All By Myself

Soooo… remember that time I was all like, “MER. You GUYSSSSSS…. I have to go to a funeral all by myself and it’s going to be awkward and stupid and gross.”?

Remember that?

And then, I sat there like this:

Even though you couldn’t see me.

And then remember how I put on my big girl pants (size small, thank you very much) and went to the funeral?

Remember that?

Well, in a CRAZY turn of events, it just so happens that I am WAY awesome at flying solo. Like, even more awesome than I was when I was part of a twosome.

Honestly, I was kind of brilliant with the whole, “Going by myself. To a funeral. All alone. Just me. No one else. Yes, sir. Going to a funeral.” thing.

I KNOW! WHO KNEW?!

Turns out, that when I’m all by myself, not tagging along as a third wheel, or one half of a whole, I’m totally fine. You know why? Because I don’t have to worry about anyone but myself. I don’t have to worry about what someone else is doing or saying or thinking. It’s BRILLIANT! It’s pretty much the best time ever.

It’s funny. I always thought I’d be horrified to go places by myself. And then after being married, I thought I could never do anything by myself ever again. Turns out that I totally can… and it’s way more enjoyable than I ever thought.

I think part of the reason is because when I was married, I kind of functioned as the adult in the relationship. I was the one who knew how to behave appropriately in social situations. My husband was… well… a complete ass (and not in a cutely awkward kind of way). Only, he didn’t know he was being an ass. He thought he was being funny and charming. But really, he was just being an ass.

For instance, after the funeral service ended, I hugged my friend, offered my condolences and said a few kind words about the service and her husband. Then I left. I did not say something like, “So, what’s Mike up to these days?” (in reference to the deceased – name changed… obviously), or “Where can I get some food around here?” or launch into some gripe about how the florist at my great aunt’s funeral had butchered the arrangements and then charged the family double. DOUBLE!

In fact, I didn’t say or do anything inappropriate. My husband? Totally would have. (I can easily see him saying any and all of the above.) And then I would have promptly died, while those around me chuckled politely, aghast at his horrifying attempt at humor. Then I would have had to explain to him in the car why the comment wasn’t appropriate. Then he would have freaked out because I was being a control freak, and besides, everyone knew he was kidding and they thought it was funny and that’s why they laughed. And then I would have to explain that people weren’t actually laughing… they were trying to cover up their horror, and that was just their polite way of dealing with an otherwise really uncomfortable situation. And he would tell me I was wrong and making him feel bad about himself and it would have been this whole… THING. But nope. None of that happened. And you know why? BECAUSE I WAS BY MYSELF. Now that I’m all by myself… NO THINGS! No inappropriate comments! No horrified reactions! No putting on of kid gloves to explain how the world works to a grown adult!

I’m sorry… but it’s kind of… AMAZING.

And freeing. And… really, really cool.

I need to do things by myself more often.

Turns out, I’m pretty good at it.

What’s the Plan, Stan? Or are you as woefully unprepared as I am?

Today I subbed in a 5th grade class. Not to be cheeky (OH MY GOODNESS… NEW WORD. I’m totally using that from now on. Seriously, how great is that word?), but they totally loved me. And when I say they “loved” me, I mean they LOOOOOOVED me. As in, “Ms. Evans! Why aren’t you going to be here tomorrow?! Why do we have a different sub tomorrow?! I hate that other sub! If you’re here today, why aren’t you here tomorrow?! UGH!” (Insert all manner of adolescent angst here.) It would actually have earned them points if they hadn’t been such turkeys the rest of the day.

No, to be honest, I had a blast with them. I haven’t been in an upper elementary classroom in nearly a year (all my subbing gigs have been K-3 for some odd reason…), and I honestly wasn’t sure if I would appreciate them as much as I had in the past. Turns out, the older kids are just as hysterical as I remember, and they totally appreciate my dorky sense of humor. Plus, they don’t need help getting their snowpants on. Score!

Aaaaaanyhoodles… (See? I told you Twitter followers I would use it…) this post isn’t actually about my excellent adventures with the 5th graders. While on my lunchbreak (which turned out to be 2 HOURS LONG… do you know how long 2 hours is when you don’t have decent reading material??? ER. MER. GERD.) I was plotting out this month’s schedule, budget and assorted plans. Turns out, I have a lot to do and not much money with which to do it. (Could it be because 3 SUBBING GIGS WERE CANCELLED AT THE LAST MINUTE WITH NO EXPLANATION?! Ugh… you’re killing me, peeps…) This concern made me begin to wonder… and worry… and work myself into a tizzy… over my plans.

