Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Living the Dream

***Found this as a draft, written almost exactly a year ago. I guess I intended to finish it, but it bears posting as-is**

A dear friend of mine (London) worked on a fantastic theatrical piece recently, part of which addressed the value that our society places on women getting married. She wrote a satirical piece wherein a woman in her 20s announces she has gotten a fabulous new job. Her friends swarm around her, cooing and cheering and trying to get in on the action: "Is there anything I can do to help?" "OH! Can I be your office BFF?!" "How are you going to decorate your desk?!" etc. etc. It is a beautiful comparison to the reaction women get when they announce an engagement (or, I would imagine, a pregnancy-- though most of my friends are at the "getting married" point, not yet at the "offspring" point). It is not, however, representative of how people respond when a woman gets a job-- even a job she really wants.

That's what makes this also delightful.

Two weeks ago, I started teaching. Like, actual classes of middle school students. Like, I am responsible for their social studies education for the next 9 months. No pressure. It is a joy and delight and a little bit panic-inducing. So far, I love it. This is something I have dreamed about for a couple of decades (just ask my poor younger siblings who had to sit through lessons taught by 10-year-old me) and worked on for a few years now. It's the fulfillment of a dream.

And my friends know that. Now, I have never gotten engaged, so it's hard to draw a direct comparison, but the number of phone calls, text messages, and e-mails I have gotten over the past few weeks has been tremendous and touching. I have gotten phone calls, text messages, e-mails, cards, Facebook contact-- even a few beginning-of-school-year gifts. I can't begin to express how this warms me from the inside.

It's a pretty poignant reminder that my community is really unparalleled.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

To Do

I've heard a theory that we only accomplish a certain percentage of the tasks we set out to do. If we start off with a list of 100 items, we may get 80 accomplished. But if we start with a list of 50, we'll only accomplish 40.

Something something aim high something something.

The exact percentages don't matter for the purpose of this monologue. And whether it's a Theory or a theory is also irrelevant.

Because I definitely see myself in this. As the school year draws closer, I've been working away in my classroom, creating bulletin boards and lesson plans, writing student names on envelopes and desks, sending e-mails, and generally bracing for another fabulous year.

And in doing so, I've gathered up a few long-neglected tasks along the way. It's not even 9:00 on this damp Sunday morning, and I've already removed the old, ratty bumper sticker on my car and replaced it (this task has been on my "to do" list for about a year), replaced the light bulb in my bedside table lamp (2 weeks), put away the screwdriver on the kitchen table (3 days), and put away the dishes (ok, this is always on my list). The washer and dryer are both running, I'm showered and dressed, and I've cleaned out the various moving parts of the Roomba.

I even took out the recycling, which is BY FAR my least favorite chore (why?).

And you know how long each of these tasks took?


Sometimes seconds.

I've put them off for weeks-- sometimes months-- and even the longest task took no more than 10-15 minutes.

There's a lesson in here somewhere.

I'll figure it out later, once the task has had time to ferment on my list.

After all, I need to go make vegetarian rice crispy treats (5 months) and clean the baseboards (infinity).

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Letter to the past

Dear 15-year-old me,

I've been wanting to talk to you for a while, because I can only imagine how stunned you will be by some elements of my life these days. Sometimes I feel like you are my biggest advocate and critic, that you are the one to whom I have to prove myself. You are so happy, and so sad-- so hopeful, so worried. You live in the world of "so" and "really" and "very." 15 is not a time of moderation, and you have never been (and may never be) someone who lives outside of superlatives. That doesn't change, by the way, when you reach the age of 27. It is exhausting but exhilarating to feel so strongly.

But do calm down a little bit. Really. You're overthinking everything, I promise. (But thanks for leaving the journals behind-- they're compelling.)

Some things I think you'd like to know--

- You do not become a psychologist. I know, I know. It seems like the perfect career for you! At some point in the middle of college, though, you will learn something very important-- you are too empathetic for that profession. You may have the potential to be a good therapist, but you would not be able to also be a happy person. Your inability to untie your own emotions from those of another person is only sometimes a handicap in much of your life, but it would be debilitating if you went into therapy. Trust me, you make the right choice.

- You DO become a teacher! At this point, 4 months into your career, it is incredibly stressful and wildly exciting. Some days are better than others. Some moments shine. Some weeks drag. Mostly, though, it is wonderful-- you are so lucky to work at the school where you do, teaching what you do. (It's a middle school, btw. I know you can't imagine wanting to be in a middle school forever, but trust me, it's much better when you're not middle school age.)

