March 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
So my friend H— and I spent five hours together kind of on accident. I guess you could say it was on purpose because after I finished teaching at 2pm today, I texted her and told her to meet me in the student carrels. I knew deep down this would lead to hours of conversation that would distract me from working on my thesis, but I texted her anyway.
You could say that what drove me to text her was that yesterday I had a random mini melt-down after Ryan left for the weekend. I literally sobbed for like ten minutes last night while trying to grade my papers (and because all this estrogen flooding my body makes me very missy-Ryan-y). The papers were so bad I panicked: What is wrong with me as a teacher? What did I do wrong that so many students could produce something as disgusting as this?
Lately, I’ve been very panicky because my brain is a half brain now. Seriously. They call it “pregnancy brain” and it’s real, people. I’m an idiot now. I feel less capable and intelligent than ever. I can’t remember ANYTHING. This causes me to feel panicky in the middle of the night, in the middle of teaching, etc.
Anyway. Texting H— turned out to be the best thing I ever did. After discussing all my stupidity and panicky-ness, she told me this story:
“There were two things I wanted to teach my students today about addressing counterarguments. TWO THINGS. I could only remember one. I couldn’t remember the other one AT ALL. So I taught them one thing. I had all these plans–I was going to do this and show them this. But I literally could not remember.”*
I don’t know why this story made my day. I don’t know why it made me laugh so hard I sounded like my grandma who has this famous high-pitched Finnish laugh.
So H— and I had dinner together. We talked about a lot of things, including teaching. Here’s the thing: I love teachers. There’s this bond between us I cannot explain. Nothing makes us feel as good as a student who says, “Thank you, sincerely. I’ve learned so much from you.” And nothing makes us laugh/inwardly sob harder than a student who says, and I quote: “I’ve learned absolutely nothing in this class.”
*Let it be known: H— is a fabulous teacher. I observed her once and she blew my mind. We all have our off days. And our students never let us forget.
February 26, 2013 § 2 Comments
So my little sister Lissa left two weeks ago to serve an LDS mission in the Philippines. She’ll be gone for a year and a half. My mom forwarded me Lissa’s second email today, updating us on Lissa’s language learning (TAGALOG!?!?!?!?!) and transformations. I totally miss her.
But the thing is. When my mom forwarded me Lissa’s email, the email SHE sent Lissa was attached at the bottom. So I read it because I’m mischievous.
So, how was your week? I am assuming you are now fluent in Tagalog? Do you remember how to speak English? Starting tomorrow I will greet everyone I meet with “Magandag Arow.” It will be my way of being part of your world.
[ . . . ]
You are my sweet Lissa and I think about you all the time at different times of your life. Lately I have been thinking of you when you were in kindergarten and we were such good friends. Everything was fun and exciting to you. You were curious and interested in everything. If you were to look in the dictionary under “sweetness” it would have said Lissa. I looked up sweetness today and it said “Sister Lissa Brock.” Strangely I looked up courageous, strong, faithful and capable and they all said, “Sweet Lissa also known as Sister Lissa Brock serving a mission for the Lord.”
Lissa, “shall we not go on in so great a cause?”
Cant wait to hear from you.
I love you, Lissa.
I emailed my mom: BTW, you’re a really good mom.
Now, I know you’re all thinking, how come you turned out the way you did with a mom like that? I know. Any good I am is because of her. Any bad I am is because . . . I BLAME RYAN!
The good news is this morning I woke up wanting to cry because apparently overnight, I fell in love with my baby. Yeah, my 11 inch, 1 pound, cartwheeling baby alligator. (There’s this picture of her spine that makes her look like an alligator. Let’s hope she doesn’t actually look like one. If she does . . . I BLAME RYAN!)
Let it be known: this has not always been the case. I barfed every day for two months until one time, I swear my throat almost ripped open. We were enemies for a while. And I still refuse to read out loud to her. I mean, it’s not like she can understand books.
But this morning, you guys.
She might have murdered my libido and hijacked my esophagus, but I’m starting to like her. Like really, really, do-anything-in-the-entire-world-for-her-with-very-few-exceptions like her.
January 29, 2013 § 3 Comments
I am not one of those people. Especially when it comes to Cub Scouts.
Almost two and a half years ago our church bishop asked if I would volunteer to help out with the Cub Scouts around our neighborhood, “leading” the Bear Cubs as the Den Leader. These are terms you may not be familiar with. That’s okay. I had to learn them too. Bear Cubs = loud, distracted, obnoxious nine-year-old boys. Den Leader = responsible adult dedicated to pledging allegiance to the flag.
