Monthly Archives: April 2012

A brief musing on green onions

Last week I got the brilliant idea of sprouting my own green onions from Pinterest, and so far they are the only chlorophyll-containing organisms I have managed to not kill within about 48 hours. (Knock on non-living processed wood.)

I originally bought a bunch of eight onions and promptly diced the green parts of four of them to make an epic amount of fried rice. Then I stuck the white parts, along with the remaining four whole onions, into an erstwhile jar of Trader Joe knockoff Nutella.

Within about 24 hours, the whole onions were getting all dry and crispy at the ends. (“TURGOR! TURGOR! We have catastrophic turgor loss!!” is the message I imagine frantically shooting through the poor plants’ plasmodesmata. Good God, I need to get back into a bio classroom.) But the ones I had chopped to the white parts were busily sprouting new growth. (I like to think my daily cheers of “Go go green onion baby go!” had something to do with it. Maybe the CO2 from my breath.)

And so the object lesson is clear and timely: sometimes to make room for the new, one must get rid of the old. Old thought habits. Old lies internalized. Old distortions taken as facts. Old dysfunctions that crowd out truth and beauty. The trimming can be traumatic, but maybe it’s the only way to grow.

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Back on the Pony

So today was the first time I’ve been in a classroom since November…five months, almost to the day, I think. I got onto the sub list at a private PK-12 school and today was my first assignment. G and I were talking about how teaching is so much a performance that you give every day. You have a costume. (Roomie asked this morning whether it felt weird to be in my teacher clothes again. It did.) You have your cues. (This school plays music at class change, which is an unguent to ears scarred by alarm bells and buzzers.) You have your props. (The daggone braided lanyard like a noose around the neck.  Kidding…sort of.) And you have your lines, delivered in your own characteristic teacher voice. (Mine caroms like a billiard ball between various accents and chooses words like caroms.)

Five months ago I couldn’t and wouldn’t play that part. I couldn’t keep the mask on when I felt the face beneath disintegrating. But today…it all came right back the instant the kids walked in the door. And my goodness, they were LITTLE! And smart. Astounding the difference a few years and a lifetime of good nutrition makes in a child’s physique and faculties. (Dear Title I schools: In lieu of pricey intervention programs or technology gimmicks, consider serving your children a hot, high-protein breakfast and lunch, and see what happens to test scores. Just a suggestion.) I didn’t feel nearly as anxious about letting them fart around a little in class because I knew that they would finish the assignment at home and all would be well that ends well. I can probably count on ten fingers the number of students I have had in the last two years that I would actually trust to do that. (Well, maybe a couple toes too.)

So it certainly felt like an alternate universe most of the day. Where were the hall monitors, the police officers and CPOs, the locker searches, the third-trimester bellies and ankle-grazing pants wandering the halls? I remember going in to get my fingerprints done and actually being surprised that students were walking in lines. And I feel guilty because…well, because I’m programmed to, but why really? Because I have come to expect so little when once I had such high ideals? Because part of me really wants to teach in a school like this where it is easier than in the trenches? Or just because guilt is a handy delayer of meaningful action? (Slam. Ouch.)

My decision to edge back toward the classroom was, to be honest, not motivated by any tremendous desire to change any life except my own. Yeah, I’ve missed being with kids and feeling that unique bond of trust coalesce between us and among themselves. But mostly I needed some sort of income and access to seniors and families in need of photography services if I want to pursue that path more seriously. Then I realized a few weeks ago that if I want to rearrange some of the relational distances in my life, the field in which I have the most training and experience is the most efficient way to get a job in my hypothetical new home. All this to say that I’m not trying to get back on the pony because I’m absolutely in love with the pony, but because the pony is currently the most direct route to where I want to go.

In my conversation with DH a few weeks ago, I declared that I was done being a martyr. That teaching could and should be, at the end of the day, just a job. And I certainly have a far more realistic perspective on that than I used to. But fear and doubt flicker around the edges. As I revise my resume to reflect the past year, I am really struggling with the thought, “I already asked for a second chance last summer, and I blew it.” (G’s response, “So ask for another second chance.” Por eso, te adoro.) Everyone seems convinced that I will be able to find another position, and I guess logically I know that is probably true. But I’m also wrestling with the theology of a comment made by another sub, “Maybe God doesn’t want me to work at this school.” Do I believe in a God who actively throws up barriers, and laughs when we smash into them like birds to a window? Am I centering my life around a God who is as small as I am, and refuses to be placated when His offerings go unappreciated?

I just can’t. Last night as I looked over the sudden deluge of opportunities to pick up some things and drop others, I wondered, “Either God is saying ‘Stay in Columbus!’ or ‘You’re free to go!'” And my friend wisely said, “Maybe God is saying, ‘Jennifer! I love you! Do whatever the hell you want!” (The thought of God cursing amuses me greatly.)

Blasphemy? Heresy? Hope?

Time has a funny way about it; maybe there is something to the whole space-time continuum thing. There are those divots of joy or pain when time seems to stand still, but those inevitably accelerate up to the baseline again and the days will blur into weeks into months.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since…oh Lord, so many things. Virginia and back again. Losing Chiles. Saying goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. Moving back. Losing the spark. Puerto Rico. Doors closed. Doors opened. Limping forward. Burning out. Cutting my losses. Digging deep. Jamaica. Las Vegas. Puerto Rico again. Digging deeper. Moving through and moving forward. The days have been long but the weeks and months fast. “Every breath has come to this…one step closer.”

Time has a funn…

je ne regrette rien

A few months ago, in an attempt to dissuade me from following my heart down an admittedly crazy path, my father pointed out several of my past misadventures in the relational realm and urged me not to do something I would later regret.

If I may be so bold, I regret nothing I’ve done in my relationships. Being an F on Myers-Briggs, I value relationships above all else, so you would think I’d be more upset when they end. And I am, but I do not regret anything that I’ve given, because in the act of giving I am inevitably enriched, and that I get to keep.

The Guardian posted an article about the top five regrets of the dying, as heard by a palliative care nurse in Australia. I’m trying to outgrow these now, so that I don’t have them when my time finally comes.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

I am still figuring out exactly what it means to be true to myself, but I think I am definitely getting there. Respecting others’ feelings is certainly a big part of who I am, but I am learning to do that without compromising my own boundaries and ideals.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

I feel a little regret for the time I spent working in college and high school, but it set me up to graduate twice with 3 degrees and not a cent of debt, which has enabled me in the years since graduating to make most, if not all, of the choices that brought me my greatest happiness. I choose now to work hard at what I want, not for others’ approval or expectations of what I should be doing.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Haha, this…is probably not something with which I will ever struggle. Any bouts of emotional constipation will resolve themselves with rather great swiftness and varying (and generally lessening) degrees of meltdown.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I like to think that I am reasonably good at this, or maybe I have just become better at accepting the fact that friends will move closer and farther throughout my life, but that distance is neither malevolent nor irreversible in most instances.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Now this one I feel. As narcissistic as it sounds, I think that my greatest regret so far is that I have wasted so much time being unkind to myself, because in the process I tend to become someone who is unable to be kind to others (cf. my last job).

What is your biggest regret?

The God of Disappointment

A failed test

A broken plate

A stolen toy

Broken hearts

Stolen dreams

Failed families

Two thieves

One betrayer

A bruised reed

The oppressors couldn’t kill you

The stone couldn’t hold you

Death couldn’t take you

Truly, you are the God of disappointment.

Trying to relax and bend into the ebb and flow. Perhaps all dreams must come to an end, but only so one can truly wake.

A first line

A zap of inspiration Sunday, and I’ve been gumming this line around in my head ever since. I don’t have much beyond this, but my puny sense of authorial gumption is pummeling her ineffectual little fists against the Editor, so here it goes.

“They never tell you, when you are dating or engaged, that when two people choose to marry, one is inevitably agreeing to be widowed.”