, her freedom is an illusion.  she doesn’t see the chains the monster has slung about her, tied her down, stolen from her and left her raw.  i’ve managed to find a freedom that is more realistic than that, managed to find an immediacy and a sensuality in my life that is not brought about by chemicals.  i think i’ve done a decent job at letting her run.  bree is untamed.  bree refuses to be tame.  in my life, in so many ways, i was shackled for so long.  i’m just glad it wasn’t the monster who unsnapped those shackles to replace with his own.

this kristina wasn’t so lucky.

luck, be a lady tonight

i honestly have no idea why i opened this blog.  hm.  possibly to open the floodgates of my current stream of consciousness?  could be.  could be.

aha.  i remember the first little spark i wanted to fan into a blazing flame (i’m cooooold, goddamn it).  i feel lucky.  it was something rather simple that triggered it, something that, to many people, might seem a bit odd.  “i love that you love zombie movies.”

but really, that simple statement was really quite touching.  to know and be known.  not just accepted, but enjoyed.  i’ve had it before in other senses.  friendish senses.  but not this way, and for that i feel as though i’m holding something rather shiny and pretty in my hands, and i can’t stop staring at it and marveling at how it got there.

so there’s that.  i also feel rather…odd.  not-quite-gone-with-the-grain.  i feel like that little whorl in a bit of wood that has a small eddy around it.

i keep thinking i know what to write tonight, but then i realize i really don’t.

what i’m thinking about right now is starlight.  it’s this soft silvery color, like strands of webbing that pulse with a quiet glow.  when i was younger, i got on this kick where i had to find out everything i could about astral projection.  all i wanted was to be able to leave my body so i could go explore the stars.  see the colors in the nebulae.  all of that.  i don’t know if astral projection is actually possible or not; all i know is that my goal was way out in space.

even though i don’t have a set path, i do know that i want to write something.

i truly love fall.  every year about this time, i seem to get a new lease on life.  the wiccan calendar ends at halloween.  samhain is the pagan new year.  in a lot of ways, that has always rather made sense to me.  it’s the death of all the growth of the year; trees turn, plants go dormant, animals hibernate, i wear fuzzy sweaters and drink excessive amounts of tea.  maybe that’s why halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  the new year is reborn from the  old, sort of like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a fiery death.

but really.  fall is awesome.  sweaters.  cuddles.  jackets.  leaves.  crisp air.  halloween.  pumpkins.  candles.  warm smells.

so tonight i feel thankful.  i feel lucky for having all of the above.  what a glorious thing.  couple thoughts for tonight:

we accept the love we think we deserve.

everyone is trying to be more or less than who they are, and it’s a violation either way.

goodnight, moon.

looking forward

i’ve just realized that i am absurdly excited about life right now.  i have a veritable smorgasbord of glory to look forward to — so of course, i decided to blog about it.  like ya do.

beyond simply being excited to get the hell out of class tonight (five hour lectures suck my arse), there is a lot in the future that’s gonna rock.

first of all, this weekend.  my friend mallory is coming to visit from denver — i haven’t seen her in well over a year, and i am so stoked to hang with her here in the great state of maryland.  (silver spring, represent)  so that’s gonna be sweet.

next weekend, albannach is comin back to the renn faire, and that’s just effing awesome.  especially because i was sick as a dog when they were here a week and a half ago, and i barely remember their set at all.  and i convinced the beautiful hannah to come with me so we can wear sexy corsets and show off our boobage, which, ya know.  is awesome.  and if i see the guy who said he’d give me penis to mouth, i’ll just grab a claymore and lob it off.  save him the trouble of trying to get it bitten.

next weekend after that, a couple friends may be coming into town (i am trying to bribe them), which would RULE…because the reason i’m trying to bribe them to come that particular weekend is cos my boyfriend’s band is gonna be playing a sold out show with far at dc9.  (yep, i said boyfriend — more on that later)  so if the dudes come from toledo, life’ll just freaking kick ass.

the weekend after that is halloween.  and there is no explanation needed for why that’s exciting.

the weekend after that, the fourth kind comes out, and i plan to go get the bejeezus scared out of me with my boyfriend.  so awesome.