- Danaca is getting married this summer. MARRIED. TO ANOTHER PERSON. (And, no, that other person is not Tyb.) (EVEN WEIRDER, I KNOW.)

- Anna and Eesa are coming to the PNW to attend Danaca's wedding, and then we're going on a road trip to California! I'm so looking forward to introducing them to the Best Coast. And driving with them, which will be surreal in its own way. We haven't spent very much time together since we were all about 16 (not legal driving age in Taiwan), so being together as adults should be fascinating.

- You are not without your trials and tribulations, but you're happy. You have good people in your life. You have a good path. There are so many good and bad things that you have experienced and will continue to experience, but (so far, at least!) it's all turned out ok. I think it will continue to turn out ok.

With all love,

Your future

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Consolation Prizes

I'm calling BS.

The idea of a "consolation prize"? That's bullshit.

I'm working my way through the interviewing process these days, and it can be kind of exhausting. I have yet to hear anything back from the interview I went on last week, but I have decided something: I'm celebrating either way. Either I will celebrate because I've gotten the job (paneer tikka masala! a nicer bottle of wine than usual! PINK HAIR!) or I will celebrate because I tried my hardest and had some valuable interview practice (paneer tikka masala! a nicer bottle of wine than usual!). I will not issue a consolation prize. I will not need a consolation prize. I will not need consolation, dammit.

Because I will be proud of what I have done, whether that has resulted in a job or not.

So there.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


I'd looked through the house, under chairs, on the bed, Preposition Noun, you name it. No cat.

This was a problem. The cat is a strictly indoor cat, despite his clearly expressed wishes. I had been gone for five hours, so if he had gotten out, he could be pretty far away.

"Finnegan? Gins?"

I was wandering around the yard, call for the cat. Some people would consider this a complete waste of time-- and it would have been, with some cats. But not this cat. This cat comes when he is called, 99% of time.




"Mew. Mew! Mew."

"Finnegan. Cat. Where are you?"

"Mew mew mew mew mew..."

I looked around. Under the deck? No. Behind a bush? No. Behind me? No. The mews were coming from...


My eyes followed the sound. There was a cat on the roof. (No, not a hot tin roof. Just a shingle roof.)


"Hold on, Gins. I'm going to get a ladder."

I ran to the garage, purple bathrobe flapping, grabbed the smaller of the ladders, and rushed back to the house. I snapped the ladder into place, and clambered to the top. Finnegan crouched on the edge of the roof, peering anxiously over the edge. Reaching out to him, I pulled him gently toward me.


Cat safely cradled in my arms, I reversed down the ladder, brought him inside, and served him a bowl of his favorite food.

Then I put on my dress and shoes, and headed out the door for my interview.

Just your average day.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

101 Goals in 1001 Days

I'll be starting this officially on Saturday, April 5. 1001 days later will be December 31, 2016, which will be a satisfying day to have as a deadline. This is an ambitious, but exciting, list. I'll write about my accomplishments as I complete them and update this master list here. If you care to join me and follow along, please do! I strongly recommend you write your own list and complete it. It promises to be a lot of fun and pretty rewarding.

