Friday, September 25, 2009

The Resistance

I have been living in a small town in North Georgia for four months now, and I think it's time to review.

As I've said before, about three days into my move here, I started experiencing a great deal of depression and panic. I used to stand in the shower and suffocate, worry that I would pass out because the weight of everything was crushing my chest. Brad and I have argued like cats and dogs, although, not all cats and dogs argue, but you understand the expression. Brad has worked 60+ hour weeks, gone from satisfied with his work, to frustrated and disappointed in his employers, and from excited about the outdoors, to desperate for the culture of the city. I don't think there has ever been a time when I was not desperate for the culture of the city. To counter some of the insanity, we have made frequent trips into Atlanta to enjoy things like Indie movie theaters (movie theaters in general, actually), good restaurants that serve classy beers, and creative martinis, organic markets, book stores (for crying out loud), and urban metro yoga studios. We've had lovely trips into the city.

Back in Dahlonega, my days unfold as follows: I get up, I sit on my back porch, avoiding the spider webs (they kill the bugs), drink a cup of coffee, and eat some sort of breakfast....and play Spider Solitaire for about an hour. Then I go to the garden at the winery. I take my shoes off, check the progress of all of the plants, pull weeds, smash little caterpillars that are eating my greens between my fingers, search for edible wild fruits and weeds. I know there is a Persimmon tree somewhere close to the garden, I just haven't found it yet. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I try to make it to Yoga at the gym at 1, then I teach from 3:55-6:45. On Wednesdays and Fridays, I take my time, grade papers, meet with students, clean my house, visit The Tomato House (my favorite roadside local market where I can by all kinds of novelty sodas, sauces, local eggs, veggies, nuts, beans, and delicious boiled peanuts...DELICIOUS). Most of these things I do by myself as everyone else works at the restaurant. Sometimes I go into town and sit at the bar at The Half Moon Saloon to talk to Irish Dave and enjoy a unique selection of beers. Aside from Dave, I haven't met a lot of people. My students are the people I consider to be my "new friends" in that we talk to each other, spend about three hours a week together, laugh at each others' jokes, and encourage each other. My students are fantastic. Love em. LOVE! But NGCSU doesn't have a place for me in the spring. Sometimes I go to Atlanta alone to do Bikram or hang out at a bookstore or Trader Joe's. And sometimes I go up to the winery and chat with the servers, who, of course think I'm the cutest, mostly because my boyfriend has fired a couple of them...and no one else wants to get the boot. They give me free glasses of Prosecco, and Brad brings me the occasional free beer. Or sometimes I just sit in the office and play Spider Solitaire.

The biggest complaint I have is that I am lonely, but as it is, don't I have the most lovliest of schedules? I feel like a jerk when I complain...but loneliness is really horrible and painful. It is the resistance. The only thing that, at its worst, makes me create scenarios in which I pack up everything and move away to start a new life alone.

Also, I seem to be putting my underwear on inside out as of late. What's up with that?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rain, Addiction, and Recovery

The rain finally let up yesterday. Despite rain being forcast, the sun stayed bright until it fell below the horizon. I let my classes go early because I wanted to enjoy it, and I'm sure they did too. The sun, recently, is like snow. When it appears, you want to be able to enjoy it.

Let's back up a few days. I started working on my own to build the organic garden at a winery that I am apparently not allowed to name about a month ago. I transplanted some greens, herbs, and tomatoes. By the end of the week before last, I had designed a garden paradise, providing the cutworms didn't kill everything before it had a chance to reach its full potential. The land was my canvas, the soil, my medium. Then, last Monday night, it started to rain. It rained all the way into Tuesday afternoon. It didn't stop raining until around 4 p.m. Then, later that evening, it started raining again. It rained all night and into the morning. I lay awake in bed listening to it beat down on my tin roof, imagining the garden washing away. It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon that I was able to make it out. The rain had been at bay for most of the day, so I drove to my little haven to check out the damage. The only terrible damage consisted of two large ruts that rivers of water had plowed into my tilled soil. They tried to tear up the lettuces, to no avail, but they took a good chunk out of my row of flowers and Quinoa. Small sections of my spinach rows had been washed away, but not the whole things, and the plants, despite being slightly water-logged, seemed to be thriving.

But it kept raining. I had a good maybe 6 hours I was able to spend in the garden last week. On Saturday, it started raining, and it didn't stop until Monday night. LITERALLY. It rained non-stop. I almost lost my mind. I haven't been back to the garden since the sun came out, as I've been stuck grading papers (self-inflicted), but I am venturing out there today. I have a feeling I have a great deal of work in front of me...