Ah… yes. My “plans”. I sat and stared at my planner realizing that I had… none. No plans. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Once June hits, I am screwed over. No money from subbing. Diddly squat from alimony. Savings? Sure. But there’s a reason they’re called “savings”… stay with me, people. And so… as I am wont to do… I went into full-on “freak-out” mode.

What are you going to do? You need to find a summer job. Where are you going to find a summer job? Do you even want a summer job? How old are you!? How many 30 somethings need a summer job? A summer job?! Who would even hire you? They’re going to give you the same, “You’re way over-qualified,” spiel they always give you because they don’t want to pay you more than $8.50 an hour. So, just find a full time teaching job, dill hole! Full-time teaching job? Do you even want a full-time teaching job? Doesn’t that make you a “working stiff”? You HATED being that person! And what about your writing? You know that’s going to go down the tubes once you start working for the man. And where are you going to find this “full time teaching gig”? Where else? The nearest metropolitan area… where jobs are plentiful and everyone is miserable. YAY! You’re right back where you started, dumbass… except minus the ass hat. Does that really matter though, when you need food to eat, a place to live, and cute clothes to purchase? Nah. Not so much! So, what’s the plan? Figure it out… you have 3 months before you are royally screwed over, Annie. Get cracking. Find a job. Be miserable. Buy a dozen cats. Die alone. End scene.

By the time, the kids got back in the classroom, they may have found me like this:

And then I had to get over it and be awesome again for their sakes.

Anyway… my question is this: Does anyone else feel woefully unprepared for the future? Void of any substantial plans? Struggling to figure out whether to “go for it” or just “do what you gotta do”? I feel completely lost and totally panicked because… well…

What’s the plan, Stan?

Gif Source: ryjonka.tumblr.com

The Trouble with Writing Prompts

When I started student teaching, one of the first things my cooperating teacher said to me was, “I don’t do writing prompts. I hate writing prompts.” And then she got on her Anti-Writing Prompt Soapbox and proceeded to denounce the supposed virtues of writing prompts.

At first I thought, “Whoa… crazy lady… simmer down. It’s just a writing prompt. Wacko.”

Now? I’m totally like, “Preach it, sister!”

From what I’ve seen, teachers LOOOOOOVE their writing prompts. They’re easy to correct, easy to read, and they help to teach basic writing skills.

I still hate them.

I remember hating them back when I was in school. If I had to spend one more year explaining what I did over the summer in September, describing what I hoped to do over the summer in May, and writing about my holiday plans in December, I was going to shoot myself in the foot. It was SO BORING. And it was the EXACT. SAME. THING. EVERY. FLIPPIN’. YEAR.

Where is the creativity in that? And how does that instill in students a love of writing when it becomes complete drudgery?

Put yourself in your students’ shoes. How would you feel if you were forced to follow a formula when it came to writing? How would you like it if someone else dictated to you what you were going to write that day?

“Let’s see, Annie. Today, you’re going to tell me what you’re looking forward to about spring. Give me at least 5 complete sentences, and then draw me a picture illustrating your ideas.”

I have actually seen kids do exactly that when being given a writing prompt. Why? Because it’s ANNOYING. I’ve actually had kids bang their heads against their desks, crawl underneath their desks, and spend 20 minutes in the bathroom just to get out of writing. It’s not that they hate the writing… they hate what they’re expected to write. The kids who avoid writing are the same kids who will come up with the most inventive and creative stories when not limited by restrictive guidelines. So, why do we keep shoving writing prompts down their throats? God forbid we allow our students some creative expression.

Whether the student is crafting a fairy tale, writing a letter to his or her imaginary friend, or giving a play by play of the weekend’s events, they’re still gaining writing experience. You can give your students parameters as far as word count, integrating certain vocabulary and making use of certain strategies… but  you don’t have to tell them what to write. They’re perfectly capable of coming up with something on their own. And for the students who are sticklers for rules and absolutely have to be told what to write and how to write it… at least give them a choice of what to write. Let them pick their own writing prompt out of a hat, or give them 3 to 5 prompts to choose from. But don’t squelch their creativity by dictating to them what to write about. That’s a sure-fire way to kill their love of writing. And if you do that, you might as well tell them Santa Claus isn’t real while you’re at it too.

*Gif from http://katsgiflibrary.tumblr.com/post/73128148957

Straight Up Apathy

I really, genuinely hate how apathetic we are about world events.

