Reality Bites

Three and a half weeks. Twenty-three days. Five hundred fifty-two hours. Thirty-three thousand one hundred twenty minutes. That is how much time remains until Christmas break.

It’s a bit comical that school resumed from a week long Thanksgiving break today and I am already counting down until the next one.  Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I have the best kids that a freshman Pre-AP English teacher could wish for.

It’s just that I feel I can’t hear myself between the shuffling of papers, clickety-clack of keyboards, white noise of whispered conversations and sometimes garbage truck rumblings of class discussions, and the high pitched bleating of a period bell. Even now I am struggling to really put out what I mean because thoughts of tomorrow’s lessons and papers that need to be graded are vortex within me.

Last night, I wasn’t tired when it became time for bed. I wanted to write, but the words were stuck behind the grading, planning, and professional development I felt I should’ve done over the break. Instead, I stayed up to watch a few episodes of the show I’m currently bingeing. Two and a half hours after I should’ve been asleep, I lay stationery in bed while my mind raced against the coming of an early morning.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, a few tendrils of light filtering through my curtains lit up the edge of the journal on my nightstand like an invitation. I tried to remember when I had last written an entry and what that entry had concerned. I knew then the real question should have been why haven’t I written in so long.

Before the Thanksgiving break, I was a frenetic madwoman on the precipice of panic. I teetered back and forth in the cacophony of sound that was my day to day, and my ability to be who was needed in the classroom and in my relationship started to fail. Over the break, I had the chance to listen and to write and to renew. I knew this is what I needed, of course. It’s just sometimes that voice is drowned out by life.

Looking at the neglected pages of the journal, I was promptly reminded that I am only as successful as my ability to hear myself emptied upon the page.

In response to Daily Prompt: Bite
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Silence” by pasja1000 (CCO Public Domain)

The Smallness of Us

There are these moments when I picture myself benevolently aged, a bittersweet smile of the past playing about the crow-footed corners of my eyes.  What I wouldn’t give to have a conversation with her.  The woman who weathered storms.  The woman who brought storms.  

What would she think of me with my self-pity and social angst?  

“Child,” she would say, sipping Zinfandel through her favorite My Little Pony mug a lover from long ago gave to her, “It is not the darkness in the life of an artist that creates art.  It is the hope that the darkness will end that helps the artist create life through art.”

I would cast a side-eyed glance at her, but since we occupy the same mind and body, she would guffaw at me and kiss her teeth as she knocked back another swig.

“It’s just like that story we loved as a girl and would always cry at every time we came back to it.  You know… the one where the guy crashes his plane in the desert and meets the alien boy and he tells him this story about a fox and a rose,” she would prattle on.

“Le Petit Prince,” I’d sigh back.  “Everything that is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“Exactly. Except there are also scars the eye cannot see, but that doesn’t mean we let them pervert our heart,” she’d sagely nod in the annoying way old people do right before she takes another gulp which causes Twilight Sparkle to mock me with her smug smile.  “Like this wine.  The fruit of which is sweet from the vine but fermented can leave a bitter aftertaste both in the mouth and in the actions taken under imbibed persuasion.”  

Adding punctuation to her words, she would put the mug down and lean forward in her chair, donning the doggedness that my mother wore when you knew she was right, when you knew she didn’t bring the storm but was the storm, “We must savor the delicacies of our lives, no matter how bitter.  We must not take for granted the world within the smallness of us.”

In response to Daily Prompt: Savor
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Storm” by Free-Photos (CC0 Public Domain)

Shipwrecked

These words were actually written a month ago. Not a lot has changed, but at least I’m writing again.

Each day I do in exercise in self-loathing.  I turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it.  I disrobe and step into the billowing steam.  The water flushes my skin scarlet with anger, humiliation, confusion, and remorse.  I lay my head against the tiles and I close my eyes.  As a literature teacher, I know water is supposed to be a symbolic cleansing.  As a human being, I know this is just a figure of speech.  There is nothing that can expunge shame.

It’s been a long time since I did this – poured myself out onto a page and shared out for the world to see.  These past few months have seen irrevocable change, and things are much darker than they ever have been.  It’s as if the light optimism of my youth reeked like the dead and was buried in secret haste.  Only something foul clawed its way out.

Once upon a time I knew who I was or at least had solidly clung to its semblance has to have that perception.  I am still amazed at how that concept is so fluid and temporary, how the winds of fortune or misfortune can shift the sail of the H.M.S. Identity.

I don’t expect understanding.  I don’t expect sentiment and encouragement.  I don’t expect any words I put down to make any sense to anyone let alone myself.  Without a rudder, I am aimless, and these words I’m stringing together do not provide the relief I so desperately seek.

In response to Daily Prompt: Bury
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Shipwreck” by tpsdave (CC0 Public Domain)

Antiseptic

This new antiseptic aesthetic
has erased the trappings
of what it means to be human,
slandering the gamut
of emotions and experiences
which define our very existence.

I thought I knew what I wanted to write about when my fingers flew over the keys and the words above poured forth.  Sitting here, now 15 minutes later, there are no other words bubbling up.  Truthfully, it wouldn’t matter if the words that came next moved the mountainous foundations of the hardest hearts.  They would be empty because I am deflated.

This is how I feel – antiseptic.  Stripped bare of all the fierceness of my human frailty.  That in a society that spends its good names in service of some “money knows best” dais of superiority, there is no room left to feel anything else.  It just hurts too damn much.  The words, at least for today, are in short supply.

In response to Daily Prompt: Aesthetic
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Depression” by Unsplash (CC0 Public Domain)

Optimizer Prime

If an item on the table is askew, I will square it.  If a drawer is left ajar, I will shut it.  If something needs to be done, I will devise a strategy to accomplish it.  If finances need to be assessed, I will budget them.  If a project needs to be completed, I will manage it.  If you need a superhero who has great attention to detail, I’m your girl.

When I read the most recent Discover Challenge, I had no clue what my superpower would be.  I don’t particularly excel at anything unless you count procrastination.  Instead, I turned to my significant other to find out what he thought my superpower might be.  His response was immediate and without hesitation: Optimizing systems.

I’m not kidding.  Those were his words.  Who even says that?  Perhaps his superpower is clever turns of phrase, but I digress.

After seeking affirmation that it meant what I thought it did, I learned I excel at planning, organizing, management, and just generally bossing people around.  Only slightly joking about that last part.  Pleasure surges through me at defeating to-do lists, and I relish saving the day with a well-coordinated system of schedules and events.  There is no project too great, no party too small.  I approach each one methodically and analyze it all.

However, my meticulous planning and insistence on having things “just so” seems a hindrance at times.  When plans don’t “go to plan”, I can spiral down and lose focus.  My arch-nemesis, loss of control, has caused anxiety attacks, but like any superhero worth their cape, I have found ways to combat its poisonous barbs.  It helps to breathe, reassess, and approach with a slight feint to the right and the one-two punch of Plan B.  Chocolate and cherry coke help, too.  

Managing a classroom, organizing a school, tracking the plots of multiple books, arranging social events for a state convention, assisting with the operation of one of the largest guilds in a MMO, balancing the countless tasks that need to be completed before week’s end on Friday – Optimizing systems is a tough job. But somebody has to do it.

In response to Discover Challenge: Superpower
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Superhero” by alan9187 (CC0 Public Domain)

Hello, 2017

The ball in New York dropped.  In Texas, the last few minutes of 2016 tick away.  I had considered seeking out some event to attend to ring in 2017, but I am spending a quiet night at home with the love of my life instead.  Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to welcome the passage of time.

In my perusal of blogs reminiscing about the past and looking forward to the future, one theme holds prominent – hope.  It’s such a simple word that carries the weight of immeasurable possibility.  I think we as a society, a brotherhood of human beings, could do with a little more hope in our lives.  The simple act of having enough faith to hope can change many worlds.

So, here is to you my my fellow writer, reader, friend, lover, brother, sister, father, mother: I hope your New Year is as full of every kind of love, joy, kindness, achievement, and possibility you dream.

Happy New Year!

In response to Daily Prompt: Hopeful
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Winter Bloom” by LarsBorris (CC0 Public Domain)

Hope and Purpose

As the year wanes towards the New Year, we seek resolutions to work towards in the coming days.  I don’t know about you, but I have yet to carry through a single resolution since I remember making my first one back when I was fourteen or fifteen.  Still, these resolutions give us a sense of purpose and determination, however fleeting, as we return to activities long since dropped since March or April of the year before.  In this sense, we find some renewal.  Some hope.

As an educator, I am afforded two weeks at Christmas as a “vacation”.  I use quotations because anyone who has worked or is working in education knows that we only dream of vacations when we’re really attending professional development, pinning lesson ideas, wondering how our students are doing, or just generally curled up in a ball binge watching our favorite shows while we anxiously obsess over all the things we know we should be doing to prepare for students to return but find little will to actually do it.  Maybe that last part is just me, though.

The truth of the matter is celebrating Christmas is hard.  With all the good cheer floating like snowflakes through the air, the loss of my dearest loved ones fills me with a chill.  It’s hard to let the season fill me when the absence feels so deep.  Sometimes crying can break the ice, so that other emotions can fill up the well in our souls.  My tears just won’t fall.  With this in mind and knowing I can’t let my heart freeze, I’m going to looking forward.  I’m will break the ice with hope and purpose.

Carrie’s Top 5 Determinations for Hope and Purpose in 2017:

  • Blog at least twice a week: You can dust off and brush up something you’ve written before, but be sure you are actively writing.
  • Keep track of at least one happy moment during the week with a “Ray of Sunshine Jar”.  Open it up and read a few if you need a little sunshine in your life!
  • Be healthy enough to wear the sailboat dress that Mom always wanted to wear
  • Tell someone you love them – every day.  You never know when it will be their last time to hear it or your last time to say it.
  • Read, read, read!  Seriously.  You’re an English teacher.  It’s kind of in the job description, anyways.
In response to Daily Prompt: Renewal
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Sparkler” by Unsplash (CC0 Public Domain)