I have been, and always will be, a little bit of a child.  I can’t help it.  I like to think this makes me charming, but to most it probably makes me flighty and inconsistent.  Like a child, I am totally fascinated by whatever surrounds me, and while I can supplement it with imagination, don’t usually supplement it with anything practical.  Case in point:  I am terrible at communicating with old friends, though I will reply to messages they send me.  More often, however, I comb the interwebs for information about them and imagine them happily doing well rather than actually speaking.  Forgive me friends, I try.  This unfortunate personality trait left me feeling a bit lonely when I first landed in Small Town.

That isn’t to say I had no one to talk to.  I had a cousin in Big City, and I spent several weekends with him.  We saw movies, went to concerts, frequented coffee shops, and visited churches.  That last one was exciting.  I grew up in a very conservative church, where you at least tried to dress up on Sunday and definitely spoke formally.  This church was frequented by people in dreadlocks, skinny jeans, and flannel, who brought their toddler daughters in big, puffy, Sunday dresses.  Weird.  As much fun as I had with my cousin, it was very obviously his life and his friends.  Visits were awesome, but ultimately left me feeling a bit more lonely at the fact I had no life.

There was also the occasional meeting with my mentors.  They are great people, but I felt a little uneasy around them at first.  Though, through them that first week I found out that Small Town had a small circle of swingers.  I also found out that the mayor’s wife had a chest so big a shop made special, mayor’s wife sock monkeys to celebrate her more than healthy assets.  My mentors were a great source of information, but I wasn’t sure how much I could share with them at first.  Our conversations were super one-sided.

Those weren’t my only outlets for conversation.  I also experienced a new, adulty, very small-towny tradition:  potluck dinners.  I went to two.  One I successfully made a dish.  The other I set off the fire alarm as my cake literally caught on fire.  Whoops.  I would inevitably bring whatever I could scrap together to a coworkers house, apologize for the fact it might only be a cup of raspberry sauce, watch their infant children roll on the carpet, and feel really awkward that I had no child or husband to discuss.  I felt more than a bit out of place.  While I made a lovely set of acquaintances, Small Town still felt lonely.

One night, as I felt sorry for myself and played Pokemon rather than lesson plan, something amazing happened.  A big, pentagonal bug flew to my window.  It was bright green, and unlike anything I had every seen.  I knocked at it.  It sat still.  I knocked again.  It still sat still.  I feel, in this moment, we bonded.  And then it did something amazing: it laid many little eggs in a pentagon shape.  I understood immediately:  she was trusting me with her children, and giving me friends.  After all, we had a lot in common, little bugs and I.  We were all new in town, living in tiny spaces, and just waiting to bust out of our shells and dazzle all with our flashy ways.  It was a match made in heaven.

Soon after, my orientation started, and I met the other new teachers.  They were really cool, and I actually bonded with a few.  We started talking more regularly.  Success!! Then, I met another person at CPR class.  Apparently this person hated being touched, but our first interaction was me putting my finger in her belly button as we practiced the Heimlich.  Score.  Later that night, she zipped up my dress in the back of another coworkers car, and huddled awkwardly with me when we were forced to socialize.  Score, another friend.  Finally, in a moment of ridiculousness, I visited my downstairs neighbor, offered her raspberry sauce (damn you burnt chocolate cake), and proceeded to booty drop in the middle of her floor.  This odd first impression somehow led to a friendship that never really changed in tone.  Win! I succeeded in making human friends!

Not long after all this, I noticed my bug friends were no longer content to sit in their pretty green eggs.  They busted out, little brown and bright red circles with bunches of scrawny bug legs, and flew away.  We haven’t spoken in a while, but I am sure their flashy colors have impressed some other bugs out there.

Some say that everything happens for a reason, and some say that reason is misery.  People that I respect and people that I… somewhat less than respect have supported both views.  But I, I think, would find myself more in line with the former.  Except, I think the causality is to be questioned.  In my opinion, we can assign a reason to every happening.  That reason may change the course of future events, that lesson can change how you think about new situations, but it is definitely you that assigns that meaning.  So forgive me, dear readers, if I don’t credit fate with my journey.

In the summer of 2010 I found myself without a job.  I applied to several teaching positions, and had been denied in several odd and unusually cruel ways.  Once, a school decided not to call me for my phone interview, meaning that I woke up early to compensate for the time difference and waited for an hour by a deathly silent cell phone.  One school spent my entire interview making comments about how I looked very young, so young, too young, and then never called me again.  After a barrage of these no’s, I was feeling rather discouraged, and decided to throw my lot in for a lab tech job, something I knew I was awesomely qualified for, but would bore me to tears regularly.

And then it happened.  I received a phone call, asking if I would come to Small Town to interview for a position as a chemistry teacher.  It would also involve me living in a dorm for high school girl boarding students.  I thought to myself, “No way this is gonna happen”, and said I would get on the next flight.

The night before my exciting adventure, I donned a full-on lemur costume.  This was to satisfy an obligation to my in-betwen-jobs job.  I could probably fit my entire body into the head of this costume.  It was big, it was hot.  Before I put on the costume, I had sushi, and then marched out into the 90 degree weather.  Punch line: I ended up puking my guts out.  This meant that when I left for my interview, all I could stomach was pretzels and Coke.  Flying was miserable.

I landed a little late in Big City next to Small Town, and was picked up by a prospective co-worker.  We spoke a bit about my flight, about the school, and about better pranks the students could pull.  All in all, it was awesome.  And then she informed we would be going to dinner in Mid-size Town, to a Chicago-style pizza place.  My poor little stomach flip-flopped, and I thought I would be sick again.

However, I powered through.  We met up with yet another coworker, and as I nibbled my pizza we talked about music and Roald Dahl short stories.  I wasn’t nervous, because I was convinced I wouldn’t get the job.  It was lovely.  Then I piled into second prospective coworkers car, and pulled out onto a road that wound its way through hills and farms.  I could see cows, and a tiny cemetery, and I started to grasp that I was travelling to the middle of nowhere.  About half way down, I was presented with the mystery of the town.   We paused at a gate in front of what would probably be a big house, though it could not be seen.  There were, however, construction materials and tents.  Not just any tents, but animal skin, teepee looking tents.  Apparently, best guesses as to what the building may be were: 1) Cult community 2) New home for Kid Rock.  I hoped for the former.  We had to move, because the security cameras at the gate were starting to bear down on our heads, and the sun was beginning to set.

I pulled into Small Town at twilight, and found myself faced with two antique shops, a small cafe, a coffee shop, and that was essentially it.  If I had sneezed, I might have missed the downtown area.  Additionally, twilight did not emphasize any good sides.  The town looked a bit seedy and sad.  As we passed the volunteer fire department, I was told there once was a supposed arsonist setting fires all over the town.  Apparently, it was just bored members of the fire department looking to practice their skills.  Oh yes, Small Town held secrets, including links to Crazy Town, and I was suddenly determined to find them out.

The school itself had a beautiful campus, and as we drove around it as the sun set, I realized that I could kind of like it here (sing it, Annie).  We then pulled in to a little Bed and Breakfast.  The building was an 1890s Victorian house, the furniture entirely antique, and the hosts two of the sweetest people I ever met.  Over breakfast the next morning, while I again nibbled at toast and tried to stop myself from vomiting, the man told me about the history of the school, and his time in the armed services, and to imagine everyone was naked if I got nervous.  He took me to my interview, even though I could walk, so I wouldn’t get my suit sweaty.  The interviews went quickly but successfully, and I found myself liking Small Town even more.  Then I bustled into another car, left Small Town on a different road (there are only 3 ways in and out), and later found myself buying a big bag of pretzels in Big City airport.

A few days later, while driving to an interview for a lab tech job, I heard I got the teaching position.  At 11 on the night of that interview I heard I got the lab tech job as well.  I found myself e-mailing the school to say I would accept, and gearing up for a bumpy ride.

There are thousands of small towns all across America.  From Lynchburg, Tennessee , home of the one and only Jack Daniels distillery and also, conveniently, located in a dry county; to Botkins, Ohio, “Where the waters divide and the people unite”, made famous as the hometown of Kent Boyd, that first runner-up on So You Think You Can Dance; to Aynor, South Carolina, famous for… nothing.  These small towns have their own charms, their own customs, and their own interesting contributions to make to the world.  They mean something mighty special to their inhabitants, and that just about justifies their existence.

I grew up in Staten Island, New York, the exact opposite of  small town.  I hustled, and I bustled.  I learned to talk fast and ignore people on the street.  I learned to walk quickly and like I had a purpose, even though I usually had no idea where I was going.  I learned to live with the guidos, a thought that still makes me shudder.  When I left the nest, I went to a pretty large university in yet another city, where it was easy to fade in to anonymity.  It was also easy to find someone to talk to, a fun and bizarre activity, and any type of food you would really want to eat.  And yet, at the end of my four years of learning, I found myself moving to a town with a population of almost 400.

And so began one of the most interesting and rewarding years of my life.  I quickly made friends with a wacky troupe of super hero spies (otherwise known as teachers), became a mother (dorm mother), and somehow found myself teaching young’uns chemistry (by young’uns, I mean teens about 5 years younger than me).  These experiences were too good to waste, and so I shall document them here.  I will try to avoid specifics to protect the innocent, but who knows how long that will last.

One note that I must make before starting this exciting writing adventure.  My mind is already confusing the details, my brain re-etching the memories with subtle changes.  Memory is an imperfect lens that distorts a scene differently upon each viewing.  I see this being a long project, but it may only last two posts.  I would like this to be pretty accurate, but chances are I am already confused.  Who knows?  If nothing else, I have great hope this will entertaining.

So buckle up, ring the bells, this journey is about to begin.

 

Do you ever worry just to worry? You don’t really mean to, but before you know it you’ve whipped yourself into a completely irrational state for no reason.

Of course, you never really plan to worry. What you notice is something small and insignificant. But then the whirlpool begins in your head, and that tiny confusion erupts into a jumble of ridiculousness. You know it doesn’t make sense, it just happens.

I am a master at this. I tell myself I am a risk taker, but before I take those risks I inevitable freak out secretly but massively.

Regardless of the reason, it would be a shame to let such a silly thing get in my way. So I won’t. I think the worst thing to do is watch life slip by in the name of comfort. Comfort should be a reward for finally taking the right risk.

I guess this is my pledge to you. I will fight that whirlpool.

Dear trees,

Please, stop trying to mate on me.  I find your pollen in my hair, on my car, in my room, everywhere.  I am essentially bathing in your sperm.  It is awful.  This is the equivalent of a guy spontaneously ejaculating everywhere, hoping to land on a female of the correct species.  “Squirrel, damn, not a human.  Male, sorry dude.  Flower… bitch.  Better keep going.”  I mean, I know its all “survival of the fittest”, and make the most babies to repopulate the world.  But come on, for reals?  Do we humans do this to you?  Ok, I mean, I guess there have been a few isolated incidents, but they are definitely not the norm (and not comfortable).

On the other hand, dear trees, I suppose you don’t pick and eat wombs.  We take your flowers, your fruit, and then leave your young scattered on the ground.  You leave us fairly alone, except for the mating thing.  But damn, the mating leads to sickness and disease (and by that, I mean allergies)!  Trees, you ruin my respiration rate, and you ruin my life.  While I appreciate the light filtering through your bright green leaves that crisscross across my roadways and beautify my existence, I don’t appreciate the coating of yellow gunk over the rest of the world.

Dear nature, please send rain.  Rain to wash my car, wash away the powdery coating of tree sperm.  Rain to ease my allergies, to cure my soul.  Rain that washes clean the world.  Just don’t make it cold rain.

kthxbye.

I owe this blog post/ rebeginning to four people:

1) My first loyal reader, and the one person who asks me if I blogged recently every time we speak.

2) My dear friend whose blog is truly an inspiring and intimidating art form, and who also pointed out that blogging is a wonderful way to practice writing in a more non-formal setting.

3 and 4) My partners in crime on our new music blog.  Your pressure to blog on our other forum pushes me to blog here.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I have forgotten all the memories of posts I was dubious of, and am left with the happy memories of my more interesting statements.  Its funny how that all works.  Because you know for the mind, absence just leads to unfortunateness.

Think about it: when has lacking something benefited your mind?  Okay, maybe with time you get re-accustomed to living without it, but first go round it sucks.  Worry, confusion, pain, and confusion all take its place.  Let’s take this blog for instance.  In my first few times not writing, I was forced to procrastinate some other way.  It escaped me.  You know how I fixed it?  Reading a story about architectural bestiality.  If that is not confusion, I don’t know what is.  Another example:  not hearing a decision after an interview.  You know what happens:  worry.  Absolute terror that every time you answer the phone, check your e-mail, or get the mail, you will have a rejection notification.  You know what else happens?  Confusion about how what you thought was a good interview could betray you so.  Truly pathetic.  Absence of communication?  Don’t even get me started.  “Is this a date?   Did I just screw this up?  Was I supposed to add crystallized sugar or confectioner’s sugar?  Was this due today?  Are you coming on to me, or am I coming on to you, or neither?”  Ok, I got started.  Sorry.

Let’s just look at this:  a story with the absence of an authority.  People hear it, interpret it, and pass it on in a slightly more fuzzy form.  In the end, no one is around who knows the original, so a thousand rumors are allowed to circulate.  An example:  it all started with a little girl whose tree she planted at her mothers grave magically gave her items for use, and helped her get the help of woodland creatures.  A few more tellings later, she was helped by a fairy godmother (with and without the bibbity, bobbity, boo).  But those are not the only theories.  Some of my favorites:  confused glass worker making a sales pitch, a loopy kleptomaniac, Whitney Houston, and an enterprising Renaissance artist who understood the values of love and leverage.  Anyone else see some patterns here?  I mean, I don’t, other than the general craziness that ensues.  But that is the pattern I see all the time! Craziness ensuing for no reason.

So heart, what is your secret?  How have you adapted to rid yourself of confusion, and bring in fondness?  I will pay you a cookie!

Alas, I don’t think I will find my answer this way.  It was worth a try.

Sometimes I wonder why there are so many sad songs floating around on my i-Pod.  At one point I tried to compile all my sad songs into one playlist, just to see how many I had.  I never finished.  I never even got halfway.  I stopped at 3,000 songs.  Some may point and yell “Emo!” while others simply “pathetic”, but they serve a useful function on days like today.

My confidence has been deeply shaken.  I didn’t see the hairline fractures forming, or I might have been able to apply some superglue before the whole thing started to crumble.  But alas, now I am left with many tiny small pieces instead of a few big ones, and placing them back together takes effort that I am honestly too disillusioned to expend right now.  Those that said “Emo” before are now running away to a different blog to save their eyes from bleeding.  They left before I could say it was a good thing.

I realized that when I last rebuilt my confidence, I focused on traits that meant a lot to me.  They were traits that I felt I could rely on to remind myself that I was awesome when I was down.  They also sound really simple now:  sweet, nurturing, intelligent, strong, you get the idea.  I sound like the poster candidate for Darwin’s mother of the year (strong and nurturing, sure to make sure your young have the best chance of survival).  Anyways, I never defined the way I wanted to measure them.  It never crossed my mind to think about that.  It just didn’t seem important.   Add that to the fact that I live in a highly competitive environment, where grades are based off the class’ relative scores, and everybody is fighting each other to obtain prime positions for the future, whether that be a job or grad school, and things get a little messy.  So, flash forward a bit, and suddenly a few not-so-good test grades approach all in a line (like some twisted Madeline story).  This leads me to believe that maybe I am not as intelligent as I thought.  Crumble a bit.  Add this to a couple of other examples, and more parts crumble.  Fast forward to me listening to The Weepies “Gotta Have You”, eating milk chocolate, drinking a Mike’s Hard Lime, and blogging.

My confidence is now crumbly as a pound cake, but upon reflection, I realized that I don’t want to judge myself that way.  In fact, it goes against most of my personal beliefs.  I got swept away, and couldn’t turn back until the damage was done.  Now that it’s done, I feel a bit worse for not realizing what I was doing.  Live and learn, I suppose.

This may have happened to me now, but I feel like this is a common problem for a lot of people.  Everyone is so hesitant to fully define everything, be it confidence measures, relationships, or a whole spectrum of sillyness.  Instead, they leave it open, and then get hurt when something undefined quite definitely slaps them in the face.  Maybe if they defined the glove, they would have seen it before it met cheek.  From now on, things have to be defined for me.  They can always be revised or augmented later, but I need to know what I am facing.

Until then, let me draw a little bit more on my Mike’s Lime and let The Weepies keep singing:

“No amount of coffee, no amount of crying, no amount of whiskey, no amount of wine.  Nothing else will do.  I’ve gotta have you”.

I was just thinking…

Nothing spells existential crisis like graduation.  The ideas of taking responsibility for my actions, finally accepting my future, and attempting to make a life for myself are so fantastically horrifying that they can’t help but make me question every plan I have ever made.  At the same time, they are exhilarating, because they are a new beginning.  I can’t guarantee that the change will be startling, or drastic, or wonderful, but as I stand at this brink I think I am ready to embrace the rushing air of my new choices coming up to meet me.  At the same time, I just don’t think I can let go of some things…

So much of life is interpreted and defined by circumstance.  Every time someone tells us a story, we ask questions attempting to figure out the situation, the tone of voice, the place, the time, and any other detail we can glean from the storyteller.  It’s something we do everyday, and intrinsically changes a situation.  For example, if I lay my head on a friend’s shoulder in broad daylight while standing, I may just be tired or cuddly, but the action is usually platonic.  Now, if I were to lay my head on someone’s shoulder at night while sitting on a couch under a blanket and watching a movie, it may be interpreted as more than a platonic thing.  As commonplace as this is, it still remains difficult to do.  I can never interpret my circumstances…

I always blog when I am busy.  It soothes me, but consequently leads to me not doing the work I should be doing, and so also brings on a new round of stress.  It’s a nasty cycle, but one that I won’t end anytime soon…

I always feel like it’s raining when I’m in statistics…

I think some of my greatest joys come when I am sleeping…

No memory is a correct log of past event.  Memories, on a neurological level, are just patterns of neuron activation.  The stronger the memory, the thicker the circuitry is between those neurons.  In order to get a strong memory, you have to think about it often.  However, accessing it means that you are reflecting on it in a different mood and a different situation, and that information gets encoded in your memory too.  Bottom line:  every time you remember a memory it changes.   It makes me wonder if the emotional nuances I value so dearly are really just me playing tricks on myself.  Did I really remember that bit of emotion in your voice, or is that just my mind upon realizing I have an unrequited crush on you?  Who knows?  All I know is these faulty logs play into the circumstances I perceive, so they help make life a choose-you’re-own-adventure…

Well, sleep overcomes me.  Good night all.

There is a correlation between health and marriage, in that healthier people are more likely to be married.  Did you know that?  This was a recent discovery for me.  Though there is no conclusive evidence for this, I am going to construe that this correlation was first conceived when humans recognized their need for entanglement in another person.  And I am not just talking about the entanglement that occurs when enveloped by white sheets and a testosterone-driven haze.  I am talking about the need for a person who comforts and celebrates with you, who ties his happiness to yours, and who explores your personality penumbras because no one else will.  And if this person can tolerate your need to accumulate all the allowable alliterative allure in a sentence, then so much the better.  But I must also assume that healthier people also engage in healthier marriages born out of healthier relationships.  This is the sticking point, the reason there are so many love columns out there, the reason we confide so much in friends.  What qualifies as a healthy relationship, and how do you take the right path to build one?  Recent discussions with my friends have spurred me into thinking about this.  And so here I will attempt to elucidate some of the things I have been thinking about.

First, a relationship is nothing without two people.  Personally, I think every person deserves a certain modicum of respect, and that a significant other should deserve a certain bigger modicum.  Without respect, there can be no trust.  And trust is another deal breaker for me, and an unfortunate one in the current time.  I find that a fair amount of people try and equate trust with monogamy, but those people are sadly misguided.  Trust is so much more personal than that.  If anything, monogamy should grow out of trust, because I should trust you not to play reckless with my heart or my body, and that implies (at least for me) not sleeping with other people (or, as I would say in a normal conversation, no sleeping with bitches, because 3 oH 3! told me I can’t trust a ho).  For other people, playing reckless may be classified differently, and that brings us to necessity number three: communication.  No relationship can exist without communication.  And I am not just talking about the random barrage of questions that people ask to get to know each other.  I’m talking about the communication of what you want out of a relationship, what you can not tolerate, and what you can not stand.  It hinges on honesty, diplomacy, and a fair bit of reasoning.  In order to carry out this type of communication successfully, you need to respect and trust the other person, and thus we arrive at the beginning.

The circle of relationship essentials is imporant for me, but not all.  Let me just mention a few other qualities that I think are important.  One is patience, which is closely associated with tolerance, another one of favorties.  Perhaps this is just because, as previously discussed and probably inferred from this blog, I am awkward and insane, and I need a guy who can deal.  Another is creativity.  Whether it’s regarding the perpenidcular hula, an idea for a date, or a way to navigate out of a rough patch, creativity is a never a bad thing.  And while having similar interests is nice, two people’s interests rarely are completely in line.  So, for me, being interested just because you care is a nice little quality to have.

These are the basics, the things I think are important, spelled out for you, dear reader, because you are a captive audience who can not actually control what I type for you.  And also because this is what was on my mind.  Which brings me to this random and unrelated observation that I will close with.  The beauty of this blog is that I type what is on my mind at the time, and try to type it in a way that allows me construct some entertainment to hide behind while I am actually opening up myself to you.  This leads to an interesting view, because later me often disagrees or is heartily ashamed of previous me.  But for the first time ever, I think I will leave those blog posts untouched, instead of deleting the ones I hate.  They track my progress a bit, show me where I am coming from, and how badly sleep deprivation affects the thought process.  And after all, those posts don’t deserve to be deleted, after providing such an excellent method for procrastination.

I apologize for being MIA recently.  Life, unfortunately, finally caught up with me, and between working, studying for the GREs, and attempting to stay away from men trying to lure me into tents, my time was rather limited.  But today I am both inspired and in the mood to procrastinate, and so a blog post must be born. 

Have you ever wondered how other people’s minds work?  I do all the time.  Often, I wonder if people see the same colors I see.  It’s a completely legitimate concern, and I could outline it here for you, but that would be off topic and possibly long enough to be its own blog post.  Instead, let me throw this badly quoted line from the movie Playing by Heart at you:

“When I first met my husband, he asked me ‘Gracie, do you dream?’, and I said, ‘Yes.  From the moment I wake up until I go to bed at night’.”

I love that line, because it’s completely true for me.  If you were able to tap into my thoughts at random intervals throughout the day, I guarantee they would not be grounded in reality.  By default, if there is not an important topic weighing on my mind, I will start imagining myself in another place, scenario, or life.  I always have.  When I was little, I used to imagine myself into my favorite fairy tales.  When I couldn’t sleep, I would pick up right from where I last left off, and daydream until I could finally sleep.  They weren’t just random scenes or disconnected conversations, they were detailed and long story lines in my head.  As I got older, I didn’t stop.  I would imagine myself into my favorite books, and the plot lines slowly got more and more complicated.  Once, a friend and I were having a discussion about our fantasies.  I described the imagined back story to a fantasy running through my head at the moment, and it took me 45 minutes, because it was that complicated.  Mind you, that was before an imagined 7 year story actually took place. 

As I was driving my mom to work today, I began to wonder if other people thought the same things.  The message I took away from that conversation with a friend a few years ago was sort of.  He definitely had a fantasy, but it was definitely not as involved as mine was.  Is that because he didn’t think about it as often, or didn’t invest as much time or energy into it?  Or is this whole thing a sign that I never grew up?  I am a metaphorical mummy, who is so wrapped up in imagination the child has been preserved?  Considering some other personality traits, like jumping in puddles, giggling at stars, and eating copious amounts of candy, I may have to say yes.  But I also have to say that that isn’t a bad thing. 

I don’t think the children we were ever really stop existing.  I think they just get layered in the trappings of other ages.  And every once in a while, the child is able to break out of those layers and run wild for a bit.  I can see it in other people, and I have begun to notice that the child is definitely close to the surface in all my friends.  Granted, some of them are cynical children, who possess a child-like fascination in a topic until they could ruthlessly tear it apart and hand you the bottom line, but they are still children all the same. 

So I guess my challenge for you, dear reader (if you do exist and are not just another figment of my overactive imagination), is let that child run around for a bit.  Give it some exercise, because heaven knows there is little worse than a child stuck inside all day.

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