The same old view made new.

It’s beautiful outside of my window today. The hillside is just starting to catch fire with the blaze of autumn as we creep to the thick of September. I’m up early, and not because I have to be. I have sat here in this room so many times before, looking up to the point where the trees seem to brush the sky, branches as arms reaching high. And every single time, the view is different.

It was different when I was 14 and full of all of these unknowns that made me sick to my stomach. When my grandmother had just died, and I was questioning the longevity of any of my friendships or relationships at all, I would find my escape and solace in music and solitude, convincing myself that I was not in fact a social creature and needed to be “pure” by cutting myself off from anyone that might be interested in what I had to say. Then, the fading greens were actually grey and withered, just like everything else in my periphery, and spring seemed too far away to hope for.

It was different when I was 22, swinging back up out of the worst depressive period of my short little life. I had just moved back into my childhood bedroom from college, armed with a degree and hope. And the only “he” that mattered for the past four years was back, too, and my future seemed so big and so wide open and exciting, and I hadn’t felt excited in such a very long time. Spring had arrived, and so the world had burst into life. I spent my summer drunk on both bottom shelf vodka and hope. The green was electrifying.

It was different when I was 23, because what a difference a year can make. My father was in the hospital, and had been and would be for six terrifying months of wondering if he’d ever make it out again. I did not have a job and was back and forth from home to the hospital two hours away, staying in my aunt’s bedroom and sustaining myself on Facebook chats with “him” and reruns of Sleepy Hollow. Try as I might, I couldn’t distract myself from the fear that ate me from within. When I looked out my window, everything was dark. I was awake with the moon and it seems like I can’t remember one instance of a bright night. The trees were skeletons and they were black and they mirrored everything I was feeling inside.

Now, I’m 25. I started a new job on August 15. It’s still a teaching gig, and I’m still teaching math, but GET THIS: I only have ONE lesson plan to do each week. One. I teach the same subject all day long. This group of kids is different, too; they’re eager to please and ready to learn. Sure, I have a couple of behavioral issues to work out, but the difference between last year and this year is night and day. Literally. I will never say I’m 100% cured from anxiety or thought demons, but I have a life. I feel so much better. I am not in my most perfect, ideal situation, but I can work with this. I can dedicate myself to knowing the subject better and more completely. I can be a better teacher to my kids. I can do things outside of school and not feel guilty for not devoting every ounce of myself to work or work-related things.

I feel like respiration is finally possible for me again. When I think about the future, I don’t think about how much better it would be if I wasn’t in it. Just months ago, that wasn’t true. I want to do better. I want to be better. I want to do things that improve my situation.

For now, I am content with the view outside of my window with the knowledge that even when autumn hits and the leaves are dying and the trees are going to sleep, change is coming, and it’s all cyclical, and it’s not all quite so terrible.


Pour toi.

Much of the time, my mind is unquiet. Anxiety is the devil on my shoulder, keeping me occupied with what-ifs that never come to fruition.

But he is the blessed silence of familiarity, the dark comfort that gives me rejuvenative rest.

I would walk through fire for him. I would go to the ends of the Earth and beyond. I would sacrifice–beg–search endlessly if it meant that his life could be easier or better.

Restless heart, restless feet.

I’m sitting awash in white monitor-light, but everything else is dark. The window is open and the cool night breeze sweeps over me. It’s a welcome change. This is the first day it hasn’t rained in weeks.

The past two days haven’t been quite so awful. I won’t say I’m finally on top of work, but it’s gotten better. The seniors have all but stopped coming: I had three in the morning and a total of four in the afternoon. They graduate Friday.

As I sit here in the fading evening, all I can think about is the places that exist out there beyond my window. I am on fire for travel. I want to get out there and go, even if I don’t have a specific destination. If I wasn’t currently tethered by responsibility, I would be out there.

I also think about all of the things I’m not bringing myself to write. My real name’s not attached to this blog and I haven’t really mentioned it to anyone, but I haven’t disclosed much to anyone in a really long time. It’s weird for me. I am full to bursting with words, but I don’t feel comfortable enough to give them a home.

I was supposed to do something for National Poetry Month with one of my coworkers. She had asked me to share an old poem of mine (I wrote frequently–daily–in high school) or to write a new one. I have a tiny, thin, violet moleskine beside my bed for the sole purpose of housing poems, but I haven’t added anything to it in a while, and longer still that I’ve written anything I find worthy of remembrance or sharing. Regardless–scheduling conflicts ended up with her canceling the day she had planned for staff members to share their work with her students. I found myself, surprisingly, more than a little disappointed. I guess I miss poetry and should work hard at writing more of it, even if it’s bad.

I miss reading, too. I just haven’t had time to read for pleasure. I’ve probably read two books since January, and that is a disturbingly low number by my usual standards. Then again, it’s been an unusual year.

One of the people I’m closest to–all right, let’s knock down any pretense here–the human I am absolutely closest to, and that I love more than my own atoms, bones, and blood, is going through some very tough personal issues. He’s dealing with things currently that he shouldn’t have to deal with, and I empathize with him endlessly. I have been trying to give him space and to not be overbearing because I know that I have the tendency to do so. It’s not his style to want to immediately talk about things, so I’m trying to wait. But I wish he would. I wish, for once, even though I am by every account a god damned absolute skull-fucked mess of a human being, he would lean on me and let me be the strong one for once out of the two of us.

