Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hello, Thirties!

This summer is just flying by and so much has happened and so much has changed, I can't even find time to write...not even in my paper journal.

I spent a week in Chicago this summer, it is the farthest west I have ever been. While there my department chair endorsed my research topic for my dissertation. I am a year out from entering comps for my's getting a little scary, I can't lie.

I started selling LuLaRoe clothing and that has been an amazing adventure. It has brought so many new people into my life and it brought back so many old friendships that died as we all were busy growing up. It feels good to see so many faces back in my life.

I turned 30 this summer too, but moments before I did, PHIL PROPOSED! I'm engaged and we're planning a November wedding for next year. AHH! I am so excited to be marrying the love of my life and planning the wedding that we both have always dreamed of. I really can't wait.

I'm actually really excited for this time in my life. I get to be a wife in this decade, and maybe a mom. I'll also hopefully get tenure and finish my PhD. And then begin all new dreams and journeys along with it. I started this blog when I was 23? 24? I spent a lot of time writing about finding love, but now I want to write about what you do once you've found it. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

There are many things this summer...

School is finally  over in 5 days. It should have been over weeks ago, but at least, we're down to days.

This was my worst year as a teacher. It was hard, there were tears and many times I rally fantasized about quitting and finding a job that had nothing to do with kids.

One of my students was murdered. I was assaulted by a kid that wasn't even mine.

Done. I am just done with this year.

And now it's summer where I am going to remodel my kitchen and it will be beautiful. The last of the appliances already came and I put up this back splash:

Once the new sink, faucet,counter and cabinets are all up, the entire place is going to look very different. The cabinets now are almost as old as I am and have been painted, red, white and then blue. At one time my kitchen was purple with red cabinets-- I still don't know what those people were thinking.

It will be modern with a touch of vintage, just like the rest of my house. We're also putting up a faux tin ceiling in the kitchen with a fleur de lis design. I'll be very sad when we out grow this house and have to move.

I'm teaching one college class this year and then I get to go to Chicago for my doctoral residency and talk about urban literacy and the visual arts for 5 days. I come home and...turn....30. This birthday has been haunting me all year. there are times where I still feel 16...I'm just not sure how 30 years have happened for me. So crazy!

The real nice part of this summer though? I'll have time even though I'm doing all of this. My class is only 5 weeks and though I am taking two PhD classes, those too will go quickly. In the mean time, I'll be kicking off my summer on June 23rd at about 11am when Phil said he will wake me up with a big glass of pina colada sangria.

Afterwards, you'll find me at the beach with this beauty:

Where the only worry I will have for about a week and a half will be house breaking our puppy.

Monday, May 2, 2016

What Is Found In Grief

There are many things that I have realized and come to except through different periods of my life while I was grieving. My last big bought with it came with the end of my time as a French teacher and coincidentally the end of a rather emotionally abusive relationship. I found art and literature again, and finally finished my masters as I got through it. I also met Phil.

I have written how hard and outright exhausting this year has been, it's just insanity really. My college class that I teach ends next week and upon hearing the news, Phil exclaimed, "oh thank God, I can't wait for this year to be over."

"Have I been then miserable to live with," I asked, half-jokingly.

"Yup, pretty much, but I do still love you," he said.

You can't blame someone who has had the craziest year teaching middle school on top of taking two PhD courses per term AND teaching one of her own English courses at night. There has been a lot of crying this year.

And then, last week tragedy really struck. A former student of mine who was one of my kids-- as teachers you do have students that become closer to you, your kids-- was shot in the head while she was out with her friends and died two days later. The morning of the news of her passing, teachers, including myself were balling their eyes out as we tried to get through the day and teach. It was awful. It was so beyond anything I ever prepared myself for when I became a teacher. Last year, her mother died and she was notified of her passing in my class. I felt completely helpless then, but now, I didn't even know what to say as some of my most challenging students sobbed and clung to me for dear life.

I somehow blindly got through the week and Phil and I got to spend the weekend together which is unheard of because we are on opposite schedules. We went out to lunch on the water and ran errands for the house, stopping at an adoption center for dogs. We were just looking for fun. We had talked about getting another dog because Molly really wants to play with someone and the cats have pretty much told her to f off, so we figured someday we'd be adding another dog. Turns out Saturday was that day. We walked in and saw all kinds of cute dogs, but there was one that the moment we had walked in, came right to the front of the cage and started to try to burrow his way out. He had no interest in anyone else but us and it was weird because even though the place was packed, no one else was even looking at him.

An hour later, he was sitting in my lap snoozing on the way home. We hadn't even gotten to PetSmart yet and Phil looked at me and goes, "Can we call him Behr, but B-E-H-R?"

"Only if we can call him Professor Behr," I add.

"That's perfect!!"

"It is, it's from Little Women-- Jo marries Professor Behr in the end."

"You're a literature nerd."


