A familiar face

You’re at the check out stand and the grocery store down the street and two people behind you is a familiar face. Do you know her? You sneak a glance, then return your eyes forward; you don’t want to be caught staring. Because if it’s not someone you know, then you’re looking straight on at a stranger, someone like you just going through the motions of buying the necessities, trying to get supplies for dinner, get home, get on with her life. Someone who isn’t in a place that welcomes a stranger’s stare. It’s even worse if it really is someone you know because for the life of you, you can’t remember HOW you know her. No name, no memory of the circumstances under which you are acquainted. And if she recognizes you, then you have to make the polite, nameless, where-do-I-know-you-from conversation. How are you? It’s been a long time… What are you up to? etc. etc.
As you walk out the door you realize that the girl in line isn’t the person you know; she just looks like a person you once went to school with in a different state. What a relief that she didn’t catch you staring.

I don’t know why a moment such as this struck a chord with me today. Writing for myself has become sort of like that familiar face in the crowd, someone I know but with whom I’ve completely lost touch. And yet, it’s when I get busy like this that I write best. It’s a funny thing. When I’m playing housewife, home alone with hours to kill, I never write. I’ll sit and watch TV for hours, read a book, clean my house, mow the lawn, anything and everything but write. But when I’m in a high school from 7 to 3 and a class from 4 to 7, I itch to write.

Even though I want to write, I don’t really have the time, and my thoughts are so jumbled I’m not sure where to begin. I want to write about the aggressive driver in the 90s green Dodge pickup with Idaho plates and a strip of duct tape coming off his bumper, dancing like toilet paper in the wind as he weaved towards me on the freeway. I want to write about my newfound insomnia, about waking up every night at 3 a.m. like some sort of horror movie. Every. Single. Night. I want to write about missing English classes and all the frustrations that come along with being a student again. I want to write about stress, and about money, and about buying $7 jarlsberg cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich when my bank account is basically empty. But it’s almost 11 and I have to leave my place by 6:30 looking like a put together, professional adult so I’m just writing nothing and anything to scratch the writing itch.


Why didn’t I write this paper last Tuesday night when the class ended, when the information was all still fresh in my mind? is all I can think about when I stare at the stack of papers on my desk, lined with empty verbiage that I can’t seem to regurgitate on a Sunday afternoon.

Other people are at the lake or spooning frozen yogurt into their mouths in the summer heat. My roomie and her boyfriend are out to lunch somewhere, probably sitting on a patio or staring out into the sunshine from an air conditioned dining room. Meanwhile her kitten is curled up in my stacking baskets, occasionally yawning and peering up at me to make sure I’m still here.

People are at the park or taking naps or riding on roller coasters. And I’m staring blankly at my computer screen wondering why it’s so hard to just whip out this final paper. It only has to be four pages. I’ve written 10 page papers in a single night. I wrote a 100 page thesis. I can do this.

I’m so over being a full-time student.

Dear diary,

When will I feel like a grown up? When will I become disciplined and mature? When will I have money to spend on trips and a house and a car and new clothes?

never, someday, soon.

I should really go get some coffee.

Continue reading

Routine

Has it really been a month? I have been writing, just not here. But now, for the first time in a while, I have fast internet. I can stay up late to the comforting glow of my Macbook Pro and blog and pin and watch all the Mad Men and Orange is the New Black my little heart desires.

After homework of course.

When I’m not in school, I forget about the monotony of it. I’m excited to learn, to engage, to debate and discuss. But I don’t do well with routine. Maybe that means I won’t be a very good teacher. The research says create routine in your classroom. There’s safety and comfort in routine. That’s what kids need. But I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl, and my loathing for day-in-day-out routine is what made me choose teaching over an office job.

Each day feels the same. They blend together into a blur. How many weeks has it been? How many hours? Seconds? Is that clock slow? It has to be slow…

Wake up at 5, hair in a pony-tail, workout pants, neon pink vented shirt and sports bra. Nikes and out the door. 6 o’clock rowing, pushing my back muscles, pushing to be in sync with everyone else. With the middle-aged women and the college-aged boys. With broader shoulders than mine and thick-set hips.
7:30 and I’m back on Argonne, then the freeway, then the apartment, changing, combing, swiping on mascara and deodorant before snatching up my backpack and running back out the door.

Coffee, then class at 9, reflection, discussion, group meetings, 7-page readings, another working lunch, back to class, then to the language camp. There I work with a girl named Amina who only knows a handful of English words. And so it feels amazing when she repeats the words I tell her, then figures out the letter for the V- sound.

At 2:30, the kids leave for snacks, and I trudge back across campus with the others, back into my air-conditioned car, back to the apartment to read another chapter, another book, to write another paper. And then all the Netflix because it’s all my brain can handle after such a day.

I’m sharing a bed with my best friend for a few days. We chatter and giggle like we’re still in high school. We banter about politics and complain about boys and colleagues before finally resigning to sleep. In the morning, I turn off my alarm and creep out of bed. And then it starts again. Again and again and again. Day after day.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the high school boys from my hometown at basketball camp on my campus, and they all yelled out my name. “What are you doing here?! Shouldn’t you be at the lake?” Yes, guys. Yes, I should.