Little did I know that this volunteering would last for almost two and a half years. It really wasn’t a lot of work at all. Just–what’s the word?–annoying. You know, carving things out of soap with young boys I wouldn’t necessarily call my friends. Practicing skits that don’t really make sense. Talking about camping and crap:
“Teacher, how do you tie the world’s tightest knot?”
“I don’t know, guys. Go ask your dad.”
Last week, our bishop informed me that I didn’t have to volunteer anymore because he found someone else to replace me. I was free!
Well, tonight was my cubs’ Pinewood Derby. They’d been planning on this for like a whole month. I thought about going tonight and supporting them one more time as like a final goodbye. You know, “for the kids.”
But then I started watching The West Wing. And then I started making dinner. I got distracted. You could say intentionally.
Ah, well. I’m not one to get sentimental over these things.
January 4, 2013 § 4 Comments
So apparently it’s kinda late for discussing New Year’s resolutions. Let it comfort you that I now resolute (made up verb form) to make resolutions by the first day of the new year. (Or is it the last day of the year?)
However, they say every day is a new day, and consequently, a new year. In this case, I would like to share some resolutions Ryan didn’t necessarily make, though I wish he had:
1. Rub my wife’s feet every evening before she goes to bed and tell her that she doesn’t need pedicures because her feet are not yellow and dry, but beautiful.
2. Rub my sweet wife’s back during Sacrament meeting–instead of ignoring her blatant shimmyings that signal she wants her back rubbed.
3. Instead of getting annoyed by these shimmyings, become endeared by all her darling needs and wants.
4. Rub her back for more than three seconds.
5. Rub her back like her mother rubs her back. Less rub, more “chills.” Soft strokes. Don’t be afraid to use my nails.
6. Be better than her own mother at rubbing her back and claim “THE BEST BACK RUBBER” award.
7. Frame “THE BEST BACK RUBBER” award and hang it over the bed to remind me to rub her back again, as she falls asleep, after rubbing her beautiful feet.
8. Rub her head, after rubbing her feet and back. To help her headaches.
9. Try not to be annoyed of how she always has headaches when the dishes, bathrooms, laundry, etc. need to be cleaned. Learn to trust her more.
10. Do all these things, without wanting any rubbing in return.
I anticipate a good year ahead of us. I really do.
December 3, 2012 § 4 Comments
I received this email today:
“May this be a reminder not to leave your email open on a public computer.
p.s. Hillary says hi.”
I replied to the email:
“Hi, Hillary! Please don’t read my emails. Some of them are about you.”
But the original email was sent from my own email account. So a few seconds later I received the following email:
“Hi, Hillary! Please don’t read my emails. Some of them are about you.”
October 30, 2012 § 6 Comments
After this post, I had some lingering thoughts. So here they are. Bear with me.
I am aware of the fact that it’s impossible to define what’s real, to define who we are, as if who we “really” are is some separate entity that doesn’t have to do with anybody/anything else, including Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Who we are consists of a lot of things: I am my mother’s daughter. I am my father’s daughter. I am Ryan’s wife. I am a devout Mormon. I am parts of each creative writing teacher I’ve had (even the old grouchy one I disagreed with). Thank goodness for all of these people/beliefs that have contributed to this current essence of me.
But I’m curious how this essence would change if my high school teachers encouraged me to major in economics instead of English (we didn’t even have an economics class), or if I grew up in Indonesia instead of Central Oregon, or lived on a farm instead of in a neighborhood. What if I was the fourth child, or the first child instead of the second? What if I married one of those weirdos I dated instead of Ryan (THE BIGGEST WEIRDO!!)? My experience of the world would be different. My understanding of experience would change because of my experience. Does that make sense?
How much of what I consider “me” would change if all my experience changed? I like to say that I’d still have my humor–(I’ve given up on being fascinating and resorted to being sorta funny)–but the truth is, what if my dad was never my dad, or my cousin Dani never handed me a Jack Handy book? What if I grew up watching Teletubbies (GROSS!!!!!!!) instead of Seinfeld? Okay, I’m a little freaked out. I HAVE NO ESSENCE.