then born empty’s comin to dc and also releasing their new album, the oddyssey chaoti-pop oddity.

then it’s my birthday, which i have decided will NOT suck this year.

and after my birthday comes another awesome holiday…goin to toledo for thanksgiving with le boyfriend, and that’s just going to be amazing.  so basically, the next two months are going to just kick some serious ass.  and tfa said i’d be in an emotional freefall.  psh.

sooo…back to the boyfriend thing.  basically, it’s a real long story.  if you know me, you probably know parts of it, but here’s the super-speedy nutshell version:  i met him in my living room in nashville, which also happened to be his living room.  we lived in the same house for three days, then he moved back to toledo…and i stayed in nashville.  we clicked.  four months later, i spent an amazing halloween with him in ohio.  three weeks later, i saw him at thanksgiving.  a month after that, we talked it all out.  we both ended up in dc…and now here we are.  that really doesn’t do it justice….not hardly.  but the point is that after a long 16 months of wondering if we’d ever get our chance, we finally decided to take the leap. he is, quite frankly, an amazing human being.  and i’m pretty much the luckiest woman in the world.

i have an awful lot going for me right now.  i’m gonna savor it, bask in it, and roll around in it.  so there.  🙂

the land of perpetual beginning

disclaimer!  this post was actually written on the 28th of june.  i don’t know why i never published it.  but there it is, after long last.  give it a pat on the head and welcome it to the world.

well, the first week of teach for america has drawn to a close.  tomorrow we leave for institute.  i have to admit, i am a bit sad that we’re not all going to one spot — i’m relieved for my wallet that i am going to philly, but a bit saddened that some of the people i’ve connected with most this week will be on the opposite coast this month.  i suppose there will be plenty of time to grow these friendships when I come back, but i’ve always been the type to feel apprehensive about missing out on something.

i’ve had the itch for several days now.  before your mind goes to a gutter place, rest assured that i’m only talking about the writing itch.  i was pleasantly surprised to hear it referred to as such by a fellow writer and tfa-er, who incidentally also uses the word “vomit” to describe the product of such an itch.  mmm, itchy vomit.  word vomit.  gotta love it.  so behold my word vomit.

this week has been quite the whirlwind.  i’ve learned a surprising amount about myself that i feel a bit sheepish for only now coming to terms with.  sunday last week, when i was trying frantically to read several hundred pages of material that most corps members who escaped the waitlist period had weeks or months to get through, i had a few moments of what can only be described as panic.  okay, maybe not panic, but definite anxiety.  okay, maybe panic.

the panic was more about me feeling that i would be unprepared.  at my final interview, i found out that all the other applicants had had access to workshops, recruitment teams (i didn’t even know TFA recruited at all at that point), and any number of preparation resources that i had never heard mention of.  nary a blip on the emily radar.  i felt vastly at a disadvantage.  oddly, i may have been the only one in that room to get in, if you look at the statistics.  but that’s a digression, and i do enough of those anyway.

obviously i didn’t run away screaming — i got through the week.  and i learned a lot.  that may sound silly, but it’s really rather true.  i realized a lot of things about myself that i didn’t really recognize on a conscious level much before.  one of those things is that i think i am a walking paradox.  in many ways, i am an open book.  i’m very open with my experiences, my thoughts — i’ll tell you anything and everything, to the extent that i’m sure i tmi the unwary.  but when something is very precious to me, i keep it private.  this usually goes for my deepest emotions and the things closest to my heart.  i might let people see the box i keep them in, but only one or two very privileged people might get to see what’s inside, and that’s only when i feel okay showing them.

