Tonight on my way home from tutoring, I saw a hardened old, grocery store clerk snarl at another employee while arranging a strange winter display of watermelon outside the storefront. And just when my mind was made up about said curmudgeonly store clerk, I watched him secretly slip an ice cube from his watermelon display to an aging golden retriever passing by on the street. It was a quick reversal of thoughts–from resenting this old man for yelling publicly at a coworker, to loving him for sharing an ice cube. Of course as frequently happens when a pregnant person experiences two emotions too close together, this little gesture made me tear up at the crosswalk between 92nd and 93rd street.
“Good luck, sweetie,” my mom told me, “I’ll rub my kangaroo testicles for you.”
She said it so off-hand, as though this were a perfectly normal thing to do for your daughter.
Of course I spluttered back, which I am sure was gratifying for her. Apparently my mom’s friends from Australia sent her a pair of Kangaroo Testicles, the Australian equivalent of a rabbit foot?
“I love them,” she admitted. “Sometimes I hang them from my chandelier to see if the ladies during my book club notice. Here, I’ll send you a picture.”
She forgot for a few hours but then finally did send me the photo of her good luck charm. I felt strangely–so strangely–comforted. Maybe Kangaroo Testicles would do just the trick.
I’ve never been one to believe in luck, to be honest. I believed in hard work, and grit, and sure things. That’s part of the reason why I went into teaching. Teaching was a defined path with a clear outcome–one that could be obtained by hard work and grit. And I think, save for a few tired weeks, I was mostly a good teacher.
I’ve dreamed up blog posts where I offer up an explanation the hiatus I’m taking from teaching, but I’ve agonized about how to write them. Ultimately I realized that I don’t really owe anyone an explanation, and what’s more, I couldn’t give you a great one except that taking a break felt like the right thing to do. And Un/Fortunately, taking this break has forced me to take a little step onto an unknown ledge. A ledge that I’ve always steered far away from.
I’m learning what it’s like to sit in uncertainty, and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t deeply uncomfortable. What I will say for myself is that I’ve gotten much closer to a part of myself that I’ve always liked maybe even more than my teacher self-my writer self.
I’ve done some great freelancing in the past, but I’m hoping to break into more professional writer circles, so I’m looking to pick up a few more freelance gigs. I’m looking for leads. I’m going to (gulp) network. Here I am, on the edge of discomfort, asking any of you for leads.
I think I am going to need my own pair of Kangaroo Testicles.
To the Graduating Class of NEST+m,
I like to put the cap of a pen back on after I’ve written something decisive. Similarly, I’d like to put a cap on this year, something tidy to end a decisive year of discovery. But I’m finding that “tidy” just won’t do. There was nothing TIDY about this year of English, yours or mine. This year might have looked like a cursive sentence written by a third grader. Messy, sure, but a finished product that someone could be proud of.
I think I am still a little too doe-eyed to be an official New Yorker, or so the pleasant, yet barbed Uber driver seemed to imply. “Your husband will do fine, but you? You’re too nice.”
It was my official New York Welcome. Taylor Swift was dead wrong; New York does not wait for anyone.
Utah Valley experiences something called “Inversion.” It has something to do with the Great Salt Lake and pollution. Scientifically, I can’t explain it to you, but imageistically, it looks like you are peering into the distance with a pair of glasses covered in soot. Inversion feels like crunching six or seven flecks of sand between your teeth. Inversion is like bugs on a windshield hiding a really great view.
There’s something completely irresolute about finals week; as such, unless explicitly directed, I avoid giving final exams. Instead, I like to leave my students thinking about the final chapter of their high school career with something less final and more… open-ended, more upbeat. I want my students to leave my literature class thinking about morals and the self–because, at least for me, that’s what literature actually is–words that express morals and self, and those concepts can’t really be tested by an end of year exam.
Today I submitted my official letter of resignation from Timpview High School, but I forgot to sign it. I marched down to the main office, letter folded crisply, neatly–decisively. I handed over my letter to Michelle, the kindly office secretary, with resolve and explained that it hadn’t been an easy choice, “but I really can’t pass an opportunity like this up.”
One mild panic attack later, and I know I’m officially back in Provo. I’m home, but home feels a little different now. That word feels different. Maybe because the world feels different now.
Part of me wants to maintain the wild facade that Jeremy and I suddenly became multi-millionaires that could whisk across the country on a financial whim, but the truth is that this summer was partly financed by a lot of people’s kind and generous gifts.
- Florida was a gift from my parents.
- Hawaii was a gift from Jeremy’s parents.
- Seattle was our gift to one another.
- And, if I’m honest, New York was a gift to myself.
I liked walking on the grates in the sidewalks in New York, and once I realized this, I instantly began searching for ways to make this observation into a metaphor: walking with a world beneath me, walking on top of shaky foundation? Nothing really fit, so I gave up and let it be simple:
I liked walking on the grates in the sidewalks. I liked sliding my fingers along the stone of the building next to me. I liked looking up, but I liked looking down too. I grew to appreciate my humidity hair.
It’s hard to verbalize what it is about the city that spoke to me so much. Maybe it was the creaking of the train or the hum of an intersection. Maybe it was the smell of bagels and cronuts and giant sticks of lamb rotating in a street cart. Or perhaps it was the subtle joy of meeting and visiting your soul people.
So what is it about neglect and procrastination that is so completely addicting? Forgive the informal writing style for this post, but I was just chatting with my sisters-in-law about how terrible slothfulness feels and yet, it seems to breed and multiply and consume you until you’re eight re-runs of Arrested Development down, but not any smarter, stronger, or happier. Why do we do this to ourselves?