Now, I never thought I had a problem with addiction...until I discovered Spider Solitaire...and candy corn. Yes. I am insanely addicted to both. I can sit and play Spider Solitaire for hours and not even think about it...and I can inhale a bag of candy corn in less than a week...a big bag. I need help. Any suggestions? I actually think about organizing cards during times when I really should NOT be thinking of doing such a thing. I mean...really inappropriate times to be trying to develop the best Spider Solitaire strategy.

Seriously. I need help.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The silent blogger

Been trying to figure out why I have no desire to blog when so much is going on in my life and in my mind. I suppose blogging lost a bit of its charm when I started worrying about, heaven forbid, what other people would think. I felt like I couldn't write all the hard thoughts I was having because I didn't want to worry anyone. When, the truth is, that's just life, and isn't blogging some weird new way to share, to connect with other people. OR, is it just some self-proclaimed fan-club where I can stroke my own ego? I don't know. But here goes.

Yes, I moved to Georgia. I left off in the Czech Republic. The truth is, not too long after I moved, I began falling into a deep hole. By the time I made it to Czech, I was waking up every morning with tears in my eyes, afraid to get out of bed to face the day. I came home to a very small (non-existant) fanfare, and I had a major breakdown. I hit bottom? I went to my dad's and cried for the next three days. It's hard to really understand depression unless it really and truly affects you. I wanted to die. I would sit and look around me at all the beauty and think, "this is meaningless. There is nothing else to look forward to. Life is just a series of painful disappointments." I wanted to hurt myself to see if I could possibly experience pain deeper than the pain I felt inside, to see if anyone else would notice. I sat motionless, crippled, for hours. I was pale. I was miserable. I thought, something must be wrong with me. I can't be happy. I'm incapable. I am a failure. But I was just sick. Very sick. I went to the doctor, and she, of course, spoke of my pain in very medical, technical terms. Because that's what it is, technically a chemical imbalance that feels like the weight of the world on your shoulders. People still don't talk about it as much as it needs to be talked about.

I started taking Zoloft. Again. I remembered the first time I started taking it, I felt very little but crushing headaches and a heavier weight on my whole body. I made the mistake of taking a full dose the first day, and sat in a chair all day with my eyes wide open, unblinking. I felt like I'd just had 17 cups of coffee. And my mind was totally empty. For the first time in a very very long time. You cannot imagine how grateful I am for that time, about two weeks, in which I experienced very few deep thoughts. My mind had been so overcrowded with confusing thoughts and feelings. Any small addition would set me off the handle. But now I just felt good...despite the headaches. When the headaches cleared, I went through the period in which I didn't want to do anything, not even get off of the couch, and I didn't give a damn. But, luckily, that faded as well...

Lately I've just felt fulfilled. I've felt comfortable, hopeful, and content. Sometimes people have a hard time with medication because they think it turns the patient into a zombie. I assure you, for those that require its aide, it is anything but that. During my lapses into depression, Zoloft helps me keep my head up. Zoloft gets me out of the house. It clears my head...makes me think rationally. I don't feel happy all the time. I still experience down time (like when it rains very hard NONSTOP for a whole week with a prediction to rain for ANOTHER WHOLE WEEK).I still get the blues...but I never get so heavily buried under my own thoughts and fears as I do without it. I am not nearly as terrified of life as I have been in the past. I even started doing Bikram Yoga, and I love it.

With that in mind, I don't promise loads and loads of cheer-y blogs. I only promise honesty...I'm going to give it another go. Just remember, I'm a big girl.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I have now been informed that my late afternoon students really like me...BUT...what they really want from their "conversation" class is GRAMMAR. So. I am now being tested on the online course I took this past fall. It's stressful. Grammar is ALWAYS stressful, but, luckily, it's not like reading a different language, reviewing things like the perfective and the progressive forms of verbs. I just have to take my time and make sure I explain everything slowly and clearly. It's really just a matter of building on the simple forms of the verbs. Imagine me stacking those little cardboard bricks from day school on top of each other...except there are words like "simple present of to be" and "+" and "present participle" (which can also be a gerund...please don't ask me that today). This morning at breakfast Charles Hall asked me to tell him what I taught yesterday and we both got confused trying to remember the present perfect vs. simple present. Lots of rules. Never a dull moment.

The coffee in the cafeteria is WEAK. I woke up this morning a.)very hungry and b.) tired. Yesterday, I hadn't really left myself time to eat. I had cereal when I woke up (10:00), and then I didn't eat until 6:30 (because I was cramming in some grammar) when all I had time to grab before the Czech film was a bag of chips and a Kit Kat. When the movie let out, the only thing I could get to eat at a restaurant was...another bag of chips and a beer. Of course, in the Czech Republic, beer is food...and also medicine. I went to bed hungry, annoyed, and not at all medicinally satiated.

