Stop Motion Existence

I posted a couple of days ago about participating in NaNoWriMo. I am stuck and I don’t know what to do. It is ONLY day 2. DAY 2!

I spent most of yesterday avoiding writing. Every time I sat down, I would think of a thousand other things that I could be doing that I would enjoy more. Usually I wake up early, spring from my bed, and race to my laptop, ready to unleash the beautiful words that have been dancing around in my brain. My fingers rush on the keyboard, trying to keep up with my brain, sometimes just typing phrases and dependent clauses that I will go back and flesh out.

Yesterday, my novel didn’t want to come out. Heck, I don’t even know if I have one in there. I am so disconnected from myself right now. It is not really a comfortable place for me. I feel like one of those characters in a stop animation video, each movement jerky and planned out by someone else. I have no control.

 

 Stop-motion lego

 

It scares me because it seems to be getting worse each year. I know that I should go back to the doctor and get my meds checked and rechecked and then checked again. In order to do that, I have to have a job that allows me to take the time I need to do all the things I need to do. Unfortunately, I don’t have one, and that makes me sad.

My hours are set, which doesn’t really bother me, but they are from 9-6. With no flexibility. That means I have to take time off (in 4 hour blocks) in order to go to any appointments. I don’t have the time off to do so. I know that getting to the right balance of medicine is going to take a while. Any doctor’s appointment that I get will take 2-3 hours (time with doctor: 15 minutes or so). I can’t really take that much time every four to six weeks until things are balanced.

The first time, it took about a year and a half to find the right balance. I’m terrified that it will take longer this time.

I know I need to get another job. I want to go back into the classroom. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I really miss the interaction with the kids. I miss their smiling and sad and cranky and lost and hopeful faces. I miss interaction with them. I miss making a difference in their lives. I miss creating relationships with them and letting them know that I am proud of them and have faith in them. I miss them. I need to be with kids. I feel lost without them.

I’ve already started the process of finding another job, but, once again, the inflexibility of my current job paralyzes me. The idea of getting the time off for interviews and whatnot shuts me down and puts me in protective mode. I don’t want to deal with the confrontation and the lying by omission. I know it is necessary, but it makes me feel inauthentic. I hate feeling like a liar, liar, pants on fire.

For now, I’ll continue my stop motion existence, moving forward, pushed by forces that I feel I can’t control. Rest assured that I am trying to break away and regain some control. I just have to remember how.

Advertisements

National Novel Writing Month

That’s right. I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Isn’t that exiting? I’m going to track my progress on my blog so I can stay accountable. Wish me luck!

If you’ve never done NaNo and you enjoy writing, you should try it. The first time I participated, I decided on November 1 to do it. It helped me to become a better writer because I wasn’t terrified to let the words out to play anymore. I didn’t second guess everything that I put on the paper.

pantsher_badgeI don’t really have any sort of a plan when I write. I am what is known as a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants, usually starting out with nothing more than an idea and a belief that everything will work out alright. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

This year I have a little bit more than just an idea. I’ve got an idea and a character! She came to me this morning at 5:00. I was very pleased to meet her and look forward to our adventures together.

One day I hope to be more of a planner, but I don’t know if I will ever succeed at that. I know that a huge part of writing is outlining, but my brain resists it when it comes to writing fiction. Or maybe my brain just does it while I sleep, waking me up at odd hours to tell me to write stuff down.

Here’s to the month of November, the month of less sleep, more coffee, and wild abandon. This year I WILL succeed at writing 50,000 words and my character’s story will get told. As Chris Baty said, the world needs my novel.

Plus, I love the winner’s shirt. MUST. HAVE. IT. (Here’s a link to it. It’s awesome!)

_________________________________

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Captain, shields are down. We cannot survive another hit.

This week I had one of the worst anxiety attacks that I’ve ever had. It was horrible. I had to take a day off of work after it happened because I was so drained. The worst part about it was that it was in public. I usually can get to some place where nobody sees me melt down. I couldn’t this time.

