The Month Of May

Last year, in May, I officially graduated from college.

I sounds so cliche, but it feels like yesterday. It feels like yesterday I was walking down the street in Boston, trying to drink in the city. It feels like yesterday that I got the email that I needed to prep for a phone interview at a small charter school, that I read their entire website and instantly fell in love. It feels like yesterday since I packed and pumped myself up for the madness that would be the first ever Bloggers in Sin City Meet-Up. It feels like yesterday that I was cooking my parents elaborate good-bye dinners. It feels like yesterday that I was offered an amazing job at that small charter school.

I feel like all I’ve talked about (if I’ve talked at all) these past few months has been how fast my life has changed and how different it is now, but most days I don’t think about it. I get up, I got to work, I come home, I got to sleep. I don’t think about how much time is passing. This week, though, my Austrailian BFF (you may remember her from my insane, amazing trip to visit Australia last year) is visiting, and I realized that while I feel like I just saw her, it’s been a YEAR AND A HALF. I visited her right after I finished college, and that was a YEAR AND A HALF AGO!

I know this is going to happen again with the Vegas trip this month too. It doesn’t seem like that first Vegas trip was a lifetime ago, but in a way, it was. I went to Vegas on my way out to LA. I literally had half my life packed with me in that hotel room. I’d never stood in front of a classroom before, nor did I know what the hell to do if I did. Now I consider LA to be my home, and I like to think I have some idea of what to do in front of my classroom.

The month of May is reminding me that while I miss some things about my old life (all of which I was reminded of when I took my students on a college tour last week….oh all-you-can-eat dining halls. How I miss you so!) that is now feeling farther and farther away, I feel very settled right now, like my life is where it should be. Hopefully, next May, I’ll feel the same way.

Do I never get to just be happy?

Everyone says being an adult kind of sucks. I accept that. I know paying bills, and dealing with insurance companies, and getting your car checked, and living on a budget aren’t fun but are neccessary parts of being an adult. I never expect my life to be all happy rainbows and freakishly adorable puppies. I do, however, hope to one day not dread Mondays. I do hope to one day have a job that doesn’t keep me from doing all the things I love to do guilt free. I do hope to have a fully decorated home and possibly a living room that looks like this.

What I just can’t figure out is, how possible is all of this? Do the people who seem to have all the things I want really have them? Do they have jobs they love? Do they have time to take pictures, to decorate their homes for the holidays, hell, just to hang pictures on their walls? Do they have time to sit on their couches, sipping hot chocolate and watching Christmas movies without the threat of the impending work week hanging over them? Are these realistic things to hope for, or am I going to give up pretty good job after pretty good job hoping for something no one actually has?

My job is hard. It’s frustrating, and time consuming, and exhausting. It takes up most of my time. I don’t dislike it, though. In fact, most of the time, I like it. I do not like, however, that in the past four months, I have yet to find the time to hang pictures in my room. I do not like that I have yet to find time to upload and edit my pictures from Thanksgiving.

I do not like that I feel guilty for going out last night, as it prevented me from getting as much work done today as I would’ve liked. I do not like that I get tired at 9-o-clock at night and that I have to leave my friends’ birthday parties early because if I stay, I will fall asleep on their couches. I do not like that my job makes me feel like if I’m not working 24 hours a day 7 days a week, I’m not doing enough. I do not like that I constantly feel inadequate. I do not like that my job feels like my life, when I know I am so much more than my job.

Even though I like my job, are all these things that stand in the way of my true happiness enough to encourage me to actively seek out another job in two years when my commitment is up? Or will another job come with the same problems and then some? Are these things that will follow me around no matter where I go?

I hate that I can’t just be content. I hate that I can’t appreciate the good things without letting the not so good creep in and piss me off. I hate that I’m constantly afraid I’ll never get the things I want or that I’ll spend my life settling for less than what will make me truly happy for fear that being truly happy is impossible.


Maybe it’s the two day food coma I’m in. Maybe it’s the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds three-movie marathon I just had with my sister. (That’s The Blind Side, Definitely Maybe, and The Proposal, in case you were wondering) or maybe it’s the fact that I’m lonely in my relatively large apartment for the weekend, but I’ve finally realized and accepted something extremely important:

I have no idea what I want my life to be like: what kind of person I want to be, what kind of person I want to be with, what kinds of things I want to do, what kinds of places I want to live. No fucking clue.



Instead of being all negative and whiney, I’m going to try to follow some of the excellent advice you guys left me and be postive and happy about all the things that are going well, because, really? My life is going pretty well.

Well, I will pause for a brief moment of bitchery….The DMV can suck it. They can suck it HARD. Yesterday, I took my second trip there in two weeks, waited in 4 lines, gave them $1500 (well, my dad gave them $1500), was told I had to pay a $200 late fine because the LAST trip I took ended in utter failure (I contested this…angrily), yelled at the people helping me for the first time ever (I’m overly nice to everyone. This was a big deal), and after 5 (yes FIVE) hours, finally got my California plates and driver’s license. I think, however, it cost me my faith in government. I’ll have to watch copious amounts of The West Wing to get that back.

Anyway, things that are going well…

Friday I went bowling with my co-workers, like all of them. I don’t know if I emphasize this enough, but the staff at my school is comically amazing. They actually make intelligent, thoughful, and caring decisions about students, about what would actually be best for them, about how we can make them successful, happy, and prepared for work and college. It makes me sad and mildly angry that not every school can be run like mine is, with students being the most important factor in decision making. It makes so much sense, yet it seems like no one does it.

Besides being awesome teachers and all that business, they are fun. Like ridiculously fun. Like cheering louder than the entire bowling alley when I finally (amazingly) got a strike after 6 frames of gutter balls and starting dance parties in the middle of the lanes after a number of drinks. I doubt my high school teachers were ever this much fun, although, I kind of hope they were.

My kids are also kind of amazing. I’ve gotten two emails over the break from kids wanting to know what they can do to pull up their grades, and I spent two hours after school on Friday sitting with two girls in my class discussing Twilight and eating cookies. How is that not an amazing end to the week?

The Right Call

I have severe grass is always greener syndrome. I look forward to trips then long to sleep in my own bed the whole time. I order one dish at a restaurant and instantly regret all the others I didn’t get. I look at other people and ruminate endlessly about how whatever their situation is, it’s endlessly better than mine. I went to LA and couldn’t wait to get back to Boston, and by the time I ended my senior year in Boston, I was itching to get back to LA. I’m restless and unpleasable. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever be happy or satisfied with what I have or if I’ll always be thinking about what I don’t have.

As I’ve become tired and had a few more bad days teaching – not that they’re all bad or that I’m not happy- I’ve wondered, and I really hate admitting this, but I have wondered if I made the right decision. Is this really what I want to be doing for the next two years? Would I be happier if I’d taken my other proposed path – staying in Boston, studying theater education, possibly working at my old theater job?

This weekend didn’t help. I spent most of the weekend driving back and forth between LA and Berkeley, as my friends and I took a quick road trip to see American Idiot at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. During the show, I almost started crying and not just because the show was phenomenal, which it most definitely was. (If you will be in the New York area next year, get tickets to see it on Broadway! I’m predicting it will be a hit. I mean, Green Day music PLUS the creative team behind Spring Awakening? What’s not to like?)

I got emotional and nostalgic because it reminded me how much I love theater and how much I miss being connected to it. Theater was my life growing up, and I definitely took my ridiculously amazing work-study job at the professional theater connected to my university for granted. I mean, I got free tickets to Broadway-caliber professional shows and got to spend my weekends hanging out with the cast of those shows…as my job.

I had conversations about art and life, as well as boggle tournaments, with professional actors from all over the country while doing my homework, and I got paid for it. I mean, I definitely enjoy that my job now is much more challenging and, ultimately, more important that that job was, but I miss being around those kinds of people, I miss being around stage doors, and costume designers, and opening night parties, and overtures. I miss what I experienced this weekend, and I hate living in a town where that experienced is consistently undervalued.

And all that makes me think I’m not yet where I should be. I know I won’t be teaching forever, or at least, not teaching English forever, because theater is too important to me. Eventually, I hope to combine my love of theater with my teaching experience now by getting my Masters like I planned if I hadn’t gotten into TFA, but in this moment, riding the high of live musical theater and my road trip fever, two years feels like forever to be away from that world….and I keep wondering if I made the right call.

