On Teaching, Being in Love, and Losing a Friend

It’s been a loooong time since I’ve just stopped to write down my thoughts. So here they are:

  • On Teaching: No, this was not my first choice career. No, I’m not so sure I want to do this for the rest of my life. Yes, I love the kids. I also hate them sometimes. It is really hard, and really draining. I’m going to go against the grain here and say, I don’t think the problem is that teachers don’t make enough money. The real problem, for me at least, is that we have to work too damn much! I can see why people equate this into a money thing, though. According to my contract, I’m making roughly $35 per hour. BUT that would only be accurate if I was working only my contracted hours, that would be 7:45am-3:25pm Monday-Friday. The reality is that I get to school around 7:20am every day and most days I don’t leave until at least 5pm. Then I usually do at least 2 more hours of work at home. AND I usually work at least 10 hours each weekend. If you’re going to break the salary down depending on actual hours worked, then no, teachers are not paid enough. But the real issue is that we have to work too much. 175 students it too much. An hour of prep roughly 4 days per week is not enough time for grading, lesson planning, and creating instructional materials. There is not enough time for interdisciplinary collaboration or departmental planning. And, beyond all else, there is not enough time to have a life outside of school. Besides the 1.5 hours I spend communing on weekdays, I have only about 2 hours each day to myself. And I need to spend some of that time doing things like showering, eating, and cleaning my apartment. And I’m just a single person living on my own. I cannot even imagine how difficult it would be to balance the time commitments with a family or a second job. Rant over, I don’t want more pay, I want more prep time, smaller classes, and more support.
  • On Being In Love: At the beginning it was the best thing in the world, all the time. Texting was even exhilarating. And nothing annoyed me. Now, being in love is still the best thing in the world. It just sucks sometimes. I’m only human, and I can be irrational and emotional. And I can also be very rationally upset, because I’m a human and I have feelings. The most amazing thing to me is that no matter how annoyed I am at my boyfriend over text messages or lack of communication, as soon as we are together I’m suddenly reminded that he’s not actually an asshole and I really freakin’ love him. And it’s pretty great.
  • On The Loss of an Old Friend: I learned last month that one of my best friends from elementary school had tragically died in a car accident, at the age of 23. A month later, it still hits me in waves and overwhelms me with emotions. I was remembering her and our friendship and wondering how it fell apart. I had remembered being close with her all through middle school and drifting apart in high school. But digging back through my middle school yearbooks and my memories, I realized that it had been much longer since we were friends. I remember getting mad at her in middle school because she was making new friends that I didn’t like, and I was jealous. I’m still not sure if our friendship ended because of me, or because of her, or just because that was the natural progression of things. But looking back through all of the kind posts memorializing her on Facebook, I realized that I didn’t know her at all anymore. Despite growing up in the same town and going to the same high school, there were so many of her friends who I had never even heard of, despite the fact that they too went to school with us. I remember being withdrawn in high school. But I thought that I at least knew almost everyone, even if I spoke to no one. It makes me sad to think back to myself as a high school student and all the mistakes I didn’t even know I was making. I guess I always thought I would at least get the chance to see everyone again at a reunion and we would be friendly, even if we would never be friends again. And there might be some closure. But I will never see her again and I will never get the chance to really get to know her. Despite our fall out, I know the world is now missing a beautiful soul. And I am reminded that sometimes we don’t get second chances. There are some old friends we will never see again, and they may never know how much their friendship meant.

Sometimes writing is nothing more than therapy. Now I need to get back to work.

All the Things I Never Say

Do you ever do that thing where you think of everything you’re going to say, and then you just don’t? That’s my life. Although, many of these things I would never even think of saying aloud, they are true nonetheless.

 

To my boyfriend:

I love you more than I thought I would ever love anyone romantically. And that scares me.

I would marry you tomorrow, even though I know it would be a bad idea.

I’m willing to work around my schedule to see you, but I feel like you aren’t willing to do the same.

I am busier than you.

Why didn’t you invite me to <insert event or holiday here>?

How come you can’t meet up with your friends AND hand out with me?

I would call you 5 times a day if I could do it without feeling crazy. (So instead I will just call you never)

I’m afraid that you don’t love me as much as I love you. Also, you have no idea how much I love you… because I don’t want to scare you. And I wonder, maybe I don’t know how much you love me either? Can you tell me, please?