101 Goals in 1001 Days (April 5, 2014 – December 31, 2016)

11. Get hired to teach
22. Catalogue classroom library
33.  Find and rent an apartment
44. Unpack and decorate apartment
55. Organize inside of refrigerator*
66. Organize closet*
77. Organize under-the-bed*
88. Organize bathroom cabinet(s)*
99.Acquire 2 sets of sheets/pillowcases for bed
110. Acquire sheets/blankets for guests
111. Acquire at least 2 sets of bathroom towels
112. Re-cover chair from Ks
113. Acquire kitchen table and chairs or repaint (un-stickify) ice cream table and chairs
114. Visit San Francisco (Aloha, Twirl, Sphinx, Chip, Willa, etc)
115. Visit Costa Rica
116. Go on a safari in Africa
117. Yurt trip with kids
118. Yurt trip with kids
119. Yurt trip with Joanna
220. Go on an overnight backpacking trip (at least one night, but may be multiple)
221. Go on a spontaneous weekend trip
222. Go bungee jumping
223. Ride in a hot air balloon
224. Skydive
225. Visit an interesting local(ish) place I’ve never been before
226. See Ginny
227. See Polka Dot
228. See Nancy
229. See Granola
330. See Anna
331. See Eesa
332. Stop biting fingernails
333. Floss every day for a month
334. Blog twice a week for 1 month
335. Publish writing somewhere other than my own blog
336. Write a letter to a friend
337. Write a letter to a friend
338. Write a letter to a friend
339. Write a letter to a friend
440. Write a letter to a friend
441. Get in touch with someone I haven’t seen/spoken to in a while
442. Engage in some theatrical endeavor (preferably acting)
443. See live theatre
444. See live theatre
445. See live theatre
446. See live theatre
447. See live theatre
448. Read To Kill a Mockingbird
449. Read The Feminine Mystique
550. Read Pinker book about language
551. Read The Round House by Erdich
552. Read 4 books in one month
553. Read 4 books in one month
554. Read 4 books in one month
555. Read 4 books in one month
556. Graduate from City U
557. Take a sign language class
558. Take a Chinese class (or tutoring)
559. Bake a delicious loaf of bread
660. Go 3 months without buying any clothes
661. Volunteer somewhere
662. Collect advice and write it down (Mom, Dad, family, friends, etc)
663. No Facebook for two weeks
664. Try using an electronic calendar for at least 2 months
665. Perform a random act of kindness
666. Perform a random act of kindness
667. Perform a random act of kindness
668. Perform a random act of kindness
669. Run 3 miles
770. Run 5 miles
771. Run 10 miles
772. Have a glass of red wine every night for a week
773. Stay vegan-ish for 6 months (the version where only I am inconvenienced)
774. Write at least a paragraph in a journal every day for 2 weeks
775. Track period for 12 months
776. Go for 6 weeks without caffeine
777. No soda for 6 weeks
778. Attend a UU meeting
779. Take a photography class
880. Get a ring for myself
881. Get tattoo
882. BuMa family photos (Summer 2014)
883. Gift for someone
884. Gift for someone
885. Scrapbook: School Year 2013-2014
886. Scrapbook: Summer 2014
887. Mini Scrapbook: September-December 2014
888. Photobook: Friends 2013
889. Photobook: Friends 2014
990. Scrapbook: 2015
991. Grandpa Shutterfly book
992. Activity with Glitter
993. Activity with Glitter
994. Activity with Glitter
995. Activity with Eco
996. Activity with Eco
997. Hike with Dad
998. Hike with Mom
999. Host a dinner (Priorities: cook for it)
1100.                Host a dinner (Priorities: invite friends from different groups)
1101.                Host a tea party

* Meaning “develop a system” not just “put things away in an orderly fashion”

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Source of Irritation

Ok, look. I realize I may be a party of one here, but let's discuss something.

That "you're beautiful" graffiti? You know how it's written on buildings and inside bathroom stalls? You know how people leave it, probably thinking they're leaving an uplifting message? You know how other people take pictures, re-blog it, pin it, and generally swoon over it?

Yeah, ok. Kudos for the thought and all.

But seriously? Seriously.

A) The way we use the world, "beauty" is almost always an external factor. We give lip service to internal beauty, but have you ever actually used that concept to describe someone? Really? We say people are kind, or smart, or brave, or adventurous, or any number of other positive things, but if we say they are beautiful, we mean that physically. If not, we have to clarify. "She's a really beautiful person. Inside and out." If you just leave it at "She's a really beautiful person," everyone will assume you mean physically. Which is fine. That's accurate for some people.

B) Beauty is not something to be proud of. You can be happy with it, for sure, but you did nothing to achieve your beauty. (Unless, I suppose, you did a ton of plastic surgery or have completely re-designed your face with make up, or whatever.) This is especially true in my case. I have some naturally lovely features, and some that are less so. There are parts of my body and face that I love the look of, and others that I don't. I'm not proud of my eyes. They are what they are. They're pretty, but I didn't do anything to make that happen. I'm not ashamed of my nose. It's not my favorite feature, but it isn't my fault.  If you're going to give me a compliment, tell me something positive about myself that I actually have some control over. I can take pride in that.

C) A person's beauty (or lack thereof) is no where near the single most important thing about her. (And I say "her" because these standards are disproportionately applied to women and girls, though I recognize that men, boys, and people across the gender spectrum are also affected.)There is so. much. more. to a person than how he or she looks. Stop endowing this concept with more weight than it deserves.

And stop writing on stuff that you're not supposed to be writing on. Unless you're Banksy, keep your Sharpie in your pocket.