You have no idea how much I want to take her home with me, or how much it hurts to know that I can’t.
There are people who have kids. There are people who have jobs. There are people who have kids and jobs, but, the fact is, the majority of our lives aren’t spent worrying about us. It’s spent worrying about others. Or money. Or food. Or _________.
And that’s the way it should be — to a certain extent, anyway. No one wants to be a narcissist. But there’s a part of us that’s important, too. We have to like ourselves, we have to accept ourselves, just the way we are, before all of the busy. We have to have goals for ourselves without all of the busy. Otherwise . . . the busy is just . . .
An attempt to hide what we really feel inside, which is, ____________.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my busy lately. Why am I so compelled towards perfection? Why do I feel better on a day I accomplish a lot than when I only do a little? Why do I seek to control my life when I know, deep down, that control is only an illusion? Why do I equate busyness with success?
The truth is: History’s movers and shakers have never been people who sat around. Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa aren’t remembered because they thought about doing nice things for others. They’re remember because they did something nice for others . . .
But even movers and shakers need quiet moments of reflection. Even they need a reason for what they do.
And I think that that’s my problem, and maybe others’, too. I get so caught up in the busy that I forget what the busy is there for. I forget what I’m trying to accomplish and where I’m headed. I ignore the fact that, in trying to control my life, it’s actually controlling me. And then I wonder why I get discouraged in the process — why my goals seem so far away.
My busy is in the way.
Every life has a purpose. It’s up to us to find that purpose each day. I hope you don’t get caught up in the busy like I do. I hope you find a better way.
It occurred to me, as I was reading the headlines this morning, just how lucky I am. I have a roof over my head and enough food to eat. I have a job and a loving boyfriend. (Believe me, he puts up with a lot.) I have family close by and friends near and far. I have use of all four limbs and my hearing and eyesight. I have it good.
I am often quite hard on myself, but, the truth is, when comparing myself to others (which I shouldn’t do — I know, I know), I only look to those I consider my betters. Those with more money, more life experiences; those who have things “all figured out,” those I consider better looking. I forget to check myself and look at all of humanity and just how many people out there I can help, or would, or should. Continue reading
The elementary school I work at now is not private. There are three kindergarten classes, three first grade classrooms, three second grade classrooms. Third, fourth, and fifth graders attend an identical school down the street. More than 60 percent of our students are Hispanic. More than forty percent do not live with their parents.
Last week, *Marius was thrown out of school. He’d been a problem all year, had barricaded himself in the bathroom and was stuffing toilet paper into all of the toilets. He refused to come out, and, when he finally did, was chased down and taken to the office to wait for his grandmother. Marius has blond curls and blue eyes and baby chub. Marius is in kindergarten. Continue reading
(They are far kinder to me than I am to myself.)
Then today, on the playground, a student named Morgan, blubbering: “Miss Jess . . . No one wants to play with me. I don’t know why, but no one wants to play with me.” His blue eyes pooled with tears. Continue reading
Valentine’s Day. For what it’s worth, I’ve never been a fan. As I’ve described in previous posts, it’s an over-commercialized holiday that demeans romance, not exalts it. There’s nothing more romantic than a grocery store teddy bear and a dozen roses with baby’s breath, right? No? How about eating in a crowded over-priced restaurant alongside everyone else in town?
It’s even better when you’re single, of course. Happy Single’s Awareness Day, anyone? Gahhh.
For those who have kids, Valentine’s Day takes on a different meaning. Suddenly Valentine’s Day cards are being made and bought and glitter and glue are everywhere. Valentine’s candy is being passed out. Pictures are being taken. Nothing wrong with that, but . . . Continue reading
We wrote letters for a summer. Dated for roughly three years. We loved each other much longer than that, but, ultimately, he was meant to be a priest and I, to be a writer and meet Jon.
I love Jon.
So, no. This post isn’t about childhood sweethearts and love ever after. Rather, it’s about that 14-year-old and her reputation for being a “goodie-goodie” — a name that has stuck with her for many years. Continue reading
“Are you a goodie-goodie?”
My heart leapt in my chest. He was talking to me. Was he talking to me? Yes! He was talking to me!
“I, uh . . .” Wait a . . . Was I a what? A goodie-goodie? What was a goodie-goodie?
“Uh . . .” I thought I knew what it meant. I had a pretty good idea, but . . .
I was stuttering. He was staring at me. My cheeks were burning. The cement sidewalk where we stood was crashing into the school parking lot — six inches below. Continue reading
I’m supposed to be applying for a job right now. The open tab on my computer — “Children’s Fiction/Non-Fiction Writer” — is just to my right. I think I might actually have a shot at this one. I’ve been a teacher, and I love to write. The position is freelance, so . . . What more could they need?
Well, they’d need my application first.
