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.

I want to Blog

I want to blog. I really do. It’s just the last thing i think about every day. It’s at the end of my never-ending to-do list, and thus, I never get to it. I want to. I really do. I just want to sleep too. I want to be able to teach my kids a mildly interesting lesson, which means I want to take the time to write an interesting lesson plan. I want to watch Greek and Glee. I want to see my sister and call my mom. I want to talk with my roommates and do my laundry.

I want to get to school early to finish my copies, and I want to stay at school late to help my students who are behind. I want to go in on weekends to organize my library and write out a kick-ass unit plan. I want to get my car checked and go to the doctor and the dmv. I want to go to happy-hour with other TFA-ers and bitch about all the things I want to do, but can’t, because when you get up at 5AM, get home at 6:30 and are standing and talking for all that time in between, doing all of those things seems (and basically is) next to impossible.

So…that is my excuse. That is my mea culpa. I’m tired and busy and sad that I’m not keeping up with everyone online or even keeping up with myself. I’m told it will get easier. I’ll adjust to the sleep schedule. I’ll set up an organization system that works. I won’t wake up some mornings wondering how in the hell I’m going to get through the day. I won’t be close to tears on the phone with my mom as my students start coming in the door.

No, things aren’t that bad. My kids are ridiculously fantastic. They’ve already done some great work, but I’ve also seen how much I have to do with them to get them where they need to be. We went on an overnight as a school last week, and while it was a tiring 30 hour trip, our school has such a community now. The people I’m working with are phenomenal, smart, dedicated professionals. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better situation, but still….it it’s so hard. It is so ridiculously hard.

I Want to Remember This

Things I was going to Twitter because I’ve been too busy to blog, but then didn’t even Twitter, because I’m apparently also too busy to Twitter:

– Remember that time I thought I was going to be a normal person after Institute? Hah. Yeah, that was adorable. I’m lengthening that statement to “two years or until I leave the education profession.”

– You know you live in LA when your friends text you that they are going to a bar and then an hour later, Paige from “Degrassi Goes Hollywood” walks into that bar.

– The other day, my “check engine” light came on. I’ve yet to do anything about it except yell, “I don’t have time to deal with your problems, Prius!”

– My friends were all complaining about how annoying their jobs were. All I could add was that my Executive Director (he’s above the principal at my school) pulled me aside to tell me how good my classroom looks. Win.

– It’s really hard to explain to my friends why at 2AM, I’m pretty anxious (read: angry about not getting) to go home and sleep, but also why I don’t mind getting up at 7AM on a Saturday to go to work.

I think that’s it. There are about 8,000 posts I’ve written in my mind about how scared I am about Tuesday (aka THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL) about how EFFING AMAZING my school and staff is, about how I actually love my job (so far…fingers crossed), and how for the first time, I never walk into work thinking, “I really don’t want to be here today,” but it’s hard to prioritize blogging over things like, oh, actually planning out my class, or sleeping, or seeing my friends every once in a while.

It’s frustrating though, because I so wish I was documenting all the things that are happening. I hope I can find the time. I want to remember this.