Overactive Imagination

I think that as we get older, we become more independent. We tend not to spend as many nights out at the bar with friends. Activities that in college were almost always done with a roommate or significant other (trips to the mall, grocery store, post office, movie theater, etc.) don’t seem that strange to do alone suddenly. And that’s good. It’s a sign that we feel more comfortable in our own skin, that we have finally become self-reliant and a little responsible. As I become more independent though, I think I’m also growing more introverted. And as an English major who grew up basically as an only child, this might not be such a good thing.

A blog I follow recently had a post where the writer said that he writes to quiet the voices in his head. It’s not an original sentiment, and as a fellow writer, I can certainly relate. But I don’t really want to quiet the voices in my head. In fact, we get along quite well. We have lovely, long, interesting conversations that keep me from ever getting bored. When I was a kid, I used to get off the bus from school and immediately begin a narrative in my head in which I was a young servant or tutor who had recently been hired by people in the country to work in their home. I would walk down the gravel drive, my bag slung over my shoulder, and pretend to be nervous to meet my new employers. When I reached the empty house, my mind populated it with an array of characters: usually a manic depressive and lonely wife who needed my help while her husband was away on business, a warm yet meticulous cook with smiling eyes who would show me my way around the kitchen, a cruel and terrifying housekeeper who hated me from the get go, a girl my own age who I would befriend, a slightly older boy—either a fellow employee or a relative of the family—who would become my love interest, and two misbehaving children who I’d have charge of. For hours I would pretend to help in the kitchen or teach the children French. I would have elaborate conversations with my imaginary friend about the boy I was in love with or the cruel housekeeper who undoubtedly had unspeakable dark secrets we must discover. Each time I played out my little drama, the plot was new, the story made more complex by a new antagonist or obstacle. It strikes me that this was probably not normal behavior. 

I would like to say that I eventually got too old for such imaginings and turned to writing. But it would be more true to say that I turned to writing when I had to be in public. At school, I would fill notebooks with stories, some similar to the act I played out in my empty house, rather than pay attention to pre-calculus or American history. I still graduated valedictorian, if that gives you any idea of how challenged I was in high school.

For the last year I have been out of college and back to living out in the country with few friends (and even fewer close friends) nearby. And yet I am rarely bored. Although I miss having daily purpose and a consistent work schedule, I like being alone with my thoughts and imagination. But as a result, I think I’ve become even more introverted that I was a daydreaming teenager. Unless I have a couple of glasses of wine in me, it seems like I have to make a huge effort to communicate normally with most people. Maybe I’m so used to having conversations in my head that I’ve forgotten how to talk to others. This isn’t completely accurate though because there are still those select few who I’m so close to that it’s effortless. But they’re a sparse few. I’ve resorted to being fairly quiet—at least until I have a few drinks, and then I ultimately regret anything I say. 

None of this probably sounds very healthy. I guess it’s fortunate that I start school in a couple of weeks.


There is something so serene and wonderful about curling up on the couch at night, my hair as big as Hermione Granger’s, sipping decaf coffee, and reading a thick Russian novel. It’s almost enough to make me forget about the endorsement test I have to take tomorrow morning. Almost. Come on, Dostoyevsky, take my mind off the fact that my knowledge of phonics and phonological awareness is rudimentary at best.

Continue reading

Today the sophomores were doing poetry

with a focus on onomatopoeia. 

(and for the record

I spelled it right the first time).

They have enjoyed getting creative with poetry,

their teacher said before she left.

But pulling creativity out of these 16-year-olds

was so much worse than pulling teeth

because with teeth at least you know they’re there.

You can see them and grab hold

and yank and tug until they give way.

But creativity, I’m not sure creativity,

at its core,

can really be taught

or turned into something tangible you can grab hold of.

Sometimes, no matter how much time you give someone,

he will never really see or stop at

teardrops of dew,

a reflected balloon like a buoy in the sky,

muddy feathers like lashes coated in cheap mascara,

the haunting sound of wind in the trees,

or the tap dancing clatter of hail on the sunroof.

I should not turn up my nose at them

or fret at their sighs and groans and indifference.

I too have been known to hate poetry

with its rules and line breaks and stanzas

its rhymes and couplets and structure

that push away from every hard grammar and prose rule

so deeply rooted in my furiously typing fingers.

But creativity.

Creativity I hold to my body the way 

a mother does a newborn child,

terrified it will break but loving

it as hard as something uniquely yours.

Not that I would know.

But then there was that one girl

with the long lashes

who wrote about hearing with earmuffs on

and how the muffled silence

was not so different than a deafening roar between

them.

And thank god for her.

 

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New beginnings

Ok, first, word of the day: Subterfuge: deceit in order to achieve one’s goals.

Yum. What a great writer’s word.

but more importantly, I have big news. Okay, not that big. I have a new blog. (I know, because I post here SOOO often. but whatever). This blog has become a sort of outlet where I can write whatever and I’m not that worried about it because hardly anyone reads it ;)

So, I’m starting a sort of writer’s blog that I can share with my friends and family and whoever. It might be a bust but I’m going to give it a go nonetheless. Part of the reason I want to do this is because I like sharing articles and videos and cool stuff I find with friends and people, but I fucking hate Facebook. fucking hate was really strong. sorry. (#notsorryenoughtochangeit)

And part of it is that I really need to start SHARING my writing in a real way. 

Anyway, PLEASE check it out. It’s gonna be super. It’s called “Through the Looking Glass” at lookingglassadventures.wordpress.com (yeah I’m continuing with the Alice references. It suits me.) I’ll still post here to bitch and complain and journal and get all the stuff out that doesn’t necessarily get read by the people I see on a daily basis.

 


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