I am terrified of having another one.

I’ve been trying to figure out why it happened. Why did my carefully placed, meticulously tended shields collapse? How in the hell did the photon torpedo breach the hull and cause a meltdown of the warp drive?

I have had so much change these last two years, from finishing my Master’s degree to changing jobs. Even though they are good changes, they are still changes.

I work with amazing people. They are kind and funny and playful. Sometimes I laugh so hard that I lose my breath. We challenge each other to go above and beyond and we do it with humor. We check up on each other. That means so much when you are starting something new and you have no idea how to do it. *shout out to my peeps who won’t read this because they don’t know I blog and, quite honestly, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with them reading it but whatevs*

Collaboration is encouraged but not forced. That’s right… we are encouraged to work together but we aren’t put in a situation where we HAVE to. It’s crazy because there is a hell of a lot more collaboration in this situation. We actually get to work with people who actually want to work together. Our informal meetings don’t turn into hour long bitch sessions about how we hate to be forced to collaborate and about how stupid, irresponsible, lazy, disrespectful, etc., kids these days are. I can choose to work with positive people instead of those who choose to see the bad in everything.

My principal is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. He truly has his teachers best interests at heart. He works so hard to make things better for us. Unfortunately, he is stuck in the confines of an educational system that is broken. He tries to provide us with as many tools as he can in order to help us get around the system.

On the other hand, I haven’t worked a 9-to-5-in-an-office work schedule in 13 years. I worked more than 8 hours a day when I was a classroom teacher, but I got to spend at least a third of the time at home, on the couch, with my family. I miss sitting next to my daughter, snuggling, as I grade essays. I don’t get to do that anymore. Instead, I sit in my cubicloffice (it’s like a classroom, only much smaller and only one desk and it’s in a cubicle… I actually kind of like it because it allows me to THINK without interruption.) and grade.

I am stuck with a curriculum that I didn’t create and that needs some serious tweaking, in my opinion. I am a firm believer in the idea that, it doesn’t matter how great a teacher is, if the curriculum stinks, students don’t learn. It really, REALLY bothers me that my name is tied to something that I see as faulty.

I have class roll-over every six weeks. That means as soon as I start to get to know my students, I lose them. I know that I will adjust to this, but it’s so hard. I’m so used to having a whole school year to get to know them so I can tailor my curriculum to their needs. Of course, that just brings me back to the curriculum issue.

Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives. I know that I will adjust in time. I’m worried that it will take too long, though. Right now I have to focus on building my shields back up. I’m worried about how long that will take and whether or not I’ll be able to survive that long.

Mostly I’m terrified that the medicine that has worked for so long has stopped working.

Circular Reasoning

It has been a while since I’ve been around. It isn’t because I don’t have anything to say. I think it is because I have too much to say, and I am having problems sorting it all out in my head.

There is so much going on in the world and so much going on in my life right now. It’s really quite intense.

Then, of course, my brain gets irritated because I should write, but I don’t. My perfect-worm syndrome kicks in and causes me to

seize up. No words come out. They remain “safely” entrenched in my brain, unable to do any damage by not being the absolutely perfect words.

Stupid brain.

It hasn’t helped that I am so completely and totally exhausted. Depression is so annoying. When I am tired, I never know if it is because I’m actually TIRED or if my brain is swirling in a chemical bath of “meh.”

Then, of course, my anxiety kicks in. Oh no! What if I’m going back to the way I was? I can’t handle going through medication changes again. How do I know if I need to contact a doctor? Does my new insurance even cover this? 

Then my brain starts twitching. Seriously. I can feel it wiggling around up in my noggin. It’s definitely off-putting.

I often wonder what it’s like for people who don’t have depression and anxiety. What is it like to know that, if you’re tired, it’s because your tired? What is it like to not worry about whether or not you’re spiraling down simply because you want to sleep more? What is it like to not have to second guess everything that goes on in your brain?

Or  maybe everyone feels like this and I have a skewed view of the world because of my depression and anxiety.

Do people without depression and anxiety think of these things?

And the cycle continues.

seems legit

seems legit

 

Lights

I am taking a creative writing class this term and it has been absolutely lovely. I’ve been doing so much technical writing that I forgot how much I love revving up the creative portion of my brain. I really wanted to share this story with people other than my professor and my work-shopping group. It had to be less than 500 words. Do you know how hard that is for me??

Oh, also, if you have any suggestions for titles, please let me know. I am the suck at titles. Here goes:

(runs and hides under bed, fearful that people will read it and fearful that people won’t)

________________

Lights

(c) 2014

The balcony clings to the side of the building, a metal guard rail buttresses the concrete floor, holding tight. She stands on the balcony, looking out over the city, ignoring the bite of the teal metal on her forearms. The moonless sky draws everything into tighter contrast. Her eyes flit from landmark to landmark, not resting long, not wanting to remember.

To the left, she sees the amusement park where they had their first date, Ferris wheel twinkling orange-yellow-red as it rolls around. She hated everything about the wheel and its turning, but he convinced her to climb into the swinging seat. Her hands grasped the safety bar tightly as they started to curve up. By the end of the ride, he held her hand, her terror turned to the thrill of the first touch.

Her eyes move to the arc of the cathedral where they got married, its bronze cap a glowing beacon in the dark. The memory of the day comes unsolicited: the bright white of her gown, the flickering of candles dancing in his eyes, the alabaster unity candle that sealed the promise of forever. The brightness overwhelms her, compelling her eyes to move on.

The brightness dissolves when her eyes touch the blue and white of the hospital where they lost their first and only child. Only the murkiness of the room remains—the room where she ached, empty where she once was full: alone. Her eyes fly over the void in the center of the city where the child was laid to rest, the hollow place that she never visits.

Choking, she moves on. Her eyes jerk to the skyscraper in the middle of the city. Its neon outline has held her husband captive since that night that the light left them. The late night meetings, the weekend projects, and the network problems claim him more than she ever could. The building looms over the rest of the city. Looms over her life.

The lights blur as she holds back the tears. With a stifled sob, she turns her back to the city, blinking away the memories. All she wants to see is lightlessness. It is no use. The lights glimmer back at her on the glass from the arcadia doors.

 

________________

Creative Commons License
Lights by E is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Connecting and Disconnecting

WARNING: Contains Sad

 

It has been a really rough June for me, and I am very ready for it to be over. I know that there is only about a week left, but that seems too long.I have been so incredibly busy finishing up my degree. I am taking two grad summer classes at the same time. One is a 6-week class and the other is a 4-week class. I spend so much time doing homework that my back aches from being on the computer all of the time. I will be done with my classes on July 1 and will have earned my Masters. While this is exciting in the abstract, it isn’t real enough. When June is over, it will be real.

The beginning of the month my aunt in Colorado passed away. It was a complete surprise. Two weeks earlier, I was sitting at her dining room table laughing and realizing how much she meant to me, how she was a huge part of my life growing up. You forget things like that when you live 10 hours away and always have things to do that don’t involve visiting other people. I left there, promising myself that I’d get out there more often. I still plan on doing so, but it will have to be to visit other family. She won’t be there.

I was there with my cousins and my uncle as they prepared everything for the memorial. It was bittersweet watching them comb through photographs, remembering and sharing stories. I was a part but also apart from them. They were my close family when I was a kid. We spent pretty much every weekend torturing each other, but we always knew that we had each other. When we moved away between my freshman and sophomore year, we lost touch. We all were wrapped up in our teenage lives, learning who we really were, and preparing for adulthood. Now, 25 years later, it is pretty much impossible to get back to that closeness, especially living so far away.

I miss that sort of connectedness. I need it desperately. I don’t know how to find it. I really don’t know how to keep it. My heart aches because I don’t have it.

I realized that, if I were to die today (knock on wood, pour salt over the shoulder, horseshoes, and luck rabbit’s feet that I don’t), there would be few people who would mourn me. I’m not saying that I don’t have people who love me, and I am not trying to say that the people who love me don’t matter. It’s just that I have so few people in my life. My immediate family would be unconsolable. I don’t make friends easily because I don’t trust people not to hurt me. The friends that I do have seem to move on. In my brain, I understand that it is normal for people to outgrow each other, but my heart still hurts when they withdraw.

I am sure this macabre thinking has a lot to do with exhaustion and the grieving process. So much of my life is uncertain right now. So far, I’ve been able to face it with optimism. Right now, though, I am just tired and wishing that I had a big group of friends and family to take my mind off of everything. I want to be connected.

I just don’t know how to make it happen and that scares me.

A Letter to Future Teachers: Words of Encouragement

I was talking to my brother the other day about teaching, where things have been and where they might be going. He brought up the fact that my niece wanted to be a teacher, but was worried about doing so. She’s active on social media and has witnessed the struggles that I have gone through trying to decide if I wanted to continue teaching.

People are so hard on teachers and teaching right now. We are in the middle of a war between what is best for our children and what makes the most money for businesses. Our elected officials use education as platforms to further their careers, often to the detriment of those who education is supposed to help. I am not even going to get started on the devaluing of education itself. It’s important to realize that the current environment is doing nothing to create new teachers. If anything, it’s driving them away.

I haven’t been helping. At all.

I’m changing that right now. This is my letter to future teachers. There is hope. Believe in yourself and your love of your students.

__________

Dear future teacher,

I know that times are hard now in the world of education. I know that you may think that it isn’t worth it to enter into the politics of the educational system. And the kids… oh, the kids. You read about how horrible they are, how disrespectful, how disruptive they are. There is even video evidence of their horribleness. It’s no wonder that you’re doubting.

I am writing this to tell you that these things are just a tiny drop in the ocean of education. Yes, it is stressful right now as the government plays tug-of-war using the education system as a rope. Yes, there are some kiddos that are… well… jerk-faces. Some adults are too. It comes with living in society. Unless you want to be a hermit, you’re going to have to deal with it. It’s so much easier to forgive a 15-year old for being an asshole than it is to forgive a 35-year old for acting 15.

Teaching is so much more. It is being there for a young man whose parents are in the midst of an angry divorce, putting him in the middle of it. It is working with a colleague who cares about the kids as much as (maybe even more so than) you do. It is hearing your name screamed across the aisles of the grocery store because you’ve affected that child’s life so much that they are excited to see you outside of school.

Teaching is encouraging the parents of a child who is struggling. Every parent wants what is best for their child, but many don’t know what to do when their child is lost. I have had so many wonderful meetings with parents that started out with tears and frustration and ended with smiles and hope. Teachers have the tools to guide parents and students when they struggle.

Teaching is standing up and fighting for the needs of your students. You are the buffer, their line of defense, holding back well-meaning but misinformed next-best-thing strategies that are supposed to fix education. You translate their “failures” into jumping off points. You protect the children and help them to succeed in spite of the obstacles that the government and administration tosses in front of them.

Teaching is knowing that you are making a difference every day. Every single day. You may not know it at the time, but what you do sticks in your students’ minds. They remember you. They grow because of you.

Teaching is a service. It is often thankless, especially on a day-to-day basis. If you feel that you are called to be a teacher, don’t decide not to because of what you read online or see on television. Those stories always ignore the most important part of education, the essential element that makes it all possible:

the individual

My life has been enriched by my years as an educator. I’ve grown to understand so much about myself and about life because of it. I will never, ever, ever regret my thirteen years as an educator. EVER.

Be a teacher. The world needs you.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth