comedy

Some Sunday Selections

I normally (er… used to normally?) hook up links to my blog during my www. Wednesday feature, but since I’m SO far behind, I figured I’d roll ’em all out here on this lazy Sunday. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve already been up for three hours listening to the Arctic Monkeys and planning blog entries.

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+ I LOVE short stories. There is something about them that is so special; here’s a list compiled by Refinery29 of 30 you need to read… bookmarked and ready to go over here!

+ My friend S posted or sent this McSweeney’s article to me forever ago, and it just knocked me off my feet. It’s a perfect picture of our mental health care system right now, as written by a lady writer whose been through it all. She’s also witty as hell, so read it if you like charming-as-hell writing.

+ Not that I know anyone like this (cough… me), but I’ll just leave this here for anyone who might understand the 11 struggles of being a highly sexual being.

+ Through pure chance, I am apparently a combination of two of my lady heroes’ body-type wise: KimK (hourglass) and Angelina (carrot), and I could not be happier. I also adore how many body types they address in this article. #Refinery29JunkieForLife

+ I will never tire of this highly paid teachers salary math problem floating around on the Internet. Spoiler alert: teachers are so, so, SO underpaid.

+ BLESS THIS POST: 15 things you don’t owe ANYONE.

+ Just sayin’, this dude ain’t a marriage counselor for nothing. He understands why women (or men) leave and/or cheat on the ones they love: lack of attention/gratitude/listening.

+ Because I miss it every day, here’s a compilation of 26 Office quotes that will make you laugh. There are thousands more if you just WATCH THE SHOW!

+ I was appalled to find that the Neutrogena products I’d been using for YEARS were exposed as being horrible for you/NOT WORKING this year, especially since I’m (for the most part) vigilant about sun exposure. EWG has an extensive list of sunscreens that actual work, while also being good for your body.

+ God, I hope this scientifically-proven method of decreasing procrastination works on my concrete-stubborn procrastination tendencies.

+ This beauty article makes me feel so validated about my brow tendencies. Here’s how to keep your brows on FLEEK… and get ’em there if you don’t feel satisfied yet 🙂

+ Please enjoy this puppy photo to brighten your day, or you know, make it brighter.

via jjae

via jjae

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Hopefully I’ve caught up enough to jump back into the www. Wednesday pattern later this week! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, lovies ❤

Things I Wish I Could Tell My Teenage Self

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If you read #13, you’ll immediately know which one is me.

1. Stop picking away at your eyebrows. Your naturally big brows are beautiful (and gonna make a comeback).

2. STEP AWAY FROM THAT TANNING BED!

3. You don’t have any sense of style yet, so stop asking for crappy name-brand trash.

4. Your mom is always right.

5. So is your dad. He’s just a little more harsh about it because he’s logical, and you’re his baby girl.

6. Stop trying to impress boys. The ones that matter will evolve to your level one day and the ones that don’t just aren’t worth it.

7. Make more time for your own interests, not those of your friends or people pretending to be friends.

8. Blue and white sparkly eyeshadow… just stop.

9. Glitter belts, Tims, and velour are also just not things. No.

10. Don’t drink so much. It’s dumb, and your favorite memories will come from sober or tipsy moments, not trashed ones.

11. You have no responsibilities, nor have you had to work hard at all thanks to natural talent, so stop complaining. The hardest has yet to come.

12. You’re not fat, so SHUT UP ALREADY!

13. That being said, there is literally no reason your li’l teen pudge should be sticking out of EVERY SHIRT YOU WEAR. STAHP!!!

14. That girl and that boy and that girl and that boy are all going to backstab you in the most horrific way. It’ll hurt to your core, but years later, you will be far more educated and well-off because of them.

15. You are never going to feel this rested again, so drink. it. in.

16. Snuggle your disproportionately large boobs all day, every day. They’re going away in like 8 years, and you’re going to miss them like hell.

17. You are a jackass…….. well, at least you were from around 14-15. Wait. Nevermind. I forgot that you stopped giving in to peer pressure pretty early, which is actually pretty cool. Go on, girlfriend. (Just know that years from now you’ll always regret that year of being the worst.)

18. Hang out with your family more, dude! Only like 9 of those friends of yours are going to actually make an effort to be loyal and stay in your life.

19. Remember all that drama you were in? Don’t worry about it ’cause you were 100% justified, stood up for what you believed in, and the folks who were involved have yet to evolve from the same behavior.