It was hot yesterday. It was so hot in the classrooms, my knees were sweating. It's hotter today. However, tomorrow it will be a great deal cooler, and it will be raining. So sayeth the weather man. I will either visit "The Athens of the South" in the Czech Republic on Saturday or "Pilsen's sister city in Germany" on Sunday. Any thoughts? I can't manage to do both and rest up for next week...and wash my underwear.

My walk to school...sometimes I stand and watch the wind blow waves across the grass...or wheat? It's some sort of grain. I'll take a closer picture of what makes up the field, and you can tell me later.

The girl on the bottom is one of my old students from 2007. She is a physics professor at the University. Yep. I will not reveal her name.

A french guy at the party on Wednesday. Again...yep.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Joan Jett has made it to the Czech Republic

I have two classes here in ol' Pilsen (Plzen). I teach a class at 2:00 with upper intermediate students who, so far, really like me, and I teach a class at 4:30 of beginners-lower intermediate students who...are divided I think on how they feel about me. I think most of them like me, but there is one (why is there ALWAYS one) that is completely unsatisfied with me (why is there ALWAYS one and why can't I focus on anything else). I plan my lessons with this one lady in my mind. I gotta shake it. She just gives me these looks, sighs a little too loud, and sometimes...I think...she rolls her eyes. But, you know, now that I think of it, she might be the only one that doesn't really like me.

Last night I attended the Welcome party which had a Mardi Gras theme...and since I don't usually think to bring Mardi Gras costumes with me when I go overseas, I didn't have anything to wear. So, I went naked. Just kidding. I went topless.....JUST KIDDING. It would have been SOOOOOO Mardi Gras, though...right? My students from the early afternoon found me right away. They were hanging out with this kid that I taught two years ago when he was 14. He's sixteen now, tall, sixteen year old boys are...but with a little goofy swagger. He bought shots for everyone and, on my suggestions, made them girly. He had an extra, and he gave it to his TEFL teacher (the teacher in training), who is a woman in her 60s. She was hilarious. She took her hat off and said, while holding the small glass "I've never done THIS before!" So we took a shot together, and she went to dance. Then my old (16 year old) student leaned over to me and said, "anytime you need a shot, you come to me," and then he wondered off to find a girl his age to flirt with. I wished him luck.

Most of the time the soundtrack at these parties consists of Europop, Roxette, the Friend's theme, and random old dance remixes from the states that made it over here (like that cotton eyed joe song...seriously). However, last night, we enjoyed a number of Michael Jackson songs, some newer hip-hop, and...Joan Jett. What a surprise.

At one point, I was in the bathroom washing my hands and one of my very first students ever...from 2006, came out of one of the stalls. We gasped in shock of our good fortune, hugged, and laughed at the irony of meeting in the bathroom...for it was in the bathroom where I explained to her and some other students the term "Breaking the Seal." She reminded me of that, and then we caught up. When she was my student, her English was Ok. It hadn't gotten much better the following year, but this year, it was fantastic. We could talk about anything and everything. It was such a nice surprise.

Tonight I am going to a Jazz festival in the town square with some of my students. I might need a break from beer. It's a little exhausting. Am I getting old?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Up the Down Escalator

It doesn't matter one single bit that I have been here twice before, I still can't manage to get it right for the first week and a half. I walk into the Menza to get my lunch, deciding on the very unappetizing-looking pasta dish. But I don't see a station for it once I get to the front of the line, and I ask, "Pasta?" Which is returned with a great deal of Czech that I don't understand. So, I just repeat, "Pasta?" and point to where I am standing, which, I'm sure must be really confusing to someone who clearly doesn't know the meaning of the word pasta, but might very well assume that I am not it. So I leave to find the number on the display case outside of the main cafeteria, but the turnstile doesn't go both ways, and I slam into it going the wrong direction in front of a few of the coordinators. At this point I feel like a three legged woman, or someone that was born with arms that go all the way down to the floor. I mutter an expletive, and find that my pasta dish is number 4. OF COURSE. The most impossible Czech number to pronounce. You can say it any way you like, mimic their pronunciation a million times, and it will never sound to them like the number 4. So I walked back into the Menza, and I held up four fingers, and he served me a square of over baked broccoli pasta "'surprise" that I managed to eat about a third of.

But that's not all. Oh no. Of course not. For my drink, I decided that it would be a good idea to stick with one of the drinks from the soda fountain. I chose the one with the picture of the orange on it. I thought, I have this coupon, and they say it is good for the main meal which I'm assuming includes something to drink. I'm wrong though. The lady says something to me in Czech about 5kc, and I say something back in English about how I thought the coupon covered something to drink, and she says, impressively, "We are not prepared." So I gave her what I had, 50Kc, and she gave me now I can get an instant coffee from the machine before I teach my class. Which is drawing ever nearer.