I imagine marrying you and having the cutest babies in the whole world. I have ideas for names.

I imagine my wedding…to you. But don’t worry, I’ve been imagining my wedding since way before we started dating, the only difference is the you. (P.S. our colors are orange and green and I don’t care if it looks like Halloween!)

If I could not think about babies and marriage and moving in together I would!!! But I can’t control my thoughts, so get over it! I’m not going to drag you to the alter or anything.

 

At a job interview:

Why do you want to work for us? Because I need a paycheck.

What is your classroom management strategy? I couldn’t care less that students are talking, texting, passing notes, or not paying attention.

I never wanted to be a teacher. This is my backup plan. (I don’t even say this to myself! But slightly drunk me says, “it’s the truthhhhh!” Hopefully sober me disagrees tomorrow)

 

To my parents:

Ehhhh….I pretty much tell my mom EVERYTHING (like, way too much). She knows me better than I know myself.

 

Conclusion: I guess we all have a filter for a reason, just don’t let it get in the way when it’s important. That’s what drunk-texting is for! Have a good night, and tell someone that you love them way too much! (I’m not quite intoxicated enough for that, but it sounds fun!)

Making Choices, And Owning Them

I skimmed through an article a Facebook friend shared, 15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone, and it got me thinking. When I started skimming I was expecting only the blatantly obvious, something like: you don’t owe anyone sex because they paid for dinner. But I was really struck by the items on the list that state that you don’t owe anyone an explanation of your life choices (whether that be relationships, career, appearance, etc.).

It hit me, rather suddenly, that I spend way too much time coming up with explanations. Explanations for my actions, my choices, my feelings. Some of these are explanations that I give to other people, or that I fantasize about giving to people. But most of the time I’m trying to give myself an explanation. I try to justify my feelings and my decisions, as if every little thing that I do needs to be defended.

As I’m finishing up my teacher education program and applying for my first teaching job, I’ve been trying to justify two things to myself:

1) Why do I want to work in that city? The same city that he lives in.

I’ve justified it to myself by reasoning that he’s the only one I know in this geographic area and I don’t want to be lonely. I want to have support, someone to lean on when my first year of teaching gets rough.

Sure, that’s a good reason. And maybe it’s true. At least partially. But deep down I know that I’ve made a decision, and I don’t need to explain it to anyone, least of all myself. I’m allowed to make decisions, even life-changing ones, for whatever reason I want. Or for no good reason at all.

   2) Do I want to be a teacher for the rest of my life? Is it horrible if the answer is NO?

I know so many people who are becoming teachers because they feel that it is their calling in life. They’ve wanted to become a teacher for several years, if not more. But that’s not me. It took me a long time to make this decisions. It was, admittedly, not my first choice career path. And I do see myself doing something different at some point (I will finish writing my novel someday, that is something I am certain about). But just because I don’t plan on teaching for the next fifty years, doesn’t mean that I can’t be a great teacher for however long I do it for. And I don’t need to explain that to my peers or my future boss or myself.

Sometimes in life we do things that don’t make sense and we make decisions that aren’t the most logical. I could spend the rest of my life trying to justify the choices I have made, trying to convince myself and everyone else that I was reasonable in my decision making process. But sometimes the most reasonable thing to do, is to go for what you want. Do what you need to do. Do what makes you happy. Do what you feel is right. Do it and own it and don’t apologize to anyone. Do it and don’t even think about regretting it.

Harder Than I Expected

So, my relationship has been a bit of a roller coaster lately. Last month I wrote about how I was completely, hopelessly in love, but I warned that I may feel completely different in a few weeks. And I did. I didn’t really matter that I had kind of seen it coming, it was still somehow a shock.

When I saw him a month ago it was perfect. Then, within days it was going downhill again. Communication was the culprit once again. I knew it would be a busy month for both of us and we wouldn’t be able to see each other, but I didn’t expect the texting to become so sporadic and the Skyping to become non-existent. We didn’t speak for four weeks, and it was driving me insane most of the time.

The real problem was that I thought he didn’t care at all. I thought that he didn’t even notice the lack of communication, I thought that’s how he wanted it. And when I went to see him this weekend I thought that he didn’t really want to see me. Of course, without communicating, how are you supposed to predict what someone else is thinking? That didn’t stop me from trying though.