20. Stop worrying. Your life, while very sad and challenging at times, is going to be better than you ever imagined with potential to keep growing. It will be full of healthy relationships, success, and puppies. Lots and lots of puppies.

26 Gonnas for 26: Numbers 1 and 7

1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.

I put the cart before the horse on this gonna before realizing what I wanted to gain out of this experience was not necessarily seeing the sun rise every morning (though it would be nice), but merely becoming a morning person; waking up at 8 a.m. gladly on a Saturday, if you will. So while I haven’t woken up with the sun 180 days this year, I have gotten up early for as many of those days, each one closer and closer to the sun rise, spending more of my hours in the faded light of the very early morning than at any other point in my life. And yeah, I can happily say that more than a few doses of sunrise were thrown into the mix. Here’s to not forgetting to see the sunrise every now and again, but here’s to getting what I truly wanted: a sunny morning disposition that has become habit instead of exception.

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Early morning granola!

7. Write one blog every week!

I know it hasn’t been a year yet since I made my 26 Gonnas for 26 list, so you might be wondering how I accomplished this feat. Well, if you remember from the 26 for 26 pulse check, I decided to change the goal a bit: write 52 blog entries period — regardless of when or how often. This allowed me to feel less pressure and have more freedom to post five blog entries one week, then none for the following two.

I’m happy to say, however, that I have surpassed the goal of 52 blog entries in a year with 55, and still have over two months to keep blogging my heart out. I do wonder what the final number of entries will end up being (and will surely update my readers), but it ultimately won’t matter. I’m glad to say that the purpose of this gonna was to get me writing more, and it has done its job. I’m at these keys more than I have been in a long time, and now that I am, I can’t see myself stopping again anytime soon!

What I Do When I’m Alone

* Make up random songs about what I’m doing.

* Narrate my actions in a Sam Elliott voice.

* Have full conversations with my dog.

* Let my laundry pile up for days weeks.

* Clean 90% of the time. Like you would probably be worried for my health if you saw my ratio of cleaning to other life activities.

* Watch Netflix like it’s my second job.

* Walk around in no and/or hobo clothes.

* Eat really weird meals that probably don’t actually count as meals, like a handful of popcorn, some dark chocolate blueberries, and a hunk of sourdough with cheese.

* Start 50 projects and businesses then remember OMG, I HAVE STUFF TO DO!!!!

* Cry a lot about really weird stuff, like dropping things on the floor and comedy romances.

* Sing at the top of my lungs for 2 seconds and love my inner-Beyonce until I remember I have neighbors and immediately revert to my quiet-as-a-mouse humming.

* Take selfies.

Photo on 2014-01-14 at 22.53 #2

* Eat in my bed BECAUSE WHY WOULDN’T YOU?!

* Rearrange things all. The. Time.

* Turn the AC (or heat) off and on every two seconds because my body doesn’t know what it wants.

* Random dance moves while walking from room to room.

* Let my dog sleep in my bed………… white sheets and all.

* Contemplate the finality of death until I have an existential crisis and ensuing panic attack.

* Write.

* Snapchat random and grotesque faces to my friends.

* Talk to maaayyybbeee two people on the phone, max.

* Go for really long walk ‘n’ talks with my pup. (They’re never as cool as the ones on The West Wing.)

* Skype my sister for nothing less than five hours, even if we’re just cooking in silence at the same time.

* Inspect every flaw of my body and come up with an intricate way to solve it NOW!

* Vine idiotic videos, then later delete them when I realize they aren’t funny at all.

* Create unique, delicious dishes I can inevitably never recreate around other humans.

* Laugh at everything so often and weirdly that I scare myself when I realize how shrill I sound.

* Grade papers, and papers, and papers, AND MORE PAPERS!

* Have one person fashion shows before deciding I hate all my clothes.

* Drink, like, 78 sodas.

* Read.

* Utilize my TV, laptop, phone, and camera all at the same time. #megadesk

* Pass out at odd times such as 6 p.m. before waking up at around 9 or 10, realize I still have to do chores, but decide to write a random blog instead.

You Have No Idea

On an average day, I wake up between 5:45 and 7:30. Obviously, if I wake up closer to the latter, I freak out and run around my house like a white girl running from a serial killer in a scary movie.

If I wake up in time, I take up residence in the bathroom for about 5-10 minutes, just enough time to brush my teeth, clean my face in some form or fashion, and grab my deodorant.

I let my dog out before feeding and watering him, while I warm up three pieces of turkey bacon if I’m lucky, throw some cereal in a bag if I’m rushed, or leave with nothing if I’m being honest about the majority of my days.