I have never taught a class that I haven't felt utterly terrified about. I have never gone into teaching a new class thinking, "This'll be easy. I'll be fine. Bah!" Of course, it usually is fine, but there is always this underlying dread...right beneath my skin...right around the line of my scalp, heavy on my chest...that it will not be all right, and there I'll be, staring back at a room full of students, with nothing to say, and no way to figure it out. That's pretty much where I am right now. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Body Clock

I did a very bad thing. I threw my body clock all out of whack. I made the mistake of allowing myself to sleep from midnight on Friday until noon on Saturday. When I got in bed on Saturday night, I ended up reading until 5 a.m. on Sunday. The sun was coming up. Well, the sun was up. The sun had started coming up at around 4. So, I slept until 1 today instead of another 12 hours. Perhaps we can do it tonight...and by "do it," I mean go to sleep at a normal hour.

It's a beautiful day in Pilsen today. It is in the low 70s, high 60s, with a nice breeze. I had a brisk walk through town, some Risotto at the corner pizza parlor, and then I stopped by a corner store to buy some milk for my coffee, but ended up with yogurt. You know, same old, same old.

One of my favorite things about cities in Europe are the little dogs everywhere. It can be a bit difficult, though. I hate having to run into an animal without being able to touch it. I saw a dead hedgehog on the side of the rode today...didn't touch it though. At first I thought it was a porcupine, but those have really long needles. Wasn't there a porcupine in Ol' Yeller? I seem to remember one.

It amazes me how much emotion being back in Europe is causing me. It all reminds me of my time in London, of my previous times here. I'm kind of lonely and stuck with these thoughts. The restaurant right down the street from the dorms has closed, so I can't count on running into people lounging on the patio in the afternoon. Not like the old days. I'm sure it will get better once school starts, but I'm currently having trouble connecting with people.

Hopefully my next post will be a little

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In Czech

I've brought my laptop to Europe, and I can't seem to get the internet set up in my place of residence. It is infuriating. I am at a coffee shop about to break a 1000 kc note for a coffee that is going to cost me around 30 kc, and I'm sure the server is going to rue the day that I walked through the door. The Czechs hate, HATE, making change. Of course....that's all the damn ATM will give me, so...whatareyagonnado?

The weather here is cool, chilly at night, and clear. I forgot how quiet it is before school starts. I also forgot how rich the food is. I had pizza for lunch today with about two blocks of cheese melted on top. Last night, I ordered a specialty at a restaurant, and ended up with about 50 pounds of potato, meat, gravy, and well as two beers. I ate until I was satisfied and still had about 45 pounds of food left on my plate. The server was aghast.

By the time I made it to bed last night, I was hanging by a thread. I had been walking around Prague all day...with slow walkers...after maybe six and a half hours of broken sleep while sitting up on a plane. I took a nap on the bus from Prague to Pilsen as well. Nothin beats waking up with that horrible pain in your neck from sitting up and snoozing. I lay awake in my bed for a moment, and then disappeared from existence for almost 12 hours.

To tell the truth, the shower in the sink doesn't really bother me as much as it did before. The smell of the room is nostalgic. I woke up to the sound of tennis balls bouncing on the court across the street.

I missed the walking tour this afternoon, for the third time in a row. I always intend to go, and I always end up missing I have to give myself a walking tour. I'm sure I'm missing some secret amazing thing by not participating in the guided tour.

Europe reminds me of England...or of Europe...or maybe it all just runs together. There is something similar about the whole...experience?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Brave New World

Bon jour mes amies. I'm sure if you didn't know before, you know by now: I have moved to Dahlonega, GA. I now live in a small town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I suppose I must have been here for a little over a month now. It's surprising. I have never pictured myself much of a small town girl, and I'm not sure I do now. I feel a little like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, but it's not terrible. It's interesting, exciting even.

I have spent the past four weeks falling over myself to unpack, fighting off insects numbering close to the population of the citizens of greater Memphis, struggling to get out of bed, and eventually domesticating myself for the time being. I do have a job in which I work in an organic garden, but, as we are in the middle of the heat of the summer, the only work to be done is work that I am unable to do: drive a tractor. Don't get me wrong, I would KILL to be able to drive a tractor, but it's easier to get people with a great deal more experience than I to do it while I read books on companion planting, fighting off pests and disease, and what to plant when.

I made a quick trip to the mid-west to reconnect with some of my family and bid one member goodbye.

I rarely have to stop at stoplights on my journey's into town. There are very few in the city, and none outside of it, where I live in a little cabin on a creek, shaded by a cave of trees.

