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