If it doesn’t affect our pocket book or our daily routine, we just don’t care. What does it matter? Our perfect little lives contained in our perfect little bubbles are still picture perfect, so we go about our daily lives and shrug our shoulders and shake our heads and make empty comments like, “What a shame…”. Because does it really matter? It doesn’t affect us directly. Let’s move on. Hey, have you heard about the new season of “Downton Abbey”?

No. Just… no. Because it does matter and it does affect us. 12 people lost their lives in France because they dared to practice free speech. They drew a few pictures, pushed a few envelopes, offended a few people… and now they’re dead because of it. How does that not affect us? Do we not practice free speech every time we hit that “publish” button? Do we not voice our opinions and thoughts, and exchange ideas and beliefs on a daily basis? And yet, we don’t care when others are murdered for doing the exact same thing?

That’s just straight up apathy, people.

Maybe it’s because our right to free speech is so taken for granted. It’s something we’ve always done. It’s not some new, trendy movement that everyone is Pinning about. It is what it is. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that the right to speak your mind and voice your beliefs should not be taken for granted. It’s an amazing privilege not everyone has and it’s being threatened by people who don’t believe you have a right to speak your mind and voice your beliefs. And should you be brazen enough to speak your mind and voice your beliefs… let’s hope you’re not murdered for it.

What happened in France is happening all over the world. It’s not okay. Our rights are being threatened. But from the looks of it, we’re perfectly okay with that.

Cartoon by Jean Jullien

Cartoon by Jean Jullien

Here is now. Here is good.

Many times, when this time of the month rolls around, I find myself feeling melancholy and confused. I spend a lot of time reminiscing about what was and regretting what will now never be. Oftentimes, I’m surprised by where I am now and how I got here and wonder “what-if”. What if it had never happened? What if I hadn’t made that choice? Or that one? Or the other one? What if I had done this differently or gone here instead of there? Would my life be different? What did I miss out on?

Sometimes, my old life, seems like an alternate reality – a reality that didn’t belong to me – a reality I had read about in some book or seen in some movie. It feels so far removed from where I am now that I sometimes struggle to marry the past and present and fully realize… This is my life. All of it. Good and bad. Two sides of the same coin.

Occasionally, I carry around the massive burden of regret, thinking if I had just done this differently, or been more like this, or made this decision instead of that one, my life would be completely different… even better. And then I realize how silly it all is to live with those regrets. Regrets get you nowhere; they just paralyze you and prevent you from moving forward.

Because, like it or not, this is my life. All the paths I’ve chosen, the decisions I’ve made, have led me here. And is “here” such a bad place to be?

“Here” is where I’m regaining my confidence – rediscovering my capabilities and my strengths.

“Here” is where I’m learning to be the person God made me to be – not some weak little shadow of myself struggling desperately to be the person others think I should be.

“Here” is where I’m reclaiming my interests and passions and talents and preferences… and realizing what it feels like not to apologize for them.

“Here” is where I have determined that I can and that I am capable, and that relying on my instincts and wisdom is a good thing.

“Here” is where I can shake off the old and move forward with the new. New adventures, new discoveries, new people, new experiences.

“Here” is now. And “here” is good.

Besides, what can I gain by looking back? Nothing. Not a single, solitary thing. I’m different now. I wouldn’t want the old life, as safe and secure as it may have been. With everything I’ve learned and accomplished… the new me wouldn’t fit into the old life.

“Here” is where I am now. I’ve gotten “here” through a series of disappointments, failures, and tragedies, along with plenty of victories, accomplishments and achievements. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know more now than I did then. I might be warier and wiser, but I’m still hopeful and eager.

“Here” is where the real fun begins.

Ass Hats Be Gone!

So…

From the looks of it…

And if I have read the legalized mumbo-jumbo in the envelope that came to my door correctly…

I am officially divorced.

Single.

Free.

Um… WHAT.

I think all my family and friends were holding a collective breath, waiting for that notification to come and bracing for the inevitable meltdown that would ensue.

It didn’t.

Instead, I opened the envelope and… smiled. I may have even laughed.

I felt nothing. Not. A. Thing. I think it momentarily occurred to me that I was officially a divorcee, and that maybe I should have that certificate of accomplishment framed and hung on my wall… but other than that… I didn’t give it another thought. Instead I sent out an e-mail to family and friends asking if they wanted to party with me.

Was that inappropriate? Wait, do I actually care?

Not so much.

So… does this mean I get to go out on dates with hot geeks now?

Yes, yes it does.

Now I just need to find some hot geeks in this town…