I put my hair up in a bun because I get approximately two spare hours for showering a week… again, if I’m lucky. I throw on an outfit; sometimes something laid out the night before, but mostly just whatever I pull out first that will keep me covered and “work appropriate,” even if I know I wore it last week. I pause for a moment to let my eyes move quickly past the beautiful pieces I own that rarely get to see the light of day and apologize to them silently.

I throw my school supplies and my grad school supplies (yes, they’re different… you’ll see) in my backpack, pack some shitty excuse for a lunch, usually popcorn and yogurt, always forgetting to add at least one or two other items to prevent the starvation that always arrives later in the day.

I drive to work while putting on my makeup. Yes, it’s dangerous as hell, but I don’t have another option. I could go au natural, but I spend my day with halls full of judgmental pricks. Oh, and I have all my students to face, too, and the idea of facing them with adult acne and sunken eyes is just too scary.

I arrive in the parking lot 20-35 minutes later, despite only living 9ish miles away, thanks to traffic. I am normally right on time, but sometimes I am horrifically early or horrifically late. None is really better than the other; there’s never enough time.

Sometimes I have to attend a piece of shit meeting that doesn’t produce anything fruitful; we have them because “they” have always had them, and they don’t know what to do instead. If I do have to attend one of these meetings, I’m behind for the rest of the week.

Meeting or no, I head to my classroom. Sometimes it’s a serene and abandoned place where I can pack as much productivity in as possible. Other times, it is packed with students who need, need, need. And while I love them to bits, sometimes I just don’t have time for all of them at once.

The day begins when the bell rings, no matter what mood I’m in, how much sleep I have or have not gotten, and no matter what is going on in my life. It begins whether I am sick or having a panic attack. It begins whether I’m prepared or not.

I spend the rest of my day acting in 90-minute spurts. I have to act happy, encouraging, knowledgable, capable, indestructible, funny, mean, stern, powerful, sweet, and caring for an audience of somewhere between 19 and 32 people at a time. Some days I get a midday break, while on others I barrel through three classes before a reprieve, thanks to an alternating show schedule.

On special occasions, I get time to leave the stage and have lunch; normally, I am only a seltzer water or Diet Dr. Pepper in until past 4 p.m.

Oh, and when every one of my audience members go home for the day, I stay. I practice and plan and prepare for the next day. I wipe the slate clean, perhaps with tears or sarcasm or angry internal dialogue. I assess and reflect. Sometimes I am almost the last to leave, but I always, always have more to do, even if I’ve left the doors of the building behind.

Some days I must go directly across town, a minimum commute of 30 minutes, to a school to further hone and practice my art… for three hours at least.

Whether I have evening class or not, I do eventually get to come home. Sometimes it’s after a bevy of errands, while other times it is immediate. Most of the time I come home to chaos and a mountain of chores and other to-dos that have not been done in my absence. I let my dog out, even if he’s already relieved himself because he just couldn’t wait on Mom to come home late… again.

I make myself the first substantial meal of the day, therefore often gorging, no matter how healthy the dish. I watch a 22-minute sitcom while I engage in said gorging, wash my dishes, try to get some laundry or other chores done, and attempt to spend a few more moments with my dog. Inevitably, though, I have to stop all of that, no matter how big the clothes mountain beside my door has become.

I start barrelling through papers, of which there are always at least 40 to grade. After that, I start working on my graduate-level homework, ensuring I have at least half of it done.

I pay some online bills, tidy a bit more, and let my dog out again. I talk to my boyfriend, who I love dearly, and almost every day, I tell him how much I hate my life. I realize every time I say this that it sounds like I hate him, but I don’t. I hate the endless work, the dire exhaustion I feel down to my bones. And the only reason he hears this so often from me is because he’s the only one I can talk to about it. The only one who gets working overtime with no extra pay, no extra praise, and utter exhaustion. He’s the only one who understands what it’s like to keep moving in the dredge of something you hate because other people, even people you don’t know or give a single shit about, are counting on you.

I eventually curse myself for not making the best out of a conversation with the person I think is literally the most awesome human being to ever live. I maybe cry, because I’m an ass, but then I return to the final leg of papers to be graded. If it’s Fratursday*, I’ve miraculously finished already and get to shower or go to the gym. *Remember, Fratursday does not exist.

By the time I’m able to hit the hay – though I’ve been ready to since 5:30 p.m. – it’s AT LEAST midnight. Most of the time, it’s closer to one, two, three, three-thirty. On occasion, I will pass out with all the lights on at 7 p.m. and sleep straight through to my morning alarm. It’s a welcome change for about 15 nanoseconds until I realize I am desperately behind… again.

So I wake up between 5:45 and 7:30… again.

I go through the whole cycle, every day, over and over again.

It doesn’t matter how bad I feel. It doesn’t matter how anxious and depressed I am. It doesn’t matter if I feel sick, look like shit, haven’t showered in a week, or had a bad night/morning. It doesn’t matter if I’m underpaid, overworked, or unappreciated. It doesn’t matter if I want it or not.

What matters is the students. What doesn’t matter is the teacher. What doesn’t matter, then, is me.

But I do matter. I do have a life. I have a life filled with struggle. And what’s worse, I have a life full of people who have no idea what it’s like to live this life, and they never will.

You have no idea what it’s like to be a teacher until you are one.

So please, the next time you tell me you “understand,” or you “have hard days, too,” please… with all my love, go fuck yourself in the armpit.

xo

Recount

Midnight // NYE 2012/2013 // The Avett Brothers

Ah, it’s that time of year again when all us bloggers recount whether or not we stuck to our guns and actually completed our resolutions. As you know, this is a blog about getting things done…….. so here’s hoping I haven’t royally screwed up and completed, say, ZERO of my resolutions.

At the beginning of 2013, I resolved to do only slightly more than a handful of things. Here’s the entry, but if you’re not one to muck about in archives, here’s a quick recap of the list:

1. Be a better adult.
2. Stay a better friend.
3. Have more patience and understanding.
4. Overcome MORE fears.
5. Be even more efficient.
6. Accomplish all my little goals in between without resolving to do them.
7. Just be.

Wow. Lofty goals, January 1st Rachel. Talk about setting high expectations for myself. Never one afraid to fail, I normally push further than I should. Let’s see how I fared, shall we?

1. Be a better adult.

I am by no means a model adult. I may not even be a mediocre adult, but I have damn sure come a long way this year. I’ve learned so much about reliability, and even more, how to BE reliable. I’ve learned to keep running, even when I’m knee-deep in heavy Carolina clay, knowing I have to reach the other side. I’ve taken jobs I didn’t want, left jobs I wanted to continue, and doubled-down on school and work, putting my social life lower on the list than in years past. While I’ve mentioned I’ll always be a “family/friends first” kinda gal, I finally figured out how to maintain that moral of mine while accomplishing great things and being responsible. I even have some money! ………. for now.

2. Stay a better friend.

I am a yo-yo better friend. There are periods of time in which I have a LOT of free time to spare; others where I barely have enough time to eat and sleep, let alone make some phone calls. I could do a better job, but I think I haven’t slipped TOO far back into yesteryear when I was always not such a great friend. Better to maintain than fall behind, even if I wish I could’ve hit this one out of the park. There’s always next year when I get out of my Master’s program!

3. Have more patience and understanding.

Oh, lord help all of you. Whereas I have gained so much of this in the career arena in my life, I admittedly have lost a lot of it in the personal domain. I’m sorry if I’ve been snippy or bitchy, perhaps spacey or annoyed, but I have poured all of my patience and understanding into over 100 kids. They need it most right now, and I am going to work very hard to squeeze some of that patience over to my loved ones in the coming year. Now that I know HOW to be patient, I have to learn how to BALANCE that patience. I have to understand others in the ways I always hope they understand me! But hey, I hope my students can at least attest to the fact that I almost never lose my temper. And when I do, they know weird things like town hall meetings will occur.

4. Overcome MORE fears.

Thanks to my newest project, 26 Gonnas for 26, I have definitely been visiting this resolution time and time again in 2013. I’ve sung publicly at karaoke bars; I’ve gotten back into modeling and ENJOYED IT; I’ve publicly and privately let go of toxic relationships. There have been a lot of fears I’ve conquered that aren’t even on the 26 for 26, which brings me to…