High Low

I play this game with my adivisory girls that I learned from my elementary school cousins in Boston called High Low, where you say the good things that happened and then the bad. They aren’t great at it, as their answers are always mildly vauge and tend to the negative side (they’re 14. Life is like totally rough for them sometimes….and totally boring.), but I think I can find some specifics to highlight from my week.

Highs – My Birthday!

Low – I’m old!

High – I found out one of my students, who, yes, occasionally tires to sleep in my class, but is, on the whole, pretty well behaved, is completely horrifying in two of her other classes. This, obviously, isn’t a high for her other teachers, but it made me feel like I am doing something right.

Low – Constant. Chattering. My kids NEVER shut up! They aren’t bad kids. They aren’t disrespectful, most of the time. It’s just if I stop talking or give them ONE minute to get off-task, the talking begins. I’m working on it, though…

High – My best TFA/co-worker friend who is the resource teacher at our school invited me over Thursday for Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes. She clearly is a rock star. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t run and fall into her giant red bean bag chair at the end of a tough day, or send completely random, whiney emails to her during class. Plus, she’s ridiculously phenomenal at her job, so she helps me out with mine.

High – When I told my kids they’d get extra credit for going to this college fair on Sunday and let them know that if they brought me a brochure back from my college, they would get extra credit, they got all excited and were like “We’re going to go tell them we have Ms. B, and that she is an awesome teacher!.” Melt.

Low – Most of my very vocal students are HATING the Steinbeck novel we are reading, which I kind of can’t blame them for. I remember going on long rants against The Pearl in 9th grade, but anyway…it’s tough to get them to look past the fact that, while there is no intense action or high school level drama, the writing is pretty ridiculous, and it’s Steinbeck for pete’s sake!

High – In an attempt to make them mildly excited about the book, I had them start making MySpace profiles for the characters, and they flipped out! Even when they got their reward of free time at the end of class to work on whatever they wanted, EVERY one of them kept working on the project. They were debating what each character would like, what they would say, searching through the book for their age and clues as to what they might write on each other’s walls…they might not write the most academic blog posts on their profiles, but they are more excited and engaged with the book, so I’m considering it a win.

So…I’m going to call this week a success, on the whole. It was definitely uplifted by my birthday, but the rest of the week didn’t suck either.

My 22nd Year

My 22nd year was, in the truest sense, a life-changing year. My life right now looks almost nothing like my life did last year:

Last year, I was in the midst of high school-like drama. This year, I’m teaching high schoolers. Last year, I was drowning in homework. This year, I’m the one giving it. Last year, I didn’t feel any older. This year, I feel about 100.

In the past year, I traveled half-way around the world. I moved back home and moved 3,000 miles from it. I graduated college. I became a real-live adult. I got my first paycheck over $1000. I partied in Vegas and fell asleep at 8:00PM from exhaustion. I went from being endlessly bored, waking up at 10:00AM regularly, to endlessly stressed, pulling myself out of bed at 5:30AM. I made some new friends, visited some old ones, and moved back in with some cool ones. I’ve cried more times than I can count, over friends, over stress, and over leaving behind an amazing city and four years of (mostly) fun.

But now, I’m entering my 23rd year. I welcomed it with a group of 32 teenagers belting out “Happy Birthday” as they ran into my classroom. I welcomed it with ridiculously large homemade cupcakes with contraband candles burning on top. (I told them not to bring fire to school!) I welcomed it with hand-made cards thanking me for “helping us with problems and being a wonderful teacher.” I welcomed it over beers with new, amazing friends who truly understand how old I feel.

While my 23rd year most likely won’t seem as life-changing on paper as my 22nd, I’m thinking that by my 24th year, I’m going to be an entirely different person, and for today at least, I feel kind of OK with that.

For the moment…

First of all, thanks for the encouragement on my last (majorly downer) post. Last week was especially rough, and the weekend was not much better. It included breaking out in a stress rash, driving to the doctor to find it closed, driving to my school to find my key didn’t work, and driving home sobbing on the phone to my mom. After a rough start on Monday which included dropping a stack my student’s scrapbooks on my foot, this week has been….not terrible.

My students have been understanding the information this week and have been more engaged than usual. They actually started doing internet research today, and kept checking with me to make sure their sources were credible and reliable. (English teacher win!) I had someone observe my class this morning, and instead of telling me I’m completely failing at life, she basically told me to work on things I already knew I had to work on.

It was less discouraging and more validating, having someone tell me that I’m not crazy in thinking there are some things I’m good at and some things I definitely need to work on. I have trouble knowing when I’m being too hard on myself and when I’m not being hard enough. Having another set of eyes helps me see what I can’t – it’s much less scary than I thought it would be.

I also somehow finally got into a grove this week of getting all my work done in such a way that I can take an hour or two at night to just sit back, kind of relax in that I’m-almost-not-able-to-keep-my-eyes-open way, and watch Bob and Jillian scream at sweaty, “Biggest Loser” contestants. Yes, I still have a lot going on, and yes, I still might have another nervous breakdown this weekend, but right now, in this moment, I feel alright, and that is definitely worth documenting.

Tired of Being Tired

I’m tired of hearing my named called impatiently from across the room. I’m tired of making copies. I’m tired of grading papers I know could be better. I’m tired of repeating myself over, and over, and over again. I’m tired of saying things like “I’ll wait until you’re quiet,” and “I’m not saying any of this for my own benefit.” I’m tired of feeling like I’m not good enough.

I’m tired of never having enough time. I’m tired of wish I could do more, yet not being able to physically do more. I’m tired of saying “No, I can’t. I have more work to do,” to my friends. I’m tired of not even being asked. I’m tired of being told I’m doing great, while never actually believing it. I’m tired of crying to my mom and putting on a smile for everyone else. I’m tired of spending hours working on something for my kids only to have them complain about it.

Mainly, I’m just tired. All. The. Time.

Things aren’t all bad. I definitely have good days. I have times when my kids make me laugh, when they do something fantastic, when my staff makes me feel amazingly smart, and when I look around at all these 14-year-old faces looking up at me and smile because I get to help them get to where they want to go…but right now, I’m definitely in the middle of survival mode, at least according to the “First Year of Teaching Timeline” TFA gave us all. I’m a little worried, because after survival mode is disillusionment, and I don’t think I could handle all this work on top of being seriously disillusioned.

Let’s think of some good things that happened this week: I got my FREE (yes FREE) membership to an uber fancy gym, Spectrum. I caught up on all my television. I ate Chipotle for lunch today. I finally got my next project (kind of) planned out. And that’s all I’ve got for now. Eh.

To be a normal person

This weekend, I somehow didn’t have that much work to do once I sat down to do it. I’m not sure how I this happened, if it is a sign of to things to come or just a happy coincidence, but because of it, this weekend, I actually had time to go to a party, throw a party, have lunch with my sister, lounge by the pool, read outside, watch six episodes of Freaks and Geeks with Grace, and eat ice cream with Jillian. I’m kind of nervous, though, because I feel like maybe I should’ve done more, like I got sucked into the mindset of the three day weekend and didn’t do nearly enough to prepare for the rest of the week.

I have, however, remembered how great it feels to be a normal person. In order to keep this feeling up, I’m going (attempt to) commit to finding time to do some things for my own sanity:

1) Work out! – I haven’t worked out since before Institute, which is horrifying on a number of levels. Jillian found this awesome dance/yoga studio within walking distance of our apartment, so I’m going to go to a class tomorrow. I’m hoping it goes well, because it would be super convenient, and it looks fun (and stress relieving!)

2) Actually Use my Camera – I’ve been looking longingly at my beautiful, sad, unused Nikon for almost as long as I haven’t been working out. I can’t remember the last time I used it…oh wait, it was in Vegas! Ridiculous. I really miss just going out and finding awesome, little things to take pictures of. I’m going to try to out go at least once a week or once every two weeks and take some pictures. I doubt I’ll do anything with them, but just doing it should be relaxing.

3) Blog/Read Blogs – I’m done complaining about not blogging. I want to be able to process what’s going on in my life and record it in some way. I also don’t want to let all my blog friendships die a slow sad death. I’m going to start again. Seriously guys. Seriously.

Ok, I think that’s all I can add in to my life right now. My sanity is resting on my ability to find time to do these things, so pray for my success. Ok. Go.