the second part of this is that i am intensely independent.  i’ve always known that, but i don’t think i realized before this week just how nervous i am to express my needs.  i think that’s because i’m afraid they won’t be met, which is really rather stupid, if i do say so myself.  and since i’m talking about me, i’ll say it:  it’s dumb.  i am a very independent person.  and it takes a lot for someone to get close enough to me for me to get to the point that i would turn to them in the relatively rare moments when i muster up the courage to say i need something.  there aren’t many people in that space in my mind — i’m pretty choosy about it, and for good reason.  i’ve found this week that this is something very central to who i am and how i take care of myself.  conversely, i think i feel empowered and grateful when someone turns to me for help.  i forget that maybe others could feel that way as well when i turn to them — as human beings (maybe more even in america than in some places), we often pride ourselves on our self-reliance.  to express need, to ask for help in a moment of sincere necessity, is, quite frankly, really fucking hard. so when someone makes themself vulnerable that way, i know that i value that trust they show by coming to me with what they need.

i learned a lot of other things, but those were the two biggies in the introspection realm.  i’ve got a helter-skelter of emotions about leaving dc for philly for institute.  when it comes to the work itself, i’m very excited to dig in and get moving.  i am however, in a place where i yearn to have my own home and feel stabilized.  i want the freedom to build my life here uninterrupted.  it’s only a few short weeks away, but any real apprehension i feel about going to philadelphia is pretty much only due to that.  my life has been in such a state of flux that at this point, you could tell me to go to timbuktu and i would probably just nod, rub my eyes, and start throwing stuff in a suitcase.  dunno what i’d do when i got there, but i’m really ready to get settled and feel at home.

on top of all that, i met some really great people this week.  i’m excited to get to know them better over the course of the next couple years.  i’ve had some definite information overload, which is probably why this has been more introspection than regurgitation of what i’ve learned about teaching this week.  but here is something about tfa before i wrap up.

it’s 3:21, and i’m awake.  there’s nothing new about that for me.  my mind’s a busy place, and it seems to thrive most in its natural habitat between 9 pm and about 3 am.  the thought of the effort — swiftly approaching — that it will take to modify that flits through my brain and is immediately displaced by the whirlwind of thoughts that preceded it.

this week is drawing to a close.  five-ish days ago, i met 271 corps members and 30-some-odd staff who will be intimately tied to my life for the duration of the next two years.  already, my memories spark to life at the thought of these people.  many of them would most likely have skimmed by outside of my radar were it not for one basic fact:  we all share an urgent passion and a burning conviction.  this conviction is twofold:  first, that every child in this country deserves the opportunity afforded by receiving an excellent education; and second, that a staggering number of our nation’s children face a shameful and glaring disparity between the quality of education they receive and the excellence they deserve.  it’s that conviction that has brought us here to dc to try and fix it.

i know i have a lot to learn before i will be able to fix it — i’m not an excellent teacher yet.  that takes time, effort, and a lot of work.  but i’m going into this with the expectation of myself to do the work necessary to become an excellent teacher, so i can give the children who are about to become my responsibility the education they deserve.  and what is about to start a mere 26 hours from now (not kidding) is the framework that will give me the tools to do this work.  and that is exciting to me.

i know that’s all pretty vague, but it’s 3:35 am now, and i’ve been writing this for about an hour.  but here i am, starting something new again.  new city (for a month), new training, new people (more of them), new job, new home (in august), new school, new classes (both to teach and to sit in).  so many new things coming my way.  i’m grateful for all of it, of course, but as i sit here and look forward, i can’t help but silently whisper to dc to keep my place for me here, because as grateful as i am for the new things coming my way, it’s the familiar and fond i turn to at the end of the day.

take the leap

i’ve been meaning to post for a week now.  i’ve had an extreme amount of stuff on my mind in the past seven days, and i’ve had a lot of need to get it written out into some semblance of release, but i haven’t had the will.  i wrote some on paper, and that helped the most pressing need of my itchy fingers, but not all of it.  i’ve been thinking of a great deal of things.  this week has been one of upheaval, confusion, pain, and worry.  a couple themes have come through to me, and those are the ones i am going to try to write about today.  so here goes.

recognizing value
this is something i try to do all the time.  my favorite vampire slayer likes to say, “seize the moment.  cos tomorrow, you might be dead.”  or, as one of my favorite movies reiterates, “carpe the diem, man.  seize the….carp.”  if you don’t seize that carp, it’s gonna slither away, and you’ll never get it back.

this is something that has been on my mind for months now.  and that is that life is short.  at best, i’ve got about three-quarters of my life left.  time slips away, it slips away so quickly.  days roll into months, which turn into years, and before you know it, you’re looking back on a decade wondering how you got here.  apart from that, we never know what will happen.  a thousand times a thousand things could happen to truncate our already fleeting existence.  it’s weeks like this when i am reminded of the lessons learned by our mortality.  my mom landed in the hospital this week with a couple very serious conditions — a blood clot in her leg and 16 pulmonary embolisms (a fancy doctor way of saying that her the arteries in her lungs are blocked partially).  she didn’t get admitted, but she will be monitored very closely.  her health has been deteriorating for a while now, and it worries me that they didn’t catch this when they did.  she went to the ER a few months ago as well, and they didn’t catch this blood clot then.  my mom isn’t yet sixty.

my friend’s dad got in an accident, as well.  ended up in the hospital with a possible collapsed lung and internal bleeding.  two things, and they serve to remind me of how precious and fragile our time here is.  we can’t take a single breath for granted here.  as i sit and listen to the pounding of my heart, beating so quickly lately from all the stress, it is a reminder that i’m still here.  i’m still alive.

i try to live every day knowing that my time here is short.  i moved to dc because i had to do it for me.  for my own well-being, my own life.  and the things i am doing here are things that i will look back years from now and be glad for.  some situations are difficult for me right now, but i never want to look back and feel like i didn’t try my hardest.  there comes a time when that’s all you can do.  and then you just have to see what happens.

which brings me to the second theme of this week.

timing
i’ve heard a lot of people talk about timing, as if it were a separate being in and of itself.  when i look back over the events of the last several months, i can categorize the timing of events in a lot of different ways.  but at the end of the day, this is what i think:  there will never be such a thing of perfect timing.  our lives just keep moving.  time keeps going, and it waits for no one.  there will be ups and downs, obstacles and challenges no matter how good or bad the timing feels.

a for instance is my move here.  it might have been more prudent for me to move later rather than sooner, especially financially.  that said, if i had planned to move in mid-june instead of mid-may, my car would have still died the first week in may, and i would have been pretty royally screwed.  as it was, i landed here, with a place to stay and ended up getting the job i had been hoping for for months.  it was a gamble moving here; it was a big fucking risk.  and yeah, the timing’s not perfect.  i have a whole hell of a lot to do in not very much time, and i’ve spent a lot of the last week feeling distinctly overwhelmed, but i’m glad i took that leap.

there is a much more personal side of this theme that i can’t bring myself to line out here in detail, but my thoughts still hold, however vague this paragraph will sound.  after a year has gone by and countless hours of thinking, wondering, hoping have passed, i’m here.  life will always be full of complications and interruptions.  if we go through life always looking for reasons not to jump, not to take the leap, they’ll be there.  there will always be reasons not to.  i’ve thought a lot about the season finale of how i met your mother, which is where i got my phrasing — it’s called “take the leap.”  marshall spends a good part of the episode perched on the concrete firmament on the building’s roof, trying to jump to the next building over.  he has a lot of reasons not to.  he could fall several stories — that’s probably the biggest one.  but in the end, they all do it.  they all jump.  one of the other key lines is that life never takes you where you think it will.  unexpected things crop up all the time.  the point is, if you want something, whether it is a canadian “suit” or to reach a garden the next building over, there comes a time when you have to take the leap.

all that said, you see, is simply to say that life, in all its twists and turns, rollercoaster days and weeks — it’s just life.  and in the end, all that means is whatever we make of it.  you can let it just happen to you and wonder why the things you want pass you by, or you can jump out on that limb and see where it takes you.

all of the risks i’ve taken in this life, not a few of them being in the last several weeks, have led me somewhere.  i might fall flat on my face.  i might end up really, really hurt.  but i’m still here.  and all the trouble, all the anxiety and worry — it’s all worth it in those moments when everything just goes still and tranquil.  when i know with perfect clarity that i am right where i am supposed to be, and when for a while everything is effortless, and i can just…rest.

so to end right back where i started, although i do feel a bit better…where do we go from here?  i know where i would like to go, but you get nowhere along the long roads in life if you can’t take the first steps.