I have also been exploring the world of shade loving plants.

My cats are in love with this place. What is it inside of us that causes us to become so attached to our pets? I find myself so enamored with my pets that my heart floods with joy when I see them lounging in the sun, in their element, at peace with nature. Am I crazy? The only thing they don't like is when I cross the creek to the island on the other side. They refuse to brave the very shallow waters of the creek, and when I skip across on stones and climb up the bank to enjoy the small patch of blue sky that peeks through the ceiling of the woods, they sit on the opposite bank, crying for me to come back, confused.

I am sure that someday soon I will experience some sort of neurological damage from the amount of insect repellent that I blanket my skin with. Ticks make up the other half of the insect population that aren't moths. They are rude, blood-sucking, and hard to kill. I have only found three on myself, hopefully due to my wholeheartedly clinging to the "myth" that consuming large amounts of garlic will put the insects off.

As far as domestication goes, I have made this house somewhat of a home, with an inviting, huge back porch, complete with shade loving flowers, color-coded recycling bins, a number of chairs, a pre-existing hammock, and colorful Christmas lights. I have explored the world of "daylight" lightbulbs in order to beat the one tragic flaw in my house: very few windows allowing very little natural light in. It's okay. I should be outside anyway. I live in the country.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Like It; Yes, I Do

After years of telling students, "Don't use the semi-colon. You don't know how, and I don't think it's really that necessary," I have finally decided that I actually DO find a semi-colon, now and then, a little bit necessary. The thing is, I just didn't understand how to use them. That was an okay excuse for a while, but my students soon began to pester me. "Semi-colons are going out of style" simply wasn't enough to keep them from wanting to use them; thus, I had to learn the usage and merit of the semi-colon.

I had cleverly fashioned my policy regarding this mark of punctuation after taking a class with Dr. Nasheeb Shaheen, who said, more than once, "A semi-colon is a weak period," in his characteristic drone. That was enough for me to decide that, in addition to the fact that I didn't really know how to use one anyway, the semicolon needed to be absent from my writing life.

However, it kept coming back, poking its nose into my business, rearing its ugly head. Too often I marked in bright purple ink (I refuse to use red when grading papers) "DON'T USE SEMICOLONS," on a student's work; too often I repeated the narrative of my time with Dr. Shaheen to students that asked how to use a semi-colon. The Guardian even published an article on the fate of this grammatical tool: The End of the Line?

I finally had to relent; my clever avoidance of the issue was not sufficient. I have slowly begun to explore the world of the semi-colon. I have dipped my toes into the waters of punctuating creative expression. I have opened my heart to the frontier.

As some woman I read about said:

Sadly, anyone lazily looking for an excuse not to master the colon and semicolon can always locate a respectable reason, because so many are advanced. Here are some of the most common:

1. They are old-fashioned.

2. They are middle-class.

3. They are optional.

4. They are mysteriously connected to pausing.

5. They are dangerously addictive ...

6. The difference between them is too negligible to be grasped by the brain of man.

Lynne Truss

Hey lady: Don't use a comma with "because" unless the dependent clause comes at the beginning of the sentence. Gees.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Here is Something That I Have Been Thinking About

I was on Central yesterday, stopped at a red light at East Parkway, and there were kids with orange warning cones, a white piece of poster board with "North Memphis Tigers Football" scribbled on it with a black marker, and just, you know, open hands, walking up to cars and asking for money for their team. I'm sorry, but when did pan-handling become okay for Jr. sports? When I played mean...when I participated in extracurricular activities (band, choir, academics), we sold things that were sponsored by fund raising companies. It was a business. People got good products and were able to give a little bit of money to our programs. It doesn't work for bums downtown, why should it work for kids on street corners? When did we decide that cutting out the middle-man and training kids to beg for money was a good idea? I don't know a lot about economics, okay, I don't know ANYTHING, but I know that this is kind of ridiculous. NO, not kind of, it is totally ridiculous. Now, homeless people have to compete with kids that want to play football for money at stoplights. Is there no justice in the world?

I have a problem with this.

I also have a problem with kids going into a grocery store, buying candy for fifty cents a pop, and then selling it to me for two dollars to help out their little league. Again, isn't that just like, I don't know, scalping tickets? Instead of encouraging kids to panhandle and/or scalp, why can't we encourage them to, I don't know, learn something useful? If I sell $50 of these special candy bars, I get $30 dollars donated to my cause, and I get a t-shirt, or something. I mean..isn't that like, retail experience? I'm trying to work this out in my head. Somebody help me out here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pop Up

You know what I wish? I wish that adobe acrobat would leave me the hell alone. Honestly. I can't count how many times I try to do something on my computer while Adobe tries to get me to "make it better." I'd like to enjoy it the way it is, thank you very much.