I was half expecting to get into a heated argument and break up with him (though I knew that if that happened I would regret it instantly). I was even more afraid that he was going to break up with me. Apparently he was thinking the same thing.

I knew that we needed to talk. I didn’t know that he was itching to talk even more than me. The talking. That was hard. Way harder than I expected.

I suppose we haven’t had many serious conversations. At least none about our relationship and our needs. Nearly a year and a half into this relationship, it was way past due.

For a few moments, when the conversation shifted into serious territory, I really thought it was over. He grasped for the words he needed and panic flooded through my veins. I recoiled a few inches away from him, bracing myself. Holding my breath, and pulling at the roots of my hair, I waited for the tiniest eternity. Until he finally asked if I ever feel like our relationship is fantastic when we’re together and then when we’re apart it just gets gradually worse and worse. YES!!! That it exactly how I feel! I had no clue he felt the same way I felt. And he exhaled in relief to know that I felt as he felt. How had we both been feeling the same thing and assuming the exact opposite? How had we both been hurting and neither of us had seen it?

The conversation that followed took many unsuspecting turns, but it did not end in a break up. It did end in a better understanding of each other, which was what we needed. I finally said what I’d been thinking for far longer than I will ever admit: I need more. I need more than texting every other night and visits once a month. I need more than lukewarm feelings and endless questions. And I got what I needed, which was not – as I had expected – the promise of weekly Skype sessions and the occasional phone call. I learned what I can expect, and I learned not to jump to conclusions. I also learned that I need to be more supportive. We can both do better. We need to, if this is going to work. And I want it to work. More than I’ve ever wanted anything.

I never thought I would care so much. I never thought this would be so hard. I thought that as soon as this became too hard it would be over. But I can’t imagine it being over. And that scares me. What if I’m too in love? Is there such a thing? I’ve always been scared of being too invested, caring too much. That’s how you get hurt. That’s how you end up curled in a ball on your floor crying hysterically while a bowl of ice cream melts into a sad puddle nearby. That’s how I picture it anyway, the aftermath of a broken heart. I hope (possibly futilely) that I never know better.

Trusting My Emotions

It’s amazing how much feelings can change and shift in such a short time span. Sometimes I’m confused by my feelings. And sometimes I just can’t believe the sheer volume of my feelings.

I just re-read a blog post I wrote 6 months ago (in August) about my relationship and I had completely forgotten how strongly I felt at the time. I remember being mad at my boyfriend, but I didn’t remember how frustrated I was with our relationship as a whole. I do, however, distinctly remember how quickly those feeling thawed once I actually got to see him and speak to him (okay, it actually took several hours, but I think that’s quick considering I had been annoyed with him for weeks).

My feelings for him are always amplified when he’s around or right after he’s left. This makes me nervous. Yes, right now I am head-over-heels. But how will I feel in 3 weeks? If my feelings are so changeable, are they still real?

While my boyfriend was visiting for Valentine’s Day he mentioned how different we were. Having been on my second glass of wine, I jokingly took a great deal of offense to this. But there are many ways in which we are very different (not that there’s a problem with this, as he reminded me “opposites attract” and we always have stuff to talk/argue about). One of our biggest differences, in my opinion, is his tendency to be rational and my tendency to be emotional. It’s not that I don’t think rationally, I just think that emotions can be equally as important.

What I’m trying to get at, in far too many words, is that I place a lot of stock in my emotions. And when I’m feeling emotions that are new to me, I don’t know what to make of it.

This being the first time I’ve ever been in a relationship, I’m having lots of new feeling. Most notably, I can’t really grasp just how much I like my boyfriend. I’ve never liked anyone this much. I’ve never enjoyed spending time with anyone (including my mom!) as much as I enjoy spending time with him.

Considering that 6 months ago I felt like our relation ship was on the verge of collapse, I don’t know if I can trust my emotions. But now – and I would never tell him this – I can’t think about my future without thinking about him.

Is this how everyone feels with their first love? Does it make any difference that I’m 23 and not 16? Will I be reading this in 3 years (or 6 months!) and once again be feeling differently? Or will I still be so in love that I can hardly process it?

I don’t know. But I do know that right now I’m in love and it’s good. Really good. And I guess nothing else really matters.