But I kid. I kid. I believe there are parts of me that are essentially me. And not just my boobs and saggy butt (which, even though I inherited these from my grandmother, no boobs or butts are exactly like mine. Ryan assures me.). I mean, what about things like my awe? My anger? My hope? My sorrow? (I could go into a long discussion about learning emotions, but that might mean even my emotions aren’t my own. I refuse!)
I guess, though, who we are is constantly becoming. (I wrote a poem about this once.) Both our essences and our details. I am often learning new hobbies, interests, ways of living and experiencing that bring me either more or less happiness. This process of discovery changes what I do and what I want. (You could call it transformative!) Internet/social media = a place to learn new things from all kinds of people. I think that’s good. Great. Excellent. Fascinating!
I guess my concern always comes back to motives. In the words of Michael Scott, “Why are you the way that you are?”
In this sense, my question should not be “WHO ARE YOU REALLY?” because that’s not a fair question. And honestly, I think it’s a stupid and limiting question. Instead, my question is: ”WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE AND WHY?”
But again, this raises more questions. Do our desires better represent who we are (currently) than our actions? Ahh. No and yes?
Of course, this post as a whole has no central purpose. Add to it what you will.
October 22, 2012 § 8 Comments
The other day I got everything all done and early. I had time for extra thesis reading, too. Woo hoo! Hallelujah! Those are the days that I tell myself: You are organized. You are responsible. You are capable. And then, since I’m in the mood, I throw in: You are cool, sexy, fun, funny, creative, generous, healthy, in-shape, brilliant, rich, good at cooking (and everything else I wish I were). Is it as obvious to you as it is to me how desperate I am for compliments from my own self?
Because other days, like today, I’m not so full of compliments. These are the days that I notice only the sourness of the pasta sauce I made, the comment I made that I now realize made absolutely no sense (I think faster than I speak), the time wasted on EVERYTHING!, the stupid paper I wrote, the stupid syllabus I made that doesn’t work, etc., ET CETERA.
Someone recently told me that instead of approaching each day as “I HAVE TO DO/BE THIS!” or “I NEED TO DO/BE THIS!” I should instead approach it like this:
I prefer to get BLANK done.
I hope to handle BLANK like this.
Or, when reflecting back on the day, to think:
I wish I would have handled this in BLANK way, but I didn’t. I hope to handle it BLANK way next time.
I would have preferred to get BLANK done, but I didn’t. I hope to do BLANK next time.
The reason I like this paradigm of thinking and the reason I write about this is because of a few reasons:
(1) In my recent studies of the brain, I’ve learned that your brain makes little, if any, distinction between thought and action. As in, your thoughts really do matter when it comes to your experience of the world. Your thoughts can actually shape your experience and interpretation of the world. AKA: How I think influences how I act. This is a big deal.
(2) The person who came up with this paradigm of thinking was some hot shot psychologist or psychiatrist* who noticed that when we approach tasks with a “have to” attitude, we either approach it and finish it begrudgingly, or we approach it begrudgingly and then don’t finish. And then we automatically feel like big, fat losers. We feel more motivated when we feel like we are choosing, rather than “having to”.
*Sorry-I don’t remember his name. (“I wish I could remember it, but I don’t.”)
(3) I can, at times, be extraordinarily hard on myself.
Perhaps my weakness in humility is not how I approach others or how I believe others view me, but how I form attitudes about myself.
Though I do, much of the time, love who I am and praise who I am (in a way that I hope is honest and healthy), there are so many other times when I drop all of those feelings, and replace them with really bad ones, like “Woman, you suck,” and not in the joking HA HA HA HA, I just slipped down the stairs and rug-burned my butt kind of way. But like, genuine, “You happen to be failing in life” kinda way.
What does it mean to say I genuinely love myself one day and the next day define myself by how much I get done, or rather, how much I don’t get done? Perhaps our love for others is most evident when they disappoint us–after they’ve hurt us, acted immaturely, foolishly, or even, spitefully. The same, I think, applies to ourselves. How we treat/feel/think about ourselves when we’ve really, full-blown, outright, supremely disappointed ourselves.
Sometimes I disappoint myself. But the key is to learn from that disappointment (Why? What could I do better next time?), not smash it against my head over and over again until I’m coughing or gagging or gasping for air, metaphorically speaking. (Okay, that’s kind of an exaggeration.) These things are all obvious. But I’m still learning, people, so bear with me.
Or perhaps, the key is to give myself a break and then think about other, more important things. Like autumn. Future babies. My wildly beautiful family.