I guess I forgot to mention that we moved. In all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and of packing and unpacking, and of apartment hunting and job searching, there was no time to blog. Continue reading
As a teen, I remember counting down the seconds — ten! nine! eight! — to midnight on New Year’s Eve. I clung to each one, lingered over it, never wanted to let it go. Those seconds were portals into my future past, remnants of a beautiful year.
I was a nostalgic kid.
As an adult, little has changed, except . . . I’ve seen enough New Years to know that there isn’t some catastrophic, year-annihilating boom at the stroke of midnight on January 1st. 2014 isn’t a pile a rubble and ash to be sorted through and mourned. Rather, 2014 is what it is — the past — just as 6:30 this morning is now the past. Continue reading
It hardly seems a few days since last Christmas, when I woke up beside a lake in Pell City, Alabama. I was welcomed with open arms by Jon’s family — Southern hospitality in full form — and spent New Years Eve beneath the stars in Santa Cruz. The past year has been a big one — full of changes and surprises, love and laughter. It’s been a sad one on a national and global scale — so much hurt and pain and anger; so many issues that make me sad. But, through it all — the good and the bad — one thing rings clear: HOPE. Continue reading
And what would you . . . ?
What would you do if a child from a privileged home couldn’t tell you what they were thankful for?
Not a single thing?
Yesterday on facebook, while browsing my news feed, I came across this photo and quote from Humans of New York. Humans of New York is a popular photoblog created by a man named Brandon Stanton. The site features portraits and interviews of individuals in New York — and around the world. While some have criticized HONY, saying many of Stanton’s interviews must be staged, most viewers love the site. I myself like HONY because, to me, Brandon has done exactly what I’ve been trying to do all along: Show that people are people. Continue reading
When words fail, what do I have left?
This past week Jon and I went back to Chattanooga for his Ironman. It was Chattanooga’s first, and Jon’s, too, and was something he’d been looking forward to since before we met. And…
It was good to see his friends and family, and good to be able to help him reach his goal. His training hadn’t exactly been what it should have been (for a lot of reasons), and I was proud of him for finishing. But… then…
Why was it so hard for me?
Why is everything so hard for me? Continue reading
Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? I mean, really?
I’m thirty years old, and I don’t have a clue. I used to joke that I wished I could get paid to write and read and exercise. Now I wish the same, only I’d add “travel” and “work with kids” to the mix. And you know what kills me? I can do all of these things, and I likely could get paid for them, except . . . Except I don’t have the degree. Continue reading
Seriously. I think I’ve written at least fifteen.
There have been posts about crazy people, posts about jobs, posts about love, posts about war. I’ve had thoughts on Robin Williams, thoughts on poetry (I haven’t written any in a while) . . . My most effective writing comes from what is closest at hand, closest to my heart.
I’ve had this week off and expected I’d get something written — anything. But then last weekend I broke my collarbone on a ride in Napa, and now tomorrow I’m having surgery. And now I’m no longer sure I can write at all: my mind is so scattered. Continue reading
My favorite professor in college used to tell a story. As a young man, he’d been in a jazz band and then the army. He’d traveled solo around the world, dreamed of being a pilot, gone to flight school. After receiving his pilot’s license, however, he couldn’t find work. Times were desperate; money, scarce. One day, in a moment of frustration, he cried out, “Lord, please . . . What do you want me to do?!” Continue reading
This is the first time I’ve opened my laptop in more than a week, the first time I’ve looked at my blog in more than that. The last two weeks have been busy. I’ve been teaching a writing camp at my new job, where I’m an instructor at an after-school learning center. Camp has been in the mornings; regular classes, until 7 or 8 at night. It’s been fun — tons of it — and has given me a lot of ideas about what to write right here. But when it comes to actually sitting down and finding the time to write? When I’m not exhausted?
And the thing is, I don’t want my blog to be all about me, or, worse, less than my best work. The key to successfully engaging an audience is to have something interesting to say, and to say it well. But great writing requires a fresh mind and time to follow through. It seems like every time I sit down to write, I’m in a hurry. Today I’m headed out to meet Jon at the marina where he is tootling around on the bay in our new kayak. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do together for a while now, but, well, when has there been time for that, either?
The good news is that this next week I have a little time off, and I intend to utilize that time to do some of the things (write and ride, and maybe swim) I’ve been putting off. I also know that many of the world’s greatest writers have finished their best works while working other “real” jobs, however. A busy schedule is no excuse.
So stay with me, please. Soon to follow are letters from students, thoughts on homelessness, thoughts on futures, gay pride (the San Francisco Pride festival is being held in the city this weekend; it feels weird to live in so liberal a place when both Jon and I come from much more conservative backgrounds), and much, much more.
I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!
Today is Father’s Day. Well, was. It’s almost over now — 10:30 p.m. here on the West Side.