7 Excuses I’ll Make For Not Blogging

Hi there.

So… it’s been a while.

Here are some excuses I have for not blogging:

1) Grad school

2) Student teaching

3) Grading papers

4) Lesson planning

5) Stress

6) PACT

7) Grad school

But really, I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to open up a word document and get typing. I often think about writing up my thoughts and posting them, but I don’t. I guess part of me thinks it’s a waste of time, and I don’t have time to waste (my YouTube history would argue otherwise). But it’s not a waste of time. Writing makes me happy. In times of stress it can be easy to push away the things that make you the happiest, even if you just end up mindlessly procrastinating.

I can’t guarantee that I’m going to start blogging regularly again (let’s be honest, it was never very regular). But in this very moment, I’m doing something that makes me happy. Maybe I’ll do it again soon.

Long Distance

Grad school has brought me many new challenges, stuff I never had to deal with as an undergrad. Most noticeably, maintaining a long distance relationship – or any relationship for that matter.

I’ve had to deal with homesickness and feeling lonely. But this feels different. I change my mind about my boyfriend on a daily basis. Granted, I wasn’t 100% happy with how our relationship went this summer. I felt like I didn’t see him enough and he felt like we saw each other all the time. It’s a little bit more complicated than that (at least to me… but then again, I never even told him that I felt like that) but that’s the easiest way to describe it.

For the first few days after I moved away I was too caught up in the excitement and nerves of starting something new. Then I started to miss him, really intensely at times. But before long I started getting annoyed. I felt (and still feel) like he wasn’t taking any initiative. He never called me, he never suggested we Skype. If we did Skype it was because I suggested it. We still texted daily, but it didn’t feel like enough. (I’m writing this all in the past tense, but really I still feel the same in many ways)

I thought that I was finally not missing him anymore. And that scared me. Because I haven’t seen him in nearly 6 weeks and if I don’t miss him then I figure that maybe I don’t love him anymore. Maybe I’ve felt ignored for too long, maybe my feelings have changed.

But then I got a voice mail from him, and the sound of his voice just made something in me crumble. And I’m right back to where I was at the very beginning: missing him.

My ever changing feelings are starting to drive me crazy. Sometimes it’s even hard to concentrate on my school work (granted, some of the readings are so boring). And sometimes (right now) I just need to get my feelings written down so that I can try to sort through them. I haven’t come to any conclusions, but I’ve organized my thoughts. And sometimes that’s all that you can do.

An Unfortunate Time to Fall Back in Love with Reading

I’ve always loved books. They are magic bound up in paper, and that’s how I think of them. A whole world can be contained in those pages, with people and lives and things that feel so real. It amazes me that those scratches on the pages can add up to something so powerful.

While I’ve always loved books, I have realized recently that I haven’t always loved reading. I certainly grew to love it in high school, when I spent all of my lunch periods in the library because I had no friends. The reading made me feel a little less lonely. But somewhere toward the end of college I lost that love.

I think I just came to think of reading as a chore. I read for class, not for fun. I often enjoyed the reading (when I actually did it instead of turning to SparkNotes), but I didn’t love it. I didn’t get lost in it.

I did occasionally read a book outside of what was required for class, but I was always doing it more because I thought that I should. I felt guilty for not reading. I was, after all, an English major and a fervent lover of books. It would take me forever to finish anything, and that was if I finished it at all. Last summer I started the first Game of Thrones novel, and it took me four months. Granted, it is a long book and I read really slowly. But four months is long for any book.

The book I just finished took me five days. And I did that while reading about five hours a day for my grad school courses. It’s strange to go from not reading at all to reading all day.

I can’t remember the last time I actually wanted to stay up late reading. But I had to make myself go to bed last night. I was mad at myself when I had to get up at 7am this morning, but it’s hard to be mad at yourself for doing something that felt so good. I finished the book tonight…instead of doing required reading. So I’m sure I’ll be mad at myself again tomorrow.

But it was just so beautiful. I cried when I finished it, not because it was sad, but because I loved it so much. I hugged the book, as if I was hugging the characters inside. (By the way, this book is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz… and it is fantastic! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes young adult fiction)

I didn’t just love the book though; I loved the process of reading it. Every second. It made me feel so many things. I got so lost in it at one point that I just looked around my room and thought for a second that it was Thursday afternoon and I should open the blinds… then I remembered that it was about 9pm on Wednesday.

This is all a problem though, because I just do not have the time to read for fun! Even reading this book for just the past five days was really irresponsible and it has put me behind. Not that I regret it, but I can’t afford to let it happen again. If I can’t read in moderation, then I can’t read at all. And the past few days have proved to me that I have even less self-restraint than I thought I had.

I’m so glad that I’ve learned to really love reading again, I just hope I can hold on to that love even as I trudge through dense texts on learning theories and schooling inequalities.

200th Blog Post… How Did THAT Happen?!

I have been blogging for four years and four months. Holy cow.

I can’t help but think of how I’m different now than I was then.

In March of 2010 I was a freshman in college, now I’m in my second week of graduate school. A few weeks ago I would have told you that I was practically a different person than that shy girl in her dorm room. But now that I’ve thrust myself into an alarmingly similar situation, I’m finding that not all that much has changed.

Back in 2010 I struggled connecting with my roommate, now I’ve been living with a girl for two weeks and I don’t know anything about her other than her name… and that she calls her boyfriends A LOT.

In 2010 I hated eating in the cafeteria alone. Four years later, I still bring my food back to my apartment and eat alone in my room with the door closed.

The first two years of college felt really transformative. And now I can feel myself changing again. It’s a little unsettling. I thought I’d figured out who I was, and now I realize that I’ve got a lot more transforming to do.

Maybe that’s what life is about: constantly changing and redefining who we are – to ourselves and to the world. I guess that’s a good thing. But it’s scary.

In my education classes we’ve been talking a lot about learning. One approach to learning (an approach I really like) is that the learning process is about the struggle. If you are content and you have no problems or confusion, then you won’t learn. Basically, if you’re struggling then you’re learning something. So I must be learning A LOT.

I’m having a really tough time adjusting. I feel really isolated and I miss everyone. And sometimes I just feel like my brain is going to explode from all of the reading. But I know that I will come out of this stronger and smarter and, eventually, happier.

 

I want to sincerely thank anyone who has read my blog over the past four years. Even though I don’t post regularly, this blog has become a place where I can come to sort through my thoughts and share my ideas. In a way, learning to open myself up to strangers has helped me to be more open with the people in my life. I know that no one could ever gain as much from my blog as I have (and continue to), but I hope that you can take something from it.

Also: I’ve given my blog a little bit of a make-over! I’m still not sure about it; I really don’t like that I can’t put widgets on the side. But change is good! Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!!!!!!

Grocery Shopping Sucks – Grad School Problems

I went shopping on Saturday and spent $60. I went again on Thursday and spend another $30. And I still feel like I have no food!

It is really hard to stay on budget shopping for one person when you literally have nothing in your kitchen. I had to buy stuff like salt, pepper, oil, mayo, mustard, and salsa – none of which can be eaten as a meal. I hate that cooking requires so many ingredients. Even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich takes three ingredients, and that’s as basic as it gets. I have the necessities to make PB&J or cheese sandwiches, pasta with marinara, rice with soy sauce, or toast. That’s about it. And it gets old so fast!

Breakfast is easy. I can eat yogurt, fruit, or cereal. All of which require no effort and are quick and reasonably affordable (my idea of a perfect meal).

Lunch and dinner are a little bit more complicated. Not only do I have to make some sort of sandwich or boil some noodles or rice, but I also feel like I need a side dish. Apparently the only side dish I can make is… carrot sticks.

So basically every single meal is a sandwich and carrot sticks. Since my tastes are about as sophisticated as your average six year old, I really kind of like this combination. But not every single day (sometimes twice a day). I’ve gotten so bored that I’ve started putting salsa on my cheese sandwiches – and I totally love it!

The other sucky thing about grocery shopping is the actual shopping! I don’t really know anyone here yet and my apartment-mate might be invisible, so I have to go alone. The first time I went it took me a solid hour. I’m a pretty introverted person, but I just don’t enjoy walking around alone for that long feeling lost and confused. Every grocery store seems to have their own way of organizing things, and none of them make sense.

I’m pretty sure this is one of those things that will get easier (and cheaper) with time. And I’m already improving: tonight I got really adventurous and had a frozen pizza… with carrot sticks.