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The Year I Quit Writing

5 Jun


It has been almost a full year since my last post. This has become such an awkward fact for someone who used to define herself as a writer that until now, it has prevented me from starting up again. There is something innately embarrassing about starting something you don’t finish or, in this case, maintain. Then, I realized, the only thing worse that having been “too busy” to write for a year is having too much pride to start up again. Now wouldn’t that have been dumb.

Now this is the paragraph we call excuses. They are simple–first year teacher, and DIY wedding planner. But, like all sad excuses, they are more complex.  I have never known how to write about the hilarious, exhausting, rewarding experiences of teaching while 1. maintaining privacy of students and peers at work and 2. having enough time to do both. And I have not known how to write about the rest of my life and just leave this part out, because it is a career that becomes a part of you. Suggestions welcome, especially from other writers gone teachers, teachers gone writers, and teacher writers.

So, with the wedding two months away, and the summer to revive my lost writing skills, let’s try again.


Equal in Love

6 Jul

You take out the trash, I’ll do the dishes. You carry that heavy plant outside, I’ll DVR your latest episode of The Office. At some point in relationship rule creation, someone decided things should be equal. This all works out fine until its something bigger, like “You bring in the money while I raise the kids.”

Equality is overrated, though society has taught us to seek it constantly, especially in modern relationships. In spite of our best intentions to “keep no record” and give more than we receive, it’s hard to resist. The issue shows it ugly face particularly when one person has more time on their hands than the other—such as one works nine to five and the other is unemployed, or if there is otherwise an imbalance of time. The “free” person is expected, subconsciously, to pick up more of the slack. That includes the chore slack, the cooking slack, and sometimes even the emotional slack, serving as the stable one while the other is stressed.

Maybe the new working relationship is not an equal relationship in the sense that at any one time, both people are contributing equally. Instead, maybe the equality is evened out over a course of years—I’ll work while you finish school, and then ten years later, you work while I pursue an art career, for example. In the end, equality prevails if both people have an equal state of mind, rather than literally equal actions at any one given time.

How to Be Engaged 101

29 Jun

Getting engaged can make you joke. For ten minutes. Being surprised brings on strange reactions sometimes. Sorry no tears, future hubby-dearest.

There should be a class called “Your life will change when you get that sparklin’ somethin somethin on your left hand.” There should be another class (the period after) called “But it’s not what you think it’ll be like.”

Since girls are itty bitty they dream about finding the perfect guy (who?) and about him dropping to his knee on a beach or in a field, under sparkling stars or a rainbow or something [insert your obnoxiously naive childhood dream here]. What they don’t tell you is what happens the two hours after you get engaged? Or in the next week? The awkward, hazy time when the chips fall and reality sinks in. Weddings cost money, and lots of it. People react differently than you thought. Your 86-year-old grandparent who has bugged you to get married for the past five years says, “Can you please pass the salt?”

First, you answer lots and lots of questions. When is the wedding? What Si level color 1 XYZ is that diamond (Did I buy it, no.)? What kind of bride will you be–princess bride, elegant bride, psycho bride? Who will be sitting in the third to last row of your chapel? You get the point. While it’d be easy to complain about such inquiries, the shocked and confused and elated bride-to-be must quickly realize that this is people showing they care, in the way they know best…asking questions. It does not mean I have to know the answers, or should feel less than adequate if I don’t.

Lesson one of the engagement class is that people react in their own ways on their own schedule, and so do the bride and groom. If I want to stay up all night six days after getting engaged to scour wedding hair-dos, I can do that. That’s my way of showing excitement. If my fiance wants to sleep through it, that’s his choice…ring picking is exhausting, you know.

What’s For Dinner?

27 May

The most pesky and persistent question that you can count on showing up every day. Single. Day. What’s for Dinner? Ironically as you grow up you shift from the question asker to the one expected to produce results on cue. Regardless of the full time job, the second job, the family obligations, or the dry cleaning that was forgotten (last month…eek), the dreaded question arrives every afternoon.

This is why they created 4:00 tea and cookies—to prolong and procrastinate the answer to the question. While the options seem very simple and limited (takeout, eat out, or cook), it’s much more complicated than that. Did you remember to thaw the fish? Are there any side dishes to go along with it? Will the frozen peas from last winter suffice? In our household, if any one of these questions yield a less than positive answer, the pizza man will be on his way. Sad, but true. When it’s 6:30 and there’s half a piece of chicken leftover from last night, choices are limited.

An entire industry (or many) is devoted to solving this dilemma. There are “magic” cookbooks like Rachel Ray’s Dinner in 30 minutes, and the Martha Stewart wanna-be equivalent. There are “magic” restaurants like Dream Dinners, who promise a home cooked meal, but rarely succeed and manage to drain your wallet anyway. There are “magic” cookers, but how many times can you eat crock-pot flavored pot roast? Because, let’s admit it, your choices are limited as to what “liquid” your perfectly marinated meat will cook in. Everything ends up tasting like chicken broth (insert cooking liquid of choice).

What’s worse, is that not answering the “What’s for Dinner” question in a responsible manner (Oh, we’re having tilapia and peas in about 20 minutes), leads to low relationship self-esteem. In spite of the strongest efforts for the female race to evolve past having to make the dinner every night, something deep down feels just a little bit bad if dinner is not planned. It may be old-fashioned, but it’s an inescapable feeling that even the best Chicken Lo Mein takeout can’t squander. Bummer. Oh yeah, and I haven’t solved anything here—What is for dinner?

Grown Up Cinderella

30 Apr

Today, Internet surfing increased 20 percent with the Royal Wedding. Girls, women, and grandmas across the country rose and shine earlier than ever, witnessing the event around the globe. In the midst of natural disasters, a stagnant economy, and the war that will never end, everyone stopped to watch a modern day love story. All news programs tuned in, including CNN. No news was more important than a love story this morning.

Why the fascination? Nobody seems to care what the British monarch does during the rest of the decade. But today was a celebration of love. The fairy tale had everything of the storybook version—years of trials and tribulations before it all came together. Family and friends surrounding the happy ending. A carriage, horses, and yes, a (balding) knight in shining armor—literally.

The lady at the deli wore a tiara over her worn in Kroger hat. People danced in the streets in Britain all night long. We learned, and witnessed all over the world that love does prevail, and that we desire it over everything else. When you get down to the core, Kate and Will’s relationship is no different than any other couple’s love—it was simply the only marriage given the amount of grandeur and acknowledgement that each love story deserves (princess or not). The world stopped to watch, and to celebrate the emotion that gets each of us out of bed every morning. Even at 4 am.

Honey, There’s a BUG

26 Apr

I opened the door to kiss my man goodbye, and in crawls the most massive spider I’ve ever seen. I try to handle it, but instead I say forget it, throwing out all the feminist, equal gender-roled ideas I’ve ever had. “Justin, get it!” But he calmly said, “You can handle it.”

And I thought, good point, I’m being silly. And such a GIRL! Get it together. So I put on my pink Skechers and stomped on it. Hard. And then it kept moving, well more like lurching, at me. So I stomped it again. Much to my surprise, out came five more tiny little spiders–all freaking out. Now I’d really done it. Not only had I acted like a little girl, I had also killed a pregnant mother. Perfect.

The whole incident made me stop and think: Shouldn’t I kill my own bugs from now on? My Skechers work as well (usually) as his size 13 boots. It’s not that I was raised to be squeamish either–the last time I saw my mother kill a spider she just grabbed it and smooshed it in her hand. Sick. Gutsy, but sick.

The bigger question is not who kills the spiders, but who does the dirty work–the traditional “man” work. The answer is, for me at least, we both do, with a few exceptions. I am learning, slowly, to pick which exceptions those are; which 1950’s conventions were stupid, oppressive, and ridiculous, and which kind of made sense. I’m not saying I am to cook and clean and he is to bring home the bread and throw his feet up. I’m simply saying that some things, like spider killing, will never be my forte. And some things, like rearranging the vase collection, will never interest him. That’s just biology, regardless of whether it’s the year 1950 or 2050. Boys like playing with bugs. I don’t.

Just one more sock…

28 Feb

I was doing laundry today, when I caught myself smiling. Smiling! While doing

No, these are not my socks. Courtesy of Google Images.

laundry! After a few minutes of inner reflection, trying to find the cause of such a strange occurrence, I realized the reason. I was trying to stuff so many whites in the “white load” that my own inner voices were laughing at me.

“Why,” they asked, “Do you need to do EVERY dirty white in the SAME load? Do you think this is the last load of laundry ever to be done?”

“Well no,” I replied back. “But it’s sure the last one that will make it through before next Friday. And I need all these white socks between now and then, don’t ya think?”

That’s when I realized it (no, not that I’m talking to myself). I realized that we are way too caught up with being efficient, that we are missing it all. The most important thing to me about laundry today wasn’t doing one load well and calling it progress. It was stuffing in just one more sock. Getting the most bang for my buck. Finishing the most I could with the least amount of effort. Why?

The “one more sock” principle is the same reason I cleaned my entire house during a 40-minute conversation with my Dad. Was it not enough to simply sit and talk with someone? Is that really a waste of time? It shouldn’t be, if I took the time to value moments. But who has time for that. Instead, I find myself thinking of potential ways to multitask. To squeeze just one more event into the given time period. To make every minute count. But am I really counting every minute for the full value it deserves? Am I really present for any of those events? Usually, yes. Usually, it’s okay.

But sometimes, it’s not so good to bring a book to visit your aging grandparents. Or to shove down your breakfast while proofing a paper (coffee stains in the corner…oops).  So the real trick to expert level multitasking? Knowing when a life moment warrants your undivided attention. And knowing when one more sock, just one, will shut down that washer for good. Eek.

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