My dad and brother came to visit us today. We rode our bikes, chatted, got Thai food. Overall, it was a great day — except for my dad and brother who spent more than two hours driving in traffic . . .
But . . .
Hopefully, it was worth it. I made pound cake, which we ate after dinner. Jon had everyone laughing with his stories about growing up in Alabama. And I . . .
Remembered my poem from last Father’s Day, which I’ve decided to post again, here. I hope you don’t mind . . . I hope you enjoy . . .
Happy Father’s Day, everyone!
Path to Immortality
We start out mere mortals,
’til “Father” turns son.
It’s then our potential
“forever” is won.
We live through our children,
and they on through theirs.
So what will we show them?
How say, “Daddy cares”?
Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Two kids in a tub.
It’s here I’m no expert,
but look to the best.
My father’s my hero—
he far passed the rest!
With love and compassion,
through fire and through ice,
he gave with devotion,
and never thought twice:
He did what he had to,
and then he did more.
No matter the duty,
’twas never a chore.
“Da-ddy. Da-ddy. A spider!” my plea.
From start until finish,
from dawn until dusk,
pushed past human limits,
he still wasn’t brusque . . .
But rather was patient,
and kind without end.
All people who knew him,
his worth did commend.
“Lo-vely. Lucky!” they always told me.
But of my dad’s story,
they only knew half.
I wasn’t just lucky:
My dad’s off the graph!
For me and my brother,
he’s always been there.
‘Twas never a question:
“Does our daddy care?”
Love you. Love you. I know that it’s true.
From cycling, to skiing,
to talking in depth,
my father has shaped me,
and that is a breadth!
So Daddy, I thank you,
for all that you are.
You’re no longer mortal:
You outshine the stars.
I’ve been putting it off for ages, trying to find my voice. Writing is my passion, but there is never time, never the place. There are always things in the way — things of higher priority — and there are bills to pay. Blogging doesn’t help much with bills.
And then there’s topic. What on earth do I want to say? My little brother got married a few weeks ago. I cut my finger so deeply I could see the tendon. I started a new job working with young kids. Traffic is insane in the Bay Area. The weather is different here. Homelessness is everywhere here. And, and . . .
People are people. It’s what I keep coming back to. Here in Berkeley the population is incredibly diverse. There are black people and white people and red people and yellow people. There are people wearing saris and turbans and skullcaps and blue jeans and pant suits and rags. We are all so different, and yet . . . forever the same.
And that’s why I love you . . . and you and you and you (especially you, hatted boy). I love you because I am like you. I breathe and cry and laugh and try and fail and try again just like the rest of you. I am sick when the world is evil but thrilled when love calls my name. (Thank you, sweetie…)
I am human, and I will thrive. Until my dying day, I will thrive.
And you will, too.
I know it.
To build my blog and then abandon it because life has just gotten too dang busy.
To finally get a job I love but for that job to only be part time.
To get a part-time job I love and for that job to be more than thirty miles away. (Gas is more than $4 a gallon.)
To get a ticket for talking on my cell phone in my car for two seconds. Why can’t you go after the real trouble-makers, cops? (My co-worker’s bike was stolen from right in front of our office the same day.)
To have a clean apartment but never spend time relaxing in it (writing my blog) because I’m too busy cleaning (thinking) and exercising (thinking).
To break my boyfriend’s beautiful glass thermometer because I was trying to clean it.
To cut my finger so deeply (I could see the tendon) that I need stitches because I broke my boyfriend’s thermometer.
To cut my finger so deeply I need stitches on the weekend my brother is getting married in Tahoe. (Love you, bro!)
To be lucky enough to have a dad who’s a doctor who, it just so happens, will also be at the wedding in Tahoe this weekend.
To want to clean my car because I just can’t take the dirt anymore, despite the fact that I need stitches and my car is just going to get dirty this weekend, anyway. (We’re driving it to Tahoe.)
To want to ride my bike today because that’s just what I love to do, even if I do have a cut finger!
To beat myself up for the mistakes I’ve made, and then to just make them again.
To never give up despite making the same mistakes over and over again, because that’s just how I am — stubborn as hell.
To have just written an entire draft of this post and not saved it, then pushed save, and for it to have been deleted.
To miss reading your blogs and connecting with you (you know who you are) but to be unable to catch up with everyone right now.
To miss you all and know that someday soon I’ll be back — blogging regularly, loving endlessly.
Pictures from my brother’s wedding to come. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend!
To tell our stories.
To share our hearts.
To fall apart.
To pull ourselves together.
To breathe in.
To kill hope.
To send secret messages.
We write because we have no other choice.
Because writing consumes us or we consume it.
Because it gives voice to our tears, wind to our wings, air to our everything.
We write because we are alive.
“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”
— Lord Byron