Substitute Teaching in my Old High School

It’s the end of the year for the kids in high school. I’m a substitute teacher now, living the high life, nearly exactly where I was when I sat in these very rooms.

My old high school is preparing itself for destruction, its replacement soaring lines of brick and mortar right over the old soccer field. This poor old building must feel like it’s being cheated on, abused by those who once loved it, those who use it without care, those who slam the doors and scratch the walls because, hey, we’re getting a new school after next year.

The kids are and always have been rather free in this school. A public school that trusts its children? Who could imagine.

This teacher has two teal staplers and one roll of transparent tape. Her desktop is otherwise blank, as well as her classroom, besides the elephant in the room in the form of a judge’s bench. It’s the legal systems classroom, where kids come to learn about laws that don’t yet apply to them. They learn about the ramifications of drinking and driving before they are legally able to do either. There’s not a single poster on the cinder blocks, only tears in the paint. An ancient chalkboard, black and empty, hangs beside a whiteboard, streaked in blue, and a Smartboard, the dirty placid feel of printed paper.

The girls’ hair falls in pin-straight strands over their shoulders, or pinned up in a bun on the top of their head, or frizzing out of a ponytail. The lone boy stares at his phone. The door might as well be revolving, but I don’t bother to close it. It is, after all, the last day of classes.

They figure their next year schedule on their cell phones. A friend comes in, smiles at me, and sits on the top of a desk. A girl juggles a slinky, drops it against the legs of her desk with the sound of cymbals.

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New Novel

I’ve been almost done with this novel for months now.

Maybe that’s actually fast in the literary world. I once read that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid took the author like, nine years to finish. Of course, he probably had a job and kids and a wife or whatever. Me? It’s just me.

I get discouraged. I open it up, all of its 88,000 words and like, 250 pages or whatever, and I see all of my 145 comments of things to change, and I just get sad. There’s so much more to do, and I’ve already written it over three full times.

Going into a bookstore is like getting reprimanded. LOOK at all these books. Surely, by odds alone, mine has to be better than some of them. At least one. It would be statistically impossible, otherwise. Someone would publish my book as is, right? It’s interesting. It’s well written. It’s certainly long enough, for the first time.

So why can’t I just finish it and send it somewhere?

Because I’m scared. Not of a publisher rejecting it, but of a publisher accepting it, and giving me a sign-on bonus or whatever, and going through cover design and marketing, and holding my first hardcover copy and crying and flipping through it, and going to Barnes and Nobel and not finding it but a week later finally seeing it…and then only selling 400 copies.

Not terrible, but nothing good, either. And no awards, no nothing. And then years later seeing it in a bargain bin at Big Lots.

All those books, even the worst ones, went through a similarly heart-breaking process of writing, rewriting, rejection, waiting and waiting…I am fragile, I am sad, I am overwhelmingly pessimistic to the point where it’s annoying even to myself. I don’t know if I have the strength to do this, despite my finger-trembling desire.

I’m going to, obviously. I just keep putting it off. Which is horrible.

But you, metaphorical you who knows me better than I know myself, who can bear to read back in this blog and see the “ME” I pretended to be for you, the ME who viewed my wordpress stats and had high hopes for advertisers and supporting myself off this silly blog, YOU say it’s worth it. YOU say being an author is all I’ve ever wanted, what I’ve been working for every day of my life since I was in second grade.

You’re always so right.

reiki

today i tried reiki

and a woman with warm hands

washed energy from my head to my feet

with arms moving in figure eights.

 

i lay on the table like a woman about to be cut in half

and she ran up my spine in vertical lines

no one ever cured someone by pushing air around

but she seems so serious i can’t help but respect her.

 

i close my eyes and feel still

i can hear dogs–or are they coyotes?

i want to be the breath behind their teeth

i want to be the stone she holds between her palms.

 

she tells me to sleep with amethyst under my pillow

i tell her thank you

she knew my knees were bothering me

they hurt when they are straight.

 

i wanted her to tell me what was wrong with my mind

but i guess my knees are a start

and amethyst can’t hurt, anyway

what else can you do when you’re this desperate?

Hobbies begun

I know, I know. Another post after months and months just to talk about how I’m posting?

Nah.

I’m gonna talk about other hobbies I’ve left to die. Like sewing, with which I mend all the pants and pockets in the world. Which is good. I’ve made a handful of dolls and one skirt, and cut out all the pieces for a dress. And haven’t touched a needle this year.

Cooking. Of course, I cook almost every day. It’s the cook book I’ve left unopened on my desktop, wherein we were meant to cook the national dish of every country we could find. That, unfortunately, has come to a halt.

I can’t even begin to list the amount of novels I’ve started to write but gave up on, three or two or half a draft in. The amount of books I’ve read a chapter of and stopped, the television series I saw a pilot or a season or even three then grew bored of.