Another thing that keeps popping up in my life, and in my mind, is this sinking feeling that I have no say in my future. I suppose that's a little fatalistic of me. I try to take control of situations, only to feel, invariably, that I have no say in what happens next. I'm becoming what Emerson became: a cynic. C'est la vie.

I can never pump myself enough to sit down and grade papers. I suppose I should find some way to enjoy this if I want to continue my career in this direction. I have to sift through a ginormous pile of papers for a pretty long time this weekend. I feel overworked and underappreciated. It is also magnificent outside. I'm rested, and the sun is shining, but instead of going on outings, I've got to sit in the back yard and grade papers. If only I could pay someone to do it for me...If only I had the clout of a true professor.

I'm currently waiting for the kitchen floor to dry. It might be almost there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Three Weeks Left

I have been teaching Developmental English at Southwest Tennessee Community College for twelve weeks now, and I have just recently discovered the key to getting the attention I have been battling for. As much as I hate lecturing and turning my back on my audience, I have started writing everything I say on the board, and the classroom has never been more quiet. Someone in their study skills class must be telling them the old truth that you should write down everything that the teacher puts on the board because it is probably important. Maybe I just didn't think that everything I had to say was important until now. They sit on the edge of their seats, their pens and pencils poised in their hands, with baited breath, awaiting the next nugget of priceless information about how to successfully conclude an essay.

Then, of course, their are those that are texting. Next semester, I'm going to be a hard ass about the phones. I'm pretty good at ignoring it, but there are some students that just get under my skin. I'm going to start taking their phones, just quietly walking up to them and taking their phones. I've spent too much time this semester getting my feelings hurt. It's difficult teaching a DIFFERENT class every damn semester. I never get a chance to improve my strategy. I figure out what works by the end of the semester, and I have to learn a new class. It makes me want to shave my head, set myself on fire, and run around laughing hysterically. Okay...maybe not. It pretty much just makes me want to drink a lot of whiskey. That's about it.

I have recently rid myself of an annoying skin problem. I feel like a new woman. I am now going to finish my coffee and look over my lesson for today. What's going on with you guys?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Once a month

Have you ever stood at the edge of a cliff, or on the roof of a tall building and been terrified? I'm not afraid of heights, but I do, at least once during a visit to the top of a mountain or a rooftop, get a quick flash of terror as I contemplate my capabilities. It wouldn't take more than a slip of the foot, or leaning forward a little too far to send me tumbling to my death. This is what makes me tremble. This is what makes me catch my breath and take a step back. As much as I enjoy life, enjoy the rise and fall of the days, it doesn't take much to send me tumbling down the mountain, and it's rarely a slip of the foot. It's almost always a lean just a little too far. I arrive at the apex of a situation, lean forward because the view just isn't quite good enough, and I'm gone.

I feel fine. I am fine, but I feel like I'm tumbling down a mountainside. I don't feel so much as if I'm in a free fall, I just feel like I'm tumbling, bumping things, scraping myself up, praying that I don't hit my head. There's more time to think while tumbling, or maybe there's less time to think. Perhaps there is more time to think when in a free fall. I imagine myself holding my breath, thinking of all the ways I could have avoided leaning too far forward, looking back up at the roof-top, waiting to make contact with the earth. I say I'm tumbling because the fall may not be as hard. I am in contact with the earth as I fall, and I may find a small plateau to catch me before I do any more damage in tumbling, a precipice that will allow me to dust myself off and continue up the mountain. It's almost humorous in my mind, like Homer Simpson falling off a cliff and slamming into everything trying to find something to grab onto. I've done this, I've looked too far, and now, as I should have known, I'm tumbling.

I've been in a free fall before, I know what that feels like. I know that terror. This is less terrifying, and I don't know why.

We are all just one step away from tumbling down the mountain. We are all just one inch away from a free-fall. I guess that's what makes life so exciting. I guess that's why we climb mountains or visit the roof-tops of the tallest buildings. It gives us a clear picture of our capabilities.

Dude, do not slip.

Friday, March 6, 2009

While Day Workers Empty Out the House Across the Street That Burned Down

My mother wants to move back to a place in Oklahoma in which she lived when she was a child. She remembers being happy there, I think. I don’t think about life this way. I don’t know if I will begin someday. I can’t imagine. At present, I don’t look back at the past and think about how much better it was. I don’t think it was better. I don’t think anything in my past has been better than what I have and where I am right now, and that’s not even perfect. My mother is so strong. My mother is so capable. I fear she thinks she has lost it, for herself, under all the…stuff…real and…metaphorical. But I think it’s still there. I think her strength and capability still exists. I wish for her to find it. I wish for her to embrace it.

In Korea, they believe that it is better to be old than to be young. A person’s 60th birthday is called “New Life,” for it is the point at which one begins to live again. I’m told it is a good time to start a new career. I don’t know why exactly. The Koreans that told me about it had a very limited English vocabulary. Perhaps this time, this idea, exists because, to reach the age of sixty, one must have learned a great many lessons. Perhaps it acknowledges the tumult and the confusion of growing up…getting old…living. When we reach sixty, perhaps we arrive. I suppose you could say that about any age. I hate the idea of some determined finale. Now we are such and such age and must begin getting ready for the finale. We are in the final act. If death is the finale, then, in reality, we are always…in so many ways, in the final act. No one is promised tomorrow. So, why this determined age of uselessness in our culture? Why not the new life? My mother is so capable. My mother is so strong. Her new life started a little over 2 years ago. I hope she grabs onto it. I hope it’s exhilarating. I hope it’s everything she deserves, which is so much.

I’ve been spending a lot of time alone lately, since this past weekend anyway. This past weekend came up and bit me on the ass. I wasn’t expecting it to tear me down, to stop me in my tracks the way that it did, but it did just that. I have been very confused. I have been lonely, despite a partner that has been very present. I have been trying to make sense of feelings that I haven’t experienced since I was probably in elementary school. I think I am going to be successful. I think spring is just around the corner.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Just Ridin' Around

So, I didn't build a new bike for myself. I folded, and I bought a used bike at Peddler. It is a pink 1989 Schwinn Caliente. It is awesome. Tonight, after being on team awesome at Trivia, I rode it around listening to Beethoven. It was cold, clear, quiet, and gorgeous. I haven't had this much fun on a bike since my black and pink road bike that was stolen from me when I was 13 years old. It is fun. It is the fun.

Yesterday I rode it around in Overton park from about 4:45 until 5:45, and I discovered that there is a moment right when the sun sets in the coldest moments of winter, where the sky is a pale blueish pink color...almost a fleshy color. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's the best way I can think to describe it. It's quiet, and respectful, and understanding, and...perfect.

I thought about a lot of things. I thought about all the people that have crashed through my life. There was a time when I resented the losses I had experienced, but now, more often than not, I feel a deep sense of gratitude. Every one of the people that I have loved and lost has given me something, has left me as someone greater...fuller than I was before. I lean, and it's hard to let go when it ends because of this new part of me. I'm never sure if I'm capable of carrying it around as a part of me, but I am. I am more than capable. All the times I spend complaining or worrying that I am just a product of someone else's musing, I am amazed at how many risks I have allowed myself to take. And maybe I don't move forward. Maybe I end up at the very beginning every time, but inside, I'm miles ahead. Life keeps surprising me. Love keeps changing me. Time keeps guiding my footsteps.

I'll put a picture of my bike up as soon as I find a way to charge my camera battery ('cause my battery was stolen with my computer). =)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Going back to the Start

I realize, before I say anything, that I am very well off, and lucky, and all that, but I might do a little bit of whining in this blog...but only a little bit.

SO. Everyone knows about my computer/makeup/bike mishaps. One week it was the car break-in, the next week it was the bike stealing, and this week it is my car breaking down on me. Tuesday night, on my way home from school, my car began kind of shuddering, skipping, and lurching a bit. My check engine light flashed at me as if to say, "Why are you making me do this? Can't you see, I'm sick?" I shifted very quickly into panic mode once I realized that I did not have my phone with me, and my panic turned to terror when the sky opened up and a bizarre torrent of rain exploded all around, mocking me. I made it home, and quickly relaxed, until Wednesday (when I SHOULD have gotten to stay home) when I drove to Southwest with the same horrifying shuddering and lurching. I almost lost my mind. I called my dad, in my disgruntledness, and blamed him for everything, said a lot of bad words, and then cried out loud while alone in my car after abruptly getting off the phone with him. MY DAD....who bought me a new computer when mine was stolen. I am horrible. He told me to shove the spark plugs into their, I don't know, spark plug holes, and the other end of the wires into, I guess, the wire box thingy. So...did that, and made it home without any flashing of the engine light, and lurching of the car. However, I am still afraid to drive it, worried that it will die, and I will never be able to revive it again.

All of this, bad luck (I suppose), has prompted me to think about ways to improve my way of life now that I don't have access to all the luxuries that I used to have access to. For instance, yesterday, I was staring at my horrendous hang nails, which I have been chewing on for pretty much most of my life, and I thought, "perhaps, now is the time to stop this nonsense. My fingers look terrifying." And they do. They are terrifying. Then I thought today, "but I've been doing it so long. What if I stop, and there's this giant hole in my life?" Smokers have a million options to help them quit smoking, but nobody thinks of those of us that are addicted to chewing on our hangnails. What do we get? Some bad tasting crap to paint on there? I've chewed threw that stuff before. I'm going to need something stronger.

Okay. I'm kind of kidding about improving my life through kicking my hangnail chewing habit. I'm also just a little bored because I'm ahead in my lesson planning, I don't have any papers to grade yet, and I don't have any money to run around spending.

Also, I was driving down Humphrey's Blvd today on my way to get my mom's car to her, and I noticed one of those giant, telephone(?), electric (?) poles that's made to look like a really big tree. Those are so weird. I mean...they kinda look like trees, but at the same time, they are just so totally not trees. It kind of freaks me out a little bit. I have trouble concentrating on driving when those things are around.

Seriously. I have NO conclusions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

2K9 From Behind

SO. The new year has begun, and I am already getting my ass kicked. It started in the parking lot of a lovely little Italian restaurant in Dallas, Texas. NO. Not that. I came out to my car after some pasta and wine to find the window of my rental car broken in, my back pack dug out from under the pile of clothes I thought I had cleverly hidden it with and whisked away to, I don't know, Ebay or something. I lost my computer, my copy of Emerson's Nature and Other Writings, my phone charger, my camera battery charger, my house keys (along with my Kroger plus card), my favorite jeans, and ALL (yes) ALL of my makeup. Granted, I never had a lot of makeup, but I had enough, and now it's all gone. I know. I KNOW. It should never have been in my car, but it was, and I can't go back and change it. I can only learn and grow and be miserable about it.

And, as if that wasn't enough, I returned home to find that my bike has mysteriously disappeared from the LOCKED foyer of my duplex. Tell me, if there is no broken glass, how did someone get in to take my bike if they were not let in?

In any case. My new year's resolution to ride my bike more is down the drain. I feel violated...and not in a good way. I feel powerless. I pretty much feel like the only thing I can do is sit here and be a little pissed about it, not a lot pissed because what does that do for me? I had a big long sad day on Sunday, and now I'm just trying to make sure that I am teaching enough classes to pay my bills this spring. I sure wish I had a bike though. Man.

What about a computer? Well. I feel lame. I feel like a crappy 29 year old. But, I let my dad buy me a new one. I'd like to make payments to him to pay him back for it over the next few months. I bet I could probably do that. I had this moment this morning (and this "moment" becomes more and more frequent the older I get) where I just broke down into this pile of mess crying about how I'm twenty-nine and I'm struggling to take care of myself. My dad was sweet and tried to tell me that he remembers struggling to take care of me and my mom when I was just a baby. I made the point that I can't take care of MYSELF, much less a wife and child. My ability to pay my bills is more solid at this point than it was this morning, but still not entirely guaranteed. At times the starving "artist" (teaching literature is totally an art) is a real inspiration, but there are times when it's kind of ridiculous not being able to pay for things...ever.

I am going to build my new bike. I'm going to the Co-op, and I'm going to build a new bike. 2K9 is not the boss of me. It's not my real mom so it cannot tell me what to do.

Can I borrow some money?
Just kidding.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Sun is Setting in the West

Here I sit, at a coffee shop in Denton, Texas, the only place, so far, I can find with free wi-fi. What happened to the freedom of the American west? The great wide open spaces? I'll tell you what's happened: They've been filled with apartment complexes, highway interchanges, shopping malls, and chain restaurants. It's not all bad. I've managed to find (be introduced to) a number of bars sporting gigantic beer lists, and you can imagine how happy that made me. It's also like, 75 degrees with glorious sunshine.

What the hell are you doing sitting in a damn coffee shop?!?!! Satiating two addictions, my friends.

I drove to Texas in a Ford Focus that listens when I talk and obeys my commands. I also drove in the ice. It made this "error" sound when I asked it to make the ice go away. Technology can't fix everything.

It's funny being back here, and driving around old streets I used to drive down every day. It comes back to me gradually. I don't know the way when I leave so it's like playing the original mario brothers, the path becomes clear to you as you continue down it. Kinda like life. Blah blah. I've been taking a lot of pictures, trying to capture the essence of "my" Texas. I've taken entirely too many pictures. It's had a tiny mind clearing effect. That may be just the time away from Memphis.

Let's look at some pictures:
This is a minor monstrosity on one of the millions of different freeways that zig-zag through the city.

Here is the great western expanse: Filled with telephone poles, strip malls, and apartment complexes.

This, my friends, is the very first apartment that I lived in an paid for on my own. I was 22. I painted it green.

This is my good friend Isaiah amidst the glowing welcome of the Galeria Shopping center.

And here's the city as seen from White Rock Lake Park. Fitting for the title, eh?