Musings, Unbound

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)
Musings, Poetry, Unbound

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)
Musings, Unbound

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)
Musings, Unbound

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)
Musings, Unbound

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) 
Musings, Unbound

Hollow Year

What is existence?  How do we construct its purpose?  When we do manage to wrestle some menial sense of direction, how do we know it’s not something contrived, something shoehorned in in the last moment?  These are questions I have been wrestling with, and they’ve only become more prevalent and urgent in the past couple of weeks.  

When I was younger, I had many ideas about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  A marine biologist discovering the secrets of the Marianas Trench.  A paleontologist filling in holes in the historical timeline.  A secret agent protecting the world from untold doom.  An astronaut and first woman to have her baby on the moon.  What grand dreams!

I also wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to be one since I was in kindergarten.  It was the safe dream, but it was my dream nonetheless.  I made it happen and loved every minute of it.  Until, I didn’t anymore.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are still days when I believe that I’ll only be alive if I work with young minds.  Then there are the days, even after eight years, where I sit in my car during lunch and cry.  It used to be these days were few and far between.  Now, the marks on the calendar tell me this is more than just a passing phase.  This is where I am, that bittersweet moment where you know the dream is ending.

So, I ask again what is existence?  How do we construct its purpose?  Do we define it by what we do?  Do we define it by who we become?  Do we define it by those we keep in our life?  Do we define it by family?  Do we define it by those things we have left undone but intended to do all along?  Really, I think all of these just ring hollow through the years.  Really, I think the answer is there is no answer.

Perhaps, it’s because the summer of my life is tending towards fall, and I have no real harvest to speak of to bring in that I am asking all these questions.  Perhaps it’s the impending winter days which seem much shorter and the nights much colder that I am seeking to rekindle some truth to keep me warm.  Perhaps, I should take the wisdom of a student who passionately interrupted our discussion on the fallibility of mankind in “By the Waters of Babylon” earlier in the week with “Miss, it’s too early for an existential crisis!”

In response to Daily Prompt: Construct
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Hollow” by Daswortgewand (CC0 Public Domain)
Musings, Unbound

The Pause

Pictures this: You are lying in bed, and the gramophone in your brain is winding down its last tune.  It’s soft serenade is lulling you into sweet repose, and the Sandman, that darling little cherub, is preparing a graceful sprinkling of dust to send you over into dreamland.  Then someone’s big hips bump the table.  The needle scratches across the groove, the Sandman rolls his eyes, snaps his fingers, and disappears, and you’re left with an infinite rehashing of every.single.blasted.thing.you.still.need.to.do.

As an educator, this is almost every night.  Even the glorious, though poorly named, “Holiday” and “Summer Break” offers little in the way of respite.  Last night on the eve of returning from Thanksgiving and making the final turn towards Christmas break, visions of writing assignments and short stories and classroom discussions danced in my head.  Even today, I could not stop my mind from leaping forward.  How sad the silent urgency to always be planning instead of stopping to enjoy the moment with your students.

When I first started composing this post, I was on lunch.  That delicious 30 minutes of time during the middle of the day when I have the opportunity to turn my thoughts inward.  I had intended to write about an educator’s need and, dare I say desire, to burn the midnight oil.  Now, it is well on in the evening, and that midnight oil has already been burning my vigor for a couple of hours.  Even in typing these words, I’ve just realized I do not want to write about work.  At least, not tonight.

A few years ago, I blogged only about education: my students, my experiences (both good and bad), the newest educational technologies, and a myriad of other educationally related topics.  Then I stopped.  Cold turkey.  I even cut off my incessant microblogging using Twitter.  It’s been relatively quiet in my head for the past couple of years.

I’m not saying I’ll never write about work.  I think it crucial for personal progress that we become introspective and reflect, regardless of our stated professions.  However, I think there is a fine line between reflecting and obsessing.  Obsessions consume you like always discussing your job consumes conversations.  

If you live in between the grooves of the record, you might always be stuck there.  This is the proverbial “life is what happens when you’re making plans” soundtrack skipping.  There will always be another record to play.  For right now, it’s time to live in the pause.

In response to Daily Prompt: Vigor
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Gramophone” by Bogitw (CC0 Public Domain)