My other favorite human, C,  just started semester three of grad school. I am so, so proud of her. Last semester was the hardest, most miserable college experience she’s ever had. She is the strongest human I know, and I never doubted her ability to handle the multitudinous curve balls that she found lobbed her way, but I hate to see her so upset and torn up over what we could (perhaps dramatically) call her “future being in the balance.”

So, that’s a brain dump. Let’s do it again sometime.

The Great Deluge

The end of April and beginning of May is a never-ending amalgamation of rain here…but, of course, it’s not just rain. To call it that would be to give the wrong impression. Every day since about…April 19…has held something like a torrential downpour. There have been creeks brimming, rivers crawling up out of their banks…

Folks, it’s been a wet one.

Similarly, something small and mournful and wrong sits within me about chest-height, welling up and threatening to come out. I’m not sure why I’m afflicted with such melancholia lately. The most stressful parts of work are behind me: I have 8 days left with the seniors and 15 with everyone else. Yet something persists. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what to call it. I can’t give it away.

The rains are rolling back in this evening. My window’s open.

Whatever is coming can come.

I shut the door–it opens.

How many days has it been since I mentally rehearsed my “I quit” speech?

Zero, zero, zero.

Yet I persist. I don’t know why. It defies all logic that I’ve let myself get put into the situation that I have.

Don’t get me wrong. I want so badly to both impart knowledge and support students in their growth. I love education. I believe in it. I’m trying to go back to school myself to learn more–to become more before I collapse in on myself for lack of betterment. And to be a better teacher.

I am currently teaching, as I may have mentioned, outside of my curriculum. It has been the hardest year of my life.

The highest math I ever had was MT 121 my freshman year of college. Of course I took two rounds of social statistics, but that doesn’t quite count. I spent (and still regularly spend, though not with the same frequency) hours working to reteach myself four concepts a week so that I can disseminate that knowledge on to my kids. I want to do right by them, even though I feel deficient. I never feel like I’m doing good enough. It’s hard for me to make them see the importance of fractions, irrational numbers, and angle sums when I question daily how I let myself become a math teacher.

Every day is an exercise in ego death. I wish I could say that at least my classroom management is perfect, but it is not. I have struggled with everything this year. Yes, it’s my first year, but I started off too yielding, too understanding, too soft. I’ve let myself be taken advantage of and everyone knows it. I can’t think about it too much or I feel so ashamed. I’ve tried to toughen up to survive these last few weeks.

I promise: I never went into this expecting it to be easy. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be taxing and there would be a lot of late nights.

I didn’t expect to cry every day for six months, though, or to work every night for weeks until I pass out from sheer exhaustion, surrounded by half-complete paperwork. Or to feel so alone while I go at it.

I haven’t had much of a personal life since school started in August. I’ve went out three times since then: once as the designated driver, and twice recently for a friend’s birthday. Every time, I’ve wondered why I let my personal life fall to ruins. I miss having friends and seeing them and not going from work to home. I don’t even really go to the store these days thanks to Amazon Prime. It’s so pathetic.

I’m thankful that this is only a year-long contract. The kids need someone that is more comfortable with math than I am, and I need to teach in one of the other three fields I’m both certified for and more knowledgeable about. I accepted this long-term substitute position because there was a dire need. I wanted to make a difference to my students, the security of a nice paycheck every two weeks, and a routine that was more predictable and structured than substituting day-to-day–and please don’t mistake me for an ungrateful person. I am so grateful that I do have a job and that I can pay my bills. I know that a lot of people don’t have that. I am fortunate.

I cannot, however, say that I would go into it again knowing what I now know. When I accepted, I was told by the county board that it would be one singular subject of math, that I would have help with every aspect, and that I would be furnished with everything (resource and supply-wise) I need.

Let me stress that I cannot complain about my school–the staff and administration are wonderful, truly. I have made some genuine friends this year. When I ask a colleague for help, I receive it. That said, I am ‘on’ from 1st period to 7th every day when my last class filters out. My planning period falls at the end of the day from 2:00 to 2:45–which I like–but that makes it inconvenient to seek out another teacher and request help when I am swamped with forms to fill out, papers to grade, parents to contact, excuses to turn in, tests to create, lesson plans to write, etc, etc, etc, and I know that my coworkers are as well.

I just wish I had been better prepared going into this. I do have co-teachers for two of my classes. When I can ask for help, I get it. I still can’t shake the feeling, though, that I’m a massive failure and can’t do anything right.

I don’t think it’s any secret to the people in my life that I have been operating under pretty steady depression and anxiety since last year. It’s been an on and off thing since I was 14, but being a workaholic shut-in has been a horse of a different color. I have kept on, expecting things to get better in time, but there’s always this raw, pulsating nerve lying under the surface of everything I do and say, reminding me of everything I haven’t done and said.

This has turned out to be so much longer than I intended. I’ve been holding a lot of it inside and, sadly, I could go on for hundreds of more words.

It may seem as though I’m really disenchanted with my job. I guess I am. That’s fair. I wish a lot of it was different or that I had acted/reacted differently to a plethora of situations that I’ve encountered this year. I’m going to try and chalk it all up to a very valuable learning experience and remember what made me crazy this year so that when I’m doing something different next year, I can hopefully do better for myself and more importantly, my kids.