And so, Professor Behr, the bichon frise was born. The cats ignore him and so far Molly has been seething jealousy, but at the same time trying to play with him too. And so, this week taught me anything it's to surround yourself with what you love. Plant gardens, paint pictures, plan adventures, raise children and animals. Write and read books, teach classes and do it all with your partner if you are lucky enough to find them. Most importantly, don't let anyone dull your happiness because they're bitter or don't agree with what you've chosen for yourself. Love the life you want because you only get one. Professor Behr, our newest addition, will always be my reminder.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Book Review: Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

My Valentine's Day gift this year was a rose bush for my garden and a copy of Stephen King's Bazaar of Bad Dreams. I read the book over the course of a week. The stories were quick, just eerie enough and played to his earlier works in the short story genre. In some ways, a few read like a Tales from the Crypt episode, but as a big fan of those as well, I really can't complain.

Some stories dealt with the ideas of alternate realities, similar to the recently finished Hulu series, 11-22-63. However, the most rattling story in this book is Afterlife that chronicles the experiences of a man who dies a slow, painful death from cancer who then gets to experience all of his mistakes again and again as he moves through similar experiences in his after life. It gave me the chills reading it. As I turn 30 this year, well at this point, it's only 4 months away, I have become obsessed with the idea of my own mortality. This really hit home for me.

Outside of that, some references and things did go over my head, revealing that King is an older writer now and unless you are over the age of 40, you might miss out on some of King's nuisances. 

Final Score: 3.5/5
Book Information: Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King with ISBN 1501111671 published by Scribner on November 3, 2015.

Teacher Tired, It Kills

I remember being younger, probably college, and hearing about some super star musician having to cancel concerts because of "exhaustion."

And I thought, what bull shit. You make millions of dollars to entertain people-- how can you be that tired that you have to cancel?

Well, as someone who does not make millions and has to both entertain AND teach teenagers everyday...I kind of get exhaustion now. This is the first year that I am really feeling it. I'm just tired all the time. I don't want to do much once I leave my classes other than stare at a wall when I get home.

Last night? Last night I got home and laid down. I got up and made dinner. Ate dinner and promptly fell asleep on the couch by 8:30. I didn't wake up until 6AM and was quickly in a panic to get gas, make my lunch, breakfast, coffee and shower.

And you know what? I'm STILL tired.

Today is a double teaching day too: 8th grade all day, college freshman all night.

Teacher tired, it kills.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Review: Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

I have never read a Jodi Picoult book before. I saw My Sister's Keeper in theaters shortly after losing my Big sister to cancer in college. It destroyed me, so I pretty much never wanted to deal with anything Picoult ever again.Then, I had a lot of them donated to my classroom and since I like to read books before I give them out so I can talk to kids about them, I picked up Harvesting the Heart for fun over spring break.

This was Picoult's second novel and it told the story of a creative young woman who falls into love at an early age and finds herself a reluctant mother. Overall, it's very much a coming of age story, but it also delves into women's issues like abortion and young motherhood. I liked how the story flipped between Paige's and Nicholas's perspectives to show the all-around version of the same story.

It was a relatively quick read that I finished it in two days while I was on vacation. I appreciated it for encompassing so much in only 460 pages. From Paige's turmoil in her first love relationship, her subsequent abortion and the story of unyielding love she found with her heart surgeon husband and their son. You saw this character grow up as the novel progressed and in it heal not only herself, her relationship with her mother, but also her father and her parent's own relationship with each other.

The novel was written in 1993, so it was also nice to read a more modern book without all of the complications of cell phones and facebook.

Final score: 4/5 stars
Book Information: Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult with ISBN 0140230270 was originally published by Penguin Books on April 1, 1995.

You know you're old when...

You begin to look forward to summer for the simple reason that it means you can breathe.

I can't say that 2016 has been a bad year, but it's been a hard year. Every several years as a teacher, you get a year where you think it can't get anymore bat-shit crazy than it already is, but it does. Those are the worst years. This year is one of those.

I had already told Phil before Christmas that this summer I was not working full-time. I was not going to run a summer camp. I was not going to wait tables. I was just not.

And the good news is that I'm not. I'm teaching one college class and working on my dissertation for my next residency.

This is, end-of-year-teacher-tired.
It's still going to be a lot, but it won't be the insanity that was this year. I am hopeful that next year will be easier and won't have the personal stuff with it all too.

My grandmother is pretty sick and my cat, Jack Nicholson, was just diagnosed with diabetes and a heart murmur. His heart is actually the size of my fist. I've only had him for a year and he had spent much of his life being a NYC tom cat. Scary when I think that when I got him, he had a clean bill of health other than a cold that antibiotics quickly took away. Now, for the rest of his little cat life I will have to give him insulin shots. We have the consult with the vet specialist on Friday and I am not looking forward to this at all. I can get shots, but giving them skeeves me out. Probably one of the big reasons that after Rutgers, I went on for teaching instead of nursing.

The guys. Jack & Milo

I think the most unnerving of everything with Jack Nicholson is that when I look at photos of him from before, he's a big, meaty lynx point and now he's a patchy haired skeleton that sits on my feet purring and lays on the floor licking his butt and farting into his own face. There was a time where he was a lot more...err..regal than that.

If you'd like to donate to help with Jack Nicholson's ever-growing vet bill-- I set up a go fund

To end on a happy note...guys, look at my beautiful bathroom: