Flashes of Light: Present Moments

Flashes of Light: Present Moments

As a teacher, there are always little flashes of light.

Iridescent glimmers after long hours of digging. Dirt under your nails. Grit in your teeth. A rasp in your breath as you are suddenly able to inhale, with clarity in your lungs, a purpose. The scent of rain after a long drought… the kind that lingers in the air and forms steam off asphalt.  That makes wilted plants perk up. It makes the waiting worth it.

The thought of hope made tangible is an addiction worth giving into.

And then there is, of course, the sudden fade to black and dust that I often lose myself in. Blinded by bureaucracy and unrelenting tasks. Suffocated by the lack of positivity. The pile of a to do list that hopelessly grows in the face of the illogical. When you are constantly assessing what you need to do, you begin to wonder if you will ever have time to be yourself again. How can you when your day often stretches beyond the uncomfortable limit of ten hours? The weight of students is often combined with the weight of leaving a personal life behind –writing, riding, gardening, adventuring, loved ones. They tug at each other. But you need both.

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Dear World: A Love Letter (Stream of Conciousness)

Dear World: A Love Letter (Stream of Conciousness)

Dear world,

I am in love with your crevices and quirks. The man vehemently dancing with a sign on the side of the road. My waiter at the bar as he slides me a glass of wine and asks me how I am and listens to the rants of a stranger. The nuanced movements of starlings in mirmiration. A funny and nostalgic conversation with my brother. The smell of hay. The apparition of breath in cold. Dancing with friends to Christmas music in the back of a truck. The resonating sound as a piano key is struck.

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On Judgement: There Was a Man

On Judgement: There Was a Man

The streets of London plead for attention; a necessary contrast from the ubiquitous gloomy atmosphere of a tired city. Art, music, musings, and performances line sidewalks and alleys. Voices and brassy guitar chords echo into the rhythm of the river. The beats of nightclubs vibrate walls and glass.  Chatter and tourists and the scent of candied peanuts mixed with oil–a hint of America.

However, the hidden gems lie in London’s crevices. Between the booming parkour magic tricks and tourist traps. They are the unadorned modest moments. The kind that whisper a reminder: life can be simple and sweet and beautiful in small moments.

My gem, this time around, was an old man.

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Washington D.C., A Love Letter (1-2)

Washington D.C., A Love Letter (1-2)

The smell of sweet maple syrup brushes my nostrils. A molasses-like sip of coffee touches my lips. I am staring out from my screened-in porch at a towering Live Oak who’s Spanish moss drapes like a spontaneous work of modern art.

In the background, Ray Charles is banging on the piano. Cardinals flirt with the introduction to spring.”Y’all” twangs off the tongues of people below me.

And I am home, mostly. Back in the south, near nature and the people I love.

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On Brochures and Aging Dreams

On Brochures and Aging Dreams

It all started with a brochure that my sister’s friend Judy gave me years ago: the Trans-Wales Trail. A horseback riding trek that would make any Tolkien fangirl weak at the knees. Open spaces. Dragon’s land. Riding a noble beast across a country. We discussed our ideas and goals of doing it one summer. Why would we not do it?

Oh right…

I was in high school with little money and poor decision-making skills. In order to not get my hopes up, my incredulous self set the brochure and idea aside, but I was forever unable to escape the dream of riding a horse through a limitless landscape.

Years later, here I am. Writing tid-bits on trains headed to my adventure and present reflections at a table in my sunroom. A strange form of time travel connecting past and present. I didn’t really explain what this adventure was all about in the first place, and it would be a lie to say it was largely born as a journey of self-exploration, (though it certainly became one). It was to fulfill that dream instilled within me by a brochure. To achieve what my imagination had been incessantly clawing at for years.

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Day Three(ish): Tate Modern Ponder

Day Three(ish): Tate Modern Ponder

I’m in a mammoth cathedral whose halls dwarf any concept of modern architecture, or some holy space, listening to Gregorian chants and choirs singing: men, women, children. I can see their faces up close with such intimacy and detail–the large pouched cheeks of an Italian man, his throat puffing out like a frog, producing the deep tones of an alto. A small child, harmonizing perfectly with him. It is a place, regardless of religious background, that one is in awe. One can forgive the problems and corruption of organized religion and find the goodness and purpose in faith or spirituality.

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Practice and Preach

Practice and Preach

 

I write this stricken with a tinge of guilt on my shoulder, wondering if I still can. Wondering if I should. And then ultimately realizing that the wondering is simply a manner of coming up with excuses not to.

“Don’t compose this sentence,” the backspace beckons. My finger reaches for the key. It’s impulse. You haven’t written anything in a while. You’re not a writer anymore. Probably not good enough.

The mind can be SUCH a jerk sometimes. So can whiteout. And the backspace key. And those really chalky erasers. And fights against the Arkham Knight in the Bat Mobile. Moral: lots of things are jerks.

Though despite my guilt, I write this in happiness and contentment. I’m starting to grow and snuggle into a career field I see myself pursuing for the long-haul. One that I am optimistic and passionate about. I am also in a place that allows me to be in nature, work with wildlife and horses again, and open up to the idealistic identity I thought I lost for a little while; though, I think I prefer the term under-construction as opposed to lost.

It’s been ages since I’ve written in this blog, or really written anything outside of a class syllabus. It’s been ages since I’ve poured my time, experiences, memories, and moments into something that was both professional and personal to me. Teaching, in many ways, can be personal, but it is also inundated in connections and social interactions. Teaching at this point, consumes most of my thoughts. How will my lesson plan go tomorrow? What creative activity can I have my kids do to emphasize a point? What do I want my kids to learn? How can I help those who need more assistance? Does this material make sense for multiple intelligences? How is this going to tie in later on? How can I make sure my students are learning at all? What do I need to grade? How can I grade fairly? These questions are never easily answered, and when they are, their answers change. I love dwelling on these things, in the space of ambivalence and creativity.

But I think I’ve gotten to the point where I need to take time to separate my life from my career–a concept that I think is foreign to most who are in or have recently finished grad school. And ideally, that’s what getting back to writing will help me do. Reflection is sometimes the best of teachers… and as an English and writing teacher, I feel like I should probably practice what I preach. So my goal, is that once a week, I will have a piece up on this blog again. It might be an article I’ve recently published, an interview, a reflection, a story, an idea, a blurb, a recipe, an independent clause. I can’t guarantee what it will be, but it will have words. Beautiful, meaningful, fulfilling words.*

*I’m not saying I write beautiful words, I’m saying words in-and-of-themselves are beautiful, and might actually be made less beautiful in the context of this blog (RIP words: thanks for being useful). But it’s still pretty mind-blowing to me that symbols can carry emotional meaning with them. Carl Sagan uses them real good.