6. Accomplish all my little goals in between without resolving to do them.

Yeah, I know. I skipped 5, but we’ll get to that’n. Six and four pair well together like a good cheese and a fine wine, ya heard? There were so many moments this year that I found left me feeling so bold, so brave, and so utterly proud of myself. Overcoming fears, some of which I didn’t even know I had, was a lot easier in 2013 than in the past. Maybe it’s because I was so successful at resolution number one, but pushing forward into the unknown was just not as horrifying in ’13. I’m not saying it wasn’t sweat inducing to call my favorite co-workers ever to tell them I was offered a new job, and I’m not saying it wasn’t horrifying to meet, learn, and teach over 100 strangers in the middle of the school year… but I am saying that it was exponentially less disastrous than it would have been a year ago. And you know what? I found out I’m a lot BETTER at most of the things I’m scared of than some of the things I feel “safe” doing. What’s more is I didn’t feel the urge to tell anyone about these things (well, until now). I didn’t feel like I had to make a list, at least not publicly. I didn’t feel like I needed to have support to overcome my fear, something that is altogether new for me. While there are still some giant hurdles like flying and singing in public without a cheesy backup machine that WILL require a little hand-holding, learning to go solo into fear this year is what got me over the need to publicly resolve to accomplish every tiny morsel my brain cooked up.

5. Be even more efficient.

Welcome back, five! You tie into resolution one pretty well, sir. While I believe there’s always room for improvement when talking efficiency, I truly figured out and utilized it this year. If you remember, I started to see some vague progress in this field when I resolved to be efficient in 2012. This year, though, I really FOUND efficiency like it was the god damn Lost island I’d been screaming about returning to. (Lost reference anyone? Anyone?) I am much more organized than I was a year ago. I even have plans for further organization, some I utilized earlier this very week. I used to shy away from changing my methods for better ones for fear they’d be worse; now I trust my instinct and know the HUGE list I have for improvements will all work out, and they will all be better, 100 fold.

7. Just be.
Herein lies the crux: how can I just be if I always see so many things I must resolve to make better? Is it possible? Or must the two forever be at odds? I like to think I’ve just been a little more than I was in 2012. That’s not to say it has been a meditative, peaceful-as-fuck kind of year. Actually, it was pretty hectic… but there are some things this year I have let go of that I wouldn’t have DREAMED of getting past 365 days ago. It’s hard, being forever anxious (medically), finding out how to just be. And even though I didn’t complete this goal, I’m happy to say that over the past three weeks, things have been falling out of the sky and into my lap in regards to what I need to finally, truly just be. I’ve been finding answers to questions I’ve had for a long time, and I’ve been finding inspiration, reinforcement, and even new standards for myself I will not budge on… ever. And that, ladies and gents, is what I believe the first step to just being is: being yourself.

I’ll be back after the first of the year, hopefully with amazing tales of New Year’s festivities, a list of resolutions, and… drumroll… big news about the blog and its future.

Have a magical transition from 2013 to 2014! I’ll see you on the other side 😉

26 Gonnas for 26: Number 13

13. Finish writing a book with C.

 

At the end of May, C and I sat down over glasses of (one of) our favorite wine(s), and she asked me one of my favorite questions any one person can ever ask: Will you write with me?

Specifically, she asked me to help her write a particular story she was burning to tell. It was a true story, but she planned to change names and embellish, making it what we dubbed faction (fact + fiction). So with the doors open, candles burning, and our planners wide open, we made a way to find enough hours over enough days to finish a book by the end of 2013.

The deadline, while unrealistic to some, was good for us. We both needed the pressure of a due date, but we didn’t need to feel so pressured that we caved and gave up. Giving the book as a gift for Christmas was a perfect reason to finish, as well as a solid goal to work toward.The process began pretty regularly: Wednesdays after work, there we were, writing and editing. We quickly realized that since it was her story, she should spend the week writing, and our time together would be spent editing and adding whatever I thought would be helpful or funny. We pedaled along pretty quickly with a title and 15 single-spaced pages before life interrupted.

Between our vacations and family get-togethers together (she’s J’s sister), we had events to tend to separately as well. She was embarking on a new journey of competitive running, while I was balancing my work and school. It started to look like someone was conspiring against us and our words, but somehow we still always found a way to meet. In some instances, we had to move the time; others the day. There were even some missed weeks here and there, but somehow we found ourselves in the dead of fall, 30 single-spaced pages in.

At the beginning of November, I was in full-blown new-job mode. On top of that, I had to balance a full load of grad classes. Inconveniently, Thanksgiving found its way into our schedule as well. We saw each other only twice that month, a striking difference from the normal 4-8 times a month we had seen each other since living in the same town. I felt horrible, not only for abandoning C, but for abandoning our book. It was our baby.

December rolled around, and shortly thereafter, I got an email from C: “IT’S FINALLY DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I knew she had been writing, but the last time I’d seen her, our little novella lay in the 30-something range. The piece she had just sent me was 20+ pages longer….. and all that was standing between releasing the book to our friends and family was my editing every single word with the same diligence I’d had in prior months. The only problem was I also had hundreds of papers to grade AND two giant projects due in less than a week. Shit.
In a zombified stupor, I got through all of my work duties and all of my projects. I started editing until my eyes bled, but it still took me three days to finish revising the final pages the way they deserved. I rushed over to C’s house four days before her departure to the Great North where she’d be delving out the first round of the books on flash drives to the family. It was close, but somehow, we did it. And after all was said and done, we ended up with an 83-page novella.

Writing this little book taught me a lot about a lot. I had to learn to be ever-so-reliable because the success of C’s story depended on my editorial skills. I had to learn to be patient because quality work takes time, despite my need for instant results. I had to learn to let go of the reigns because this wasn’t my story, this was C’s story. I had to learn how to work as a true professional team for the first time in my life because no one else has ever treated me as a professional equal before.

Our book might not be Gatsby or War and Peace, but it IS a labor of love (and a little Sedaris-y if I do say so myself). It is one of those gonnas we all talk about doing, and damn if we didn’t actually do it.I am glad I got to help my friend tell her story, but most of all, I am glad to know that with a solid friendship, anything is possible.

If you’re interested in reading our little tale, I have a PDF version ready and raring to go! Email, as always, is reyoncenoels@gmail.com.

 

Positiveville

Taking a cue from the lovely K, I’d like to take a break from my regularly scheduled blogs filled with (oft-negative) venting and life-coaching (from myself?) just to write a nice, thankful, happy entry. I suppose it would have made more sense to ensure this coincided with Thanksgiving, but to hell with it all! Everyone tried to skip right over one of the most scrumptious holidays this year anyway…

AH, negativity abounds already! Stopping, turning around, and heading back toward Positiveville.

Yay! Happiness is fun!

I really enjoy having positive arenas on the Internet to run to as a safe haven on bad days. I don’t particularly know or care if that sounds strange because I have met some of the best people via (mostly) positive places like Tumblr and Blogger. It’s nice to have a community full of people who love the same things you love, write about the same things you do, and support and love you without even meeting you. They see the raw nerves you bumble out onto some digital paper and still want to get to know you. How cool is that? I wish more people would embrace the positive community that DOES exist on these endless pages of web.

Speaking of, one of my old co-workers is doing it up successfully and creatively in the Big Apple. She writes a blog all about love, her addiction to it, her journey to overcome that addiction, and her relationship with the city. She recently featured me, along with many others, on her blog (another example of the Supportive Internets), allowing us to vent to a person from our past or present romantic life. Here’s that entry; I’m the fifth one in the list!

Building off of that entry (so you should probs read it), I just can’t further explain how thankful I am for my partner. I’ve written about that gratitude often, though not too often, as I like to keep most of our life private. But without him having my back, even on my shittiest of days, I don’t know how I’d get through such a trying time in my life. Without him coaching me from the sidelines, yelling “Get back up, sports fan! You’re not done yet,” I would be weaker, less brave, and apt to quit. Even when I don’t want to tell him he’s right because of my bulldog-level stubbornness, I know he’s the one person who has the same intensity to help me succeed in my self-proclaimed need for evolution. At the end of the day, he’s the man I dream up ridiculous Vines with. That’s that shit I DO like.

While some aspects of my job are… less than stellar… I so enjoy my students. They are hilarious, smart, and much more intriguing than half of the adults I’ve met over the course of my life. Even if we have a bad day, they are so astute; unlike most of us “grown-ups,” they are ready and willing to apologize, move on, and still have a professional relationship. I hope they all keep that openness in their hearts as they go out into the world because it will get them so far in life. I can’t wait to watch them grow up; I hope I can be a mentor to them for as long as they need me!

It’s really pleasing to finally see a career path (or rather, paths) I can maintain and find happiness in. For a long time, I thought a lot of me is what needed to change. It’s only recently I realized that while I do have to work on aspects of myself like my impatience and hot-headedness, a lot of what I saw as a schism in myself was just the void from never knowing what I really want to do for a living. For a long time, I had shut out my dreams and desires because everyone, from complete strangers to my friends and family, had dictated what “success” looked like. But now that I’ve stopped focusing on them and prioritized myself, now that I’ve gone through the career-wringer, finding out what fits me and what doesn’t, what my strengths are and what I could use some help with… I see myself a little more clearly. Weird how we define ourselves through external things, only to realize that if we pay a little internal attention, we can find a wealth of clarification.

There’s a lot more I’m happy about, like being able to spend copious time with my family over winter break, being able to afford heat in such a cold winter, and my new gym opening at the time of the year where I can use it the most. I could sit here all day and wax poetic about the positives in my life, but I have to return to the stressful, strenuous life of an always-tired, always-working, full-time student AND teacher……..

LAWD HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL! And please, try to remind me not to be such a Negative Nitwit Nancy.

26 Gonnas for 26: Pulse Check

If remembering me after my admittedly prolonged absence is not too hard to do, you might remember I turned 26 a few months ago. In honor of that, I decided to evolve the gonnas once again into a cute little list of things I was gonna make happen in the course of a year. I’ve had the fortune of crossing one of the to-do’s off my list multiple times, but I realized that as often as I pulse check my list, you guys might be a little left in the dark. Without further ado, here are my charts, people! Please feel free to peruse them, and definitely let me know if you see signs of infection or impending death.
 
1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.
I’ve only woken up with the sun for about a week total so far, but thanks to a new job opportunity, this gonna will slowly start melting away!

2. Fly to visit my sister in Japan.
Not yet, but truly hoping the aforementioned job opportunity will be my ticket to this gonna. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful scenery in person I’ve seen in her photos so far.

3. Finish my screenplay.
I’ve made some progress here! I’m still closer to the start than the finish, but I am also further from the beginning than I was before.
 
4. Don’t let items I have gathered to create a project sit on my shelf for more than 2 weeks… ever.
This 26-for-26 gonna has been an epic failure so far. I have reminded myself that with all that’s going on, it’s okay to let this goal slide……. but I still can’t help but wish I had the time to stick to my guns. I have done a little better about downsizing and working on what I can here and there, but there is definitely room for improvement before next July.
 
5. Diagnose and solve my voice problems, then sing publicly when I have the all clear.
I have actually DONE the latter half of this goal (karaoke nights DO COUNT, especially when you sing Les Mis by yourself) without doing the first. While I feel liberated and more ready to tackle this goal, more than anything, I now know that there is absolutely a REAL problem with my voice, and I need to take care of it now rather than later.
 
6. Get my teaching license.
As long as I keep my nose to the grindstone (and learn to accept that a perfect 4.0 might not be possible with a full-time job AND classes), I should have my license in May!

7. Write one blog every week!
This is the one that really spurred me to update everyone since I obviously haven’t been blogging weekly. However, I have been writing a little more here and there overall, which is really what’s important to me. I think a more properly worded goal would be “Have 52 new blog entries by next year,” meaning if I have the time to write five times in one week, I will. If I have no time to write for a month, that’s okay, too.
 
8. Learn to drive a manual car.
My handsome teacher is currently out of stick-shifting commission, so this is on hold for the time being. 
 
9. Make 50 YouTube videos.
I’ve made one. ONE! I’ve got work to do…
 
10. Get over my fear of heights by climbing a lighthouse, ziplining, both, or more!
Whereas I once dreaded this gonna, I’m actually kinda looking forward to getting over this fear, or at least diminishing it in my mind. The question remains: what exactly will I be doing to get over this fear? Skydiving is out, but I’m open to other suggestions, y’all.
 
11. Teach someone something life-changing.
Hopefully I will be doing this every day in my new position. And hopefully, it’ll be somewhat tangible so I can report back here.
 
12. Make a Southern road trip to Texas and back.
See #2.
 
13. Finish writing a book with C.
We are so, so close to finishing this gonna. We have a self-imposed deadline of early December so we can distribute these bad boys as presents. It’s so crazy to think that months ago, this story was just an idea, and now, it’s almost finished!
 
14. Learn how to sew.
I have no idea how to even begin this one, but I REALLY, REALLY want to learn. Help?
 
15. Go legit camping for a weekend with J and the pups.
This has almost happened a handful of times, but life keeps getting in the way. We must make a note to ignore it for a weekend before it gets too cold!
 
16. Spend more time with my family.
I feel like I’ve been doing this, but I don’t think I’ll be able to properly gauge this until next July when I see the progress I’ve made over the course of a full year.
 
17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
 
18. Get something published.
I’ve found some contests for publishing, but so far, none of my already written material meets the criteria. Since I’m not in the position to write something brand new, the search continues… for now.
 
19. Raise $500 for my business, Southern Sheek.
I haven’t raised anything so far. I’ll most likely have to save this gonna until closer to the end of the year!
 
20. Do a Goodwill-level cleanout every 3 months until I only have what I (for the most part) need.
I have done this in off-beat ways, but there is definitely more to do before I can cross this off my list in good faith. I’ve been consigning some of my stuff with my favorite local store, as well as gathering random items here and there before loading them in bags in my trunk. I guess I need to actually make my way to Goodwill now, right?
 
21. Let go of toxic people in my life.
I’ve had to do some of this already, but whether I’ve really cleaned out the toxicity closet (and whether I’ve done it well) remains to be seen.
 
22. Make a weekend trip to a new place, any place.
I’ve made a lot of weekend trips, but none to a new place so far! Still waiting to find the perfect, cheap destination.
 
23. Write and send fanmail to all those people who have inspired me along the way.
I have addresses; I just need to get to writing!
 
24. Meet a sloth!
I actually attempted to do this with J, and my friends L and B, at a local science museum…… BUT THE SLOTH HAD INEXPLICABLY BEEN MOVED TO THE AQUARIUM, which was under construction. P.S. Sloths are great swimmers, so I mean, I GUESS I GET IT, but I really almost cried.
 
25. Really make 10 people’s day – five of whom I know and five strangers.
Hopefully I’ve done this without knowing, but now that I have the means to pay it forward, I’m really going to try and do a better job.
 
26. Be thankful and say so at the end of every day.
Despite this one seeming so easy, it’s actually the hardest for me. Most days, I am thankful and say so. But there are days when {most} everything seems so bad that it’s hard to remember to be grateful for the things that remain intact. I have been doing better lately, and I’m hoping I’ve trained my brain to stay in that spot of thankfulness.

Forgiveness is More Than Saying Sorry

 
Aside from being an obviously sublime piece of music, forgiveness really is more than saying sorry. You have to show it. You have to mean it. You have to want it. But lately, I’ve realized the most important thing about forgiveness is that you have to be able to forgive yourself for NOT forgiving everyone and everything.

I know, I know. We’re taught to rise above. We’re encouraged to follow all those pretty little quotes floating around the Internet, reminding us that holding onto anger or whatever the hell it is we’re hugging close, hurts the collective us more than the collective them. And mostly, that is true. It wouldn’t be a cliche if it weren’t. But there are some people, some things, you just don’t have to forgive. It’s not law. And you know what? It’s also not wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re holding on to hate or violently cursing the accused’s name every night. It just means you have decided to let go without giving said offender the gift of absolution. You’re not required to, and you never were.

I’ve been thinking about the people who have wronged me over the years. Some of them definitely deserve my pardon, while others deserve to suffer some kind of moral penance. On the flip side, I know there are people who will probably never grant me clemency for some of my crimes on them, while others deserve and would most likely accept an apology.

So no, I don’t forgive you for alienating me before moving out on me and leaving me thousands in debt. I don’t forgive your behavior, and I don’t think you should be allowed to forget how many people you hurt in the wake of your departure. You are not forgiven.

And yes, I am sorry for what he did to both of us and how it made me treat you. If I had known, I wouldn’t have been a participant. I hope you get out one day. One day…

So no, I do not accept your half-ass warning/apology about bringing me into your psychotic public breakdown, invading my rights to privacy. I don’t think you deserve to be forgiven by anyone for what you did. You are not a good person; I do not give you a reprieve.

And yes, I am sorry for whatever drove us apart. Some of it was me, and some of it was you, as it always is in those kind of fizzle-out-friendships. I hope you’re as happy as I am now, and maybe we can sit together over junk food and talk about it all again one day. One day…

So no, I do not forgive any of you for making me believe I deserved less than I did. I do not forgive any of you for taking advantage of every part of me. I do not forgive you for trying to hold me down, hold me back, hold me away from the light. I will never release you from your deeds.

And yes, I do forgive myself for all the times I thought I had to forgive these people, all the people, for the things they’d done to me. I forgive myself for holding on too long and for letting go too fast. I forgive myself for not standing up when I should have and not sitting down when I could have. I forgive myself for not knowing how to forgive, when to forgive, if I should forgive. Of greatest importance, I forgive myself for not always trusting myself, for not believing I knew what was best for me, even when the world told me to hold on or let go.

I forgive myself most of all because without the forgiveness (or lack thereof) I gave, I would not be who I am or where I am today. And today, well… I don’t have a reason to apologize or forgive. Today, I’ve learned to live unapologetically and unforgivingly as… me.