I’m acting like this is something special, and of course it isn’t. And I’m neglecting the fact that every hobby I grew out of has given me something in return. I can sew, now, and could get back into it if I wished. I have the rudimentary beginnings of knitting, and embroidery. I could start up those novels or cookbooks or whatever.

I don’t really know what else to say, other than it makes me sad to see my bedroom as a sort of graveyard, to see these totems of lost hobbies–my pottery, my paintings, my old awards and costumes and my Wicca books and American Sign Language worksheets and yoga mat and ukulele and cello and German Rosetta Stone and stacks of paper I’ll probably never read.

And you, reader, if you have read any of my years-old posts, will remember my excitement at some of these things, and tell me that it wasn’t a waste, and these projects aren’t graves but memory figurines fit for a china cabinet. And I’ll say that’s probably a more optimistic way of looking at it, and so I will try.

Anger

I have finally grown into the person I have always wanted to be. And I am angry.

When I was in Europe, and this summer which I spent in Vermont, I had the same realization. I didn’t cry.

The whole time.

Before then, there very rarely went a week where I did not cry. It was often every day. I can’t imagine living like that now, and I am angry that I used to have to.

I am angry that I was stupid. I am angry that I was sad. I am angry that I am twenty one and just now learning how to live.

At the end of the day, when I lay down, I do not cry, and I am thankful for that. But I am still angry.

Why did my family raise me in such a mess? Why didn’t I realize the hell I was in when I was in it? Why didn’t other people in my family save me? Did they not see I was suffering, or instead did they not care?

Why didn’t I realize the same hell bred in my former relationships?

Why couldn’t I purge my smoky brain of anxiety and depression for so long? I can’t imagine going back to that, now.

Why? Why have I wasted so much of my youth?

I am angry, and I take it out on myself. Or, I did. I threw myself into work. Or, I do. I overwhelm(ed) myself on purpose. I shut myself away from people who could help. Why? Before, to protect myself from sadness. Now, to protect myself from anger.

How can I release it? How can I let it go?

I blaze like fire. You know why I’m back to this blog, this record of my depression, and it’s because even though I am happy, even though I am the happiest I’ve ever been, even though I see an escape, just on the horizon, even though I am in love with my boyfriend and my life and myself, and even though I have not cried in a record amount of weeks, I am angry.

This is the blog where I post my emotions. I just haven’t had enough emotions to post in the last six months. I have been good. I have been happy. But collecting under my newfound happiness is an anger, because I know I should have been this happy my whole life.

I will learn to let it go. I deserve to be free of anger.

I have done so much to get myself where I am now. I should release the past. I will.

I am free now, am I not? I am happy, and I refuse to feel guilty for my joy.

April

So, has it been a year already? For a year I’ve been working on what has become my not-good-enough novella, born from the ashes of my blogging every day in April challenge. What a fun, productive time…that has led to the book being shortlisted, and subsequently denied publication, twice.

I am grateful for that. It is nice to know that I am making strides. I’ve made it at least some way. I’m improving.

I’m still hesitant to try anything creative, a lot of the time. Blank pages make me angry and sad. But I do write best with a schedule, with a word count. Maybe I should try to write at a Nanowrimo pace again…despite my abundance of work and school time spent away from my writing. Gotta make time to make art.

Maybe I’m not cut out for it. Maybe I’m having a huge gigantic crisis that’s eating at every part of my life. What is anything, anymore? What are we all here for? Why make art in the first place, if its so hard and grueling and so rarely rewarding?

I’m tired.

The stories others remember 

Today for class my professor had us text our friends and family and ask them, “what’s your favorite story about me?” She then had us put away our phones and wait.

After awhile, we were to pick one of the responses and think about why that person remembers that story, and what it says about you. The idea was to deconstruct why we tell each other stories–to see the stories we tell at parties as a (true) mythology of ourselves. This is how we cement our personal identity in a group.

My sister told me her favorite story was the time we were playing hide and seek in my grandmothers house. It was my turn to hide, and the grown ups were telling me ideas on where to go. Now, my grandmother collects dolls. Three-foot-tall, life size dolls that live in the corner of her living room. My sister is counting down, and I decide, hey, I’ll be a doll.

So I posed in the back, smiled, and waited. My sister hunts around the house for a long time–she even makes eye contact with me and keeps looking. She actually thought I was a doll.

I thought for awhile why she remembers this and what it says, both about me and about her. It was funny, sure, and I do love making her laugh. But why does she tell other people this story? What trait of mine does it show, in disguise? 

I realized that this story shows that I don’t shy away from a challenge. Yes, a “safer” hiding spot would have been under the table or in a closet. But I chose to be a doll, the more interesting and difficult path.

This class literally just ended about 10 minutes ago, but I can tell this will be something that sticks in my mind. Why d we tell stories? Funny stories, cool stories? What does it say about us and our relationships? How is it that we bond through storytelling?

Telling stories is, of course, what I plan on spending my life doing. I guess it had never crossed my mind why stories exist in the first place. It had always seemed so obvious, just an integral part of humanity. It is, I think, integral.